First Nations leaders encourage voters to cast a ballot for ABC — Anyone But Clark
'Our message is clear; it is time for change'
With the provincial election just a week away, First Nations leaders in B.C. have launched an online campaign to encourage British Columbians to vote for"'#ABC" — Anyone But Clark.
"Our message is clear. It is time for change," said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, speaking at the launch of the campaign.
"We're asking for the good people of British Columbia, the Indigenous peoples, our friends and allies ... to vote for anyone but Clark."
The online forum www.anyonebutclark.ca asks people to sign up and pledge to vote for "the candidate in my riding with the best chance of defeating Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals."
"For too long have we allowed this self-serving government and their corporate cronies to sacrifice our longevity, health and happiness to generate short-term gains for their collective corporate interests," says the website, which is sponsored by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.
Phillip mentioned a number of grievances First Nations have with the B.C. Liberals, including the push to go ahead with "market-dead LNG" and the Site C dam, which he characterized as a "white elephant" and a "sleazy, political make-work project to shore up the failings B.C. Jobs program."
"The Clark government has virtually neglected the people of British Columbia in her obsessive pursuit of large scale resource development projects," he said.
Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Secwepemc Nation says First Nations are being ignored by the B.C. Liberals.
"They have not spoken of Indigenous issues at all in the this election, and I think that is unacceptable," she said.
"Our people get so frustrated that they step back," said Chief Na'Moks of the Wes'suwet'en. "That can't happen anymore.
"Our youth, our elders, all British Columbians must get out and vote, because this is how we change the future, by speaking up and acting."
Liberals 'committed to provincewide reconciliation'
In response to the campaign, the B.C. Liberal Party sent an emailed statement affirming its commitment to "provincewide reconciliation, and also reconciliation on a nation-to-nation basis."
The statement said the province had reached 400 economic agreements with First Nations over the last five years resulting in $63 million in benefits last year.
It also highlighted, among other initiatives, $30 million in spending for LNG environmental stewardship projects, skills training for First Nations people and an increase in First Nations students' high school graduation rate.