Following a chaotic day at the BC Legislature, and a speech from the Throne that addressed reconciliation, issues involving Wet’suwet’en rights remain unresolved.

Prince George’s Terry Teegee, elected Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations, explained that he believes the natural resource industry is inherently linked to Indigenous rights.

“The overall concerns of climate change, the cumulative impacts of development… it’s quite important that decisions are being made, and respected.”

Teegee explained that addressing First Nations concerns should be a consideration made by corporations before making the choice to conduct business on First Nation’s land.

“Indigenous people have rights, and indigenous rights are human rights,” the Elected Chief stated plainly.

When asked about the Throne Speech’s statements on reconciliation, Teegee pointed to the Canadian Government’s failure to properly implement the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), saying:

“I think without the full development of the declaration as an act, the Federal Government is falling far short of the declaration. What the declaration does, is protect indigenous rights and human rights.”

Teegee called for UNDRIP to be implemented on a policy-based level to allow it to properly alter the Canadian social climate.

As conversation shifted to the ongoing protests and acts of civil disobedience taking place throughout the province, Teegee said:

“This is probably an indication of many First Nations frustrations in regards to the ongoing land question… what we’re seeing is a symptom of denial, many decades of denial, of Indigenous rights.”

“I think their sentiment is that ‘reconciliation is dead’, because First Nations are not being heard, or listened to,” he added.

“Change isn’t easy, and change does require a lot of time. I hate to say to be patient, but you need to be patient,” he concluded optimistically.

When asked if the ongoing Wet’suwet’en conflict would be perceived differently if occurring between private landowners and corporation, Teegee addressed the politicization of First  Nations land ownership:

“Perhaps people would have a better understanding that it is the land they live on.”

Teegee ended with advice, saying: “we need to have the wherewithal to press the many levels of government.”

His full statement on the Throne Speech can be found here.