So far, Tsawwassen First Nation has had a pass on the Mills; it’s been too uncomfortable for most to criticize, given past relations and the need to promote economic opportunity. But the contradiction between word and deed is too glaring to ignore for much longer, given the precedent it sets.
They can say this:
Indigenous peoples are caretakers of Mother Earth and realize and respect her gifts of water, air and fire. First Nations peoples’ have a special relationship with the earth and all living things in it. This relationship is based on a profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth that guided indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity.
It is also based on the subsistence needs and values extending back thousands of years. Hunting, gathering, and fishing to secure food includes harvesting food for self, family, the elderly, widows, the community, and for ceremonial purposes. Everything is taken and used with the understanding that we take only what we need, and we must use great care and be aware of how we take and how much of it so that future generations will not be put in peril.
Or do this:
As they say, location is everything. The Tsawwassen site is located far away from much of the population, where population density is nearly absent. It is in a rural/agricultural area with the ocean on one side, First Nation land on the other, and the small suburb of Tsawwassen to the south.
There are also no vital transportation routes to support such large commercial destinations that will likely only offer the same retail choices also found in shopping centres conveniently located elsewhere in the region. It is nowhere near SkyTrain, the area has sub-par bus service, and Highway 17 goes nowhere and is not a major road route except to the ferry terminal and Deltaport.
More importantly, for relatively little economic return, the developments waste a large section of some of the country’s best farmland. Its location and design (think: lots of asphalt) will also further encourage urban sprawl and car use in the region; it completely goes against the region’s aims of density and sustainability.
But not both.