Penticton’s Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has declined an invitation to take part in a royal reconciliation ceremony Monday, Sept. 26, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, rejected the offer to take part in the Black Rod ceremony hosted by Lieut.-Gov. Judith Guichon at Government House in Victoria.
Saying reconciliation must be more than symbolic, Phillip said in a press release the federal and provincial government’s hesitancy to follow through on the historic Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in decision led the UBCIC to decide “it would not be appropriate for me to participate in a ‘reconciliation’ ceremony at this time.”
Phillip was to have handed a ring of reconciliation to the duke and invite him to affix it onto the Black Rod.
The rod is a ceremonial staff used on formal occasions when the monarch or her representative is present in the legislature. Items affixed to the rod are representative of the province and its relationship to the Crown.
“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,” said Phillip.
“The suffering in our communities is too great. I apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused with our decision. We do not mean any disrespect. It is a matter principle.”
The decision was made at the UBCIC’s annual general assembly in Musqueam last week.
The chiefs cited B.C.’s fast-track “to the point of no return” approach on the Site C dam and an ongoing “stall and litigate” atmosphere over native fishing rights as examples of “why First Nations are heading to the courts to compel both governments to uphold the honour of the Crown.”