Reelected Phillip We have to act
(photo credit: www.stewartphillip.ca)APTN National NewsVANCOUVER–First Nations communities in B.C. are facing “powerful forces” looking to “exploit the land for profit,” said veteran First Nations leader Grand Chief Stewart Phillip Thursday in a victory speech after retaining the post of president for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs during the organization’s annual general assembly.Phillip beat his only rival, Splats’in First Nation Chief Wayne Christian, 59 votes to 36 votes, to win the post for a fifth time.Phillip enters his fifth term at the head of the UBCIC during a tumultuous time in relations between First Nations and the British Columbia government as interest in the revenue and resource development of the province collide with the assertion of Aboriginal and title rights by First Nations communities.The most prominent looming conflict centres on Taseko Mine’s proposed copper and gold mine which is awaiting federal approval. The mine is strongly opposed by the Tsilhqot’in Nation because it threatens to destroy a lake sacred to the community.In his victory speech, Phillip said the time for talking had ended and the time for action had arrived.“Our old leaders used to talk about the Indian movement and I truly believe we have to get back to that…we are up against powerful forces that have completely different values…the other side is a corporate agenda. It is all about exploiting the land for profit and that is the dynamic we bring our children up in,” said Phillip. “We have to stand up with each other so we may be great again. So whatever communities take a stand, I always believe we have to be there at your side so they know they are not alone.“We can’t afford to continue to talk about these things, we have to act,” he said.Phillip also received the support of Christian who warned against issuing threats of blockades and violence in the heat of the moment.“Remember this when we do that that the first people impacted are our children and our schools. The second is the people on the streets…so we must be mindful when we speak in the public,” said Christian. “But to say we are going to promote violence, it is not going to help us in the long run.”UBCIC represents 99 First Nations communities across B.C.