Reconciliation Must Be More than Symbolic: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip Declines Invitation to Participate in Ceremony with Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

(Coast Salish Territory / Vancouver, B.C. – September 26, 2016) On Monday September 26, as part of the Royal Tour Itinerary, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia will be hosting the Black Rod Ceremony at Government House. The Honourable Judge Steven Point - Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl – will be supporting the ceremony.

Last week, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) hosted its 48th Annual General Assembly (AGA) at Musqueam Community Centre, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Territory).

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC, stated “After an intense three days of discussion and debate during our AGA; I put the matter to the Chiefs-in-Assembly of my participation in the Black Rod Ceremony. A clear majority of Chiefs felt, in the face of the Trudeau Government’s hesitancy to follow through on their federal election commitments and the Government of BC's intransigence on following through with the Four Principles arising from the historic Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot'in decision, the Chiefs-in-Assembly felt it would not be appropriate for me to participate in a 'reconciliation' ceremony at this time.”

Chief Robert Chamberlin, Vice-President of the UBCIC, said “Both the federal and provincial governments are expected and called upon in Canada to uphold the honour of the Crown. The Government of BC’s fast-track ‘to the point of no return’ approach on Site C and the spirit of the Conservative’s ‘stall and litigate’ tactic permeating the Trudeau Government’s handling of T’aaq-wiihak, the implementation of Nuu-chah-nulth Fishing Rights, are two recent examples of why First Nations are heading to the courts to compel both governments to uphold the honour of the Crown.”

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC, remarked “The Trudeau Government and the Government of BC cite the number of First Nation agreements, talk of the many issues that need to be addressed, make promises of better times tomorrow in the name of reconciliation but their actions today demonstrate the opposite. There is no true recognition of Indigenous Title, Rights and the honouring of Treaty Rights when it comes to Site C, Enbridge, Kinder Morgan or Lelu Island. Just processes weighted down with the governments’ belief that our Title and Rights do not exist until we win in court or negotiate a treaty.”

Grand Chief Phillip concluded, “With the deepening poverty of our communities, remembering the missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the ongoing negligence of Indigenous Child Welfare policies across this country, in good conscience, I cannot participate in the Black Rod Ceremony. The suffering in our communities is too great. I apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused with our decision. We do not mean any disrespect. It is a matter of principle.”

Grand Chief Phillip was invited to actively participate in the Black Rod Ceremony by handing the Ring of Reconciliation to His Royal Highness, and then invite him to affix the Ring onto the Black Rod. The Black Rod is a ceremonial staff used on formal occasions when the monarch or her provincial representative, the Lieutenant Governor, is present in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The materials and symbols affixed to the Rod are representative of the province and its relationship to the Crown.

Media inquiries:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs: (604) 684-0231