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      Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs

      Excerpts of Speech to February 22nd "United for People & Planet!" March & Rally

      I want first to acknowledge that we are on the territories of the Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilwətaɁɬ), the Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) and the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) First Nations, unceded territories.

      One of the things I've noticed about the Federal politicians lately is they really like to acknowledge that they are on unceded territories wherever they happen to be. It takes more than words to recognize, truly recognize, the place that First Nations people have. It takes more than just saying ‘I know where I'm standing.’ It's about respecting the authority of the Aboriginal title, rights and the inherent jurisdiction.

      Now we need to be able to have a country where we can rely upon politics being separate from justice. And we're not seeing that. And I know what we're here today for. I know many of you remember it was just a couple of short years ago when he was telling his cabinet and his MP's that "we will support this pipeline" before the recommendations were tabled. And this is continued today.

      He has stated time and time again that this pipeline will be built. Do you believe that? I didn't think so and I don't believe it either. We have a government that has made some very serious commitments to every one of you as Canadian citizens, and myself as well, as a First Nations person. And that's the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. This is a very critical international document describing the minimum set of standards for human rights.

      Who believes in human rights in Canada? Well, I can tell you after 150 to 200 years, the Canadian government has built this country on the denial of Aboriginal people's human rights.

      They have systematically developed the governance structure and processes which are dealing with our human rights as an inconvenience to their friends who happen to own corporations such as big oil and gas.

      When this government stands up and commits to each and every one of us as Canadian voters that they're going to implement the U.N. Declaration of Rights Indigenous People this means consent of First Nations in their traditional territories, nothing short of that.

      And so now the Court, they're walking around again. The governments are. They have hired, I believe it's an ex-judge to go out and do more "consultation" with First Nations on this. Well, we have to understand what consultation actually is. Consultation is defined by the government, designed by the government, implemented by the government. They prioritize what's important, and they make the decision.

      Nowhere in there is a First Nation ever going to experience free, prior and informed consent. It's a rigged deck from the start, and it's a rigged deck ever since he was speaking that this pipeline will be built regardless.

      This is a very clear example, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs is always focused and mindful of when the government forgets the laws of this land and reminds them that these are mechanisms of justice for this country. That consultation is not enough. Consultation is a way that First Nations participate and actually help the Crown develop the argument to run over the top of our human rights. And that is unacceptable.

      I want to believe, and I do truly believe, that the good citizens of Canada stand with First Nations and say, 'it doesn't matter what race of people you are, it does not matter what your faith is, the fact is you're a human being, you're living in Canada. This is a society built upon laws and justice, and we are watching again and again and again, generation after generation, government after government, targeting Aboriginal people's human rights.'

      I find that to be deeply offensive and deeply way-offside in terms of who Canada is in this country or in this world. It brings me great joy to my heart to stand with all of you, because when I see us coming together over something that is so critical to our existence on this planet - the planet.

      And industry they don't like to talk about that, they like "mitigation strategies." They like to rename things like "overburden" when we are actually talking about the land. But what we all realize is if we all take a deep breath right now, we need that air. I'm drinking a tea right now. I needed water for this, and I need that to live every day.

      Having a planet that can sustain us is critical and important. And we're not going to lose this. There's no way we're going to lose this thing. We're standing by we're standing strong. And we are here to make sure that the governments understand the power of the people whose feet are on the street today, tonight and tomorrow.

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