Why, yes, as a matter of fact, it is my business.
Anyone who follows me on social media may have noticed that most of my posts lately are about the Wet’suwet’en land defenders and Indigenous rights. I recently ran a fundraiser for Raven Trust who provides funding for Indigenous court cases. We raised $200.00 selling buckets of granola for this great organization. I have been donating granola and porridge to feed the Indigenous Youth who are in lock down at the BC Legislature until the RCMP and Coastal GasLink leave the unceded Wet’suwet’en homelands. I am writing letters, signing petitions, attending protests, and doing everything I can to support this cause. I am standing up for Indigenous rights, for the rights of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to refuse to have their unceded lands destroyed by the construction of another pipeline. And, I am using my privilege as a business owner to amplify my influence towards creating positive change.
Many business owners are hesitant to share their political position with their customers. They/we are told over and over not to mix politics and business. We worry that we will lose customers and that can affect our bottom line. We are told it’s none of our business. Indeed, one customer told me I should “stick to making cereal and keep my nose out of politics”.
One thing we’re hearing a lot online and in the media is that many of the ‘protesters’ aren’t even Wet’suwet’en or First Nations, therefore, the situation between the hereditary chiefs and Coastal GasLink is none of our business. I beg to differ. When human rights are being abused, it is everybody’s business to step in, speak up, and shut down the abuse. Why? Because we are all human.
On this matter, I speak from experience. My father’s family were victims of the Holocaust. His parents were just two of the six million Jews who experienced having their human rights systematically dismantled, resulting in being hauled off to concentration camps where they were murdered. I am alive today only because enough people who were not Jewish cared about our human rights and intervened. When human rights are threatened, we must fight for them, even if it is not our rights that are under attack.
What we’re seeing now is yet another instance of Indigenous people having their rights denied. We are seeing a continuation of a centuries old pattern of Indigenous lands being stolen and destroyed in the name of progress and the economy. We are seeing Indigenous culture being bulldozed, and the safety of Indigenous women and girls being threatened by male dominated industry.
Learning the truth about how Canada was built at the expense of the First peoples is heartbreaking. Throughout this nation’s history, settlers have stolen land, stolen children, attempted both physical and cultural genocide, and have abused the Indigenous people in every manner possible. This Canadian tradition continues today, and it could not be more evident than it is in the current situation of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs rejecting the Coastal GasLink pipeline. All across this country, people are realizing how wrong it is that the RCMP are pulling the Wet’suwet’en off their unceded lands to enforce the building of this destructive pipeline (because, let’s face it, all extraction infrastructure is destructive and heavily contributes to climate change). People everywhere are realizing that the Wet’suwet’en situation is a glimpse into how Canada treats all Indigenous people, and this is not how reconciliation works. People are seeing how blatantly racist our political system is, and we are no longer willing to accept this.
So, yes, this is my business. It is my business to use my position and privilege to stand up and speak out when I see abuse of human rights, just as others did for my family during the Holocaust. It is all our business to acknowledge that Canada is still denying Indigenous people their basic human rights, and, in order to even start with reconciliation, we must admit to our history of wrongdoing and commit to changing everything.
If you are unsure as to why Indigenous people and their allies are protesting all across Canada, please take a small amount of time to learn about the UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
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