Cabinet shuffle raises concerns about First Nations progress

 

Gordon Campbell’s decision to shuffle his cabinet during the summer recess surprised everyone.

The media has portrayed Stan Hagen as the big loser becauseof his demotion to Tourism, Sports and the Arts because of the poor performance as Minister of Children and Family Development handling  the  Sherry Charlie file.

First Nations might also be losers as Tom Chistensen was moved from the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation to handle ongoing scandals at Children and Family Development. Replacing Mr. Chistensen is Campbell loyalist Mike de Jong, who is not known for his nuance, discretion or cultural sensitivity.

In fact, while he was Minister of Forest Mr. de Jong, made frequent cultural gaffs that embarrassed his Ministry and government raised the ire of many First Nations. For example, he made commitments to Northwest Tribal Treaty leaders, and other northern First Nations, that his ministry wouldn’t follow upon; he frequently interrupted elders; and responded with impatience and little cultural awareness for ceremony and rituals.

And prior to that, while in Opposition, Mr. de Jong was the attack dog that tried to kybosh the Nisga’a deal going so far as to initiate a lawsuit challenging the final agreement.

Mr. de Jong wasn’t liked by many First Nations he dealt with. So expect a rocky road ahead for the much touted “new relationship”discussions.

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