When it comes to First Nations politics, Vancouver wants to have its cake and eat it too. There’s a pattern here of two-faced policy that’s got local Aboriginal leaders ready to evict the city of Vancouver off the land on which it stands.
The municipal government of Vancouver has recently been on a ‘play nice with the Natives’ press-binge. Just last month marked the end of Vancouver’s “Year of Reconciliation,” which was capped off by a city council announcement declaring Vancouver a city built on unceded land that technically still belongs to the Natives. But for all their raw vigour and passion, the city of Vancouver is coming up short where it counts: in actions.
Well, the local Native leaders are calling their bluff. In response to an expulsion notice given to a group of (predominately Aboriginal) homeless tent-dwellers in Oppenheimer Park by the Vancouver police, representatives of the Haida Nation and the Musqueam Nation joined the tent camp and sent the city their own eviction notice:
“The City of Vancouver recognizes the unceded and enduring existence of our Aboriginal Title here. Under this recognition, we now require that you leave this place and cease any attempts to remove people or their belongings from this place.”
Damn, Vancouver…you just got called out! Bet you didn’t think that your cute, apologetic gesture would actually be taken seriously now, did ya? Well, the jokes on you.
We admit that their are some major problems with homeless people making tents in a public park, and that an argument could be made for why it shouldn’t be permitted. However, the city of Vancouver said that this whole city belongs to the Natives and they should thusly be allowed to camp out wherever they want.
Although the notice of eviction given to the tent-dwellers specified that the park should have been vacated two days ago, the Vancouver police are yet to exercise any physical force. They are, however, patrolling the park and working with social workers to encourage the tent-dwellers to give up their outdoor home for a quaint, vermin-ridden bed at a local homeless shelter. As of press time, the hobos haven’t budged.
Sorry, Vancouver. When you publicly declare to the world that your very existence isn’t even legally sound, you sort of lose any semblance of authority you once had. These tents will be around for a while, and the city of Vancouver should learn to only make promises that it’s willing to keep.