Hereditary chiefs typically designate a speaker to speak for them in public. This is because when they say something, it can’t be taken back. So I was curious when I heard Chief Maquinna from Ahousaht was going to speak at a Raincoast Education Society event in Tofino about old growth forests—how was this going to work?
Lewis George is the hereditary chief of Ahousaht, and bears the traditional title m̓ukʷina (Maquinna), which he received from his late father Earl Maquinna George. The first thing he did last week was to explain why he was speaking. Hereditary chiefs can only speak for themselves when they have good news. And Ahousaht has good news!
The Ahousaht confederacy recently announced their marine- and land-use vision for their traditional territories (ḥaḥuułʔi). The community consensus is to protect their lands and waters, including the globally rare ancient rainforests—the massive cedars and spruces—of which they are the custodians. Continue reading →
By approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has either failed to understand who voted for him and why, or he would appear to be a fraud.
During the election he presented himself as an alternative to Stephen Harper—a leader who had weakened environmental regulations, vilified environmentalists as ‘enemies of the state’ and pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Treaty. Justin spoke of the need to restore environmental protections, for true reconciliation with First Nations, to address the climate crisis for the sake of young people, and a return to science-based decision-making.
How could he betray all this? Why would he go to the Paris climate talks and boast “Canada is back”, then accept Harper’s carbon targets as his own? Why would he agree to a pipeline which was approved by a flawed NEB process which he had promised to fix? Why would he spend his summer vacation in Tofino, then put the beautiful west coast of BC at risk of a major oil spill? Continue reading →
The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is angered to learn that plans to begin gold mining exploration in the Tranquil Tribal Park in Clayoquot Sound took a significant step forward last week. A letter was sent to the BC Minister of Energy and Mines from a Senior Mines Inspector recommending approval for a permit to conduct exploratory drilling at the long-abandoned Fandora mine site.
The Tla-o-qui-aht oppose mining in their territory and are not satisfied with the level of consultation by the company, Vancouver-based Selkirk Metals (owned by Imperial Metals Corporation) and the BC government. The Nation was awaiting word on a meeting with the Minister, which they expected to happen in September.
The Tla-o-qui-aht have declared Tranquil Valley a Tribal Park, have been working to attract investors in a conservation model, and aspire to build a salmon hatchery and other sustainable projects. The mine does not fit the Tla-o-qui-aht vision of ecosystem management and resource stewardship. Continue reading →