Why Indigenous Authority is Important to You

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Photo: Unist'ot'en Camp/Facebook

Imagine the Canadian outrage.

What if one country, with massive economic control and a police force, invaded a land, installed its own government, and then arrested the representatives of the true government when they protested the plans of the country that colonized them. Imagine the Canadian outrage.

Why, then, is there no outrage when Canada does this to Indigenous Peoples?

In fact, the outrage is directed against those who try to pursue self-determination for their nation and people. Could it be that well-cultivated and widespread prejudice interferes with the moral capacity of the general population?

The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, pictured here in 2018. Photo: Unist’ot’en Camp/Facebook

It must be said: Indigenous authority over their lands is important—important to all Canadians, important to you. Today, it is estimated that over a quarter of the world’s usable land, including the Amazon, is under Indigenous authority, governance and stewardship.  Though often ignored or unrecognized by colonial governments, this oversight has kept the land safe and productive for centuries. If the planet is to be saved from catastrophe, the authority of the People of the Land, the Indigenous Peoples, must be recognized and affirmed by the nations of this world.

In the Arctic, Indigenous authority is hindered in many ways, even when the territorial governments are largely run by Indigenous Peoples themselves. The full authority of traditional forms of oversight and stewardship have been minimized by the way outside governments, extractive industries and broader economic authorities and interests still determine the overall workings related to the land’s integrity and well-being.

If the collapse of our ecosystems is to be avoided, the strength of Indigenous authority must be returned. The moral framework is now the survival framework for our planet. There is no healthy future for our planet without the full recognition of Indigenous rights.

I will repeat it.

There is no healthy future for our planet without the full recognition of Indigenous rights.

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Mark MacDonald
Archbishop Mark MacDonald is national Indigenous archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I heartily agreed and stand behind my step-siblings in their willingness to stand up for the earth, our home. But ignoring the rights of Indigineos landholder and stepping on them in the name of colonial authority is strong and embedded in our culture, as you so cogently stated. Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Mark, for reminding us of the bottom line call for indigenous rights to be recognized, affirmed & upheld in this country!

  3. That is fine. However, the rest of Canada has to survive. Shut down the livelihood of hundreds of rail workers. Threaten those who are on propane with a heating shortage. Hold all of Canada ransom because of a few leaders who disagree with the majority of the indigenous chiefs. Sorry, you don’t hold the rest of Canada ransom. The point has been made the economic sustainability of the country has to be maintained. Move on and negotiate without threatening the rest of Canada. This is winter indigenous rights are fine but the point has been made.

  4. Bishop Mark: Could you clarify why we hear Heritage Chiefs are taking these steps to support their indigenous rights and 20 Chiefs within the Indigenous Community have signed treaties to allow activity on their land I agree that we have not been supportive of Indigenous Rights but I am confused by conflicting statements within their community. I know this is not a simple question. I do have concern about the economic impact for all Canadians – Our indigenous family receive and need economic support too. Blockaded may hurt many, many people. As Christians we must be supportive but that must includes ALL Canadians. – Original inhabitants and settlers, white, black and Brown Jacquie

  5. I understand that the issue of government-to-government talks is central to the issue. I would expect that provincial and federal government leaders would hasten the area (here I mean the Bulkley Valley/ Wet’suet’en lands) and address their opponents face to face. It’s what we advocate as a way of addressing difficulties in our homes, our schools, and our churches.

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