Letter: Complexity of reconciliation looms over prime minister’s sunny ways

Writer suggests current protests a preview of coming showdown over Trans-Mountain

When his Liberal government was first elected in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau boldly declared “Sunny Ways” were ahead for all Canadians, and made many rosy promises about the environment, energy and reconciliation.

Maybe he should have consulted the dictionary definition of “reconciliation.” It means the restoration of friendly relations, and making one view or belief compatible with another.

These days that word definitely means different things to different groups within the 634 Indigenous bands that total less than a million people of First Nations heritage, and to about 37-million non-Indigenous Canadians.

For example, many Canadians of all ethnicities believed reconciliation should start with upgrading living standards on reserves, by swiftly providing clean water, good housing and education, along with decent jobs and security. Sadly, progress has been pitifully slow. An Aboriginal Peoples Television Network commentator said his people should benefit from all resources extracted from Canada such as oil and gas, timber, gold and other minerals.

Those examples are but a glimpse of the complexity of reconciliation.

Read more: Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Read more: VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en chiefs, ministers reach proposed agreement in B.C. pipeline dispute

The impasse with the Wet’suwet’en band’s hereditary chiefs still drags on. Talks were eventually held with federal and provincial government ministers finally agreeing to implement court rulings from over 20 years ago, but there is another delay awaiting majority decisions of the band members. Meanwhile, the country’s economic future is held to ransom as protests waged in support of the hereditary chief’s position on the natural gas pipeline has cost countless millions of dollars to Canada’s commercial sector and to many people’s livelihoods.

The PM’s sunny ways may extend far into the summer, as many Canadians consider that several groups of current protesters are just warming up for another showdown against the Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion.

Bernie Smith

Parksville, B.C.

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