An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
BLOCKADES ARE AN OFT-USED tactic for bringing attention to causes. They haven’t always ended well.
Fortunately, an occupation by an anti-pipeline group at the North Thompson River Provincial Park was brought to a peaceful end last weekend after RCMP made one arrest and warned there would be others.
The park is on the route of the Trans-Mountain pipeline. The group, called the Tiny House Warriors, blocked the entrance. Their approach is creative — they believe that building tiny houses on the pipeline right-of-way will somehow stop it from going ahead.
They claim authority over the land because it is unceded Secwepemc territory.
But the park is within the traditional territory of the Simpcw First Nation, which strongly disagreed with the occupation.
Many First Nations — about 44 of them by one count — support the pipeline through community benefit agreements. One of them is Simpcw. But others, as many as 53 according to another source, don’t.
Those in support say the pipeline will bring economic benefits and jobs aside from cash injections via the agreements. The Whispering Pines Band north of Kamloops, for example, says it stands to gain $10 to $20 million over 20 years.
Opponents, of course, say it’s an environmental disaster waiting to happen, either on the pipeline route itself or on the ocean in oil tankers.
The point is, being indigenous doesn’t mean you have one set of values and that you reach the same conclusions as everyone else who’s indigenous, any more than any other ethnic group. People will disagree on certain things no matter who they are.
But when opponents engage in acts that interfere with the everyday lives of others, they gain no friends and no support for their cause. They just make everybody mad.
It’s been said before that the right to protest doesn’t include the right to break the law. If it’s peaceful and respectful and doesn’t negatively impact anyone, go ahead. Make the point.
Blocking access to public property, however, simply feeds resentment.
Those tempted to start using blockades as a tactic in this fight would be well-advised to think about that.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.