The Ontario Provincial Police made arrests at a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, near Belleville, Ont., on Feb. 24, 2020, during a protest in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs attempting to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline on their traditional territories. (Adrian Wyld - The Canadian Press)

LETTER: ‘I’ll read some history and make up my own mind’

Don’t blindly listen to politicians in Ottawa about hereditary chiefs

To the editor:

A recent letter to the editor about the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs contained information that didn’t ring true.

A quick internet search revealed some errors in the letter: Global News and CBC reported (Feb. 16, 2020) that hereditary chiefs were involved in consultations with Coastal GasLink and didn’t say no to the project until they ran out of options.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada (Delgamuukw, Dec. 11, 1997) the hereditary chiefs are responsible for the protection of their lands, which were never ceded to Canada.

To do this the chiefs proposed two alternate routes for the pipeline.

The McDonnell Lake route would roughly follow the path of an existing gas pipeline and the Kemano route includes lands already damaged by mining. Coastal GasLink rejected theses routes and instead wants the pipeline to go across lands described as “pristine.”

I have a lot more to learn about the longstanding issues behind rail blockades because my school didn’t teach Canada’s history with indigenous peoples.

But I do know that Canadian governments have lied to us about many things (e.g. residential schools, the 60s scoop, and missing and murdered girls and women).

So when Liberals and Conservatives in Ottawa tell me to ignore the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, I think I’ll read some history and make up my own mind.

Barbara Cousins


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