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EDITORIAL – Let’s hope this isn’t another summer of blockades

(Image: CFJC, Bart Walchuk)

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 mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5943 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Let’s hope this isn’t another summer of blockades

  1. John Noakes // July 18, 2018 at 6:17 AM // Reply

    An interesting read would be the accounts of the fatal shooting of Dudley George at Ipperwash, Ontario. The link provided is for the Wikipedia version of what happened.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipperwash_Crisis
    Generally, there is some history behind these types of confrontations. If what the newly elected Premier of Ontario said is true, then I would say the First Nations people were given a death sentence to end their protest. Queens Park/Toronto is a 3 hour drive from Ipperwash; quite a ways away from having a personal touch on what was really happening.
    The story had some personal impact as my home town is near Exeter, Ontario and we had gone on family outings to Ipperwash on occasion. I can remember how poor the First Nations people were in comparison to we who had fair skin.

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