(Vancouver, BC) BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry along with executive board members Tim St Denis and Joe Desjarlais joined over 600 people at the West Coast Oil Pipeline Summit and Gala Dinner last night at the Sheraton Wall Center in downtown Vancouver. The Tsleil Waututh First Nation hosted a transformative conference on Friday evening.
A distinguished cross section of speakers and dignitaries from Aboriginal and mainstream communities were unanimous in their passion and conviction. An attentive audience heard economic arguments as well as human and even spiritual statements. Everyone in the room recognized and felt the significance of the event.
The words spoken challenged the self interest, lies and distortions spun by current politicians and venal big oil corporations only interested in the bottom line. Of note, the First Nations signed an international Treaty to protect the Sacred from tar sands projects and this momentous event conducted earlier in the day was celebrated by all involved.
Of note, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson tapped into a major theme of the evening when he stated that we are at a turning point and we can no longer poison our planet.
Federal politician Elizabeth May stated with conviction, “let’s start weaning ourselves off an addiction problem.” People stood to their feet clapping as she finished by restating an earlier speaker, “everything always seems impossible until it’s done.” Economist Robyn Allen painted a vivid picture of the consequences of unfettered oil extraction, including higher oil prices, domestic jobs at risk, hollowing out of the resource sector, continued reliance on foreign exports, crowding out of legitimate economic activity, and more than twice the environmental risk. Chief Phil Lane talked about spiritual moral ethical dimensions of pipeline expansion. He talked about a fundamental change around the world in the way we look at mother earth and with each other. “We’ve come to a place where we’ve got to wake up and realize that our mother earth is dying.”
BC Mètis Federation Secretary Joe Desjarlais stated, “At its core this was not just a technical conference. The words cut though the ideology that undergirds big oil. The speakers and participants challenged bad ideas, like big oil and its advances are inevitable, sustainability is a dream, that caring for the environment will kill jobs, and that political activism is futile.” The significance of the night was not simply in its united opposition. It was a triumph for democracy and citizenship involvement. As well, the self determination of indigenous peoples was affirmed. Speaker Paul Clements Hunt impacted the audience with his words that it’s the responsibility of people to “Free up the imagination to see what is possible.” He also stated that we are part of a revolution in clean energy, and that capital is starting to move in that direction.
BC Mètis Federation Secretary Joe Desjarlais added, “I got the sense that Canadians and their institutions are committed as never before to think clearly about their role in shaping Canadian society in ways that are more balanced. One speaker talked about a made in Canada energy strategy. We need policies that reflect people and place. I’m honored to represent Métis people and communities at this historic event.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry concluded, “I was very honoured to be in attendance and hear the views and collective voice. It is clear that Aboriginal and all Canadians need a better way forward, where sustainability and the economy go hand and hand. Where the Federal Government listens to the local community and supports their decisions. We can and will make it better for our children, frankly we are at a tipping point and our future generations need us to make changes one step at a time.”
For more information about the please go to the BC Métis Federation website www.bcmetis.com.
BC Métis Federation
Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2
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