Protests in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, which started on Canada’s west coast, have spread all the way across the country to the foot of the Confederation Bridge this past weekend. These protests are the result of centuries of unresolved issues between this continent’s Indigenous people and the settler governments of the land we now call Canada.
The complexities of this long-standing situation from which this current dispute was born have built up over many generations. It is unrealistic to imagine we can resolve the underlying matters easily or over a short period of time.
What we can do, however, is become more fully informed on the history behind the structural problems that underlie the grievances of Indigenous People across the country. We must encourage governments on all sides to approach discussions on working to resolve immediate and longer-term challenges with openness and respect.
As a settler person living on the ancestral lands of the Mi'kmaq, I don't think it is appropriate for me to be taking a position on the governance of the Wet'suwet'en people. That would simply continue and extend the colonial practices that have created this situation in the first place.
However, in order for us to be successful, all participants must be equally represented, fully active, and meaningfully engaged in our collective efforts to achieve reconciliation. Our approach must be fully inclusive and respectful of our Indigenous partners – it must include their knowledge, their wisdom, their values, their needs, and their teachings. As they have wisely taught us “Nothing about us without us.”
I fully support Indigenous self-governance. I support the right of all Canadians to engage in peaceful protest.
Honourable Peter Bevan-Baker
Leader of the Official Opposition
Official Oppositions Shadow Critic for Indigenous Affairs
MLA District 17 New Haven-Rocky Point