A recent report from the Conference Board of Canada says B.C.’s education system is the best in Canada.
On the international scene, our province placed third overall, just behind Japan and Finland. Surely our teachers had something to do with these high standings.
That being said, the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in favour of the Xeni Gwetin’s land claim has revealed some gaps in our knowledge, if not our education.
Maybe the decision startled people because so many of us, including politicians, don’t know enough about B.C. history or the Canadian Constitution. When B.C. joined Canada, nobody bothered to get treaties with the First Nations. That boo boo has been perpetuated by federal and provincial governments who have found it convenient to act as though Aboriginal rights were extinguished, not “recognized and affirmed” as the Supreme Court has ruled.
No matter how you feel about the decision, you have to admire and congratulate the Tsilhqot’in Nation for their persistence in soldiering on with this David versus Goliath process. Starting it all in 1992 were the Xeni Gwet’in, a Band small in numbers but large in spirit. Chief Roger William led the charge from the beginning. He is known for his soft voice, engaging smile, and determination.
What next? The ramifications of the ruling are huge; and like it or not, there is no appealing the Supreme Court’s interpretation of our laws. At the moment, the B.C. and federal governments are “reviewing” or “analyzing” the decision. The province has apologized to ethnic immigrants for past injustices but acting on the Supreme Court’s advice for reconciliation with First Nations will require more than apologies. The politicians (and some industries) will have to show a lot more good will and understanding than they have in the past if the province is to “move forward” on land use projects. Let’s hope they get on with it ASAP.
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.