Just as sure as the sun rises each day, LNG opponents will take any opportunity they can to call Haisla sell-outs for our position on the industry.
It underscores an unspoken double standard among protesters: that they will stand with First Nations rights when it comes to combating any chance for economic development, but they will cry ‘shame’ towards Haisla for standing up for our own rights to have a chance at prosperity.
What exactly do the opponents want? If they want the First Nations of B.C. to have real independence and sovereignty they need to accept that there are Indigenous communities which support LNG.
As we highlight what we are achieving by working with industries which approach us respectfully, I think it’s quickly being forgotten that Haisla have lived through the same struggles and tragedy of colonization, of assimilation and residential schools. Our parents and grandparents live with those scars, and they are not yet healed for my generation or my children’s either.
As a Nation we’re working to get beyond that hard past, and we are doing that through focusing on economic development. It’s a chance we didn’t have in the 1950s when industries began to arrive to build in our territory. We have lived through not having a say in development. We do now, and we’re working to make sure everything happens to our standard. Our territory is our home, our culture, our identity, and we care for it as such.
Am I a hypocrite for wanting to leverage opportunities with LNG to build a new Health Centre for my community? (Of which construction is underway.) Am I a corporate shill for supporting the agreements which means we have a staff of Haisla members in our organization focused entirely on our language and culture? Am I betraying my ancestors by saying we want a seat at the table to discuss any proposals for Haisla Territory?
I’ve been called every name in the book for my support for LNG. Yet I know our Council is doing what is right to support our members and our community. It’s not selling out. It’s investing in ourselves.
- Chief Councillor Crystal Smith