I never thought I’d regard the First Nations as my heroes. But I am right now.
Don’t get me wrong – anyone is eligible for my hero designation. No races, creeds, colours, religions or the now-multiple-choice genders are excluded. To me a hero is a hero. All you have to do is stand up to bullying, tyranny and prejudice against others weaker. You just have to be a champion. You don’t even have to win.
First Nations have been whining a long time about a lot of things mostly justified and they have also stood up strong now and again but most of that has been in their own self interest. They have not been the champions of others. They don’t even legitimately have the mythical track record of defending the earth as often claimed. At least not so far as I have been aware. But that changed with Enbridge and Northern Gateway. The First Nations seem resolute about protecting the planet on that score. And it is spreading to other issues as well. Truly, they are idle no more.
Everyone said – whites and First Nations alike – that Enbridge and the oil pipeline should not travel across BC and spill poison into the sea. But it is native land the pipeline has to cross and the industry is throwing money at them at irresistible levels. But they are resisting. Strongly. And that is pretty good. It is very good, in fact.
But that was not what tipped me off to the new aboriginal chutzpah. That came more subtly. Seems no one wanted herring to be fished up north for conservation reasons. Gail Shea, the minister for the DFO (Destruction of Fisheries and Oceans) over ruled public sentiment and fishermen and ordered the fishery opened anyway. First Nations (and the Green Party) fought back and won. The fishery was not opened. Gail Shea and DFO lost. Now that is very good indeed.
And then it went even further. Seems our own provincial government was in consultation with FN over some projects that first required consultation with FNs (and environmental studies) and yet the government went ahead and approved the projects for go-ahead by order-in-council and when the natives heard about that, they threw the provincial reps out of the meetings. Physically. In our modern way, throwing people out of meetings is the equivalent of a punch in the nose.
Normally all you would hear is, “Well, we are going to have to sit down at the table and, at the end of the day find a way to go forward.” Translation: give me more money. Which is enough in itself to make me want to punch someone in the nose!
In a way, it is a revolution. Of course, the Indians have been revolting for ages (an old phrase from literature and not intended to offend) but, as I said, it has mostly been about them. But in defending the coast against oil spills and defending the herring fishery against a geocidal government policy, they have stepped up for all of us. And by throwing the bastards out of meetings, they have signalled ‘enough is enough’.
Put another way: the First Nations are actually doing something to change the way the government is mishandling just about everything. Your MLA and MP could take a lesson from them. And they should.
If I could, I would vote for them. First Nations are my new heroes.