When did listening to only one side of a story become the new normal?

An open letter to the BC Human Rights Commissioner

By Chris Sankey

As an Indigenous person and former elected First Nations Councillor, I question B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner calling on Canada to stop building what it refers to as a contentious natural gas pipeline until affected Indigenous groups consent to the construction.

The Commissioner also raises the alarm about the potential for the escalating threat of violence against Indigenous peoples in B.C.

I ask, has the Human Rights Commissioner read the binders of public consultation materials that are on public record, and very easy to access? Has she talked to any of the 23 First Nations that have taken the time to participate and support the project?

Does she understand how tired many Indigenous people and communities are of managing poverty? Does she realize that protesters have amassed accelerant, rags and tires that put everyone in harm’s way? Or that protesters have partially cut down trees (in the forest industry this is referred to as widow makers) that represent a clear and present danger to workers?

The situation is complex and does not lend itself to pronouncements from bodies like the Human Rights Commission that haven’t taken the time to study the issues.

Environmental groups from outside our communities are creating insurmountable damage. These people are causing communities to turn on each other. Non-Indigenous protesters carrying around video cameras like they are on a Hollywood set are making sure the movie they’re producing appears to be racist and an act of violence for the world to see. This is very one-sided and far from the truth.

Commissioner, you have clearly been influenced by the multitude of social media chatter that emanates from opponents to energy development. I question why you are not giving equal time to the other side of the story.

The individuals behind all this nonsense are destroying communities like ours across the country, destroying families and friendships. In my opinion, we cannot tiptoe around those who yell the loudest and only represent those who oppose everything.

The only way I see this unfortunate circumstance being resolved is internally between the hereditary and the elected bodies. I hope the Wet’suwet’en people can come together, with no outsiders interfering with your conversations or videotaping your internal disputes. We are a proud people and together we are stronger.

Chris Sankey is a former elected Lax Kw’Alaams councillor and current president of Blackfish Group of Companies.

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