A nation suffering post-traumatic stress

To the Editor
With soldier’s PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) we tend to show compassion. This mental condition and, if left untreated, can affect every aspect of the soldier’s civilian life.
Now, consider a Nation decimated (reduced to one-tenth) by smallpox, its religion demonized, and its governance system criminalized and replaced. Consider the Nation’s villagers forcibly displaced, and confined to a fraction of their territory, their children removed and indoctrinated only to return abused, speaking a new language, and often ashamed of their family’s culture? To begin to understand, we must put ourselves in the shoes of an entire culture suffering from massive multiple cyclical systemic PTSD. We must show compassion.
Because of lags in F.O.I. (Freedom of Information) one has to read between the lines of a memo or extrapolate information into a different situation in order to understand the nuances of what is transpiring now, in real-time. It warrants our attention when these glimpses are revealed by the press.
23 years ago, a day after Delgamuukw laid the foundation for Indigenous rights to governance on unceded land, FOI revealed that a memo from Mary Beets, then-vice president of the BC Council of Forest Industries, stated: “The decision makes the need for certainty through surrender all the more clear.” Similarly, Mike Hunter of the Fisheries Council and Mary MacGregor of the Cattlemen’s are quoted respectively: “downplay the expectations that aboriginal leaders have.” “We will be putting great pressure on the Provincial Government to commit to a cede, release, and surrender approach.” Other documents urged government treaty negotiators to seek legally “an end to aboriginal rights and title.”
Now consider the new bigger multinational planetary heavy hitters: Royal Dutch Shell, Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi, Korean Gas, TC energy. What’s lobbying from that power base look like? Can the mega-project trinity of LNG/Cite C/Coastal Gaslink really be in the public interest? The Delgamuukw Supreme Court judges urged that treaty negotiations be done to reconcile Aboriginal title and Crown title through “the honor and good faith of the Crown.” Is that anywhere near the government lens?
Can we hope for reconciliation when government continually ignores UNDRIP and Canada’s Supreme Court continually acts without compassion and continually caves like cowards to industry lobbying?
Offering jobs and cash to join in on this boondoggle is like throwing these Nations a rope when they are in a PTSD whirlpool. We can and should expect government to do much better.

Rob Mercereau
Dunster, BC

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