Saturday, February 15, 2020

Clearing Up This Nonsense About "Hereditary Chiefs"

There are still many Canadians who think the federal government is genuinely pursuing reconciliation with Canada's First Nations.

Not so much.

As Nikiforuk recently explained, colonialism is once again the order of the day.
On Thursday, the RCMP and the Canadian state came to a moral crossroads on a snowy country road and looked briefly down a pathway to reconciliation. Then it said, “Fuck it.”

As reliable agents of the Canadian state and defenders of resource extraction, the RCMP let it be known that the Trudeau government puts highly subsidized methane projects ahead of reconciliation and UN declarations.
Not surprisingly, Ottawa and Victoria are also trying to throw shade on the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en people.  They are, after all, not the "elected" chiefs who've thrown in with Coastal Gaslink. These hereditary chiefs are just a troublesome anachronism, a throwback to an earlier time - you know, before those indians became civilized. Those hereditary chiefs don't speak for the Wet'suwet'en people, just a small faction of cranks. How dare they set up protest camps?

That's the picture our governments are working to spin into our minds. They're trying to blow smoke up your ass. Fortunately Amber Bracken, writing in Macleans, has cleared the air.
The opposing positions of the two sets of chiefs has been represented by B.C. Premier John Horgan and in the media, as a fight within the nation between the equal actors of hereditary chiefs, who defend the land, and the band chiefs, who seek escape from poverty. Premier Horgan told the CBC he doesn’t think “a handful of people can stop progress and success for people who have been waiting for a break like this for many, many years.”

But this simplification obscures the fact that both sets of chiefs are on the side of their people, working against a colonial system that seeks economic certainty and the surrender of Indigenous land.

The Wet’suwet’en are not a nation divided, they are a nation with differing opinions on the best route to a better future after history of oppression. The band councils have sought opportunity, and funding, where they can find it. But based on Wet’suwet’en and Canadian law, it’s ultimately the hereditary chiefs who have jurisdiction to the territory, and they have been clear about their aim—to assert self-governance over their land and demand a nation-to-nation relationship with Canada. It’s a move that would benefit all Wet’suwet’en.
Each set of leaders has unique jurisdiction, in the same way that municipal and provincial governments do. The band chiefs, who were imposed by the Indian Act, govern their reserves, while hereditary chiefs predate Canada, and govern the entire Wet’suwet’en territory. It’s worth noting that they are not anti-industry and have long held logging agreements.
A key point that project proponents emphasize, is that 20 elected band councils signed benefits agreements, a phrasing that relies on Canadians’ social conditioning—one that assumes democratic systems are fundamentally more fair.
While talking about benefits agreements, duress is inherent in the process—First Nations can’t actually say no to any project in Canada. In addition, most councils are cash-strapped, and some reported that they were told the project would go ahead with or without their consent—they might as well get on board for a payout. Leaked examples of Coastal GasLink agreements show evidence of large provincial subsidies to get First Nations on board, attempts to muzzle pipeline dissent, and to limit Aboriginal rights.
It's an important article and I urge you to read it in its entirety. It puts paid to the bona fides of our governments and the pipeline police force. All this talk about "reconciliation" is just that - talk.

Some years ago I was talking with an Australian acquaintance, a mild-mannered sort of guy, about a legal victory achieved by his country's Aborigines that was in the news. I was floored, absolutely gutted, when this fellow said that Aborigines were entitled  to "anything a white man doesn't want."  At first I thought he was making an outrageous joke. He wasn't.


rumleyfips said...

This is like the friction between a Chamber of Commerce and a Natural Space Protection group. They are both live in the same community but think differently.

The soundtrack is by Joni " they paved paradise to put up a parking lot ... you don't know what you got til its gone " .

I can't demonstrate , but I send money for the supreme court case.

rumleyfips said...

Does anyone remember the Dead Dog Care and the dreaded 'BAND COUNCILLOR '? Keep calm, wait for the signs.

Anonymous said...

This covers most of it from everything I've read, but not all.

Holmstrom points out the basics: "The history and law here are simple:
the Royal Proclamation of 1763 made it clear that the British Crown recognized that Indigenous Nations in North America had the title to their lands and the rights attached to it. This was so clear that this proclamation became one of the “Intolerable Acts” that led to the American Revolution, because they couldn’t accept the idea that Indigenous peoples were actually people who had rights. If that wasn’t enough, in December of 1997 the Supreme Court of Canada, in the Delgamuukw decision, made it clear that the Wet’suwet’en had never had their rights and title extinguished.

So for everyone who has been trying to say that the Wet’suwet’en have no title to this land because a court has never said “you have it”, let’s be clear; a foundational document of Canada states that Indigenous peoples have title (which led to two centuries of the Crown signing treaties all over Canada to deal with that fact) and the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the Wet’suwet’en never gave it up."

Thus the elected band council, a white man construct imposed on First Nations so that Indian Affairs could pretend they had a representative council to deal with but was foreign to First Nations sensibilities and tradition, is only valid if hereditary chiefs give the councils that power. Too bad for Canada and BC, the Wetsuweten hereditary chiefs say no pipeline over our territory, thankyou, this is our land and your white man rules don't apply, including the elected band council decision. Drives those capitalists crazy when things aren't clear cut for a romp to the brass ring and to hell with everyone else. And no amount of wriggling like Conservatives saying if there are eight hereditary chiefs, where are the other four because only four are apparent, can change facts.

What should have been done from the time the Wetsuweten hereditary chiefs first said no to the pipeline, was to re-route it. (I think it should never have happened at all in the first place because it pipes fracked gas which leaves leaky methane holes everywhere - as doltish a grab for untold riches and bugger the rest of you as the worst capitalist could gracelessly take as their own). As you've pointed out several times the gas is way overpriced compared to market and will never sell anyway. That's why Trans Canada got out as best it could.

Furthermore, kenney is involved: "Dec 20, 2019. Global investment firm KKR or Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, along with Alberta Investment Management Corp. (AIMCo), signed an agreement to acquire a 65% equity interest in the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project from TC Energy Corp, the old Trans Canada Pipelines." Hey, the stolen Alberta Civil Service Pension funds from AIMCo are no doubt wending their way to BC even as we speak! KKR? Hey, they're a responsible outfit. Too bad they're both doomed if "the rule of law" prevails. The constant kicking it down the road mentality of never addressing what the SCC ordered (shades of the neutered euthanasia bill by JT) applies to the 1997 Delgamuukw decision. Everyone political sat on their hands and hoped it would all go away and didn't do a thing in renegotiating treaties. Now the whining and buck passing from the big boys is palpable. Kenney snookered again, what could be finer?

The train blockades by the Mohawk in Ontario are another matter in my view. Can't see they have a leg to stand on. Sympathy for the Wetsuweten is fine, but I cannot see that can translate to what they're up to being legal. Perhaps you can comment - the logic of law sometimes is beyond my engineering mind, but court injunctions have been issued for the Mohawk to move, and they refuse. Too bad. They will have to, under Mountie escort if necessary. The Wetsuweten, though, seem free and clear to me to order that pipeline shit and personnel and RCMP off their territory, and right now please and thankyou.


Anonymous said...

I’m still trying to figure out how hereditary chiefs become hereditary chiefs.

There is apparently disagreement within the Wet’suwet’en nation about the pipeline - kind of like across Canada about such issues.

I guess the Queen should decide, eh?

Anonymous said...

The Ontario injunction against the Mohawks would be enforced by the OPP, not the RCMP. CN applied for an indefinite extension on the injunction this week and the judge granted it. He was annoyed that it hasn't been enforced, but that's up to the cops.

There are good reasons why the OPP had not yet taken action. Namely, last time they went in hot and heavy, they killed someone. In 1995, native protestors occupied the Ipperwash Provincial Park demanding its return to them. Then premier Mike Harris wanted the park cleared quickly and ordered the OPP to get to it. They went in guns blazing, and shot and killed Dudley George, one of the protestors. The subsequent judicial inquiry harshly criticized the cops and Mike Harris, and recommended the return of the park.

So, I can fully understand the cops being hesitant to repeat 1995. Doug Ford is also likely quite happy to let Trudeau take the rap for the rail line remaining closed.


The Disaffected Lib said...

Very well put, BM. Many thanks.

the salamander said...

.. I am trying to explain the fundamental reality and roots of this truly significant clusterfuck to a young cousin in Calgary. He's early 40's, bright, very hard working and successful. Nice man. Great family, kids etc. Problem is, Aboriginal Title, Rule Of Law.. and quite possibly Partisan Politics - Captured or Corrupt Government.. are quite alien to him. In short, he is Clueless in Calgary and has formed uninformed perceptions, as has his circle of friends I assume.

Its essentially as If I were to try and explain how the east coast fisheries collapsed -.via 250 words or less, while also explaining what is required to at least salvage some of our west coast fisheries. That's approx 125 reasoned words re each fishery. If I also have to add some context & also explain or relate global warming plus exploding overpopulation and overfishing.. or oh deary me.. The Economy as well.. uh .. you can appreciate MY PROBLEM here ! His perception of Hereditary Chiefs is laughable. He suggests they seem like some old fashioned kings or queens, useless remnants of days gone by.. and then he points to the 20 tribes that all want the gas pipeline and signed up.. and how else are people going to heat their homes ? Gadzooks - Merde !! I explode.. ask if he's bothered to note what the pipeline's direction is, or where it ends ! What is liquifaction he finally asks ! Dude ..! LNG aka Liquid Natural Gas !

Oh.. did I mention his family ? Aside from a Teacher or two there is a Master Driller and also a Senior Oil Service Exec .. both the breadwinners in excellent families. Tons of older generation Uncles & Aunts out thataway plus in BC too. Farmers scattered about Saskatchewan and Manitoba - still growing wheat & barley etc.

In many ways.. this is probably similar to many others around my age. Its like herding squirrels.. or cats. Perhaps I can learn how ...

Anonymous said...

They won the lucky sperm contest a thousand years ago. That's why we must never question their absolute authority.

Unknown said...

Anon 4:04:

This looks to me like typical racism, in which the dim poster negates his/her own point.

"I guess the Queen should decide, eh?"

The Queen is Canada's head of State. She is also leader of a worldwide cult.
(Known as the Anglican Church in polite circles.)

She has enormous 'reserve' powers that politicians work like hell to keep in the pending status. It doesn't always work out that way ....
(2008 Prorogation crisis. BC 2017 minority. 1975 Australian constitutional crisis. etc)

But go ahead and dis the 1st nations for their choice of governance.

rumleyfips said...

Unlike the hereditary royalty of the British monarchy, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief is not a lifetime position bestowed on a bloodline. Rather, it’s a title that can be bequeathed a Wet’suwet’en Nation member based on their character and conduct —

When MOS told you to read the Tyee , this is part of what he meant.

the salamander said...

FYI ..