Nak’azdli Blockade: I wanted to try to shed some light on the events that happened in our community recently. The blockade took everyone by surprise, even the members of our community, some of whom were not happy about how things had transpired. Others were fine with it saying that it has brought needed attention to the health and safety of our members who use the highway frequently to get to their destination.
With the increased harvesting activity in our territory and the Mt. Milligan project, the traffic through our community increased tremendously and also noticeable by the District of Fort St. James. Through observations from our members they felt that this was the ingredients for an accident to happen, there has already been the recent fatality of a young person. From listening to members of the blockade their main concerns were the safety and lighting issues which needed to be addressed by the provincial government. I really would like to thank MLA John Rustad for taking the time to come to our community and talk face-to-face with people on the blockade and for setting up the meeting with minister Pat Bell, thank you to Pat Bell for making some immediate time out of your busy schedule to meet with the Nak’azdli members.
With the meeting with Minister Pat Bell and John Rustad and other people from the province in attendance, at the end of the day we decided that our focus should be to deal with pedestrian safety and the lighting issues. We will plan to meet again in the near future to flush out the details of these endeavors. I will also do a follow up letter to the province in regards to underlying issues that Nak’azdli has with the government of B.C., and hopefully resolve those. I would like to thank the RCMP for their presence and understanding during these events and managing to keep the peace
As a council we understand about the angry feelings directed at us, just from the stuff that‘s being posted on the social networks such as Facebook. A lot of our people were not involved in the blockade and equally disappointed in how events transpired, non-native people should not paint us with the same brush as we are all individuals. Racism will appear at occasions such as these, there is also racism displayed on both sides and hopefully coolers heads and understanding will prevail. In hindsight if we can do things differently then we would, but what has happened has happened; we just have to move forward and hopefully it’s a learning experience for all.
Please do not target our businesses as they were innocent bystanders who suffered just as much as everyone else. After the blockade there were some truckers blowing their horns through the reserve during the early hours of the morning, for one thing this is a very childish behavior and unprofessional and you are targeting people that had nothing to do with the blockade. The local RCMP detachment has been made aware of this and will take the appropriate measures. I would like to invite those companies that are doing business in our territory and employing these truck drivers to sit down and discuss these issues with our Council.
Chief Fred Sam
Nak’azdli Indian Band