The president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has warned of the province turning into a "battleground" if Premier John Horgan does not follow through on his promises to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The warning by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip came in a UBCIC news release today (January 10) in response to Horgan's January 9 comments regarding the arrests of 14 people at a First Nations barricade and checkpoint on a road southwest of Houston in northern B.C.
RCMP moved on the barricade—named Gitimd'en and erected to halt construction of a Coastal GasLink natural-gas pipeline planned to go through traditional Wet'suwet'en territory—to enforce a December court injunction against interfering with pipeline workers seeking access to the road and a nearby bridge over the Morice River. Another, older, barricade and camp called Unist'ot'en is farther down the road. Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and supporters control the checkpoints.
The release—titled "UBCIC Statement of Clarity in Response to Premier Horgan’s Comments on Unist’ot’en"—stated: "The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is concerned that Premier Horgan stated that in his view, “LNG Canada has shown the importance of consultation and meaningful reconciliation with First Nations and that’s why they have signed agreements with every First Nation along the pipeline corridor.
“First, we are beyond consultation and we need to be talking about consent...Second, there is no way that meaningful reconciliation has been achieved considering we had RCMP using excessive force at the Gitimd’en Camp on Monday of this week, in direct violation of article 10 of the UN Declaration which states that ‘Indigenous Peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories.’ In 2019 we fully expect the Provincial government to ensure that its political commitments are reflected in every single action and decision taken."
On September 2017, on the 10th annivcersary of UNDRIP, Premier Horgan released a statement that included the following: “Ten years ago today, UNDRIP was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The declaration represents a historic step toward recognition of the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. Our government fully recognizes that the declaration is essential to the future of Indigenous peoples here in British Columbia. That is why we are committed to working in partnership with Indigenous peoples to embrace and implement UNDRIP, which has been accepted by 148 nations, including the Government of Canada."
The closing lines of the January 10 UBCIC release quotes Grand Chief Phillip as saying: "The Premier has committed to implementing legislation on the UN Declaration and now it is more important than ever that this be accelerated. Otherwise, 2019 shall prove to truly be Battleground BC!”