… with little in the way of comment because I found it very informative and enlightening. It is a ‘Twitter rant‘ by Margareta Dovgal, who is the Policy, Research and Strategy Manager at Headwater Strategy Group in Vancouver. She began with this …
… and then she continues: “This is a *consensus-based participatory democracy.* That is the design of the feast hall system. Hereditary chiefs are obliged to listen to their members, and when they fail to consult (by hosting feasts) they aren’t justified in acting … [and] … Many super traditional and well-educated Wet’suwet’en have explained to me that some of the chiefs in the anti-pipeline faction are refusing to host formal events to seek consent from their house. Allegedly this amounts to suppression of debate.” That’s news to me. I was aware that only some hereditary chiefs (only 5 of 13?) oppose the natural gas pipeline, but I do not pretend to understand Wet’suwet’en tribal laws and customs.
She goes on to say that: “Across the FNs in the area, pro-LNG band councils were elected by members. That’s a clear sign that the public face of the hereditary system isn’t reflecting the will of the people, as it should … [because] … Traditional law doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It connects with contemporary concerns among Wet’suwet’en people: balancing economic and environmental priorities, the legitimacy and proper exercise of traditional governance, and compatibility w/ elected council … [but, while] … Canadian progressives yearn to support self-government and decolonization. That’s a good intention, but they must adequately take stock of the complexity of the matter, including the fact that not all Wet’suwet’en people want one thing.“
She continues, saying: “It’s romanticism to assume that the “traditional” is necessarily so. The hereditary system has undeniably been disrupted by colonialism. People are working to maintain it with extensive migration and high premature mortality … [and] … It’s paternalism to assume that all Indigenous people are anti-resource development. Just look at orgs like @NationalChiefs, @projectreco_tmx, @fnmpc, @FNLNGAlliance, etc. They are demanding reconciliation through development of Canada’s resources … [but, meanwhile, she says] … the hereditary system has been *obviously* weaponized to secure national-level policy outcomes. Protestors who can’t find Witset on a map are demanding unquestioning “respect” of a system they do not understand or participate in.” So, we have “romantic” and “paternalistic” outsiders, like the
protesters lawbreakers who are being manipulated by people who have “weaponized” the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s customs to achieve some unknown ends? Is that it? That’s how I read it.
But, she explains, further that “Those that do understand it are not universally media-savvy. A couple are *very, very* good communicators and strategists. Their voices will drown out the rest and it becomes really easy to assume that a comms-success equals political legitimacy … [but, she asks] … When has that ever been the case? It’s really easy to speak for a people when your audience doesn’t know where your authority comes from, those that disagree with you are bullied into silence, and any scrutiny is met with accusations of racism … [and she concludes] … As @sjmuir points out, this is the result of a strategy to control the narrative and journalists’ access to information. I’m glad that media is asking more questions now. Keep going. If you get shut out or harassed, you know you’re asking the right ones.“
I’m not saying that Ms Dovgal is right and all others are wrong. What I am saying is that this seems very reasonable, to me, and it might help to inform those of us who are watching this situation with dismay. Maybe a few Liberals should read it, too, but I doubt they will bother.