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’

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 2020

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)
Probe continues into grisly mid-Island discovery of 3 human bodies, 4 dead dogs

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

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Cowichan MP hosting virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MP’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Santa will be in Honeymoon Bay on Dec. 13. (File photo)
Santa to visit Honeymoon Bay on Dec. 13

Families must call ahead due to pandemic

“Say cheese, uh, apple… nine-year-old Jason Moran and mum Bonnie are all smiles over a number of sales made during “apple day” of local cubs and beavers. Jason, a wolf cub, was one of 22 boys who, with the ready assistance of mothers, sold several boxes of apples in money-raising scheme for various projects.” (<em>The Lake News</em> Nov. 26, 1980)
Flashback: Crime wave, canoe misfortune and a highway lawsuit

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism widespread

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Nov. 20 WestJet flight 3171 has been identified by the BC Centre for Disease Control with a COVID case aboard. (Black Press file photo)
Fifth COVID-19 exposure reported on flight at Comox airport

Another exposure risk from flight originating in Calgary

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

Most Read