The ability to imagine the pain of others and the desire to see it end lies at the root of all efforts to end animal suffering. The same empathy and compassion is also what allows us to mourn, and to seek redress for, the suffering Indigenous Peoples have experienced here in British Columbia.
Reconciliation and redress must be founded on a true accounting of past wrongs. Many Canadians are finally grasping the horrors imposed on indigenous children and families by the residential school system, but fewer are aware of the deprivation and dispossession First Nations have suffered since the founding of this Colony/Province: the Crown’s widespread failure to enter into treaties before appropriating First Nations’ lands, its failure to honour the solemn obligations it undertook in the few treaties that were concluded, its decision to corral First Nations onto inadequate reserves while making good land and water available to European settlers and corporate entities, its repeated reduction of First Nations’ reserves, its appropriation of traditional village lands and resource gathering sites, its criminalization of indigenous spiritual and cultural practices etc…. .
It is simply not enough to acknowledge that we live on the unceded territory of the Indigenous Peoples amongst whom we live. The consequences of the Crown’s historical wrongs reverberate through indigenous communities to this day, and must be addressed.