They are not trying to push us out of B.C. but they are trying to protect the land and their right to it. They want to live on their land, and they want us to understand that it is their land. If we want to use it to live on or use its resources, we should negotiate and pay them. It is their land they should have a say in what happens to it. We should also pay them for what we have already taken.
For the last 25 years these people have been trying to talk with us, to figure out what is fair. We have not been listening. This has been very frustrating for the natives. Given the lack of results, some are starting to go the more radical and violent way. The natives have put up blockades. Last summer they blocked off many roads. Why? To push their point. Blockades have worked. The members of the Upper Nicola Indian band mounted illegal blockades of three points on roads leading to Douglas Ranch, west of Kelowna, to protest against the arrest of six natives for netting trout on one of the ranch's private lakes. Those blockades came down after it was agreed to negotiate aboriginal fishing rights. No charges were laid against the natives. That's not all the natives are doing. Carole Cowan, a retired woman who lived 60 km out of Kamloops B.C. was wakened one night to Drumbeats. An unidentified armed native was pointing a gun to her son's head! "I never used to be prejudiced," she says, "I'm afraid I am now."
So what if the natives get what they want? All the people in Vancouver and Victoria that thought they owned houses might suddenly find that their titles were illegal and invalid--you can imagine the kaffufle that would cause. In the same way none of the logging licenses, mining licenses or oil licenses etc. in B.C. would be valid. It's a tight corner we've painted ourselves into. Not only that but the courts could also say we have to pay the natives for all the trees, water, minerals, and oil we have taken from what is legally their land.
So, how do we buy a province from these natives without acknowledging that it is theirs? Maybe we could negotiate. Maybe we could let them have some of the land and/or more say in the use of the land and its resources. It is legally theirs so they should get some say. Maybe we could pay at least something for all we have taken from the land. We are lucky to have any land so why not share. Don't we learn that in kindergarten?
We have been unfair. Still violence and force such as seen at the blockades is unnecessary. We need to work it out. Remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have done to you.
By Cara Baergen