Chemainus businessman Chris Istace has apologized for a remark about First Nations gaming grants. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chemainus businessman Chris Istace has apologized for a remark about First Nations gaming grants. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Green Party’s Istace apologizes for remark about First Nations gaming grants being a ‘handout’

Island candidate determined to do better in thinking and communicating matters of reconciliation

Chemainus businessman Chris Istace, a BC Green Party candidate in Nanaimo-North Cowichan for the Oct. 24 provincial election, is apologizing for referring to First Nations gaming grants as “handouts” during a Gabriola Island virtual all-candidates debate.

“I unreservedly apologize for using the term handouts and the harm it has caused,” Istace noted in a statement. “I apologized immediately when I realized I had made a mistake and I have learned from this experience. I will do better.

“I do not think that revenue sharing is a ‘handout.’ First Nations deserve that money and far more.”

Related: Green Party pins Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding hopes on Istace

During the debate, the question was raised of how to handle situations where energy projects like TMX, LNG and Site C have been primarily opposed by First Nations communities, but somewhat supported. Istace answered there’s a need to act on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) and provide First Nations the tools to gain economic sovereignty rather than projects imposed by coercive means.

Doug Routley spoke about the seven per cent of gaming revenue the NDP government (supported by the Greens) agreed to share with First Nations for the next 23 years.

When offered a chance to rebut, Istace indicated he stands by the need to let First Nations govern themselves and have true economic independence and a system handing over money wasn’t solving the root of the problem. He used the word ‘handout’ when referring to the program, and Routley said the gaming revenue wasn’t a ‘handout’ and he believed sharing the gaming revenue was enough for First Nations to build economic independence.

“The comment I made was meant to call out the token efforts of the BC NDP in reconciliation, not to belittle the struggles and strengths of First Nations,” elaborated Istace. “Pretending seven per cent gaming revenue shares from profits made on stolen land is enough in light of all the damage and intergenerational trauma colonialism has and continues to put them through shows a lack of understanding of the depths of that damage.

“In addition to the gaming revenue, the provincial government should be working collaboratively with First Nations to develop sustainable economic projects that will help build local economies,” Istace added. “The way the NDP have treated reconciliation is similar in my eyes to the promise of a one time $1,000 cheque to all voters. Absolutely, this money will help people. But it won’t fix the problem of systemic inequality.”

He went on to say allowing RCMP to point sniper rifles at unarmed land defenders immediately after passing DRIPA can’t be fixed with money and refusing to negotiate with the Wet’suwet’en until billions of dollars was lost in trade and the entire fight became an international issue is not reconciliation.

“I care deeply about solving these issues,” Istace indicated. “I do not think that words and money are enough. We need collaborative, systemic solutions to the systemic inequities faced by First Nations.

“If I have made further mistakes in my thinking and communicating about reconciliation, I am here to listen and learn. I will not shy away from any personal contact on this matter. I am determined to do better.”

BC politicsBC Votes 2020Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Chris Istace is the BC Green Party candidate for Nanaimo-North Cowichan. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chris Istace is the BC Green Party candidate for Nanaimo-North Cowichan. (Photo by Don Bodger)

BC Green Party candidate Chris Istace on the ferry to Gabriola Island for some campaigning. (Photo submitted)

BC Green Party candidate Chris Istace on the ferry to Gabriola Island for some campaigning. (Photo submitted)

Chris Istace campaigning at the Gabriola Island Farmers’ Market. (Photo submitted)

Chris Istace campaigning at the Gabriola Island Farmers’ Market. (Photo submitted)

Just Posted

Remains of the scene off Melrose Road in Whiskey Creek where three bodies were found on Nov. 1, 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
RCMP investigation continues into grisly discovery of 3 human bodies, 4 dead dogs near Whiskey Creek

Police still want to speak with motorist who picked up hitchhikers near scene on Nov. 1

An man from Errington died when his ATV went over an embankment on Northwest Bay Logging Road on the weekend. (File photo)
Errington man dies in ATV crash southwest of Parksville

Incident happened on Northwest Bay Logging Road on Saturday afternoon

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

The first of two earthquakes near Alaska on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, is shown in blue. (USGS)
No tsunami risk after two earthquakes near Alaska

Both earthquakes hit near the U.S. state on Dec. 1

The CVRD will reconsider its policies on fireworks after receiving complaints. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Regional District considers options for fireworks after complaints

Distict only allows fireworks on Halloween and New Year’s Eve, with a permit

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Most Read