Breaking news: the Indigenous peoples across the country proclaiming that reconciliation is dead are right. Reconciliation is dead, and even as a settler myself (most of us are, regardless of background) I can recognize that. However, is this news as “breaking” as we are led to believe? In truth, reconciliation seems to have never been alive. How do you establish one of the bloodiest colonialist settler regimes, spend the entirety of your recorded history as a country committing unspeakable crimes against the original people of the land to then claim, as our Prime Minister has, that “No relationship is more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples”?
While we’re on the subject, is there a better example of the blatant disregard for Indigenous peoples and their voices than the current Wet’suwet’en conflict? If you’re unaware of what’s currently happening in northern British Columbia, do not fret, for you’re not alone. As you read this, protests and blockades by Indigenous folks of the Wet’suwet’en nation and others, as well as their allies, are happening across the country in response to our ruling-class government willfully ignoring Indigenous sovereignty in order to pave the way for an energy company to build a 670 km pipeline. This would run on unceded lands, restrict the people’s access to said land and, of course, undermine Indigenous peoples’ and environmental activists’ efforts to save water sources from the pipeline’s threat and turn towards a green economy to, you know, attempt to save our species’ existence on the planet. As if that wasn’t enough of a scandalous mess, the militarized RCMP organized and carried out a pre-dawn raid in one of the camps and then occupied the territory in the name of a private corporation on February 6th, and a part of the Canadian public has sided with the violation of Indigenous laws and rights, as evident across all social media.
Let’s consider the implications for the “reconciliation” we often talk about, and now seems to be as dead as Nietzsche’s god (because we have killed it). Canada’s colonial regime tends to be (for a lack of a better term) bloodthirsty and careless. A country built on stolen land has invaded and dragged Indigenous protesters of their land in the service of the settler, white-supremacist state and private corporations that directly work against a movement of sustainability powered by Indigenous voices. Canada is treating the Indigenous people of this country as an impediment to the national interests, and therefore fails to recognize that there might be bigger things at stake than a piece of our capitalist economy. If we cared about reconciliation, Canada would for once attempt to mend the centuries of damage they have caused, stop asserting its’ laws over Indigenous legal systems and finally bear the political costs of trying to right their uncountable wrongs instead of fuelling a continuing future of estrangement. In their actions, Canada is actually the one making the firm declaration that reconciliation is dead.
The Wet’suwet’en conflict is not just about some incredibly risky and (obviously) unsustainable pipeline, for we can see that it is also about keeping the land, and its women, safe. Women have been at the head of this fight (as with almost every other fight) and protecting them from resource development workers. Amnesty International has demonstrated that there is a strong link between the “man camps” these employees live in and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women cases. This is what happens when Indigenous safety, and especially the safety of the most institutionally vulnerable, isn’t prioritized, which is exactly what the land defenders are fighting against. It’s a fight against an establishment which wants jobs and money at the cost of human rights’ (particularly women’s).
As I am not Indigenous, I cannot claim to be the authority on this subject. I am just passionate about the state being literal trash, and about the upholding of human and land rights. I encourage every single of you to do your research, listen to Indigenous leaders and peoples and go out on the streets to support the foundational people of this land, their territories, and our planet.
By Natalia Ibanez