How media twists the facts on Land and Indigenous Rights: a case study



This op/ed from Keith Baldrey of Global News is the type of amateurish commentary that causes confusion and incites continued racialized backlash and maintains structured racism.

“The company building it says it has signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the line’s route.

As any first year Indigenous studies student knows, elected chiefs are a fiction raised to life by the government of Canada to carry out their will in the extermination of Indigenous land rights, title and indeed, our Peoples. Elected councils’ role is confined to reserve lands. It is an administrative role that Canada has manipulated into a fiction of being actual First Nations governance. It is not.

Keith Baldrey and Global News makes no effort to provide this factual information to provide proper context to this Op/Ed.

Then we have the very next sentence that is weaponized to make white Canadians really angry.

“However, more than a half dozen unelected hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations oppose the project and are doing everything they can to block or disrupt its construction.”

This is deliberate and boosts the notion of white-centric superiority by denigrating a system that has existed for 10,000 years. A system that is actually closer to being “democratic” than the one that got John Horgan elected.

It is a system based on consensus building within the Clan families in support of leaders chosen from before birth who have spent their whole lives immersed in the deepest aspects of their culture. They and their Clan families have responsibility for all of their territory including reserves.

Remember. This in unceded land. Or more correctly it is sovereign Wet’suwet’en land, governed by the Clan families. Canada has never made a treaty with them or sought approval of the Clan Families to be on their land. They simply used the force of guns and police to enforce their 50 year old system on the Wet’suwet’en. This is colonization.

Thirty seconds of research provided this insight into how the system works.

One would expect some level of diligent fact-finding by someone writing an Op/Ed that may influence millions of people and, as we have seen many times now, can trigger extreme actions by those this weaponized writing tends to radicalize.

In this next sentence Keith Baldrey and the Global News editors lay out their real intentions.

“The latest move by the hereditary chiefs (and a handful of activist supporters) was to issue this past weekend a so-called “eviction notice” to Coastal GasLink workers at a work site near the northwest community of Houston.”

This is another weaponized sentence intended to divide the “nice” Indians from the “bad” Indians. This is a form of deliberate “othering” that is used to maintain white supremacy within Canada. Anyone Indigenous person who opposes Canada’s efforts to force themselves upon is an “activist” (read enemy) even when standing on their own sovereign land.

This next sentence furthers the notion of white is right.

“That notice came after a B.C. Supreme Court justice extended an injunction against the pipeline protesters, barring them from blocking company workers from accessing the site.”

What right does a local BC provincial court have in imposing an injunction on land and movement of a foreign population? That is the actual situation. What would the reaction be if the same BC judge gave an injunction to BC Hydro so they could build a dam in Washington state? It sounds like hyperbole, right? It isn’t. The situations are identical but for Canada’s historic acts of genocide and  land dispossession.

This sentence is an opportunity for Keith Baldrey to be incisive.

“Just weeks after patting themselves on the back for passing legislation that embraces the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the NDP government now finds itself being accused of trampling on the rights of Indigenous people.”

He could have identified the government of BC’s actions as tokenism that would eventually hoist them on their own petard. Instead he sees it as an opportunity to create division with the next sentence.

“The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has said the Wet’suwet’en has jurisdiction in the matter and has demanded both the B.C. and federal governments to accept that as fact.”

More weaponized words. :Demanded” is a loaded word to make the UBCIC chiefs look like bad guys bossing Canada and BC around, when in reality, they are simply stating facts. Perhaps loudly because experience has shown Canada does not listen to facts contrary to their will.

The next paragraph is loaded with irony if Keith Baldrey weren’t actually trying to be serious.

“The LNG Canada project is a centerpiece of its long-term economic strategy and a cornerstone of its climate action plan. There are already signs the project has lit a fire under the local economy of the province’s northwest communities, something badly needed as the forest industry continues to go into a tailspin.”

The Wet’suwet’en People were never at the table while BC and Canada devised this strategy although Canadian case law is very clear if your consider both Delgamuukw v regine (1997) and Tsilhqot’in (2014) that the land title rests with the Indigenous Peoples and therefore, it is not Canadian land. In 2012 Cree Lawyer Sharon Venne made a presentation to the UN CERD body and, as a consequence, Canada was asked by CERD to produce documentation supporting their claim to land title. That request remains unfilled.

Keith Baldrey fails to make any supporting links that the BC strategy to use Indigenous lands has anything to do with climate action when there is ample evidence that these projects are bad for the environment and have the potential to be devastating to sensitive ecosystems.

This is more “white is right” argumentation. He gets to question the right of the Wet’suwet’en to defend their lands and “others” them as activists yet he does not question the veracity of his own assessment of the benefits to BC and Canada to ensure they are actually good for anyone.

This paragraph is proof the Keith Baldrey can’t proof his own writing.

“The tensions have also split the Wet’suwet’en community, although most reports seem to indicate the protesters have the support of just a minority of the members of the 12 hereditary house groups (which in turn fall under five clans).”

Remember earlier in the article he said this

“However, more than a half dozen unelected hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations oppose the project”. Twelve houses; more than a half dozen chiefs sounds like a majority to me. Where are his stats to support his argument that the people defending the land are a minority?? He has not made that case except in his own mind.

This is where editorial discourse becomes editorial discord.

This article is nothing more than white supremacist propaganda intended to weaponize Canadians to accept continued colonial oppression regardless UNDRIP, the TRC, RCAP, and the #MMIWG2S National inquiry.

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