Saturday, March 8, 2014

Not all is reconcilable within First Nations and Canada.

For many non-indigenous Canadians; the recent pressures from the NDP and Liberal federal parties to force Prime Minister Harper to launch an inquiry into aboriginal missing and murdered indigenous women and girls; is negligible, not deserving of national attention.
In response to the Conservative’s assertions to the matter; the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) investigated and produced empirical data illustrating a greater issue.  Of the 582 confirmed and documented cases verified by the NWAC: 67 percent are murder cases, 20 percent are of missing indigenous women or girls and 4 percent are cases of suspicious deaths.

In relation to the Canadian national average, this represents ten percent of all female homicides in Canada. The figures are approximate and cover a period of eight years (2000-2008).  Of that ratio; indigenous women represent three percent. To better illustrate how NWAC correlates its data as to the overall numbers; one must understand that-to date-missing persons cases in Canada are not compiled. Hence any comparative data separating indigenous missing and murdered women; to other ethnic groups is not possible.

Statistics Canada pegs the national population of Canada as being 35, 295,770, as of October 2013. Taking NWAC’s current data and extrapolating it in relation to Statistics Canada’s numbers is interesting. Based on the murder and missing percentage -rhetorically speaking- of the 105,887 indigenous women in Canada-70,944 would become the overall number of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada.
As to the question: why this is not a major political or a greater societal preoccupation in Canada? There are no definitive answers. Non-indigenous Canadians who live in proximity to indigenous reserves have a unique perspective, and share common interests. Most municipalities and reserves adjacent to one another have experienced some form of racism, prejudice and violence throughout their existence. They also have (hopefully) bridged and made efforts to make amends with one another.

The outward manifestation of increased violence towards indigenous murdered and missing women is not a new phenomenon. It continues to be an acceptable racial behavior (by all accounts) and one of many other prejudicial observances in Canada and the United States. Politically correct policies, publications; protocols are devised by all authorities.  Will political correctness suffice?
If we are to judge responses on any Facebook page, online publications, or televised news broadcasts, the answer is no. Some Canadians are of the view that the increasing rate of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls is self-imposed.

I agree with the government. I wouldn't spend any money either. First off before any person gets excited, I believe that there should be no preferential treatment to any particular race, Caucasian, Asian, Black or Aboriginal. The aboriginal women who are missing or murdered is a sad case, just like the other missing or murdered women of various ethnic or racial backgrounds. Why though are any of these women missing or murdered? Why is it only the aboriginal women the only group asking for the government to step in and not the other racial groups? Do not the other racial groups care about the whereabouts of their women? Maybe the other racial groups intervene more often into the lives of wayward women before they go missing and get themselves murdered. Maybe as aboriginals they need to be proactive in 'preventing' runaway/missing and murdered women. Maybe don't blame the government at all.”-Brian Heintz.

The “get themselves murdered” mentality is predominant within non-indigenous Canadians. As to the why…that in itself is exhaustive.  Simply put, indigenous Cree, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Huron, Iroquois, Blackfeet (to mention a few) societies are not homogenous to post-contact ideals of governance, patriarchal, and economic structures. This is self-evident and we have tangible examples throughout Canada’s history.
We often dismiss First Nations issues today on the basis of past precedence. That is the genesis of Canada; its inception and whatever measures used and administered in British North America (BNA) should remain in the past. The issue of recognizing First Nations based on Treaty Rights made by the British Crown and assumed by Canada since 1870; is egregious and according to federal majority governments, a major impediment to a successful integration of indigenous First Nations within the political, economic, and societal dictates of Canada.

That has been and continues to be the one constant in Canadian policies from McDonald to Harper. Comments made by Heintz illustrate this reality. Political activist Michelle Tittler is the most recognizable public figure who’s racially charged messages on Facebook has elicited two probes by the RCMP.  Comments made by Tittler on her Facebook page and others who are pushing back since Idle No More (INM) is strong indicators that not all is reconcilable within First Nations and Canada.
Whether the NDP and Liberal federal parties are disingenuous and in fact playing the political game with respect to indigenous issues confronting First Nations; is a matter of perspective. We have had no official policies made by either party in regards to First Nations on full sovereignty political platforms, its continued desire to be distinct and apart from Canada, and be allowed to profit, and exploit natural resources on its treaty lands.

INM gave grassroots indigenous people a voice. It also miraculously bridged and incorporated non-indigenous Canadians under its banner-for a time. That is until the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) under the leadership of National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo-interjected itself and agreed to meet with Prime Minister Harper. Chief Spence’s political manoeuver and its aftermath, effectively removed the very real tangible unison of non-aboriginal Canadians under a First Nations political banner.

Therein lies the cornerstone of its deficiency; voting for or against recognized parties of Canada does little to mitigate First Nations issues and concerns-by First Nations people. Political outcomes do not rest within its powers; therefore scant attention or participation is made by First Nations people. Visible minorities are representative in every political party in Canada. This is to project a philosophy of inclusion and tolerance; although not as effective as minorities themselves would like to admit.
Implementing First Nations federal policies by indigenous peoples created the perception to Canadians that the time had come to “assimilate” once and for all. It through into question the very leadership existing on reserves as antiquated; rife with the smell or cronyism, embezzlement, nepotism, and corruption. The very system in effect under the Indian Act since its inception, and funded by AANDC formerly known as INAC. The Conservative Party of Canada until 2012 was very proficient in deflecting responsibility and targeting First Nation activists. This afforded Harper (and continues to do so) the ability to further foment dissent within First Nations who view Atleo and others who are likeminded; as “Selling First Nations interests out”.  If it continues to be indigenously driven; Harper can demonstrate that some form of FN representation is being acknowledged.

“People march, hold protests and demand justice, but can't affect them to the point of change,” commented CJ 1240 radio personality Jordan Krost.  This observation reflects a truth; and yet efforts to construct a federal indigenous party which can incorporate national policies across the board that appeal to non-indigenous Canadians have yet to materialize.  In addition, the question whether FN would favor such a construct is doubtful.
Being repulsed, indignant, and embarrassed by Harper’s continued FN assimilative policies and outright disregard in matters (in this case) of public safety. If no possible political answer can be made available to FN; rest assured that civil unrest will only escalate.

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