Readers write: March 16, 2020 issue

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March 11, 2020 | Opinion | Volume 24 Issue 6
Various Contributors |
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Comments on Wet’suwet’en article divided
Re:Who do you support when a community is divided?” Feb. 17, page 20. 

I believe Ross W. Muir covered the recent blockade in British Columbia by the Wet’suwet’en people very well.

What bothers me is that Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is taking sides with those who chose to disobey the law of the land and also ignore the majority of the Indigenous people who voted 80 percent to have the liquid natural gas pipeline built, for their own benefit. The hereditary chiefs have little interest in the well-being of the people; their personal image is their priority.

I have lived on a First Nation in Manitoba. The chief was elected, and I believe he tried to be fair with his people.

The reason the federal government tried to get rid of the hereditary chiefs years ago was to deal with elected representatives of the people. The government was concerned that the money they gave would go to the people, not to those who looked after themselves and their immediate friends/family.

Imagine the loss of all the jobs that will not be created if the pipelines are not built.

The most active apostle of Jesus called the Roman believers to obedience: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (13:1-2).

CPT, please concentrate on preaching the gospel, not the social gospel. As Christians, we should deal with truth, not propaganda.
—Isaak Eitzen, St. Catharines, Ont.

Frankly, I find this article to be disrespectful of the work CPT is doing. I find CM’s position to be oversimplified, uncritical and convenient for white settlers.

CPTers were on Wet’suwet’en territory as invited guests. This was not simply a protest; they were asked to support land defenders in the role of legal observers and were illegally arrested while doing so.

It is important to note the 1997 Delgamuukw decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that affirmed hereditary chiefs hold rights and title over ancestral lands, and not band council members. Like other nations, different people and levels of leadership will have different interests, but the laws, rights and title of traditional governance still needs to be respected by Canada.
—Sara Wiebe, Vancouver

Thank you to Ross W. Muir for providing context and perspective to Canadian Mennonite readers on the conflict in British Columbia.

Why is it that Christian Peacemaker Teams wants CM readers to donate to voices that have no electoral mandate? The Wet’suwet’en people have resolved these issues in debate and elections. And good faith agreements have been undertaken. 

The hereditary chiefs sought an electoral mandate from their own community members, and failed! Who has credibility here? 

The government of the day and the Supreme Court of Canada have unleashed a genie whereby some expect to be treated as sovereign entities, even though they have no electoral mandate. This is a basis for tyranny and brigandry. And to treat with brigands is to legitimize theft.

This is a question that must be asked: If the government is not prepared to act for the common good, does it not lose the right to collect taxes? If government will not use peace officers to uphold the common good, does it not forfeit the right to have citizens defer to officers of the law? 

These are not inflammatory questions. They are the consequences of principles we hold in common being violated. Once violated, it is only a matter of time before the consequences follow.
—Walter Bergen (online comment)

Instead of focusing on divisions in Wet’suwet’en, it is more important for settlers to focus on the Crown’s continued usurpation of Indigenous jurisdiction, and how it enforces its claims to sovereignty with violence.

This October 2019 “Red paper” (redpaper.yellowheadinstitute.org) is essential reading to understand these ongoing situations.

Also, I’d encourage us to refrain from using protester terminology for those who are protecting the land in keeping with Indigenous laws. 
—Steve Heinrichs (Facebook comment)
Steve Heinrichs is the vice-chair of Christian Peacemaker Teams (representing Mennonite Church Canada).

 

Sometimes the best lessons are learned from the fringes
Re:
Life on the geographic fringes of MC Canada,” Feb. 3, page 21.

Will Braun does a straightforward job of capturing some of the creative energy in some of Mennonite Church Canada’s farther flung congregations. What the pastors of these congregations share—in particular about the value of a conference structure—I found to be a valuable message.

Gordon Driedger’s comment, “The primary value of the regional church connection is that it provides a ‘theological home,’ ” states an important fact about one of the primary responsibilities of the MC Canada conference structure.

The sense of shared values and a shared theology will keep the best of what it means to be an Anabaptist faith community alive, strong and impacting our neighbourhoods and the world beyond.

Thank you to the Nordheim and Petitcodiac pastors for sharing their experience. Sometimes the best lessons are learned from those on the fringes of the mainstream.

—James Friesen (online comment)

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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