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Couldn't politics be set aside for Royal Visit?

September 26, 2016 4:24 P.M.
Duchess of Cambridge meets British Columbians. (B.C. Government Flickr photo)

A NewsKamloops editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

GRAND CHIEF Stewart Phillip says he means no disrespect by refusing to take part in a ceremony today with Prince William, but how else should we take it?

The Black Rod ‘reconciliation’ ceremony featured the handing over of a ring of reconciliation to the prince. The Black Rod is a ceremonial staff used on formal occasions in the B.C Legislature.

But Stewart said , “In good conscience, I cannot participate in the Black Rod Ceremony. The suffering in our communities is too great.”

He apologized for any inconvenience but said it was a matter of principle.

He said there hasn’t been enough progress on the Tsilhqot’in decision, that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has had enough time to deal with it even though he’s been in office less than a year.

He said Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights are another unresolved issue.

Good grief, isn’t it possible to set aside the politics for just a few days while the Royal Family visits our province? Couldn’t British Columbians of all origins, especially those invited to a ceremony of reconciliation, offer them welcome and respect?

Part of reconciliation involves the presence of First Nations representatives at all manner of public events and ceremonies. Any time a ribbon is cut for a new building, any time a meeting of significance is held, First Nations are there to be part of it, sometimes to offer a prayer, sometimes to provide some ceremonial entertainment, or to take a place at the microphones. Other First Nations leaders were certainly part of the welcoming ceremonies on Sunday.

The purpose of all this is to recognize that we all share this land, and that First Nations were here first, that despite decades of struggles to find common ground, we strive for reconciliation and cooperation.

What possible good does snubbing the Royals do anyone? Surely the politics could have been ignored for a day.

Got an opinion? Leave a comment here or write to letters@newskamloops.com. 

yuri says:
September 29, 2016 05:47am

Does Chief Philip really represent anyone anymore? He isn't really a Chief anymore is he? He just seems to be an easy sound bite for media who can't seem to identify first nation leaders who actually participate in making life better for members.

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jj says:
September 28, 2016 01:29pm

"What possible good does snubbing the Royals do anyone? Surely the politics could have been ignored for a day."

Chief Stewart Phillip's refusal to go along with this charade gets my respect. As a descendent of British grandparents, I wouldn't participate either. He successfully elevated the issues that concern first nations and many Canadians to the international press through the story's coverage in The Guardian. I applaud his bravery and consistent message. This is in contrast to the hypocracy of the provincial and federal Liberals whose duplicitous messaging suggests that they care about the environment and first nations rights, while approving destructive mega projects like Site C and Pacific NW LNG. These projects threaten BC's natural heritage and the health of our wildlife and human inhabitants. The royal show is a corporatist spectacle designed to distract and trick the population into accepting the treasonous political actions of the provincial and federal governments as they saddle BC taxpayers and their homeland with massive risk to enable foreign and corporate profits.

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Robert George Barriere says:
September 28, 2016 11:31am

Bang on again Mel,you old codger. Whats a codger? Anyway most of us are becoming pretty tired of all the contraversy pertaining to aboriginal rights.The aboriginal folks who like to stir the pot should take the time to read some of the books by John Prebbles,particularly " The Highland Clearances".The highland Scot was unfortunately also tribal.It was the times.One peoples subugation by others has been going on for thousands of years,as has mass migrations,such as we are now witnessing,and will continue to witness.An unsolvable human dilemnma.
The absence of Mr Phillip from the podium in Victoria was an instant signal of trouble.It was a sign of disrespect for us all ,but mostly to his own.
Judging by Prince Williams countenance during some of the rhetoric on reconciliation,he was bothered by it,and should not have been subjected to it.
Will it never end?

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Ken McClelland says:
September 26, 2016 10:56pm

Once again Chief Phillip displays a complete lack of class, and shows his fierce determination to have First Nations people continue to wallow in the poverty of the reserve system and the Indian Act as wards of the State. Isn't it about time folks like him rode off into the sunset, and that the forward thinking First Nations chiefs, i.e. Chief Louis of the Osoyoos Band, came to the fore, and transition First Nations people into full self-determinant Canadians, and allow them to get out from under the thumb of a system that has been proven time and again not to work. There are plenty of First Nations people that would be glad to see a project or two go ahead that would provide a good-paying job for their family. Instead they are stuck with backward-thinking leadership that only wants to maintain the status quo. The status quo sucks for most of these folks, has for a long time, and I am amazed they don't bounce their leadership and demand better.

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Rob Dwyer says:
September 26, 2016 07:41pm

The only way to reconcile with First Nations is to throw more and more money at them .. That's all they want . They want more cash directed at the different bands . That cash just keeps gathering in the hands of the Chiefs and councils while their people suffer . We cannot fix that simply by continuing to rob hard working taxpayers and pissing the money away on corrupt councils . Grass roots natives need to revolt and demand they get their fair share of moneies extorted from working Canadians . Harper tried to help them by demanding some amount of accountability from the band councils , Trudeau ignored this legislation and continued to let band members down . Natives suffer because they believed in the forked tongue of another Trudeau .

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