Activist group denies entering First Nation territory, requests meeting
VICTORIA -- Environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) says that it is requesting a meeting with the Beecher Bay First Nation on Vancouver Island after the community demanded an apology from the activist group for staging a protest outside of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s home.
Leaders of the First Nation, located near Sooke, released the open letter calling for a formal apology to the community and the premier and his wife from XRVI for ‘terrorizing’ a private citizen near the band’s traditional territory on Feb. 18.
The protest included blocking the premier’s driveway and approaching his home. Three protesters were ultimately arrested for mischief.
On Thursday, Beecher Bay First Nation chief Russ Chipps told CTV News that XRVI needed to learn the band’s traditional protocols, and that protests in the future need to show respect to all parties involved.
“They need to learn the protocols in the territories that they’re entering, especially when they’re claiming to fight for First Nations rights,” said Chipps.
“This is about treating each other like human beings,” he said. “We asked them to apologize to the community, the chief and council and Elli [the premier’s wife].”
Meanwhile, Horgan commented on the incident and letter Wednesday, saying that he thanked the Beecher Bay First Nation for their stance on the incident.
“My spouse is thinking every day, 'What is going to happen today?'” said Horgan. “And that’s not what she signed up for, nor did my neighbours. So, I appreciate the Beecher Bay First Nation for making their statement about protocols and respect.”
On Friday, XRVI said in a statement that it was requesting a meeting with the Beecher Bay First Nation leadership to discuss the open letter, but issued no apology.
“XRVI has respectfully requested a meeting with Chief Russ Chipps and Counsellors Traci Pateman and Bernice Millette of the Sc’ianew Cheanuh (Beecher Bay) First Nation to discuss their demands from their open letter of 28th February,” said XRVI.
The environmental group says that it did not enter the band’s territory and that the group’s protest outside of the premier’s home was “peaceful.”
XRVI says that it took direct but non-violent action against the premier and his property and says that security footage of the residence would prove that the group did not attempt to frighten anyone inside.
“Premier Horgan has said we ‘terrorized’ his wife, because one of us tapped on the front door to let the premier know we were occupying space on a public road at the foot of his driveway,” said the group.
“Seconds later, when it became clear that there would be no response, our member walked away. No doors were pounded. Not a word was exchanged.”
In XRVI’s statement Friday, the group said that it held its protest in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in northern B.C. who oppose the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their territory.
The group also called on Horgan to show “decisive leadership” in the province on the growing climate crisis.