Seeds of current indigenous protests planted by Prime Minister

Imagine someone you’ve had a long and very public, very acrimonious relationship one day decided to call an end to the adversarial nature of your partnership in the spirit of reforming the bond that forever ties and forging a new direction. There’s hope this could be the turning of a new leaf. A new day and a new way.

You’re invited to join this person in a very public forum where you and the people surrounding you expect the misgivings, transgressions and evils of the past to apologized for, made right and to chart a new course into the future.

But soon the messaging from the other party becomes platitudes a’ plenty. There’s a morass of verbiage but little substance. Expectations begin to grow but there’s very scant tangible action in how you and this other person interact. That hope eventuality transitions to resentment and those old feelings of betrayal-if they had even left- come roaring back when you realize nothing was ever going to change with this person you share an existence with.

Most of you can likely guess where your humble scribe is heading with this imagined scenario.

There’s been plenty written over the past two weeks concerning the situation being played out in the neighbouring community of Tyendinaga where a solidarity train blockade was or is ongoing as a sign of support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who are opposing a $6 billion natural gas pipeline planned to cut through unceded indigenous territory located within the British Columbia interior.

As of press time, the original blockade at Wyman road in Hastings County had been scattered by members of the Ontario Provincial Police although passenger and freight trains had yet to role with regularity due other protests and fires adjacent to the tracks that run just north of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

We will avoid hashing over the environmental concerns of natural gas captured through fracking and save it for another time and space but we share many of the feelings of those diametrically opposed to that method of harvesting that form of resource from the ground.

Ultimately, the situation Canadians and indigenous peoples of this land find themselves in today are a direct result of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting expectations in his first term as leader of this country and failing to accomplish any impactful agreements and direction between the two parties.
Given the inaction on the part of the federal government on a direction for truth and reconciliation, murdered and missing indigenous women and ongoing water issues on first nation lands, is anyone surprised Prime Minister Trudeau went to the colonial playbook and called for the blockades to come down?

Some in our community with hardened hearts were quick to quip on social media “About time” when the OPP descended upon a train crossing about 30 minutes north of Picton on Monday.

You know what else it’s time for? Clean drinking water in Grassy Narrows for a start. Then maybe an agreement that replaces the draconian Indian Act in favour of a pact fair to the people that came before european settlers and will foster reconcilation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians as is a goal of the Truth and Reconcilation Commission.

Make no mistake. The seeds of today’s discourse and deepening division in our own community over what is transpiring in Wet’suwet’en and Tyendinaga and elsewhere were planted when the Prime Minister of Canada made overtones and set expectations in indigenous and non-indigenous communities then failed to act in any measurable way.

-Jason Parks