How B.C. ‘works with’ Indigenous Peoples

News Unsettled Opinions
Members of the Native Students Union. Photo by Belle White, Contributing Photographer.

June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD). On this day, Indigenous people celebrate our Indigeneity, our cultures, and our languages. Although it is a holiday instated by the Canadian government, it is still an opportunity to celebrate ourselves.  

This year, the B.C. government shared a photo on their Instagram page. It was a very small list on how to “honour” Indigenous people. The caption reads: “On [NIPD], we honour the rich histories, traditions and cultures of Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. It’s also a day for us to stand up to the ongoing racism against Indigenous peoples. Today, and every day, we commit to working with Indigenous peoples to build a better future.” 

This is entirely hypocritical and in bad taste. The B.C. government’s track record has been so bad, especially in the last year, that Indigenous youth have had to proclaim that “reconciliation is dead.” 

In 2010, after years of declining to agree, Canada decided that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was good enough to be ‘aspirational’ — this includes B.C.. In 2016, the Trudeau government said they were ‘absolutely committed’ to ensuring UNDRIP was followed. In 2019, the B.C. government officially adopted UNDRIP into B.C. law. 

I want to take this space to show times that B.C. has willfully violated UNDRIP, and why Horgan and his government are surely not honouring, standing up to racism, or working with Indigenous people. I also want to include times B.C. has remained quiet on times the rest of Canada has violated UNDRIP

Article 3: “Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination.” The provincial and federal government have not allowed the Wet’suwet’en this self-determination when it comes to the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline. This includes articles 4 and 5.

Article 7.2: In Canada alone, 52.2 per cent of all children in foster care are Indigenous. The RCMP and other police services often murder Indigenous people with little to no repercussion  — a recent example being 16-year-old Eisha Hudson in Winnipeg, Manitoba. All governments were notably quiet when this happened. 

Article 8.2(b): The B.C. government is actively dispossessing Wet’suwet’en people from their lands at gunpoint. At the same time, the government is allowing CGL workers to destroy ancestral traplines on purpose. 

Article 8.2(e): John Horgan described Indigenous youth for Wet’suwet’en demonstrators as a “mob” and painted solidarity actions to the news in a way that made them seem extremely dangerous. 

Article 10: the same as article 8.2(b)

Article 11.1: The B.C. government is letting CGL actively bulldoze known archeological and cultural sites in Wet’suwet’en territory. 

Article 12.1: The B.C. government is forcing the Wet’suwet’en off cultural sites. 

Article 13: Indigenous children in foster care are often cut-off from their languages and culture completely. 

Article 15.2: The B.C. government does nothing to condemn news networks when they feed into discrimination and hatred of Indigenous peoples. In fact, they contribute to this because it helps them do what they want.

Article 17.3: Taken from data a few years ago, there is a huge wage gap between non-Indigenous men and Indigenous women particularly. Non-Indigenous men often make over $20,000 more a year than Indigenous women for the same type and amount of work. 

Articles 18, 19, 20: The B.C. government has ignored the Supreme Court of Canada decision that  allows the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to govern and has continued to completely ignore this practice. 

In order to not take up too much space with this article, I am going to stop it here. It is not hard to find examples of B.C.’s disregard for UNDRIP. Before the B.C. government spreads the lie that they “honour” Indigenous people, and “stand up to racism” they need to seriously address their unwillingness to follow their own, international, and Indigenous laws. Without respecting these practices, they are only continuing to be involved in ongoing colonialism and Indigenous genocide.