A breathtaking policy of criminalization, assimilation and extinguishment has been vigorously carried out against Indigenous Peoples where now there is a Canadian province called British Columbia.
Present day governments have re-named those programs many times and continue to manufacture support for them within Indigenous communities, relying on the element of duress to force change. They are, to quote the 1948 Genocide Convention, “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” They have not yet succeeded.
Why do the people of BC seek the dissolution of some thirty distinct Indigenous nations? Why do they cry,“ One law for all Canadians” in answer to Indigenous efforts to exercise their right of self-determination? Eighty percent of BC’s economy today comes directly from extractive industries using natural resources in lands and waters that have never been ceded, sold or surrendered to them by the owners.
The ongoing displacement and dispossession of Indigenous Peoples relies on the settler population’s indifference to their human rights. The interests of resource industries have dominated accounts of Indigenous Peoples throughout the mainstream media, the academic presses and the courts, impoverishing their histories and disappearing their futures.
The indigenous have suffered excruciating losses. But the highest expression of government reconciliation has this bottom line and none other: release title to the traditional territories and resources; accept a small financial, land and program funding settlement; and become a BC municipality.
The Colonial Present documents the colonizer’s manufacture of a new mythology to rationalize this ultimatum. This book is an unprecedented history and chronicle of British Columbians’ continuing attempts to leave the question of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the past, without ever recognizing them in the present.