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GUEST: Inside the Wetsuwet’en Power Struggle

The Office of the Wetsuwet’en, upon whom media attention is focussed, is a quarter-century-old green quango sustained by governments and philanthropies.

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Athabascan-speaking indigenous peoples of B.C.’s central interior were once called “Carriers.” The name survives in: Carrier Chilcotin Tribal Council and Carrier Sekani Tribal Council. B.C.’s 8,000 Carriers populate a dozen bands. Distinctions among Carriers, and between Carriers and their neighbors, turn on differences in dialects that few actually speak. Several Carrier bands now self-identify as “Wetsuwet’en.” 

Carriers contacted Europeans in 1793 and soon plied the fur trade. Between 1871 and 1895 Ottawa assigned them reservations. Employment in railway crews and logging camps dates to this era.

Wetsuwet’en First Nation (pop. 257) is one of three bands arising from the recent breakup of the Omenica Band. The other two are: Nee-Tah-Buhn (pop. 130) and Skin Tyee (pop. 164). 

Coastal GasLink began consulting effected aboriginals in 2012. They held 15,000 consultations and awarded a third of the pipeline’s preparatory jobs to aboriginals.

Coastal GasLink inked agreements with 20 First Nations including the abovementioned: Wetsuwet’en, Wislet, Skin Tyee and Nee-Tah-Buhn bands. Also signing were Wetsuwet’en bands in the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council:  Stellat’en, Ts’il Kaz Koh, Nadleh Whuten and Saik’uz. The sole unsigned Wetsuwet’en band, Hagwilget Village, is far from GasLink’s route. All Wetsuwet’en bands along Coastal GasLink’s route have consented. 

Wislet First Nation alone will receive $55 million over the life of the project; plus, jobs and training. In a 2018 secret ballot, two-thirds of Wislet voters supported Coastal GasLink’s offer.

The Office of the Wetsuwet’en (“OW”) is the unelected, media-anointed representative of the Wetsuwet’en. By admission, the Smithers-headquartered OW is: “not an Indian Band or a tribal council.”

(The five bands with which OW claims affiliation receive combined annual revenues of $25 million; mostly from Ottawa. Combined on-reserve populations total 1,250. Their 3,000 off-reserve members live in Smithers, Prince Rupert, Prince George and Vancouver. Many were born in these centres.

In 1992, Ottawa hatched the B.C. Treaty Commission and Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy. The former funds B.C. aboriginal participation in treaty negotiations.

The Wetsuwet’en Treaty Office Society emerged in 1994 to access Commission funds. Since then, they’ve rung-up a $15 million debt. They receive annual loans and contributions totalling around $400,000. Money goes to honoraria for Hereditary Chiefs, administration, overhead, etc.  

The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) is a Fisheries and Oceans Canada initiative. A.F.S. disburses $35 million annually to 125 groups. Aboriginals are paid to: monitor wildlife; enforce conservation regulations, and manage traditional fisheries.

In 1995, the Office of Wetsuwet’en Chiefs landed a $105,000 AFS cheque. In 1996, they netted: a $500,000 A.F.S. cheque; a $100,000 “green plan” cheque; and $89,000 in salmon sales. (Salmon sales thereafter disappear from the books.) 

The Office of Wetsuwet’en Chiefs was an unregistered society managing the Wetsuwet’en Treaty Office Society. The two entities merged in 2000, into the Office of the Wetsuwet’en. 

O.W. parlayed A.F.S. and Commission stipends into several counselling, cultural and enviro-assessment programs. Their $4 million in annual revenues goes mostly to salaries, administration, and honoraria for Hereditary Chiefs. OW employs 30 full-time staff.

O.W.’s Fisheries and Wildlife Department employs 3 full-time, and 20 seasonal workers. Department boss Walter Joseph got the gig in 1996 and never left. Walt’s an “adopted” Wetsuwet’en.

O.W.’s Natural Resources Department employs 4 full-timers. Hereditary Chief John Ridsdale is spokesman. Mike Ridsdale does enviro-assessments. David Dewit (B.Sc. Biol.) specializes in “sensitive ecosystem preservation.” David Belford – a non-aboriginal who’s been moiling aboriginal grants since 1975 – specializes in media relations and negotiating “engagement agreements”, whereby hapless resource companies bankroll OW’s enviro-assessments.

O.W.’s records contain line items regarding “Coastal GasLink Project Assessment” ($154,000 in 2014; $111,000 in 2015 and $114,000 in 2016). This money apparently came from Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency; although a 2016 issue of Wetsuwet’en Voice references a $30 million provincial LNG Environmental Stewardship Fund.

O.W.’s Resource Department’s land-sharing/enviro-agreements yield a few hundred grand annually. O.W. logging made a $1 million a year in 2012-13 before devolving into a smaller but steady payout from Canfor. 

The 2016 Financial Statement mentions a “title assertion case” against Canfor on behalf of Hagwilget Village. That band ran up a $293,000 debt to O.W. but a $330,000 Canfor cheque cleared this. 

O.W. documents detail grants from enviro-funders. The Pacific Salmon Foundation has given cheques in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. The Driftwood Foundation gave them $9,500 for “clan meetings.” The Bulkley Valley Research Centre donated over $100,000. During 2014-16, Tides Canada awarded $130,000 for clan meetings and “IT support”. 

O.W. boasts “structural allegiances” with: the US enviro-grantmaker Moore Foundation, the Skeena Fisheries Commission, and the Skeenawild Conservation Trust (an E.N.G.O. connected to major foundations). John Ridsdale is a Skeenawild Trustee.

O.W.’s Mission:

“Based on the priorities of the Board of Directors, staff must negotiate program funding through various federal and provincial governments and foundations. This situation creates added responsibility for management to ensure that programs meet goals to illustrate success and generate support for continued funding.”

O.W. does Big Green’s bidding whist shaking down resource companies and the workers (often indigenous) that stand to benefit. 

O.W. documents are saturated with eco-propaganda. Hereditary Chief Henry Alfred intones: 

“We need to clean up the environment and ecosystem by ending the use of herbicides and pesticides.”  

O.W.’s website sports anti-pipeline articles dating to 2006. An October 2018 media release crows about O.W.’s longstanding opposition to all pipelines. O.W. led aboriginal opposition to Northern Gateway, which the Trudeau government killed in 2016. A December 2018 release affirms their programmatic opposition to Coastal GasLink.

Another pillar of O.W.’s Mission is: “ensure a governance model based on our hereditary system.” They declare:

“Our office is governed by Wetsuwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.” Not the democratically elected band council representing the Wetsuwet’en people.

Hereditary Chiefs aren’t strictly hereditary. Chief Alphonse Gagnon appears to be white. 

Moreover, in 2015, after three female Hereditary Chiefs endorsed Coastal Gaslink, the O.W. gang stripped them of their chiefdoms. (The women contest this usurpation.) The title of “Chief Woos” was taken from Darlene Glaim and given to Frank Alec, who became spokesman for the eco-activist Gitdumden clan. 

In 2019, to mitigate this patriarchal purge O.W. elevated Freda Huson and Molly Wickham to “Wing-Chiefs.” Huson is the hyper-activist co-founder of the Unistoten Camp. The telegenic, university-educated OW staffer, Wickham, isn’t Wetsuwet’en. 

In 2009, O.W. issued an imperious Protocol requiring resource companies in their self-declared 22,000 sq. k. domain to submit all plans to OW for approval. Also in 2009, O.W. held five weekend retreats; one for each “clan.” Each retreat attracted a dozen adults who were lectured by Ridsdale and Belford on eco-activist tactics. One retreat conjured the “Unistoten” – allegedly a “house” within the Big Frog clan.    

The Unistoten are no ancient order. They are a plausibly deniable, direct action, astro-turf front group. The Unistoten Camp blockade, the main manifestation of opposition to Coastal GasLink, has been joined by the Gitdumden Camp. Many camp activists are non-aboriginal, professional protestors.

The few thousand people who might rightly claim Wetsuwet’en heritage are demonstrably, overwhelmingly supportive of Coastal Gaslink.

The Office of the Wetsuwet’en, upon whom media attention is focussed, is a quarter-century-old green quango sustained by governments and philanthropies. 

O.W. “Hereditary Chiefs” represent only themselves and their ill-intentioned funders.

Guest column by William Kay. The contents of this article are the property and responsibility of William Kay’s and not the Western Standard. 

Features

Royal Canadian Legion ‘saddened’ over vaccine-related protests

Several vaccine related incidents unfolded on Remembrance Day, including the desecration of a war memorial.

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The BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion released a statement regarding vaccine related disruptions that took place during Remembrance Day ceremonies, as well as the desecration of a war memorial.

“We are the keepers of remembrance in Canada. As long as we exist we will uphold the tradition of remembrance to ensure Canada’s fallen will not be forgotten,” said Val MacGregor, President of BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.

“We are saddened that anyone would feel it necessary to distract from the sacrifice of our veterans and their families with political agendas. Especially, on Remembrance Day.”

In Cranbrook, RCMP were notified that someone defaced the cities Cenotaph mere hours before the Remembrance Day ceremony was set to take place. Spray-painted across the memorial were the words “the real heroes are the vaccinated.”

dmac88/twitter

In Kelowna, police were called to an unofficial Remembrance Day event at City Park where hundreds of people gathered to pay respect to fallen Canadians. Amid the gathering, a small handful of people protesting COVID-19 vaccine related measures set up a microphone and began speaking over attendees.

Kelowna Now

“Have you forgotten? You have forgotten,” the woman interrupting the ceremony says.

Standing to her left was Bruce Orydzuk, a well known protester in the Kelowna area who went viral in July after berating a security guard at a vaccine clinic.

“I was there with my wife. Veterans were quite upset and a lot of people were screaming at each other. Never thought a remembrance day ceremony would be controversial but here we are. Really sad,” tweeted Matt Glen.

“Not the right time, not the right place,” one man can be heard shouting.

About 166 km away, a similar incident unfolded in Kamloops at the Riverside Park Cenotaph where people had organized their own unofficial ceremony before it was sidelined by anti-mandate protesters.

After going viral, the two latter incidents prompted wide-scale dispute on social media among individuals who would have been fundamentally aligned not so long ago.

Following the provincial declaration of a state of emergency in March 2020, British Columbians have been subjected to 19 months of lock-downs, vaccine passports, and forced business closures. Many live in a state of frustration and rage as a result — thus leading to more forceful behaviour such as what was displayed on Remembrance Day.

“Government breaks soldiers after extracting everything it can out of them. They then leave them with a single day of the year to be acknowledged,” Kip Warner, Executive Director of the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy (CSASPP) told the Western Standard.

“Protesters have 364 days of the year to protest and be heard. Whether they are protesting COVID-19 related measures, or advocating for them in recently spray painting over a war memorial that the real heroes are the injected, stop doing it. We are Canadians and we should all expect better of ourselves.”

Warner served as an infantry officer in a light infantry regiment part-time for four years while working in tech. He now spearheads CSASPP, a non-profit organization that seeks to reverse COVID-19 related measures in BC. So far CSASPP has raised nearly $150,000 — all of which is regularly audited and available for donors to monitor. No members receive any profit.

The organization’s progress — which has seen three days in court thus far — can be followed here.

While there are a multitude of like-minded individuals across the province working meticulously to combat what they perceive as blatant tyranny on behalf of the state, their endeavour is not simple, and it is frequently sidelined by hot-heads seemingly incapable of reading the room.

“Emotions are one of the main things that derail communication. Once people get upset at one another, rational thinking goes out of the window,” writes former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss in his book Never Split the Difference.

Voss has explained how human beings are influenced by the level of respect they feel they’re given — complying in response to perceived fairness, whilst lashing out at what they feel is unfair.

As for unfairness, veterans living in BC are not allowed to enter fitness facilities, attend sporting events, or even grab a drink at a restaurant if they are unvaccinated — and the Royal Canadian Legion has not condemned the policy. This treatment of not only those who have served, but British Columbians as a whole, provides causal explanation for the lashing out of protesters as of recently — it is human nature, after all.

Capuchin monkeys behave the same way when treated unfairly.

However, what separates human beings from monkeys is the ability feel emotion well up from the carnal abyss, and subsequently detach from it. An understanding that lashing out — although feeling like the right move — may serve no benefit in a specific context.

This can be be observed in the Kelowna example. The outcome of which not only lacked benefit towards the cause protesters claim to be fighting for, but sent potential fence-sitters running the other direction. The scene resembled little difference from a bunch of capuchin monkeys screeching over who gets the banana — all the while those in power swirl their scotch glasses, laughing opportunistically at how they will further exploit the chaos.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn said “a state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”

The narrative peddled from the top down is that Canadians are locked in a deadly war with a virus and therefore sweeping mandates must be implemented for “our safety.” This narrative has driven people into not only accepting, but encouraging the states’ ever tightening grasp. The policies are masked under compassion, but beneath the sheepskin resides an opportunistic snake — and to assume human beings have evolved beyond our proclivity towards consented despotism is detrimentally naive.

Pulling back from the brink requires a methodical approach. Attempting to change one’s beliefs by interrupting and scolding them is like trying to push water uphill, and those who do so fail to recognize how they themselves are contributors to the problem they claim to fight.

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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Features

WATCH: Calgary psychologist says lockdowns, mandates creating serious mental crisis

From people fearing the collapse of our healthcare system to government mandates, Dr. Angela Grace said it’s an “incredibly stressful time for people” who need to make “very tough decisions.”

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A prominent Calgary psychologist said she’s seen an increase in clients coming to her in crisis — especially frontline and healthcare workers — over the last 20 months.

Registered psychologist Dr. Angela Grace shared her perspective on supporting her clients through the COVID-19 pandemic in an exclusive interview with the Western Standard.

Along with providing “trauma work” for first responders in her private practice at Heart Centered Counselling, Grace also offers professional counselling and school assessments for children.

“What I found immediately [when the pandemic began] was an increase in crisis in clients,” said Grace, who explained she was also navigating the complexity of pivoting from in-person to online counselling, while also dealing with the impacts of the pandemic on her children and family.

“What was a seven-out-of-10 crisis before is now a 12 out of 10. What was a client who was doing really really well and hadn’t been to counselling in a while was all of the sudden back in the chair in distress.”

Grace said her clients went from worrying about the pandemic and how life was going to change for them and their families to worrying about decisions around getting the COVID-19 vaccine or not and the bullying and isolation people faced with that “tough decision.”

She said she has also seen an increase in first responders and healthcare workers coming to see her in distress over the fear of losing their careers and livelihoods due to mandatory vaccination policies.

“It’s moving beyond a sense of stress and trauma from the pandemic to now moving into moral injuries,” said Grace.

Medical workers have gone from “being a praised hero” to being “vilified because they don’t want to get the vaccine,” said Grace adding that normal job stressors for these workers have been exaggerated so much more because of these moral injuries.

Grace said the situation created “confusion and mistrust” among healthcare workers and first responders who navigated through the first, second and third waves of the pandemic without being vaccinated but have now been told they can no longer work unless they get the jab.

“Not only is there this divisiveness, but there’s this increasing lack of trust they (medical workers) are going to be taken care of,” said Grace.

According to Grace, children are also being impacted by the pandemic, especially those from divorced homes where parents have differing opinions on issues around how to best protect their children.

Teens “have really been struggling,” said Grace.

“Since the beginning of COVID, there has been a tremendous increase in eating disorders,” said Grace, who explained it’s often a result of an inability to cope and social isolation.

Grace said much of the social anxiety for teens is centred around returning to school after gaps of time when normal socialization was absent.

For younger children, especially those in the formative years, Grace said those learning gaps are leading to children missing out on normal development without the foundation of normal schooling.

From people fearing the collapse of the healthcare system to lockdowns and mandatory vaccination and masking, Grace said it’s an “incredibly stressful time for people” who need to make “very tough decisions.”

Grace said she is also concerned post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be a “massive burden” on society in the coming months.

“We are in traumatic stress right now. We have to survive the trauma then the healing can happen,” said Grace.

When asked for her advice to those dealing with heightened anxiety and stress, Grace said the first step is to “acknowledge the stressors and reach out for help.”

“As much as possible, shut off the news, shut off social media and focus on what do I need to do today to look after myself and my family,” said Grace.

Turning to exercise, hobbies, art, games, colouring, pets and mindfulness activities are some other ways Grace suggests people handle feelings of stress, isolation and depression. She also highlighted the importance of “continuing to build connections”, whether by phone or video chats.

“I call it pockets of peace; what are the things you do in your everyday life — every day, every week, every month — routines that give you a sense of peace and calm,” said Grace.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can also be an issue for people through the dark winter months, Grace explained admitting she suffers from the disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. SAD begins in the fall and continues through the winter months leaving those affected feeling tired and moody.

To ward off the effects of SAD, Grace suggests taking Vitamin C, D and Omega fatty acids and eating nutrient-rich foods as well as investing in a SAD lamp and spending 15-20 minutes in front of it daily.

Grace also pointed to the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta website as a referral source for seeking a professional psychologist and recommended their free resources, webinars and tip sheets.

Albertans can access help from the Mental Health Foundation Alberta, the Distress Centre and the Calgary Counselling Centre while the Kids Help Phone and the Canadian Mental Health Association are national support providers.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Features

Elon Musk’s nine must-read books

Musk, co-founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, credits his success to reading books.

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When Elon Musk tires of the world of AI, solar energy and underground tunnelling beneath Los Angeles, what’s left but to get lost in a good book?

Musk, co-founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, credits his success to the printed word, according to an article on blinkist.com

“I read books,” Musk said when asked how he learned to build rockets.

Here are the nine must-read books Musk believes everyone should read:

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.jpg
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Wikipedia description: “Steve Jobs is the authorized self-titled biography of American business magnate and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The book was written at the request of Jobs by Walter Isaacson, a former executive at CNN and TIME who has written best-selling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.”

Human Compatible by Stuart Russell

Human Compatible (Stuart J. Russell, 2019) book cover.jpg
Human Compatible by Stuart Russell

Wikipedia description: “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control is a 2019 non-fiction book by computer scientist Stuart J. Russell. It asserts that risk to humanity from advanced artificial intelligence (AI) is a serious concern despite the uncertainty surrounding future progress in AI.”

Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

Zero to One.jpg
Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

Wikipedia description: “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future is a 2014 book by the American entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel, co-written with Blake Masters. It is a condensed and updated version of the highly popular set of online notes taken by Masters for the CS183 class on startups, as taught by Thiel at Stanford University in spring 2012.”

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

Merchants of DOUBT.jpg
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

Wikipedia description: “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming is a 2010 non-fiction book by American historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the global warming controversy and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain, DDT and a hole in the ozone layer.”

Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark

Cover of the book Life 3.0.png
Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark

Wikipedia description: “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is a book by Swedish-American cosmologist Max Tegmark from MIT. Life 3.0 discusses Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the future of life on earth and beyond. The book discusses a variety of societal implications, what can be done to maximize the chances of a positive outcome and potential futures for humanity, technology and combinations thereof.”

The Big Picture by Sean M. Carroll

The Big Picture - book.jpg
The Big Picture by Sean Carroll

Wikipedia description: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself is a non-fiction book by American theoretical physicist Sean M. Carroll, published in 2016. In his fourth book, Carroll defends the argument the universe can be completely interpreted by science, introducing “poetic naturalism” as a philosophy that explains the world.”

Lying by Sam Harris

Lying (book).jpg
Lying by Sam Harris

Wikipedia description: “Lying is a 2011 long-form essay book by American author and neuroscience expert Sam Harris. Harris argues that we can radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie.”

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

Superintelligence.jpg
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

Wikipedia description: “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies is a 2014 book by the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom from the University of Oxford. It argues if machine brains surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new super intelligence could replace humans as the dominant life form on Earth. Sufficiently intelligent machines could improve their own capabilities faster than human computer scientists and the outcome could be an existential catastrophe for humans.”

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Wealth of Nations.jpg
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Wikipedia description: “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title, The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world’s first collected descriptions of what builds nations’ wealth and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution”

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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