As in the case of the LNG protests in B.C., how can you reach agreements with a community that can’t agree with itself?
It might not seem immediately evident, but it’s possible the confrontation that has been taking place in a remote northern area of British Columbia will prove to be an important moment in Canada’s long, difficult struggle to come to terms with First Nations bands.
The situation offers a distillation of the dilemma that often makes relations with natives seem insoluble. That is, how can you reach agreements with a community that can’t agree with itself?
The dispute between Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp., and some elements of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, rests not with the gas company, the government, the police, the courts or any of the people doing their best to meet all required parameters for dealing fairly and equitably with First Nations. It’s an argument between one set of native leaders and another.
It’s also a problem only the natives can solve, and it raises a serious concern over whether Aboriginal communities will ever make serious advances in putting behind them the poverty and despair that plagues so many of their people until they find a way to resolve it.
In this case, the elected representatives of all 20 band councils along the route of a 670-kilometre pipeline have agreed to the plan. And no wonder: it would provide hundreds of millions of dollars worth of benefits, jobs, income and hope, and give the bands an enormous boost from the lands they have fought so hard to protect.