BC Indian Chiefs reject Canada 150 celebrations

Kelowna - First Nations leaders won’t support history which reflects 150 years of genocidal policies

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) says it cannot take part in Canada 150 celebrations and is asking local indigenous leaders to spread the word.

The UBCIC met earlier this week at Seabird Island near Agassiz and passed a motion that said Canada 150 is not representative of the present realities of indigenous people.

“We cannot participate in and will not celebrate the federal government’s colonial notions of our indigenous histories, a history which reflects 150 years of genocidal policies in an attempt to eradicate our cultural, spiritual, and political systems, alongside our universal fundamental human rights to exist as indigenous peoples,” read the motion, passed by the UBCIC council.

“We invite and encourage all Canadians to recognize, celebrate and uphold un-romanticized indigenous’ histories, and the continual sovereignty of our nations while participating in Canada 150 events.”

The motion was moved by chief Wayne Christian of the Splats’in First Nation and seconded by chief Harvey McLeod of the Upper Nicola Band.

The UBCIC pointed out that the Canadian government has spent significant money on Canada 150 celebrations—in the amount of $500 million—while continuing to critically under-fund First Nations education and other issues impacting indigenous peoples across Canada.

“Canada 150 is not representative of the history of our lands and territories, or of our present realities as indigenous peoples,” stated the UBCIC, saying much work is needed to be done to reverse the damage done to First Nation people.

“A process of decolonization is required to reverse the impact of assimilation policies aimed at destroying our cultures, spiritualities, histories, languages, laws and systems of governance,” it stated. “Decolonization does not masquerade as a celebration of colonization that is ongoing today and continues to perpetuate cultural genocide. Decolonization will involve a fierce struggle by indigenous peoples to reinvigorate our own laws and systems of governance, and ignite within our own peoples hope and vision for our tomorrows with the recognition and knowledge of our true place among the nations of the world.”