How might the Declaration Act affect forestry, mining, Site C or other projects on the B.C. landscape?

After Bill 41 became law, we had a chance to sit down for an hour with Adam Olsen, Tsartlip Nation member and MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. Topics included:

  • How Indigenous languages offer a different perspective on land
  • The inside story of how UNDRIP became enshrined in B.C. law
  • What has the government actually committed to?
  • When do we know consent has been achieved?
  • What happens if neighbouring nations disagree?

You can download or listen to the audio here:

Here’s an excerpt from right near the beginning.

Adam: “Part of the reason why I use SENĆOŦEN so regularly in the legislature is because it actually is a completely different worldview. It unlocks a different perspective. It unlocks a different relationship that W̱ILṈEW̱, humans, have with the world around them.

XÁ¸EL¸S, who’s the creator, or the transformer in the W̱SÁNEĆ territory, came around the territory and was transforming humans into all the other living things around. And so the relationship is really one of family. And it has a way of regulating a relationship if what you’re doing is looking at that cedar tree, that XPȺ¸ as your relative. As “the kind people”.

That’s the relationship that the W̱SÁNEĆ have with the cedar tree, is that they are the kind people, the people that give of themselves. Even to their own detriment, they’ll give the skin off of their backs, they’ll give planks off of their side — and continue to persist, and continue to live for hundreds of years afterwards. They’re the kind people, they’re the most giving people.”

Kai: “Saying ‘the kind people’ is a little bit different from ‘timber supply area,’ or ‘allowable cut’.”

Adam: “Or ‘fibre’. What is the value of fibre right now? The value of a tree is when it’s laying down. And the W̱SÁNEĆ people saw value in the tree when it was still standing. In fact, most of the trees that we harvested from stayed standing. Trees that we needed for building or for canoes were windfall. So yeah, it’s a completely different relationship.”