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October 28, 2017 12:38 am

Chief Says Rejecting Development Costs Everyone

Thursday, January 21, 2016 @ 2:34 PM


Haisla Chief counsellor, Ellis Ross – photo 250News

Prince George, B.C. – The Chief of the Haisla Nation has presented a  personal  view on economic development,  and  it  presented a number of  unanswered questions and some surprisingly frank comments.

In his keynote address to the  Natural Resource  Forum,  Chief  Ross   said he is fully committed to  creating a better future for his people,  “I’m starting to understand the impacts  a project can have, not only on Aboriginals,  but on a region, a province, on a nation. It doesn’t seem to make sense that one part of the population succeeds while another  portion doesn’t.  Looking  back over a hundred  years,   that is what happened,  we cannot  duplicate that going forward.”

Chief Ross   says  all Canadians,  whether they  are Aboriginal or  not,  take for granted the services that are provided to  them,  such as health care,   and those services  are paid for  by revenues from  economic development. “When you drive on a road  that is managed by B.C.,  that  (road) is paid for  by revenues.  When  you have a social safety net of welfare and UIC,  it all comes from revenues.”

Then there’s the issue of Aboriginal Rights and Title  “Good concept, over 200  court cases won by Aboriginals in  the courts of BC and Canada but has it provided  results?  If it has, can you duplicate those results  with 203 separate Bands in BC that may want something  different or have different protocols on how to achieve  what they want?  Those 203 Bands also have separate views on what meaningful consultation can look   like.”  He says it’s almost an  impossible task to  develop a template and  those complicated issues are  why B.C.’s economy is not growing.

Chief Ross  says even if  the  issues  could be solved for one Band,   that doesn’t mean  there would be a solution for their neighbouring Band. Chief Ross  expressed real concerns about  First Nations being able to work together and cooperating with each other “This idea that First Nations respect each other  and  love to  share with each other, that’s a myth.  It always has been a myth.  I’m  not afraid to admit that my people hate my neighbours, always have, always will, our  history is warring and killing and raiding for wealth  for their woman, and maybe next month have a feast with them, that’s our history, our people still remember that.”

Chief Ross says the walls between First Nations have to be broken down “We  have to get  rid of the have and  have not  notion between First Nations, how   do we work together, because the pie is big enough for everybody. ”

Then there’s  a leadership  problem.  He says when the Province and Industry come to speak  with First Nations,  the First Nations aren’t clear on who among their own ranks, is  the leader.  “Right now it is unelected, versus Hereditary versus elected and nobody is  answering this question.  If Aboriginals don’t answer this question the courts will, and if the courts have to answer this question, they will provide you with an unclear  direction on how to achieve  the answer, they won’t give you the answer.”  He says the irony is that if the battle for leadership is not resolved, it is the membership of the band that will suffer the consequences of continued poverty,  unemployment  and  Indian Affairs programming.

Chief Ross says  saying yes to  economic development  means  First Nations will have the money to  fill the gaps in services not  provided by other sources.   Yet,  those who oppose  economic development are, for the most part,  those who have no stake in what’s happening in  his community “When you are opposing economic development outright, without looking at my issues,  why don’t you come and give me a solution?  why don’t you come to a  funeral of Band member who committed suicide?  And  don’t be the loudest  voice in the room when more health cuts  come down, or welfare cuts come down, or UIC  cuts come down, because they are coming.  Without revenues, services  get cut back.”

He says  there  is no truth to the belief that if a project is approved or not, only one party is  affected “One project does go ahead, or doesn’t go ahead,  we all get affected, guarantee you.  My situation is probably worse because I have to go back to a community with 60% unemployment,  poverty and suicides.  But we will all get affected, British Columbians,  Aboriginals,   we will all get  affected and we will feel it  in budget cuts, because that’s what  it all boils down to.  It’s a paper exercise in budget cuts for services.”






Chief Ross, I would sit down with you, buy you a coffee and share a conversation with you any day, just for the opportunity to congratulation you on your clarity of thought and your reasoned and rational views!

I have always had a lot of respect for Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band.

Chief Ross, as of today, you also have my respect!

Such a well stated speech. More people need to hear his personal views on this. It is the absolute truth.

Finally, a crystal clear voice of reason from an important representative of a BC First Nation. Thank you for articulating such a rational and reasonable argument.

I wish we had a thumbs up button just for him. That’s what I’ve noticed, and not just with F.N. Canadians think they can have it all, as long as someone else is paying.

Hallelujah! A man with some common sense. I would love to meet you Chief Ross to shake your hand. Spread your message loud and clear!

Now if any of us old white guys had said that, we would be branded white cloaked supremacists, oh wait.

Hey we are all in this together and a good part of the rift is caused by the big corporate green blob and ignorant celebrities who fly in and out in private jets.

The rest of society can learn from this! This is a monumental keynote address, potentially of wide ranging importance! I really respect people who practice some self criticism and self analysis! It is so much easier to always blame others! The past is the past, it can not be undone, but the future can be brighter!

Hope this was on tape. If so, 250 should post it. From there it would go viral. Wow, he nailed it. How rare.

I think that Seamutt’s comment (above) deserves more examination and discussion. He’s correct that if a white-skinned person of the approximately same political stature as Chief Ross (a large city mayor, or the chair of a Regional District board) stood up and said what Chief Ross said, he’d be pilloried.

That’s one of the mind-bogglingly absurd products of the current situation facing BC and its relationship with our indigenous peoples. Everyone knows that economic development (oil and gas, mining, tourism, wind power, LNG, etc.) creates public wealth (revenue through royalties). That revenue supports the highways we drive on, the hospitals we visit and the schools that teach our children.

To blindly oppose provincial economic development because of some vague political ‘us against them’ agenda is dead wrong. We’re all in this together folks – either we sensibly develop the vast natural resources of this province, or we starve.

Worse yet would be to ask our neighbouring provinces, or the federal government to feed us because we’re too stupid, or pig-headed, to figure it out for ourselves.

Finally a first Nations with a right perspective on economics.

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