A Message to the Snuneymuxw People - Protecting our Water & Rights
In recent days you will have seen that our Nation has taken strong, public, and direct steps to protect and defend our water and our fisheries. We stood up because we learned that the City of Nanaimo and Harmac seemed to be trying to move ahead to make deals about the water of the Nanaimo River while leaving Snuneymuxw on the outside. That cannot happen, and will never happen - and our People are standing up to make that clear.
In our Treaty of 1854 our way of life, including our relationship to our water and our fisheries, was con-firmed and protected for Snuneymuxw. Our People have always stood up to defend this Treaty wherever and whenever they needed to - on the ground, on the water, and in the courts. In 1963 our community stood up to reject the Crown saying the Treaty didn't exist. Our People won that case - but the fight goes on. The Crown and corporations continue to avoid what our Treaty requires. It is our responsibility to make it clear that the Treaty is the source of our strength and if they do not respect and implement it then their activities must stop.
When our Council learned last Thursday that the City and Harmac were going to try to cut a water-sharing deal about the water of the Nanaimo River, we said enough is enough. We immediately let everyone know this could not happen. On Monday Councillors Ahenakew, Good, Manson, White, Wyse, Yoachim and I, along with some Elders, Members, and staff went to City Hall where the City and Harmac were having a press conference to announce their plans. Our presence changed the press conference from one about their plans, to one about our Treaty. The strength of our People in the room led the Mayor to say in front of the cameras and the public, that the City will not make a deal unless Snuneymuxw gives its "consent and approval".
While we were happy to hear those words, we know too well that the proof is in what people do, and not what they say. We need to continue to advance what is just and right, in the face of those who seek to ignore us. We continue to prepare for the courts, and to take action as needed on the ground and on the water. Ultimately, all of our People must stand together as one to guard the trust our ancestors have passed onto us. In our unity we will find our strength to finally see our Treaty fully and completely implemented.
Chief Douglas White III Kwulasultun