Webinar: Khelsilem on B.C. Indigenous rights bill
How affordable housing, climate action and Indigenous rights can fit together
We were pleased to welcome language teacher, elected councillor and Squamish Nation spokesperson Khelsilem for an hour-long chat with Kai Nagata and Dogwood supporters. Topics included:
- Sen̓áḵw, the Squamish Nation’s ambitious new 6,000-unit rental housing project in Kitsilano
- How Indigenous values can inform the climate fight in B.C.
- The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Bill 41, the government’s framework for aligning B.C. laws with the Declaration
- Trans Mountain, Site C and other ongoing violations of Indigenous rights
You can download or listen to the audio here:
Here’s one exchange from about 30 minutes in.
Kai: “The old argument, I think, was that recognizing Indigenous rights would be bad for the economy. And what we’re seeing instead is that recognizing Indigenous rights might be the first step in really unlocking a whole new era in B.C. where the economy works for more people. Where the economy is capable of creating affordable housing, of providing jobs and prosperity without generating CO2 emissions. It seems like putting the communities that own the land back in the driver’s seat is actually a recipe for long-term decisions in the best interest of all the people that live on that land.”
Khelsilem: “Well I think this speaks to the history of power within a lot of Western countries. And the way that those who have concentrated wealth in their own hands have had an inordinate amount of power over the decisions that impact our society. Within Canada, the early founders and a lot of the decisions in terms of the structure were made by a small group of very wealthy white men. So I think the struggle that unites us all is around this challenge to concentrated power in the hands of a few.
You know, if you’re a climate activist, it’s the same story. If you’re a worker within the oil sands, it’s the same story. If you’re a low income person from multiple generations of poverty it’s the same story […] And when you start supporting Indigenous rights, it’s a direct challenge to that concept of concentrating power in the hands of a few. And actually giving some power, some influence back to local people and people who actually have a real vested interest in sharing the wealth and opportunities that really should be shared by everybody.”
To see Khelsilem’s slides of the Sen̓áḵw project and the original village site versus the current reserve lands, open this PDF.
Finally, here’s the Tŝilhqot’in Nation’s new solar farm (the largest in B.C.) also referenced in the webinar. Enjoy!