Saturday, June 4, 2011

Issues: Reluctant Government

The B.C and Canadian Government are not dictatorial bodies opposed to change. They do, however, like the status quo and avoid drastic changes if they can. This is why land claims treaties are brought up by the Native tribes in question. If no aboriginal tribe in B.C stood up and demanded rights the government would be more than happy not to address the existing problems. The B.C government is reluctant to get involved with the Tsimshian people because of a variety of economic and social factors. Northern B.C is an industrial hub and the center of extensive clear cutting. Logging and fisheries are two of B.C's most thriving industries. When the Tsimshian people demand borders for their land and exclusive rights the government gets nervous. They don't want to give up everything at once. Instead they slow down the process and offer small changes at a time, hoping to satisfy the Tsimshian people. But the Tsimshian have proven themselves a tough opponent.

Tsimshian Chief Treaty Negotiator Gerald D. Wesley states: “A Treaty will be constitutionally protected. That means no outside government will be able to change what is agreed to, at least not without going through a very defined, very carefully worked-out process. Essentially, it’s untouchable which is good but it also means the negotiations have to provide results that will be much stronger and more beneficial than they are weak. We need to look at a treaty agreement as a positive outcome that’s going to provide the tools and resources to make change as well as providing a level of flexibility necessary to address changing circumstances of the future.” (

This is a big step for the government. When they go through a treaty negotiation they are pledging millions of dollars. They are pledging their support to the Tsimshian people and they are granting them exclusive rights. The government is not always ready to make a big step and therefore avoids confrontation and tries to procrastinate on major issues of contention. The B.C government should look at a treaty with the Tsimshian people as a deposit for the future. If the Tsimshian people outline how they will use the money-for education, fisheries, local economy, for instance- than the government has the responsibility to present money for these projects. To decrease the fear of non-beneficial treaty negotiations I think the government should have a minimal level of input in the first couple years. A committee can help the Tsimshian towards autonomy will decreasing the chances of poor spending decisions. Once the Tsimshian are on their feet socially and economically than the government will step out of the picture and grant the Tsimshian the long awaited independence they've been working towards.

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