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Commentary: I Want My Kids to Remember What I Did For Them – Chris Sankey: Indigenous Culture Evolution Through Economic & Resource Development

by Chris Sankey

We are so caught up romanticizing how we are going to protect the environment, we have forgotten that in order to live, our communities need money.

We talk about our culture, heritage, language and the seafood that sustains us, which has defined who we are. While that certainly strengthens us and makes us feel proud, that alone doesn’t help us get out of poverty – these things cost money.

Big houses, wellness centres and other infrastructures such as homes, care centres, elders’ units, roads, sewage, water, recycling, heat – our everyday necessities we need – all cost money.

From our fishing vessels that travel the treacherous open waters in hopes of catching our salmon, to the pickup trucks that travel the backcountry roads to hunt big game. These all cost money.

Our culture has evolved – our traditional songs are now prevalent in rap music, a new era of DJs mixing a dynamic sound of our traditional songs, a new era of storytelling and sharing our knowledge with the rest of the world.

Designer clothes and our homes feature our beautiful artistic culture displayed for the world to see.

Like it or not, much of these are petroleum-based products that we need in order to maintain our culture. That’s just a fact in today’s society.

Showing up in your gasoline or diesel-powered 4×4 pick-up trucks, flying into remote areas where protestors raise the Indigenous flags, making signs that express how they feel, fuels used to prevent them from freezing in the cold, chain saws to cut wood, and clothing that keeps them warm.

These are all petroleum-based products. These are everyone’s right to use, but just remember, the very industry you are protesting against is the very industry keeping you alive.

I am all for protecting the environment, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making sure future generations are left with a good life.

I want my kids to remember what I did for them. I want them to be proud of their dad.

So when my time comes, they are left with great memories, the life I provided for them and an environment that I fought to protect.

Much like you, I want our culture preserved and maintained. After all, it was my community that raised me. If we continue to maintain the status quo, we will continue the immense struggle.

Our people that are in favour of protecting the environment while growing the economy need to speak up and voice your concerns to our elected government leaders.

Our communities are taking a lead in resource and economic development and this needs to be supported.

Our Canadian elected officials need to start listening and representing all of us, not just when it suits their narrative.

You cannot only meet with a selected group of Indigenous communities and organizations. If you are serious about reconciliation than start proving it.

We all matter and together we are stronger.

Chris Sankey is a former elected Lax Kw’Alaams Councilor and President of
Blackfish Enterprises.

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