A prominent Wet’suwet’en advocate of increased Indigenous participation in the economy is in the running to be the candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada in the Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding in the next federal election.
Theresa Tait-Day says the residential school apology made by then-Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008 was a needed first step toward reconciliation and she believes that as an Indigenous Conservative Member of Parliament, she can move reconciliation forward through jobs and economic opportunity for Indigenous peoples.
“There isn’t a strong Indigenous representation from the west [in Parliament],” said Tait-Day whose work resume includes time with non-Indigenous and Indigenous organizations. “I believe I can help bridge the gap. There has to be a way to involve Indigenous people.”
Tait-Day said that while Harper deserves credit for the residential school apology, his government did not then have the opportunity to advance reconciliation through the economy.
The key roadblock to Indigenous economic participation is the Indian Act which inhibits the ability of Indigenous people and organizations to borrow money and build equity, she said.
“We want to be part of the economy. We don’t what to keep getting handouts from the government, but the Indian Act continues that,” Tait-Day added.
“We had an opportunity but we could not borrow the money,” she continued of a proposal more than a decade ago to have 20 First Nations combine forces to buy into the Pacific Trails Pipeline which would have fed natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the now-stalled Kitimat LNG project at Kitimat.
Tait-Day’s advocacy of Indigenous economic involvement also put her at the forefront of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition, a collection of First Nations promoting Indigenous buy-in and investment of industrial projects.
It was also Tait-Day’s involvement in another coalition, the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition of Chiefs and Members, that brought her into conflict within the Wet’suwet’en through that coalition’s support of the Coastal GasLink pipeline which will deliver natural gas to the LNG Canada facility at Kitimat.
A group of male Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs said they then stripped Tait-Day and other female hereditary chiefs of their hereditary titles because of their support of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Also running for the nomination is Claire Rattee who was the party’s candidate in the 2019 federal election in the Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding and who ran second to New Democrat Taylor Bachrach.
Bachrach has also been named as his party’s candidate for the next election.
Parliament is now in its summer recess and there is growing speculation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will wish to call an election in late summer or early fall to try and gain a majority in the House of Commons, something that eluded him in 2019.