LETTERS: Semiahmoo reactions

Letter writers address City of White Rock's response to Semiahmoo First Nation over water.

Editor:

First of all, thank you to Alison Prentice for writing to the PAN about the possibility that water will be cut off from the Semiahmoo First Nation (Don’t dismiss water worries, Oct. 5 letters). She was appalled by the response given by some concerning the water service being cut to the reserve. I am, too.

I thought I was as shocked as I could be about the situation until I saw the Oct. 5 edition of the Peace Arch News where there was an online survey asking residents if they thought using water service as a bargaining chip was OK.

As of that evening, just before 6 p.m., more than 50 per cent said ‘yes’. (Editor’s note: The final tally last Thursday was 62 ‘yes’, 59 ‘no’.)

What? How is that possible? How can a number of people believe it is OK to shut off water to our neighbours? Water is basic and without it, we cannot survive. To use it as a weapon or a bargaining chip is disgusting. To belittle the dilemma with a snarky comment in a recent letter to the editor about the helicopter service this past summer is appalling.

How do people who find turning off the water to the reserve a good idea not imagine what it would be like to not have water? What would it be like for any of us if we had to think about our water – where to get it and is it safe? For people on the Semiahmoo Reserve, that is their everyday reality.

Now, the City of White Rock is threatening to turn off the water entirely (City plans to shut off our water supply: First Nation, Sept. 16; Water shutoff ‘one possible outcome,’ Sept. 21). By using the possible shutoff of water service as a tool to bully people of the reserve, the city has gone way, way too far, and representatives need to figure out a solution to this situation they find themselves in with the people of Semiahmoo First Nation.

Get it together, City of White Rock. I can only imagine how detrimental to this city it would be if the news of this ridiculous stand spread nationally or internationally.

Plus, it’s water. Your humanity should tell you that you should not deny water to people.

Jo Ann Lawrence, Surrey

• • •

Regarding your editorial Water Rights and Frank Bucholtz’s column First Nation water threat unwarranted in the Sept. 28 edition of the Peace Arch News, I thank you for showing leadership and writing about this extremely important issue.

Your articles encourage an examination of history and may lead us to reflect on how to create a more just society and community for all who live here. Historically, our collective “colonial mentality” has blinded us to the systematic and structural racism embedded in our governance system and negotiations with the First Nations people.

Sadly, the wording of your question of the week – “Should the City of White Rock use access to water as a negotiating point with Semiahmoo First Nation?” – is an example of how blinded we still are to the structural racism built into our so-called negotiations with First Nations and with the people living on the Semiahmoo lands.

As a community, we should be discussing at length how the City of White Rock is handling all of our “negotiations,” especially those concerning its role as water provider!

Your use of the Yes/No poll subtly legitimizes the concept that a majority can vote ‘yes’ to using access to water as a bargaining chip against a minority group and seems to eliminate the need for further reflection or discussion.

Access to water is a human right and a right that the City of White Rock cannot be given permission to negate. I request that PAN rethink this question and instead give us more articles that promote discussion toward a path to a just society for all who live in this community.

S. Watkins, White Rock

• • •

During this time of year, we all tend to reflect on the aspects of our lives for which we should be grateful.

This year, it is not just family, friends or a nice turkey dinner I am thankful for. I think I speak for many White Rock residents when I say thank you for the poor weather and the end of the tourist season, which means the end of that rhythmic pounding associated with the helicopter tour service operated out of the Semiahmoo First Nation reserve (MP reaches out to minister over helicopter tour, Aug. 17).

Can you imagine if this continued all year? Our city slogan would have to be changed to “City by the Airport.” Medical posters would read: “Prevent tinnitus… move out of White Rock”.

Those of us against this service are not anti-First Nations. We just want peace and quiet where we live and would be against any group responsible for this outrageous non-residential activity occurring near our homes.

Despite what one reader wrote to this paper on Oct. 5, the feedback from my letter to the editor (Neighbourly water advice, Sept. 23 letters) has been extremely positive and proves one thing. The pen is mightier than the helicopter blade.

 

Terry Hubbard, White Rock

 

 

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