Hummm...I am about to enter into something I likely have minimal knowledge of. I will begin by stating, I do not wish to offend specific groups, I am simply stating my personal opinions, as always.
I am going to say how I feel regarding the First Nations rights when it comes to Site C. I am writing this, because I know, the people who hold the rights to the land which I call my home, will soon be faced with something much like those the Doig, Halfway, and West Moberly have been struggling with, in the face of Site C.
Yesterday, as I was searching for new information regarding the fight, I became confused. I noticed a statement that the McLeod Lake Band, and the Saulteau Band had , in fact, agreed to negotiate for compensation and have been offered "impact benefit agreements" from Hydro. HELLLOOOO..WTF???? I understand, I have no knowledge of Treaty 8, beyond what I have read. But, are they not people who hold the land as the greatest gift, something that gives life? The First Nations people, of which my beloved is one, hold the land in highest regard. They, have no treaty. I have been involved in a few consultations, and always the land is considered first.
See, in watching this whole sad business unfold, the consultation process between Hydro and the First Nations, has been a complete farce. Those who are most affected, those who will actually lose the greatest, and those who fully oppose, are simply given lip service. It is clear Hydro saw that those least affected would be much easier to buy, and, instead of supporting those who will lose, others saw the financial gain possible, and shook hands with Hydro, leaving them to fight their battle alone. I am deeply saddened.
As a British Columbian, I have to admit, I understand, to some point, Hey money in their pockets, money for their children, but, one cannot claim to be the protectors of the land, and not look into the future. What is a future without your Hunting Territory? What happens when you cannot tell your Grandchildren that they are stepping on the same soil their ancestors traveled to find the Moose or Deer to feed them? What happens when your children become Elders and all they can do is speak of what was? I thought we had learned from past mistakes, as European explorers and settlers made indecent deals with First Nations. Those mistakes are still being dealt with, and difficult to fix. I have always accepted the past was filled with wrongs, but now, I feel that First Nations have turned their backs on their own. The almighty dollar has become too appealing, they don't want to lose out on a good deal.
I hope I am wrong in this matter, but, if so, I need someone to clear my impressions up. I know many feel that the agreements our Government has signed with First Nations will hold up when other matters come to the stage. I have tried to pass on what I have seen happening within this battle, but, it is clear, no one cares. A few moments in the news, and then forgotten. I can hear those in Government, "just pick out those you can barter with, here is a pocket full of money, and promises", no different than all the other deals in history." If we can get enough, those who do not agree, will simply not matter."
As you all know by now, I am in the midst of this battle, but, unlike those First Nations, I do not have my heritage to lose. I do not have my Ancestors grave sites, my hunting territory, my fishing holes, my Spiritual places (O.K. this is a spiritual place for me) in truth, who and what I am, to lose. To add insult to injury, those who understand what it is to be First Nations, are turning their backs, and making deals.
I am shocked, and sickened. Again I say, I hope my understanding is wrong. I would be so willing to have someone explain that I am wrong, and how my impressions are skewed. I hope that those people who are fighting such a bitter battle, after all these years, for the rights to their Land, which our government has supposedly recognized, will get what was promised with the signing of their Treaty. I hope that all the others who signed this same Treaty will ensure those promises are kept. Paper means nothing, if new rules are made, behind closed doors, and accepted without the knowledge and agreement of all concerned. If these changes are accepted for financial gain, this time, why would the paper signed by all, mean anything next time?
Those people making these agreements, are forgetting their past. They are forgetting what their ancestors held highest. The land is yours, it is what made you who you are, it IS in fact who you are. If you accept a token in return, you may, in fact be able to keep your own special places, and your own heritage, but, my impression, so far, is you do not consider the rights to this very thing, for those along the Peace River.
Not only do the Farmers along the Peace, not count as highly as those elsewhere. The tiny town of Hudson's Hope,not considered. The wildlife, apparently somehow mitigated. Now, even certain First Nations are placed on a different level than their own . We may be far from the rest of the province, someplace that gets really cold in the winter, and a place you don't dream of traveling to. But, this is a valley that settlers, citizens, and especially First Nations have called home for generations.
The next time you are looking through Treaty Rights, and reading promises the government has given, as recently as the 60's , remember the Peace!!! The Valley of Broken Promises!!!
I will patiently wait for someone who knows the facts more than I,one, who is First Nations, to explain my mistakes in this blog. I am hopeful I can eat a Crow or two in this matter, and then I will once again regard our First Nations as those entrusted with the protection of the land, as a whole, not as a few small Bands , left alone to fight the battle of their lifetime!
Strength to the Doig, and the Halfway, and the West Moberly, they are the only hope left to save our Valley!!