Carmen Nikal with her Wet’suwet’en grandson speaking with RCMP negotiators, including Chief Superintendent Dave Attfield (centre), outside the Office of the Wet’suwet’en after negotiations with hereditary chiefs end Jan. 10. (Chris Gareau photo)

Opinion: Civil disagreement

Knowledge and empathy needed in time of strong disagreement.

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Our little green friend Yoda has a point (apologies for inserting Star Wars into B.C. and local politics, I’ll be sure to use a Star Trek quote next time).

There is a lot of fear and anger in the rhetoric around the Coastal GasLink project and the Unist’ot’en camp. The best immunization from fear and hate is empathy and knowledge. So here are some basic tips and facts from your friendly neighbourhood editor:

–Natural gas doesn’t spill. It would not be a liquid until super cooled at the the terminal in Kitimat, and even then would immediately evaporate as soon as it touched air above minus 160 degrees Celsius. It does blow up though, however rarely. It is a good thing the pipeline is planned to mostly be built far from populated areas.

–Hereditary chiefs have not ceded title on the land. That was ruled in court in 1997 but that ruling called for another trial to better determine what that actually means, which has not happened. The Unist’ot’en camp was set up to block pipelines and use the land, as the court said must be done to keep title. It has grown to include a healing centre used by addicts and people trying to “re-connect with the land.”

–There is plenty of Wet’suwet’en and other Indigenous support for this project. For example, Witset had two councils with two different chiefs vote and approve their deal with the company and provincial government. All other bands along the route have signed on. Considering members could have voted them out for supporting the project but chose not to, this does matter and shouldn’t be dismissed as irrelevant.

–No matter your views on the topic, remember those who disagree with you can be as passionate as you. Just because you might believe you are absolutely right and those with opposing views are absolutely wrong, we live in a democracy where that is expected. We need to be civil adults who respect each other because no matter what happens, we’re still going to have to live with one another.

Chris Gareau is editor of The Interior News and can be reached at editor@interior-news.com. Mark any letters on any topic with a hometown and a phone number to be reached at if needed. Phone numbers are not published.

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