As a growing number of environmental groups and First Nations people clamor together and call for action against the proposed omnibus bill C-45. A Westbank man has taken it upon himself to stand up against what he believes to be underhanded tactics used by the Federal Government.
“I heard about bill C-45 less than two weeks ago and I’ve always been a fighter for my people,” says Harry Derrickson, a member of the Westbank First Nation.
“I’m against what’s going through with the legislation because of the environmental acts that are being taken away from us.”
That’s why Derrickson decided to launch a peaceful protest at the base of Mt. Boucherie. He set up camp in a field alongside East Boundary Road and his few survival items are limited to the basic necessities.
“I’m here for support. I saw how there was nothing going on within my band and I was getting tired and fed up with that,” he says.
“I won’t sit around and talk about it anymore. I’ve been guilty of doing that before.”
Derrickson says he will stay as long as he has to; when asked to clarify that statement, he responded that he will be there until he receives notice that Bill C-45 has been squashed or that a compromise has been reached.
“I look at it as, we’re native people and we are people of the earth. I’m here to protect mother earth, I feed off of her and she expects me to protect her,” he says.
Since his protest began in the early morning hours of Dec. 16, family members and friends have brought him words of encouragement, along with essentials like food, wood, and a tarp.
“The support from my family and friends was pretty powerful before, but this is more than I could ever imagine,” he says.
“I have a lot of energy flowing through me from my supporters. I plan on going as far as I can or as far as my body and mind will let me.”
Derrickson is quick to point out that he is not just fighting for native rights, but he does want to ensure his people will be taken care of in the future. He speaks of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who is currently doing a hunger strike in Ottawa until Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Crown agree to a treaty meeting with First Nations in Canada.
“I respect that because in our culture as men… we go up and fast for four days and four nights with nothing but water. And that’s what Theresa is doing; she’s doing it for our people, not for herself,” he says.
“I just hope more people stop by, who are curious as to what I’m doing.”
Editor's note: Just after the story went up we were informed Derrickson moved his protest camp, when we discover where he is we will update the story with his location.