Vice-President Ken Watts
I hope that each and every Nuu-chah-nulth person has the opportunity to take-in, grasp and remember this very important time in our people’s lives. I am filled with pride and joy, as I have seen many of our Nuu-chah-nulth-aht coming out in large numbers through the Idle No More movement and sharing our culture, educating non-Indigenous people about who we are and where we come from, voicing their concerns over this federal Conservative Government’s negative relationship with our Nations and coming together as one no matter what Nations we are from.
But what I am even more proud of, and what lifts my spirits even more, is when I see people, specifically our young people, educating themselves on these issues and having a genuine interest in these very important political issues which affect not only our people but all Canadians.
When I see young Nuu-chah-nulth people on social media voicing their concerns in a respectful way about Stephen Harper and this Conservative Government’s dealings with our people and raising issues like Bills C-38 and C-45, it empowers and inspires me.
Today our Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and many of our First Nations are faced with cutbacks in funding, stricter reporting guidelines and application processes, and a ton of our other restrictions, such as the Indian Act, which try to hinder our people’s progress forward in Canada. But I have no doubt in my mind that no matter how bumpy the road is ahead, that our people will continue to move forward.
There is a window of opportunity for our people, or an open door that our people must take the first step and walk through. We can no longer walk side to side and peek through the door and wonder what lies ahead, and we will not take one or two steps backwards.
Our Nations and people are going to take the necessary steps that we need to and that is forward, through that door together as a people, and we are going to do it as Nuu-chah-nulth.
Since I started this position back in September of 2012 I have attended meetings, written many letters, attended press conferences, phoned into various conference calls and never stopped working hard to push our people’s issues to the forefront.
Over the next several months I hope that people will continue to speak about the Nuu-chah-nulth like they have in the past and noted what a forward, diverse, strong and progressive group of Nations we are. I know that a day will come where all of our Nuu-chah-nulth communities will be economically independent enough where they will not rely on government funding, many employment opportunities will exist for our people, we will have amazing education opportunities and schools for our children, we will be one of the best at delivering programs and services, we will be self-governing Nations and we will determine our own future. How do I know all of this will occur? Because I stay positive and I believe in our people.
In closing I would like to end with a quote from my late father George Watts, who spoke at a forum in 1990 on Aboriginal self-determination which was later edited into a book by Frank Cassidy, where he stated:
Well, I want to tell the Canadian people we’re going to survive. We’re going to survive and teach our kids to be tougher than us. That’s what we’re doing right now. We don’t really see any visible movement on behalf of governments in terms of finding our place in this country. What alternative do we have? I am not going to bring my kid up with hate in him. But my kid’s going to survive. My little two boys and my daughter are going to survive, and they’re going to survive as Nuu-chah-nulth. And I don’t want to get personal with the people at the Department of Indian Affairs, but you better not be around when my kids grow up because they’re not going to put up with you. They’re not going to put with your colonialistic government running our lives.