• The Duchess of Cambridge at the Main Street party in Whitehorse, Canada, on the fifth day of the Royal Tour to Canada. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)Source: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, one of Canada's most prominent Aboriginal chiefs, has declined to participate in a formal Black Rod 'reconciliation' ceremony with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as a matter of principle over concerns about the Trudeau Government's slow response to election promises.
By
Emily Nicol

29 Sep 2016 - 10:45 AM  UPDATED 29 Sep 2016 - 10:45 AM

It's been over a year now since the Trudeau government has been in power and there have been concerns raised by First Nations leaders throughout Canada about the lack of action on issues that were part of the federal election commitments. 

British Columbian (B.C) First Nations Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has taken a stance in protest over lack of action by declining to attend a ceremony involving royal couple William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Grand Chief Phillip is said to of pulled out of the ceremony at the 11th hour, and told Britain's BBC that as the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, which represents 115 of the provinces' 203 First Nations, he "didn't feel entirely comfortable with the invitation given the reality on the ground".

The ceremony involving the 'Black Rod', a ceremonial staff presented at formal gatherings when the Queen or her representative is present in the B.C. legislature, was to involve the adding of a ring, the last of four, by the Duke, symbolising Aboriginal reconciliation. A news release from the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) by Grand Chief Phillip stated that, “reconciliation must move forward beyond this eloquent symbolic gesture."

"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."

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 apologise [sic] 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 added.

Grand Chief Phillip also referenced the slow response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot’in decision, which recently handed back title deeds to First Nations owners, the Xeni Gwet'in band of the Tsilhqot', blocking plans for logging by large corporate interests, requiring consultation with traditional owners. Mention was also made of the governments fast tracking of a hydro-electric dam at Peace River.

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 B.C’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.”

 

The Black Rod ceremony, including the Royals went ahead, as part of their week long tour, although commenced later in the evening than originally intended.


For all the latest Indigenous news, features and video content at NITV like us on Facebook and Twitter

Related
Canada launches inquiry into hundreds of murdered and missing First Nations women
A report by Canada’s federal police released in 2014 revealed more than 1,000 Indigenous women had been murdered between 1980 and 2012.
Model headed for Canadian catwalk
With Sydney’s Mercedes Benz fashion week well under way, inspired young Indigenous models are planning to strut into the international scene with the support of some very special women.
Australia facing the same suicide crisis as Canada's native communities, says mental health expert
In Canada, the Chief of the First Nations Attawapiskat community has declared a state of emergency because the rate of suicide among his people is out of control.