After quietly watching the various blockades across the country in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Manitoba Metis president David Chartrand issued the following statement.
My fellow Citizens across our Homeland,
As many of you are already aware through various media coverage, the Wet’suwet’en First Nation issues of who has jurisdiction to represent the First Nation Citizens of that territory regarding its lands and natural resources and Coastal GasLink pipeline has spilled into all of Canada.
We have been watching with the understanding that this governance issue between the First Nation Chief and Councils (who support the pipeline) and some of the Hereditary Chiefs (who disagree with the pipeline) is not yet resolved.
The Metis Nation is a Nation born out of resistance. Resistance based on defending the rights of our families and our future. We understand struggle, we understand not being heard. We understand that we must fight when we have too. We have made great strides in bringing awareness of our rights to Canadians and the world. We have done this with hard work, consistently moving our agenda forward and our people to their rightful place for our families, the youth and the generations to come.
We have not interfered or involved ourselves in this conflict out of respect for the First Nation Elders and Citizens of this territory. Unfortunately, as the escalation of this conflict and immediate impacts are far reaching and now affect every corner of our country, we are compelled to respond.
Our history and struggles have been well documented and are better understood today. Our Metis Nation has said we would never want to hurt another, for we understand pain, we understand struggle.
The eyes of Canada are watching now, as this conflict has escalated to protests and barricades. It has become a stage for environmentalists and sympathizers. And there are those with their own motives, furthering their own personal agendas, with no accountability back to the very people who will live with the resulting long-term impacts for generations to come. These “activists” can walk away and never look back, while the elected Leadership can’t – because they must be accountable to those they represent.
There are clearly opposing views internally in the Wet’suwet’en territory on moving forward with the multi-billion dollar investment with the Coastal GasLink pipeline going through their lands. The views vary from the economic benefits for the First Nations, to the environmental impacts on the land.
This internal matter has now caused a chain-reaction of protestors across the country, blocking rail lines that deliver goods to all Canadians affecting all aspects of quality of life. These protestors have NOT received the sanction of the democratically elected Indigenous governments to protest. These actions and the lack of dialogue arises from not respecting the roles and responsibilities of the elected leaders.
Our Metis Government will not endorse or support the protestors who are now on the verge of harming many innocent people who are not choosing sides on the pipeline issue. The elderly, people who are ill, youth, children and all our relations will be affected. I pray that the protestors understand they have been heard. Now is the time to ask ourselves: when will this stop? Will it be when a life is lost or an illness worsened because of these protests and barricades?
This will be on protestors’ shoulders to bear.
Peaceful resolution is paramount. Compassion is vital on both sides.