Some odd and ironic juxtapositions jumped out at me from the Oct. 31 issue of your paper. On the backside of Michelle Mungall’s gleeful editorial about the BC government introducing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, is Stevland Ambrose’s letter. He asks why that same allegedly reconciliation-loving government is appealing its case against Sinixt hunter Rick Desautel to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Equally telling is Mungall’s failure to mention the Indigenous people of her own riding, the Sinixt. From my experience, Mungall has consistently failed to mention the Sinixt in any of her public appearances, political literature, website, etc. When I googled “Mungall on the Sinixt,” a confirming array of things popped up: “MLAs Katrine Conroy and Michelle Mungall, in whose ridings much of the Sinixt traditional territory sits, were not available for comment.” And, poignantly: “Missing: Sinixt” (with the word Sinixt struck through).
A Vancouver Media Co-op article captures a moment that echoes my experience: “Michelle Mungall began by apologizing that no local First Nations representatives could attend. At this point supporters of the Sinixt Nation shouted out, ‘They are here!’ and ‘Lies!’ as Sinixt spokesperson Marilyn James approached the stage. It was as if, to Mungall, the Sinixt were ghosts.”
It seems that for Mungall and the NDP “Making history at the beginning of reconciliation” as the headline reads, is about perpetuating the bureaucratic extinction of the Sinixt, committed by the federal government in 1956. In her editorial Mungall expresses her gratitude for a guide to “starting a remarkable and positive legacy for the future generations.” Let’s hope the guide is a seeing-eye-dog because Mungall is clearly blind to what is in front of her nose. Bureaucratic genocide is not pretty but we never get to reconciliation without truth. To quote Aijaz Zaka Syed, “Silence in the face of genocide is criminal.”
If our leaders won’t take the lead on helping the people of our homeplace get to reconciliation, we need to lead ourselves. It’s time, long-overdue, to remove our fearful blinders and demand the end to Sinixt extinction.