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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

ADAM OLSEN - There are no simple solutions to this conflict; this trip could not have changed that

The Wet’suwet’en have a rich and beautiful culture and I was honoured to have the opportunity to learn more about it from their hereditary chiefs.

Hereditary Chief Na’Moks took me to see Gidimt’en camp, which is approximately 10km past an RCMP controlled access point. That is where I met Hereditary Chief Dsta’hyl of the Likhts’amisyu clan. 

We shared words about our flawed system of resource management and the importance of collaboration between governments. We agreed that respecting our life-sustaining ecosystems through sustainable resource management is the only way forward for our province. 

On Sunday, I met with RCMP at the Smithers detachment and spoke about the need for a peaceful approach to this conflict. 

The hereditary chiefs are clear what the next step is: they want government-to-government dialogue between their leaders and the leaders of the provincial and federal governments.

Through my role as an MLA and the interim leader of the BC Green Party, I am impressing upon my NDP colleagues this message of open dialogue and the need for everyone to come to the table. Our governing agreement (“CASA”) establishes a relationship that requires regular meetings, and I will share what I learned on this tour.

There are no simple solutions to this conflict; this trip could not have changed that. But I hope it demonstrated that respect, humility, an open mind, and a willingness to learn are critical elements of reconciliation. 

We have inherited a colonial legacy and the heartbreaking issues that come with it.  We all have a responsibility to our children that we lean in and work out our differences so that the next generation does not inherit these issues. 

I am prepared to begin writing our new legacy as a province. 

It has begun by establishing a framework with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA). 

Now we must do the difficult but vital work of following through.

This will take patience and compassion. It will take a fundamental shift in our mindset and a commitment to actually transitioning the economy, not just talking about it.

It will take dialogue.

Adam Olsen is the Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia for Saanich North and the Islands, and currently the interim leader for the BC Green Party.


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