August 18, 2022
UBCIC Granted Standing in “Trucker Convoy” Public Order Emergency Commission
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – August 16, 2022) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is pleased to announce that we have been granted standing in the Public Order Emergency Commission (“the Commission”), a federally-established public inquiry. It was established to review the circumstances and decision by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to declare a Public Order Emergency from February 14-23, 2022 in the Ottawa area.
The Federal Government invoked the Emergencies Act in response to the so-called “trucker convoy”, a weeks-long vehicular protest that reached its way across the country and settled for weeks in Ottawa and area. Protesting pandemic restrictions, cross-border travel requirements and COVID-19 vaccine requirements, the protestors arrived with horns blazing and Canadian flags at the helm. Unlike Indigenous protests where the national guard is often called in to control a small number of people while they occupy their ancestral lands, local and national law enforcement was not able to control the rambunctious crowds, citing “safety concerns” and “limited police enforcement capabilities.”
The inquiry will examine whether Canada’s use of emergency powers was appropriate and will formulate recommendations necessary to address emergencies in the future. UBCIC is concerned that First Nations rights and governance are impacted by the use of emergency powers in a variety of situations, including situations like the so-called “trucker convoy”, and in other contexts such as climate change emergencies and in the case of events such as fires, or floods. First Nations peoples’ rights and responsibilities require recognition and respect, including when defending land rights.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip notes that “Indigenous peoples have suffered through intense and harsh police responses when we have stood up to defend our land rights against unauthorized developments on our traditional territories or marine areas. For us, defending our territory and human rights has meant our peoples have been on the other end of emergency declarations that result in a military response. Government powers do not hesitate to call in police, armed forces, and other responses to crush Indigenous land defenders. I believe there is a double standard in how government and police respond to our people, and we seek to understand why this is the case. First Nations governments should be properly consulted on emergency powers, and our governments must be recognized to declare emergency circumstances, demand proper responses, and receive support and safety as needed. UBCIC has intervened in this public inquiry to ensure our views are heard, and considered by the Commission, and to raise concerns when we see those double standards.”
UBCIC is the only Indigenous organization granted standing in the Commission and has been granted funding to participate in the process of review.
We look forward to holding the appropriate parties accountable.
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information, please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca