We, the non native communities of Canada have had our successive Governments impose their will on our friends’ native communities going back untold years.
It is time we spoke up and let the Government of Canada of today and the Governments of the future know that this has to stop and that the only way forward must include the voices of those we wish to help.
I have been following the #IdleNoMore movement for a while and while I understand some of the reasons behind this movement, I don’t pretend to understand them all.
But what I really can’t wrap my head around is the Harper Party’s response to these #IdleNoMore protests.
I look at the handling of the hunger strike of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence by Stephen Harper. Had Harper stepped up in the first place and had a sit down with Chief Spence there would probably not have been much of a protest.
Instead, Lord Stephen chose to rebuff Chief Spence and to ignore her. When it became apparent that she wasn’t going away, he opted to send lackeys.
First off it was Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan. This is like sending the server back to a bunch of teed off customers in a restaurant. The service was appalling and you’re sending the same person we’re mad at back to settle us down? And then you act surprised when he can’t get a meeting? It is fairly obvious that Chief Spence wants to talk with someone who can do something more than regurgitate talking points.
Then it was Patrick Brazeau, the Senator who says he is still living at home with his Dad to pick up an extra $30Gs in taxpayer money. The first time he arrived he was told that Chief Spence was not available to meet with him, when he came back hours later he was told that Chief Spence did not want to meet with him.
And we have Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and other Federal Officials chirping in the background that Chief Spence should just meet with John Duncan.
Apparently they don’t get it.
Many of the treaties signed over the years were between the Native Bands and with the Crown. John Duncan does not represent the Crown. He is merely a regurgitator of talking points. He is an echo box. Chief Spence does not want to talk with the “Mouth Piece of Stephen”. (That is a Lord of the Rings reference if you don’t recognize it... Gandalf dealt with him… Chief Spence is more polite) Stephen is supposed to represent the State, and Governor General David Johnston is supposed to represent the Crown and they are the ones she wishes to speak with.
Some Bands have even written to the Queen to try and get some action.
It doesn’t seem to be working.
Look, Stephen Harper says that he hasn’t got the time to meet with Chief Spence, but he did find time for a photo op with Justin Bieber, he did find time for a photo op in a seniors residence playing cards, it is plain to see where his priorities are.
He certainly is some kind of “Master Strategist” isn’t he?
It was just a year ago that Chief Spence and the Attawapiskat Community were in the news, not locally, not nationally, but internationally. There is already a national groundswell of support for both Chief Spence’s hunger strike and the #IdleNoMore movement and it is showing up internationally as well.
Aboriginal groups around the world have noticed what is happening and are talking about it. Non Aboriginals have noticed it as well and they are talking too. Stephen may not realize it yet, but there are many people throughout the world, primarily in Europe who have a fascination with Native Canadians. In a way they seem to envy us for having these people here, it is very different from their world where they are the natives.
You and I, we all have a share of the problems that Native Canadians face. We have elected the governments that have failed to solve these “Indian Problems”. We have forced Native children into Residential Schools, thinking that education was the answer. It didn’t work out. We’ve tried to transplant these children into “our” schools often by taking them from their communities and adopting them out to nice white families with poor results. We, through the government decide on what can and cannot happen on the Reserves.
Imagine that. How would you like it if you wanted to build a house but the Minister in Charge has to approve the allocation of land for the building, has to approve of erecting a building there and so forth? Or if the Government decided the best way to educate you kids was to send them off to school in a distant city and not allow them to live the way you taught them? You’d scream bloody murder. But this is how we treat Native Canadians.
I think even Stephen Harper would agree that there are problems here and that they need to be addressed. The problem is that HE wants to determine what the issues are and HE wants dictate how they are handled. Wouldn’t it far simpler to sit down with the people involved and determine what the issues truly are and work out a plan to try and resolve these issues?
No, not really. It is easier to impose our will on others, but easy does not mean right. Sitting down with the leaders of the various communities would take time and it would be hard on both sides, but progress would be made. The cost of addressing these issues on the short term would be high, but in the long run would be far cheaper than the bandaid solutions that we have been giving them over these many years.
Everything that the Natives of Canada have, we’ve given them. We forced them off of their original lands and given them reserves. We stripped them of their Native ways and given them diabetes, addiction, and suicides instead.
Maybe it is time we stop giving and start taking instead.
Maybe Stephen Harper should take the opportunity to speak face to face with Chief Spence. He could even take the Governor General with him. Justin Trudeau took time to meet with Chief Spence, former Prime Minister Joe Clark took time to meet with her as well.
We should listen to what the Native leaders have to say and take their views into consideration and take their advice on how to correct the issues that we have given them. I’m not so naïve to think that these elected leaders of the various native communities have all the answers, but I am smart enough to see that our elected leaders have failed in the past and will fail in the future unless they take the advice of the experts, and the experts are the Native Peoples themselves.
In the mean time, I along with others will encourage Stephen Harper (@pmharper) to meet with Chief Theresa Spence (@ChiefTheresa) and other Native leaders using the hashtag #IdleNoMore to let everyone know what my feelings are.
For those of you who think using Twitter is a silly way to do this, we are not writing to Stephen Harper, we are writing to the world to tell them what we think.
You may have noticed the liberal use of us and them in this posting. I am a non native who supports #IdleNoMore.
We helped to create the situation, we need to help rectify it.