Sunday, October 27, 2013

shale gas exploration No easy fix in New Brunswick.

       There were a few surprises in the unfolding issue of shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.  
In the after math of Idle no More confrontations-you would tend to think that provincial and federal policies and protocols which are heavily invested in promoting a better relationship with indigenous reserves across Canada-are increasing not decreasing.
Do we have the potential to see similar energy sharing resources issues in The Pas? I would like to say no; but then again it all depends on how these issues are dealt with.
         The focus of the chatter surrounding the violent clashes between the RCMP and the indigenous peoples of Elsipogtog, New Brunswick revolve around the issue of legitimacy.
Canadians who argue that the rule of law is paramount -whether you choose or not to engage in civil disobedience-and does not include disrupting trans-Canada transportation routes; are resolute.
CBC’s Rex Murphy monologue describing his point of view best describes this sentiment. 
There is also much anger, and a total disbelief that such a discourse could be so blatantly biased; according to many online comments made on social media and on the thread which accompanied Murphy’s article.
          I understand the importance of politicians wading into the world of instant sound bites via social media; after all increasing your profile is desirable is politics. However, a recent Twitter (none authenticated) message from the Prime Minister’s own account is highly brazen.
“Canada will not yield to these so called “First Nations” and they must choose to be loyal Canadian’s or face the full force of the Crown’s authority. We will crush these demonstrations be all means under Crown Law.”
On all accounts this Twitter message is meant to inflame discourse; but it is also true based on the government’s policy and the protocols in which it chooses to interact with First Nations themselves. 
The continued push to force indigenous reserves to conform to the present socio-economical models elsewhere in Canada is getting stronger. 
       If we examine the later series of legislation from the federal government within the past year; this realization is self-evident. 
So why exactly are we incensed about when we discover that First Nations continue to not play by our rules?
New Brunswick Premier David Alward is obstinately pushing his economic plan ahead. New Brunswick unemployment rates are increasing rapidly. According to Statistics Canada the rate rose to 10.5 per cent with 2,100 employment opportunities gone from the province.
SWN Resources Canada exploration manager Nicki Atkinson stated to the CBC on April 22 that it would be some time before any definite decisions is to be made.
“What we will do in the upcoming years is follow that up with a drilling program and that will be, like I said, in the next couple of years. And then I'll be in a much better position to answer that question.”
     In addition, SWN and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have an ongoing consultation process since 2011, “all to decide whether they can promote a new energy business while protecting their landscape.”
SWN Executive Vice-President Mark Boling, commented in 2011 in the National Geographic his point of view.
“We were upset about the way the debate was continuing to move. People weren’t focused on what really matters—what are the real obstacles to responsible development? And how can we develop workable solutions?”
Fear mongering from opponents and the continued affirmations by those-in the shale gas industry sector-claiming that 60 years using this type of mechanism in the gas industry saying, “don’t worry about it, everything’s going to be just fine,”  is acerbating the political climate in New Brunswick.
“…but the reality is the public, as anyone would be, is going to be fearful of what they don’t know. There’s a huge vacuum of information about what is going on,” commented Boling.
These are concerns which are reflecting not only by First Nations; but by environmentalist agencies in New Brunswick as well.
“People are really concerned about the industrialization of our rural landscape. We take pride in our rural quality of life, and we live in a part of the country that depends on agriculture and tourism. A lot of people are concerned how natural gas will challenge that.”-  Stephanie Merrill, fresh water protection coordinator for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick
EDF senior policy adviser Scott Anderson does not believe that being intransigent with regard to energy conglomerates is effective. 
   Reservations aside, Anderson welcomed Boling’s invitation to be part of the consultation process of SWN.
“Our philosophy at EDF is we don’t pick winners. We’re not fans of coal; we’re not fans of natural gas. 
Whatever the technology and fuels are that are relied on in the marketplace, we see our job as making sure they are regulated in a way that minimizes the environmental footprint.
However you look at it, it’s clear that natural gas is going to play a big role in our energy portfolio for a long, long time.  
And it’s also clear that natural gas development has caused far too many problems for public health and the environment.”
    What I find interesting thus far, is the discourse in social media seem to dismiss the element of cooperative environment between the two entities. 
 Furthermore it omits completely the real facts that a common understanding over the issue of methane; and to develop better policy in regards to gas well standards.
“Yes, there is the possibility if the well is not constructed properly, it can allow natural gas to migrate into aquifers,” says Boling. “This has happened.” 
Whatever new guidelines and cooperative solutions EDF and SWN bring to the table; it will not completely address all environmental issues of Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
“Potential water contamination is a huge issue, but I want to emphasize that people are also worried about infrastructure, road systems, air quality, the future of pipeline and gathering and compressor stations and noise. 
Our position is that we still need to have the entire package of subsurface and above-surface issues controlled for before we move ahead with any development,” said Merrill. To be continued....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The much anticipated Throne Speech by the Conservative Government begs to ask the question “Is the Canadian public willing to shut their eyes, and continue to tolerate Prime Minister Harper for another two years?”
       The issue is do we really care? Assuming that one does what would it look like? I often ask this question randomly to a variety of people, and most often the reply I get is, “Canadian politics might be something that I pay attention to; but it is not what I would define as a “day-to-day” problem.
       So the sitting government tabled their agenda and if you noticed; the economy is no longer the center piece of discussion. Political pundits argue that the Conservatives are reacting instead of leading; they might have cause to think so.
       As I am writing this, the RCMP and indigenous activists in New Brunswick have escalated.
Cars are burning. Men, women and children are exposed to danger. Indigenous Treaty rights are being ignored while federal injunctions are being awarded to SWN Resources.
As I examine the Throne Speech, the fourth paragraph proudly hails the Royal Proclamation made 250 years ago as the corner stone of Canadian, “legal foundation of this country.”
      Mention of indigenous rights are made within the same paragraph, “It recognized the rights of Aboriginal people in Canada for the first time and established the basis of their relations with the Crown.”
Some contradiction in term; I must say.  This is not a new tactic, and I wonder why the           Conservatives would be prone to believe that saying one thing and doing another could succeed.
 Perhaps they are of the opinion that public opinion will continue to ignore these processes and be allowed to pursue the total assimilation of the indigenous peoples in Canada.
      I don’t know why attributing the word “inclusiveness” within the speech would benefit the Harper government.
Wedge politics, electoral fraud, mailbox voting, ethnic target specific voting block all used and exercised by the Conservatives during the last election does not make me invest much thought, into it.
 Really, I find it rather incredible that the propagandist Conservatives still hold to the view that repeating a lie, will somehow translate into a “truth”.
In regards to Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Throne Speech makes reference to our very own parliamentarians; and their altruism.
     I daresay, how the Conservatives can make such a boast in full flight of no less than three disgraced Conservative Senators; with the sacking of at least two senior PMO staff members is offensive.
 Oh my, I almost forgot the prorogation of not one, but two occasions where the Prime Minister chose to put Parliament on an indefinite period of hiatus; for fear of losing face.
Quoting D’Arcy McGee, and making a correlation between, “…all bound by free institutions,” and within the same breath re-affirming colonialisms, “we are reminded that ours is a rich inheritance: a legacy of freedom; the birthright of all humanity and the courage to uphold it; the rule of law, and the institutions to protect it; respect for human dignity and diversity,” is preposterous.
     What is more salient and mirror the true nature of the Conservative agenda can be found in this simple phrase, “We must seize this moment to secure prosperity, for Canadians now, and the generations to follow.”
As I read further down under the issue of trade I felt compelled to add this paragraph,
“However, for Canadians to benefit fully from our natural resources we must be able to sell them. A lack of key infrastructure threatens to strand these resources at a time when global demand for Canadian energy is soaring.”
I need not tell you what this really implies; and for the Harper government this is par for the course.
If some of you are familiar with the term “social relativism” this will undoubtedly give you a better understanding.
      If you managed to read this far into the Throne Speech you will be re-introduced to the familiar message of “pending economic doom at our door” and the incredible feats of fiscal stewardship by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
It also promises to restrain new hires, and expectations of doing more with less. Might I inquire why this has become the rule instead of the exception to the rule?
The promise of better access to education and long-term employment opportunities has long been screamed from the roof tops.
The issue is, with the rising cost of tuition fees, the growing expectations of a demanding student population, and the erosion of funding for our “free public institutions” the prognosis does not look very positive.
In fact, the largest percentages of youths from the ages of (18-29) have ever been recorded by Statistic Canada as currently searching for those “jobs” promised within the Throne Speech. Let alone a greater access to visible minorities and women.
On the basis of protecting the environment…dare I step into that bog?
      There is enough resource material on the web for anyone with a scintilla of common sense to understand that after passing into law Bill C-45 and grudgingly reallocating funds to maintain ongoing research into fresh water lakes; this government cannot make any credible assurances to the Canadian public.
On the basis of protecting the environment…dare I step into that bog? There is enough resource material on the web for anyone with a scintilla of common sense to understand that after passing into law Bill C-45 and grudgingly reallocating funds to maintain ongoing research into fresh water lakes; this government cannot make any credible assurances to the Canadian public.
In revising the Conservative position on justice and crime, only one thought comes to mind; more prisons will be needed.
      Oh and in passing, still no acknowledgment that an Inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada is warranted.
The Conservatives proposes to put Canada first, and yet they still hold the firm belief that the recent closures of nine Veterans Affairs District offices serves this directive.
Time will tell if the Conservatives can sustain repeated swells of discontent. I myself doubt it very much.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

“Alvederzein Herr Priebke”

There is much talk of SS Captain Erich Priebke in the news lately; and much of it is confusing.
At issue is where to bury such a man, and the logical answer would be depending on his religious faith, in the place of origin or adoptive country.
      Nazism is not a prerequisite nor is it an exclusionary measure in attributing the “value” of burying men, women, and children of the Third Reich.
To dehumanize Priebke in death is hypocritical, and serves no purpose; other to reiterate the need to persecute in death those who perpetrated war atrocities and pursued the ideals of the Volk.
It is not a test for the Vatican on the basis of faith and faith alone, it is not a validation of Nazism, it is not even a recognition of The Holocaust; Priebke died in Italy and should be buried as any one of us should be.
     Unfortunately, Priebke elicits more than the ordinary accomplishments (of just being aged 100 years at the time of his death); his passing reintroduces a plethora of questions.
The role of the Vatican, Italian communism, anti-Semite ideology in pre-Mussolini Italy, fascism,     The Holocaust, and many other areas of societal norms of the early 20th century.
Priebke’s role in the 1944 Ardeatine Caves is well documented, and so are the directives from his superior (Herbert Kappler) and those of central command.      
    If articles of Priebke’s death generate the necessary discussions among you; it is serving a bigger purpose, that of truly examining why ethnically speaking we seem as human beings to attribute what is “desirable” and what is defined as “others” when discussing who deserves to be within the community membership of a country.
“Not every being with a human face is human.”-Carl Schmitt. 

Priebke and other Germans alike espoused the ideology presented by the Nazi Party; the ethnic revival of the Volksgenosse, is not to be confused with ethnic tolerance, or racial policies.
One has to remember that in the context of anti-Semitism; Europe as a whole subscribed to “cultivated” policies which made clear distinctions between Jews and non-Jews.
     There is a clear distinction to be made in reference to what Schmitt here stated.
What occurred in Germany and in other European countries stems from this basic tenet-ethnicity was (is) not based on the sanctity of human life.
     If it were so, Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo, genocides would not have materialised.
Germans placed, “Cultural relativism to indicate their own superiority,” commented author Claudia Koonz.
     Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels expresed it best in his little publication: The little ABC’s of National Socialism-“Love Germany above all else and your ethnic comrade [Volksgenosse] as yourself!”
Koonz posits the dictum, “Germans did not become Nazis because they were anti-Semites; they became anti-Semites because they were Nazis.” 
This reinforces the view that conditions were ripe in Germany for a new kind of leadership; one which could rectify the ills of the country.
     Re-invest in what Germans loved best; order, ethnic pride, clear gender roles, and long term economic prosperity.
One had to make choices in Germany; and Priebke made his when he joined the Nazi Party.
Austrian-born American political scientist and historian Raul Hillberg argued that the Final Solution was, “not dependent on Hitler.” 
Hillberg is of the opinion that it was based on principle.
“Because perpetrators [Volksgenosse] grasped the ultimate aims of racial extermination, they improvised, and exceeded their orders.”
This coincides rather well with Priebke’s apparent state of mind, and continued belief in living under his own name.
 It is further exemplified by Koonz, “Not mindless obedience but selective characterized German’s collaboration with evil.” 
We often envelop Germany within its war-time record.
What is amiss, in this thought process is the absence of one important distinction between pre-war Germany as opposed to war-time Germany; racial policy.
    “Even passionate anti-Semites in the party realized that rage against the Jews [Judenkoller] could be counterproductive and understood that moderates (Germans) had to be convinced by other means.”-Koonz.
Priebke is not an isolated example of what National Socialism declared to offer Germans who, “bitterly disillusioned by the bankrupt promises of a liberal democracy” rallied to Hitler’s message of the Volk.
Understanding the under pinning’s of the contextual conditions which are made apparent by authors such as Koonz does not absolve murder.
    It does not un-blemish men, women and youth led Hitlerism in adopting a consciousness in which Koonz describes as being,
The ethical revolution that formed the backdrop and paradigm for the Nazi race war and prepared Germans to tolerate racial crimes well before the advent of genocidal murder battalions and extermination camps.”
    However it does illustrate the mechanisms in which we can learn to understand men such as Priebke; who dispassionately remained steadfast and faithful to an ideology which best identified their sense of “self-love and hate-others.”
The time when all remaining living Nazi perpetrators will cease to exist; moves closer every year.
It would be unfortunate not to learn from this example and allow the continuum of genocide to flourish in the 21st century.
Can you rationalize mass murder?
 It seems that we have to a degree already by not challenging dictatorships which continue to pursue racial ethnic protocols within its own citizenry.
I am more appalled, repulsed, and indignant in what is currently being done in Syria by the Arab Socialist Baath Party.
Nazism I understand, what I do not understand is that we as human beings continue to ignore; the rationalisation that some deserve to die, that it is better to divest ourselves of an “alien” threat at the expense of a marginalized ethnic group.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Only Good Indian-Essays by Canadian Indians edited by Waubageshig

The revised edition of this particular copy was printed in October of 1970.
I do not recall the exact time in which I purchased this edition; however I do recount its motive. Original indigenous contextual literature from the early 20th century is rare.
Rarer still are essays, such as this narrative in which give an unvarnished look at how indigenous people see themselves in this modern post cultural era.
Waubageshig wrote the introductory chapter in this book; and what is described by the author is a collage of “truths” by indigenous people.
“These views are unrepresentative because they are not “nice” views; they do not match civil service or cabinet policies.
 But there has been no attempt on my part as editor to fashion a publication which is representative of native opinion.
As an Ojibway, I know that representation of many people by one or a few voices is not yet a concept accepted completely by my people; indeed perhaps it never will be.”-Waubageshig
Three paragraphs which explain 400 years of continued strife over the same issues....hum Yes time does stand still does it not?
I must admit, in terms of research material for the North West Company this book did not speak to its role; in a direct manner. It does however give insight into the cross cultural linear patterns of indigenous thought.
Some examples in this book is of a political nature; some of you may recall what was then known as “Citizen Plus” most you understand this title in its more modern form-The Red Paper.
I will simply give you the synopsis of the reply.
“If this is his (PET) belief, where is his so-called flexibility especially when Indian people disagree with his mythical concepts of him leading the Indians to the promised land?”-Indian Chiefs of Alberta.
Many revile Pierre Elliot Trudeau; and yet no one can contradict the mannerism in which this Prime Minister chose to address the issue-straight on.
I would hate to envisage a Conservative government policy alternative to what Trudeau proposed in 1969.
Of course there is a chapter reserved for the issues faced by the Mushuau Innu.
“If the reasonable claims of the Inuit with respect to the North are ignored, frustration, loss of pride and ultimately loss of self-identity will result.
The Inuit will be destroyed psychologically and, to some considerable degree, physically.”-Inuit Tapirassat of Canada.
Remember this publication is merely 39 years old, and it speaks to what is currently being addressed in the media today. Does the name Furlong ring a bell?
 It should, and frankly it should ring so loudly that no other sound should be heard across the North.
Youth issues are often the topic of discussion on OCN. In fact it is a universal subject matter among sitting councillors who were recently elected on Chief and Council.
Where do indigenous youth issues lie? According to Marlene Castellano,
“Indians are preoccupied with their identity to a degree which is matched only by the preoccupation of native youth with their place in our society.”
Marlene Brant Castellano is an educated Mohawk indigenous person from the Bay of Quinte.
Castellano was 34 years old when she wrote her dissertation in 1974, and continued to be involved in communities in Winnipeg, Toronto and other regions in which she lived.
She speaks of disassociating practices within the school system.
“The more capable he becomes in the white man’s language and abstract concepts, the more he becomes alienated from his inner life.
The more he relies on words to share that which is himself, the clumsier he becomes in person-to-person communication with those who mean most to him.”
It is a passage that gives me pause to reflect, and think of all the youths that have succumbed to suicide; one in particular who shall remain forever in the minds and hearts of many Cree peoples of OCN.
The solutions described by Castellano are still being debated today; they still have to pass the litmus test.
One would think that one less instance of suicide to be ample motivation for change.
“...A return to the reservation is the most effective solution to the threat of social and psychological disintegration which engulfs many Indians attempting to function in the white man’s environment.
...particularly for a youth who has been conditioned to place a low value on the Indian way, usually makes permanent return to the reserve intolerable.”
Makes sense doesn’t it? So why are we still of the view that the success of indigenous youths lies outside of their own culture, and language?
I often think of Kenneth, Jeremy, and so many others that pulled through the very ordeals of finding their “truths”.
I am reminded of the MBCI graduates of 2012 which I had the privilege of speaking with.
It stirs my blood to hope for a better future, not only for them but also for my own son and daughter.
It is in their respective cultures in which they will remain grounded. It is in their language, in dance, in the very way they will choose to self-express through creativity-what best suit their needs.
Castellano is correct in bringing attention to what she aptly refers to a common prejudice, “...that education is the business of youth.”
I will describe one last point of view from this book; and it speaks to what has occurred November last, Idle No More.
Waubageshig posited this outcome; albeit 39 years ago, and no one could have envisioned its impact.
“...Indians will, for the first time in their contemporary history, find themselves in a powerful bargaining position.
Thus, Indians will have the opportunity to adequately gauge the limits of peaceful negotiations. Then it will be possible to discern if decolonization will occur and if so, whether or not it would be a violent process.”-Waubageshig, The Comfortable Crisis.
So much for light reading but there you have it, a glimpse of what I have spent the better part of 15 years of research since documenting the first forays of Basque (cod fishery off the banks of Newfoundland) incursions into indigenous territory.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's the news damnit...

 manipulating the media.
 The subject matter is daunting, but let us just skirt the issue and provide issue specific examples.
The most recent article on the CBC broadcast network comes to mind.
If you are not made aware of it, Furlong | Trouble in Natuashish comes from the top is a news article published on’s website on October 6th portraying the economic, cultural, and health conditions in Natuashish.
John Furlong is a host on CBC Radio One in St. John's.
“Perhaps they have all lost hope. Perhaps that's why they present themselves the way they do. Expressionless silent, brooding, uncommunicative. It comes across as menacing and arrogant, but it's just the way they are. It's not the way we are. It's just the way they are.”-Furlong.
This is just an excerpt but you can examine this at your leisure on
 Furlong clearly manipulated issues which continue to plague Innu people in the North.
What is most troubling in my view; are Furlong’s denigration of a people and simultaneously stating that colonizing the upper northern territories--to be one great giant blunder in which Canadians continue to pay for to this day.
Another editorial which was published in the Nanaimo Daily News (NDN) on September 23rd by Bill McRitchie spoke of,
“First Nations in Canada have tenaciously clung to their tribal system, refusing to evolve as equal Canadian citizens and perpetuating the perceived notion that they remain under the heel of non-aboriginals.”
McRitchie’s editorial while offensive to some; is not racist as was inferred by many who wrote angrily to the NDN.
McRitchie’s point of view is shared by many mainstream Canadians.
Under the Charter I believe that Freedom of Speech still applies; and in this case McRitchie is free to share his point of view with the public.
Simply stating that it smacks of “racism” is too easy, and in this case wrong.
McRitchie argues the validity to continue to “hold to account” predominantly Caucasian multiple ethnic groups by indigenous peoples in British North America (BNA).
I use the term (BNA) as it best represents what we understand the North American continent to be at this present time.
This is not a new phenomenon, it still exists today. If we examine pre 1925 and post 1963 Germany; the conditions of responsibility as a nation holds true.
Of course in the McRitchie example, no one nation is attributable to what the author describes as, “not the only ones to suffer from the encroachment of foreign powers.”
The argument to be made is-should Canadians be made to shoulder the consequences of one hundred and seventy-three years of true racist, genocidal, assimilative federal governmental policies towards indigenous nations living within the BNA?
McRitchie argues not; and this is where true racial tensions lie.
It is clearly stated in the article published by the NDN. 
Manipulations of this sort negate any balanced approach to gather and disseminate truthful reflections of what citizens truly believe without fear of reprisals.
I often hear the analogy, “It is what it is,” or “why stick my neck out.”
In reply I give some analogies that stand true to this day.
“News, which was defined by a young reporter as: “something someone does not want you to print,” is not the whole story. There are also those two: record and interpretation.”-author unknown.
Here is what we commonly refer to in journalistic circles as Hearst’s Truth.
“Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is more interesting..”
 Have you witnessed someone speaking for hours or writing a plethora of words without actually saying anything?
Why standing for something is definitely more dangerous than standing for nothing.
I was taken to task by “others” god forbid I should actually refer to someone...that writing “negative” stories to be counter-productive.
Honestly I do not subscribe to this point of view.
In a democracy, a newspaper has the duty to present the facts, and give a voice to those that are willing to make observations “on the record”...even naming people...
It is not the business of the media to censor who can and cannot voice an opinion in the printed word; as long as it addresses the concerns of a community.
Of which can be best described as being impactful, within a period of time, prominence, (within proximity of a region).  It also includes conflict (Conflict reveals underlying causes of disagreement between individuals and institutions in a society), currency, and human interest.
If you recognize these qualities in your newspaper, then rest assured they are doing their upmost to keep you informed.
In addition, those who are in positions of authority in whatever capacity; and purposely silence those who dare speak up- giving a dissenting opinion contrary to their own or their place of employment- is reprehensible.
You want to be heard? Great, go “on the record” and speak you peace. Have the courage to stand for something, even if you think it might bring you pause to do so.

Speaking you mind should never be hazardous to your health, or cost you your job.

What about the North?

As per issues related to northern communities such as The Pas, transport, access and economic growth are vital to the continued prosperity of those who dwell here.
In passing this also gives me pause, and come to the conclusion that we do not seem to learn from our past; but let’s stay on this present course for the time being.
Each decade brings its own set of determinants; today we are dealing with a political statement made to influence an outcome based on assumptive proposition that environmental concerns supersedes every other.
What puzzles me is why we allow ourselves to be swayed by absolutist points of view without giving proper thought to what OmniTRAX proposes to achieve in relation to re-vitalizing the northern conduit towards the Port of Churchill.
Yadi-yadi-da….I as like you, sometimes we just shut our ears and look the other way, scoff at the pretentiousness of politicians trying to score points at our expense or just plain tired of it all.
 Environmental issues since Idle No More are more polarized and politically motivated.
Indigenous self-government activism is further muddling the issue (read further down) of who really has the authority to lay claim to what goes on at HBR.
To state that the rail line leading to Churchill is under-developed; is an understatement. It is in fact, derisible.
We continue to give way to lobby groups’ intent on maintaining the East-West corridor open, at the detriment of moving freight North and South of the province.
 It is time to flex some political will of our own and demand that we who live in the area be given the opportunity to work with all concerned and promote the north; forthwith.
Is the HBR rail track to Churchill meet current regulatory safety measures?
 OmniTRAX believes it to be so; and short of having a third party eye-witness capable of advocating for the public interest and only the public interest, who really believes it to be so?
If Mégantic taught us so far, is to severely question the process in which Canada Transport regulates the industry. Every day we hear through the Canadian Press instances where money and lack of supervision is allowing fail safe systems to lapse; causing catastrophic results.
Ashton seems to equate Mégantic as a “template” of what can possibly occur on the HBR rail line north to Churchill.
  Those that take the time to investigate the merits of Ashton’s argument will realize that it is rooted in ignorance.
What is really at play? Simply but…the complete restructure of wealth in this country.
If we were indeed able to learn from past example, we would be reminded of Jim Richardson.
“He drew attention to it in a simple, direct way. The Hudson Bay Railway, which had been a-building-off and on- since 1884, at last, in 1929, reached Churchill.
By the first direct train out of Winnipeg his firm sent one ton of Manitoba No. 1 Hard Wheat, sewn in two-pound canvas sacks, to be transported to England by the HBC’s S.S. Nascopia.”-J.W. Chafe (Extraordinary Tales from Manitoba History) 1973.
This is but one anecdotal first account of using the North-South corridor; many others are made manifest through other publications since the development of Hudson’s Bay by the HBC.
The point being that in the past three years there has been a concerted effort by multiple entities (both private and by provincial, and federal government(s)) specifying that a much greater influx of infrastructure and funds be assigned to develop this conduit.
Ashton’s reservations are directly linked at mitigating political risk. One cannot infuse funds in upgrading HBR’s track line to Churchill, without assuming responsibility to its security.
Whether or not it is the jurisdictional purview of the NDP government is not at issue here; avoiding a public opinion outrage is.
“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”- Franklin D. Roosevelt
That is what we are dealing with. The fear of an impending oil catastrophe within the transport, distribution and access of sweet crude oil import/export markets destined for the Port of Churchill.
Ashton may indeed fear such a catastrophe, as we all do, but impugning the efforts of the HBR/OmniTRAX Board of Directors to mitigate such devastation without due diligence is hypocritical.
One cannot direct a symphony at the back end of the room facing the wall.
In addition, I would presume that whatever political decision to be made by the Minister would bear in mind its effects on Centre Port’s abilities to continue business as usual.
Conjecture aside, what should be examined in the north are adequate relationship, partnership and revenue sharing of the HBR line with First Nations, OmniTRAX, Environmental affiliates, provincial and federal governments.
Yes, this is about money; money for shareholders, money for profit, money for growth, money to properly protect our environment, money for us all. One need not forego at the expense of the other. What OmniTRAX proposes to do by way of utilizing the HBR line to Churchill is what we should have done since 1823. 
It is time to realign our federal and provincial governments. It is time to demand representational governments; it is time that Canadians cease funding the East-West corridor at the expense of the North.

Any child will tell you that dividing a pie begins in the middle; so why are we still insisting to divide Canada’s wealth at the crust? 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What makes sense in Québec...

Very soon Pauline Marois (PQ Prime Minister) will unveil the now “notorious” The Charter of Quebec Values (CQV).
The CQV seeks to separate “Church from State”.
“Far from being a divisive factor between Québecers of all origin, the charter will become the overall consensus and therefore strongly unite the population as was the case in regards to law 101.”-Pauline Marois.
From a political perspective, Marois is of the opinion that, “leaving your religion at home” is to become an integral facet of Québec culture.
She contends that the governmental civil service will be devoid of any public religious symbolism which may or may not be perceived as being non-inclusive within the Québec culture.
After all...if the government wishes to pursue the “distinctiveness” of what makes Québec so unique; it must contend and limit the degree of its “ethnic” markers eh?
Bernard Drainville (the driving force behind the proposed bill) is convinced that the newly introduced legislation will be welcomed by all who live in the province.
Making a mockery of the CQV is easy; to present logical assurances as to why Marois believes it to be so, is another matter.
Of course you are aware that Québec already has enshrined religious rights seven years ago?
The 2008 Bouchard-Taylor report delved into this very issue and came to the conclusion that 73 cases over a 22 year span does not equate a crisis in the making.
Recent polls suggest that 53% of “Québecers” agree with the introductory CQV measures.
I would like to ascertain how this was possible since the document itself is yet to be circulated.
There is disquiet among Québec residents; why construct a piece of legislation which targets religious symbology?
We speak of Muslim issues in Québec, but in truth it is a “Montréal” issue in Québec.
Meriem Bouzidi (is a resident from Québec) who voluntarily converted to the Muslim faith responded by saying,
“Who continues to believe that Muslim women are battered? That they are not equal to humans? What are submitted? What are obliged to wear this unfortunate scarf? That still holds this sterile speech? Pauline Marois and her followers apparently.”
These are not the sole retorts aimed at the proposed legislation.
Malik Yacine (also from Québec) spoke at length in describing actual accounts of intolerance within the Muslim faith.
He also makes it clear that in doing so, does not preclude any personal gain as to what was burned into memory.
“I am not here to advocate on behalf of Québécois or Canadians; but I tell you truly and in all sincerity, and without hypocritical intent of what I have personally witnessed.
I do not seek personal accolades or any other recompense of the sort from Québecers whom are of the opinion that my personal statements does in fact mirror their own personal agendas. I only share with them my new identity and the laws and values which binds us all.”
Nevertheless if we understand this legislative bill to be the genesis of further political frameworks devised to launch a sovereign-ist platform; it has some logical merit.
The civil servant’s union public relations people have already voiced their “official” declaration on the matter.
 If we take le “Syndicat de la fonction publique du Québec” it is in favor of such a policy. Other syndicates such as the “Fédération autonome de l’enseignement” (FAE) are opposed.
“Preventing someone from wearing a hijab or kippa isn’t a way to ensure the secular nature of the state and its institutions.
 For us, respecting secularism has nothing to do with whether you wear religious symbols or accessories.”-Sylvain Mallette, FAE president.
What strikes me as bizarre is how can you welcome complete secularism in some public service sectors and eliminate it in others?
This desire by Pauline Marois to become “neutral by all appearances” is incoherent.
Especially so when the crucifix’s adorning above the legislative assembly is to remain.
The term, “wedge politics” comes to mind; the question is will it work in this case?
Some political pundits are convinced that the CQV will cause some partisans (left leaning sovereign-ist) to transfer allegiances.
Others are making direct connotations to René Lévesque and his language minister Camille Laurin.
They argue that policies are not meant to become a popularity contest but rather a matter of preserving what is deemed to be of national importance.
France anti-immigration secularism policies are more stringent than those proposed by Marois; and are definitely xenophobic in nature. Is this what a sovereign Québec might look like?
There were two online retorts (among many) which can surmise the issue.
“Marois is protecting a native Canadian identity. Let multiculturalism triumph and eventually there will be no recognizable Canadian identity, certainly not one our forefathers could recognize.”-unknown author.
If we look at the American example-it is succinct. You’re American first-you can be anything else second.
This is precisely what Marois wishes to achieve in Québec.
“What is going on here looks a lot like the majority trying to marginalize and make invisible other people who don't look like the majority or share the same beliefs.”-unknown author.
Who would of thought that a Québec separatist provincial government-to be more in-line with pro-American sentiments than the province of Alberta?

What is "White" these days?

The latest cacophony of journalist pundits, columnists, editors, clamouring the instant resignation of MLA Eric Robinson for having the audacity to inscribe “do good white people” in reply to Barbra Judt’s ill-advised fundraising attempt; is hypocritical.
The email in question raises more than one issue. On a point of order, the term used by Robinson “do good white people” is not a racist comment; it is a prejudicial comment. I find that in this instance the term “racist” to be improper. 
Wayne Craig’s remark in the Winnipeg Free Press on in the September 7th edition is quite succinct, “…The fact remains that a senior member of Her Majesty’s government made a value judgement based on a racial stereotype and committed it to writing.” On that issue, we can all agree that what Robinson wrote is indeed prejudicial.
If a “Caucasian” member of Manitoba’s Legislative elected representative in the House had made such a statement, the demand for his or her immediate resignation would have been called upon from indigenous political groups in Manitoba. I must say, if we transcribe the word “white” with “Indian” under similar outcomes such arguments are valid.
Again, I think that we are losing sight of the forest for the tree. Robinson’s remarks were clearly prejudicial; does it in fact merit dismissal? If we are to ascribe to the rules of fair play, the answer is yes. After all ascribing a double standard in this case is not beneficial; it furthers the argument that regardless of what is being said or done by an indigenous person in politics is beyond questioning.
Such reasoning is lacking perspective, in today’s reality. There is a piece missing. Canadians of “Caucasian” ancestry are to dismissive, they forget to easily, they do not want to admit that the current structures in place when dealing with indigenous issues are not working. These structures are fact based on racially, documented government policies aimed at assimilating a race based ethnic group on Canadian soil. It is still occurring to this day, the undercurrent is unmistakable.
The litanies of racially motivated federal government programs are indisputable; it is a matter of public record. Which brings me to the missing piece, if we are to purposely jump every time an indigenous person (elected or not) feels like using the term “white” instead of using the term “Caucasian” in describing the actions of people who are making decisions on behalf of  indigenous peoples; we have a long way to go.
Let me be clear, presently, Canadians of Caucasian ancestry do not like to be called “white”, “settler ally”, “colonialists”, or any other term which implies having dominion over another ethnic race. They shaft at the thought of having to endure the consequences of past and present federal government policies regarding indigenous people.
 They want none of it; they do not want their taxpayers money used in continuing a separate class of citizens.
They are wary of having to hear how Treaty agreements are still not honored, how unjust it is for indigenous people to continue to claim that Canada still owes them indemnities.
 They argue the statute of limitation, they use the rational that issues of the past cannot ever be concluded in a satisfactory manner in which will bring peace and harmony between indigenous and Caucasian Canadians.  They are convinced that it is time for indigenous people to embrace their ethnicity in conjunction with being Canadian first.
Third, Fourth, and Fifth generation “white” Canadians no longer accept the constant barrage being said and written by the likes of the Pamela Palmater’s and the Derek Nepinak’s so on and so forth, stating that “they” are morally and financially responsible to correct any and all misdeeds of the past.
Canadians of Caucasian descent are beginning to fashion their own identities. They no longer ascribe to the “mother land” mentality any longer. They no longer identify with their European roots; all that remains is the color of their skin.
In accordance, when Robinson attributed the prejudicial comment of “do good white people” in describing Judt’s stupidity, it triggered a feeling among Canadians that Robinson using the term “white” to be equally offensive in their view- racist even.
This latest incident demonstrates that there is still a lot of work to do. We have an ethnic indigenous population, which continue to feel marginalized, ostracized, not taken seriously. They are of the opinion that forcing them to become “Canadian” at all, never mind first-is continuing to ignore the fact that they should not be forced to choose at all. 
It is their collective opinion that a blanket apology is not sufficient; there needs to be significant profit sharing structures of natural resources on First Nations land.
Indigenous groups living on reserves in Canada, believe that the responsibility to develop such resources to be that of domestic and international companies, and Canadian governmental entities. It is they that need to absorb the majority of the operational costs of any future development on First Nations land. It is their understanding that this is the price to pay in order to balance the scales of justice.
This is not the view shared by the majority of non-indigenous people of varied ethnic backgrounds living in this country.  Some Canadians do believe that some kind of recitative process in regards to First Nations still needs to occur. Most feel that enough money and resources are in place to address these issues.
Robinson’s comment triggered an avalanche. Imagine what the Conservative government agenda for First Nations under Prime Minister Harper will trigger. Idle No More is but a taste of what is to come, if we continue to ignore the major prejudices and racial assimilation policies that continue to plague this country.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The headache that won’t go away We have ceased to say what we mean, and mean what we say.

The collective consciousness of the 19th and 20th century; is placing a heavy burden on the multicultural ethnic society that represents Canada today.
Canadians are incapable, and unwilling to shoulder the consequences of racist policies made on their and their descendants’ behalf.
It is Canada’s contention to posit the argument that European “manifest of destiny” and subsequent occupation of indigenous lands in nearly 500 years can lay legitimate claims to its territory.
In modern terms, it is a quandary. The collective Canadian consensus to outstanding issues in regards to First Nation’s agreements made 150 years ago-to be a thing of the past.
Worse yet, the notion of the “Indian” as being less deserving of equal rights under Canadian law was still a reality a mere 60 years ago.
To understand the issue, is to be cognizant of history; and not too many Canadians are aware of the genesis of this country’s true beginnings.
To argue the case ad nausea is not my intention. However there is still this persistence among Canadians that regardless of the contextual historical data, it is time for First Nations to accept and submit for the greater good-become Canadians yourselves.
This has always been the message; from the McDonald administration to that of Prime Minister Harper’s.
Have we past the point of no return?
Is there still such intransigence among non-indigenous Canadians and newly arrived emigrants to see justice done?
Is the supposition that treaty entitlements are no longer valid; in fact past its due date-does it benefit all who reside in Canada?
Many argue that it is so; and for that we have to thank not one but several Canadian institutions. It is still wrong.
We have in this country, tried to beat, starve, kill, murder, indigenous peoples since the late 1960’s.
We have allowed federal governments to dictate what is best suited (in terms of assimilation programs) and tolerate the Indian Act as a pact in efforts to “wash away” the responsibility to care for these people.
It remains pertinent to reflect that under no circumstances an “urban” reserve ever be permitted within a city.
It was, and is valid to this present day, that paying for the privilege of not being in proximity to a reserve-a necessary evil.
Now there are exceptions to the rule, and one cannot bring about a conclusion (which would give the impression) that the existing treatment of “Indians” living on reservations to be completely useless.
Why are these people so ...damn stubborn? Why can’t they just be more like us?
After all, didn’t successive federal governments “give” them enough concessions?
In this day and age you will have mainstream non-indigenous Canadians purposely convey “politically correct” point of views in the media.
Basically there is one official version of what it is that we really think...and then there is the un-official one.
We have ceased to say what we mean, and mean what we say. Seldom do we see anyone steadfast in their convictions, and have the courage to bring into question policy which is detrimental to us all.
Canadians have become more concerned about keeping their jobs, maintaining their standard of living; not rocking the boat.
Those that do so are scorned, labelled and identified. A yes, those that advocate on behalf of the environment....yes those people are definitely UN-Canadian. protested against the G-8 summit meetings? How dare are standing in the way of progress...UN-Canadian.
You support David Suzuki and the likes which continue to create such barriers for the Conservative government agenda?
You are definitely on Harper’s enemy list, number one and NOT a Canadian.
Optics, how is it going to look? What’s the spin? What’s the angle?
What about whether or not it is true?
 It is clear that if you look closely enough, very rarely do we see anyone put into print the unvarnished truth; the warts, the issues which makes us less than stellar.
If you do, protect that individual because if you do not they will suffer the consequences of doing so.
I have witnessed this already in The Pas, and frankly it smells of hypocrisy.
 If the media’s sole purpose is to control the “message” and no longer present the facts and different points of view on any issue...what is the purpose of having freedom of speech protected under the Charter?
We are deserving of successive federal, provincial, municipal governments if we no longer attribute the validity of speaking up for those who cannot, for those who have experienced injustice, for those who continue to be under the yoke of prejudicial, and racist treatment.
If there is a problem, if there is an issue, it behooves us all to discuss it. To be in the wrong does not make you a bad person.
So here we are, in 2013, still having to address an issue that should have been rectified long ago.
Yes the statute of limitations for some is a valid argument to wipe out all treaty agreements.
Residential Schools? We paid for that already... not enough you say? Too bad.
Reserves today serve no purpose. They are isolated, and do not offer economic advantages. Restructure them into municipalities and make “Indians” relocate once again.
The days of having Indian Status Cards is over. We’re done paying for status... have the same rights and opportunities like the rest of us... The buck stops here.
Well in fact the buck does not stop here. I’m afraid that from past Supreme Court rulings Indigenous Treaty Rights are valid and they need to be reflected within Canadian culture....that is essentially what it means to be Canadian.
We can no longer afford to treat indigenous persons as idiots, less aware of their inherent rights, in continuing to accept that their way of life is not congruent to that of the rest of us.
We should not continue to believe that the passage of time, or that what occurred under previous federal government policies void our collective responsibility towards the indigenous peoples of this country.
To do any less is know the ending already; why don’t you change it once and for all.

Whoa...what gives?

I clearly wanted to remove myself from this issue, but I find it impossible to ignore.
 On August 3,2013 Winnipeg Free Press reporter, Carol Saunders  wrote an article bringing to the forefront the plight of “Aboriginal” demographic explosion, and that of the rise in high school rate drop-outs.
Here we go again, if the majority of you feel like tuning out already, I do not blame you.
There comes a time where enough is enough and there needs to be a period of introspection instead of the increased pressures from needless conjectures, which does not bring any benefit. 
Saunders brings to light the rapid growth rate of First Nations, and therefore the increased numbers of children on schools nominal roles.
It is suggested that the rate of aboriginals is rising and therefore increase the overall numbers of aboriginal students not completing a high school diploma.
“Manitoba’s aboriginal population is booming, and unless there is major change, so will the number of school dropouts who are more likely to be jobless, poor, have kids in care and abuse substances, experts say,” commented Saunders.
All right, another allusion to “Indians” being at risk of becoming  dumb, stupid, drunks and drug addicted people copulating like rabbits.
Saunders explains that the ideology of Wayne Helgason (who testified on behalf of the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg (ACW) has merit. Helgason is also the former head of the ACW.
“The problem is, despite best efforts and more spending, the education system still isn’t working for aboriginal people,” said Helgason, a long-time advocate for an aboriginal school division.”
Saunders does bring to attention that First Nations receive less funding per student on reserve-as compared to what the provincial government spends in matters of education of on reserve aboriginal students.
It may be common knowledge in some circles, but I doubt anyone believes that this is the core distinction of deficits as to why indigenous students fail to obtain a high school diploma.
Saunders illustrates many findings stemming from the Sinclair Inquiry; she also emphasizes Helgason’s credentials as an authoritative “expert” capable of speaking on behalf of all First Nations in regards to education and indigenous people.
“…Métis man, who was one of Winnipeg’s first aboriginal in school child-welfare workers 30 years ago, has run aboriginal agencies and headed the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.”
Very good for Helgason, and Winnipeg but I fail to see how the correlation between Helgason and his crusade of having an aboriginal school division will bring about the necessary measures to reverse the tide of chronic fiduciary deficiencies of the federal government.
In addition to constant jurisdictional bickering as to who is responsible foot the bill and how in the world would such a division would take shape outside of Winnipeg.
I am sure the Sinclair inquiry has good recommendations as how best to mitigate the lack of accountability in regards to children like Sinclair who has fallen through the cracks.
Recommending that education be the keystone in reversing trends in cases such as Sinclair’s is apparent; what is less demonstrative are the what, who, when and where such a division advocated so strongly by Helgason could achieve any real prognosis in terms of increasing the success rate of indigenous students.
Saunders herself does not offer any information on the matter. Instead, she argues programs such as the Community School Investigators (CSI) to be far more effective.
“That’s why the retired educator (Strini Reddy) and a colleague founded the hugely successful CSI program to help kids in poverty-most of whom are aboriginal-have better chances of staying in school and having happy, productive lives.”
CSI may create opportunities for First Nations students living in Winnipeg. Saunders does not in fact attribute actual numbers of indigenous students enrolled in the CSI program; but the benefits to northern or even rural First Nation reserve communities are minimal-negligent even.
Helgason is convinced that establishing an aboriginal school division similar to what the Division Société Franco-Manitobaine (DSFM) currently administers to a population of 5000 students throughout the province; to be the Holy Grail for First Nations.
“It’s almost like a school division should be a slam dunk-the francophone school division is quite successful and a whole department in the government supports system. Anyone who wants to deny the aboriginal community the dame thing, in my view, is hedging on racism.”
Helgason, in my opinion is bordering on the idiotic. He is forgetting that the mandate of the DSFM is upholding the rights of francophone families to have their children taught in their first language; which is protected under the Manitoba provincial legislation.
He also seems to be ignorant of the fact that establishing such a division contradicts the mantra of individualism, which exists in First Nation communities.
As clearly, stated by Saunders and Helgason in matters of funding, who then would be willing to subsidize such a division?
There seems to be more question than answers. At face value, indigenous people living off reserve in Winnipeg theoretically would or could envision such a structure.
“We were very shocked, actually, at the very low functioning level of those who come from northern communities.” –Helgason.
Helgason’s vision is short sighted. It also does articulate a plan, which encompasses all First Nation educational needs in the province.
In fact, bringing attention to the lack of instruction from Indigenous youths migrating from the north to Winnipeg should illustrate the need to acclimatise, buffer, and properly ground our youth into larger centres.
Furthermore, it does not coincide with the efforts of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) in maintaining a uniform political, and services issues designed to strengthen First Nations on and off reserves.
“Key issues and challenges in FN education continue to be adequate, predictable, and sustainable resourcing for all aspects of education,” asserted Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.
“Manitoba First Nation students continue to stress that there is insufficient resourcing to cover the increased demand for student support, rising tuition and living expenses.”
A piece of advice for the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, if you are intent on publishing such an article, make sure you have the proper representational ethnic persons who are referred to in the article. Having Reddy surrounded by Caucasian children is not what I deem a source appropriate picture.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Indian Plains and future assimilation...

      British North America administrators in unison with the Colonial Office in Britain were of one mind to establish a system(s) of assimilation in regards to Indian tribes roaming past the height of land (present day Thunder Bay). This concentrated effort, this push if you will, at the behest of the Conservative Government of John A. McDonald; was in response to the conclusion of the US civil war and its growing interest in annexing Canada within the United States. Another more pressing issue was the financial health of the Canadian Railway in the eastern provinces of Canada. Establishing railway lines south of the border proved expensive and difficult to do business against established railway companies in the United-States; as such McDonald looked towards the west and the Pacific Coast as a means to open up future markets by way of a Pacific sea port.
       Now the consortium in which made these issues unfold was as complex as the issues themselves. Firstly the need for land; this was made possible by the Hudson`s Bay Company. Economic conditions in 1840 became at a crisis. The Company had dwindling assets other than its Charter; therefore concluded an agreement with McDonald in terms of a land transfer which became known as the (Rupert’s Land Act) transaction. The resulting pact did considerably alleviate the financial strains of the Company; providing its managing partners the opportunity to sit on future board of the Pacific Trunk Railway. It also provided McDonald with the necessary means to pursue the transcontinental railway.
   Secondly, the Indian Wars in the United-States (1865-1890) kept American Interest towards the annexation of Canada at bay. Manifest Destiny1 ideologies made some Americans in the Republican Party; such as journalist John L. O’Sullivan to further American expansionism into the West and South. “O’Sullivan believed that Providence had given the United-States a mission to spread republican democracy. Because Britain would not use the territory of Oregon for the purposes of spreading democracy, thought O’Sullivan, British claims to the territory should be overruled. O’Sullivan believed that Manifest Destiny was a moral ideal (a "higher law") that superseded other considerations. O'Sullivan predicted that Canada would eventually request annexation as well.2
      1869 was a decisive year for the Conservatives. Louis Riel intent on preserving French and Métis rights pressed McDonald in acceding to the provisional provincial government of Manitoba’s demands in order to ratify a law admitting Manitoba into confederation. The successive series of events in reference to Louis Riel, the Red River Settlement and ultimately the loss of French and Métis rights in the province is not reflective of assimilating Indian tribes west of Saint Boniface.  The advance of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway however did; specifically in Saskatchewan.
      Efforts by the ‘Confederation League’ in British Columbia proved fruitful and in 1871 requested to be part of Confederation as per the agreement of McDonald to assume British Columbia’s debt, to create subsidies for public works and a railroad would be built from Ontario to British Columbia within 10 years.
Thirdly, the reserve ‘system’ began in earnest by 1865 in British North America, “The Indians really have no right to the lands they claim, nor are they of any actual value or utility to them: and I cannot see why they should either retain these lands to the prejudice of the General Interests of the Colony, or be allowed to make a market of them to the Government or to the individual.3
      The process by which McDonald deemed necessary to make way for the eventual introduction of Homestead Act; involved identifying areas of interest to the Crown and make treaty with the predominant Cree tribes along the Saskatchewan River. Governor-General Alexander Morris acted on the behest of Her Majesty’s government in establishing these treaty agreements. The contentious issue of segregating Indian populations within the reserves presented McDonald two options; creating conditions aimed at furthering the assimilation of a people and permanently extinguishing Indian rights to the land.
       Examples of increasing encroachment of European settlements upon Indian lands abound. One such incident occurred in the 1850’s.  James Douglas, the Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company and the governor of British Columbia, negotiated a series of treaties with coastal Indians (commonly called the Douglas treaties). However, treaties soon fell out of favor with provincial officials and, after 1859, the government placed First Nations people on reserves without granting them compensation for their lands.
    McDonald as Prime Minister and Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Edgar Dewdney, Commissioner of Indian Affairs and Hayter Reed, Assistant Indian Commissioner of Indian Affairs manipulated the concentration, movements and assimilation of a people within the reserve system by the re-defined interpretation of the Indian Act. 
      The permit system enabled Indian Agents control in regards to commercial transactions benefiting band members and non-natives within the reserve. It also monitored and restricted who could leave and return to the reserve. The permit system was illegal since it was never passed into law; nevertheless this practice was in effect well past mid-1940. Reed’s belief was that an Indian farmer was to become self-sufficient; without the ability to compete in the open market system.
      The most controversial system introduced by McDonald was the application of the “location ticket”. Its purpose was to further the enfranchisement process among First Nations. It stipulated that if a band member demonstrated the ability to successfully implement farming principles (in similar fashion as a white settler could manage) for a probationary period of three years and had sufficiently evolved as to be completely capable of joining Canadian Society; the said Indian could therefore be given title to the land. Theoretically, all ban members of a reservation could enfranchise themselves in this manner.
      The pursuance of a university degree also was a means of enfranchisement, as the Indian could receive immediately a location ticket and become enfranchised- As the probationary period would be rendered null and void. “Not only was the Indian as a distinct cultural group to disappear, but also the laboratory where these changes were brought about would disappear, for as the Indian was enfranchised, that is, he became assimilated, he would take with him his share of the reserve. Therefore when all the Indians were enfranchised, there would be no longer be any Indian reserves.” 5
     Dewdney determinately pressed forward his agenda; often starving or withholding vital resources needed by band members to survive. These tactics were in accordance with McDonald’s vision; to break the will and coerce the eventual demise of First Nations culture in Canada. New regulations under the Indian Act, affecting the sexual, marital and divorce laws of Indian women inherently incited renewed violence, and abuse from and within reserves. It also rendered First Nations completely unable to become self-sustaining; becoming in effect, wards of the Federal Government. “Indian Agents were given the powers of a justice of the peace to enforce sections of the criminal code relating to vagrancy, in order that the western Indian could be kept on the reserve where he might be taught to farm and learn the value of work.6

     The position of First Nations peoples within Confederation was not to be a one of reconciliation within the European fabric, “For the original people there was no partnership, no degree of home rule, to protect and encourage the development of a valued and variant culture, as was the case with French Canada. Not only were the Indians not a necessary element in the creation of Confederation as the French Canadians were, but their cultural aspirations their desire to create a new Indian culture on the reserves, was rejected.” 7

1 Scott, Donald. The Religious Origins of Manifest Destiny National Humanities Center
2 McCrisken, Trevor B., Exceptionalism: Manifest Destiny Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, Vol. 2, p. 68. 
 3Joseph Trutch, Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, 1864.
4Manitoba Historical Society: The contribution of the Jews to the Opening and Development of the West.
5 John L. Tobias, Sweet Promises: a Reader on Indian-White Relations in Canada.
6 Ibid, M. Musgrove to F. Talfourd, 2, April 1861
7John S.Milloy, Sweet Promises, a Reader on Indian-White Relations in Canada.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

We should call it something else....

“Idle No More” (INM) reported in various publications across Canada have all alluded to the continuing saga of the “Indian Question”.
This is clearly in reference to the added attention to Chief Spence’s hunger strike on the banks of the Ottawa River and last year’s focus on Attawapiskat’s housing crisis.
As per media functions into presenting factual data is highly controversial and usually accompanies the political ideologies of Canada’s recognized parties; both at the Federal and Provincial levels.
Facebook, Twitter are namely the two most popular social media sources in which INM propelled itself onto the national stage; and as such garnered much support.
 The message is being heard but is it really being understood? Depending on who is, postulating an answer the responses to the question is quite diverse.
In any case, dialogue is a good beginning. Many political pundits such as Ezra Solomon seem to insinuate that it is a matter of time before the movement experience some form of violence. As INM protests-in reference to blockade tactics- in proximity of the US/Canada borders and major transport routes such as rail and highways become more frequent and the duration of these types of protests accrue.
The INM movement is being perceived as a “lost cause” in the views of non-First Nations Canadians.
Lost in the sense that what was initially concluded via the Treatises should not currently bare any legal, social, or economic consequences.  Are we really looking at resolving issues stemming from the Indian Policy but in place in the 1870’s?
Looking very loosely at the political policies of the Conservative and Liberal Governments in the past 200 hundred years one would
Therefore, begins the meandering saga of re-educating two maybe three generations into the factual instances of the five W’s (who what where and when) accompanied by the most important appendix, contextual relationship. Which the INM movement is currently attempting to address.
Elaborating further, the Treatises, all of them, were designed to displace, limit and forever extinct alienable right of Cree, Ojibwa, Salteaux, among many other ethnic Nations to the land.
“That it was essential that the Indian title to all the territory in the vicinity of the lake should be extinguished so that settlers and traders might have undisturbed access to its waters, shore, islands, inlets and tributary streams.” Privy Council of Canada 1875.
The issue of land needed to be addressed in order to receive the increased immigration waves stemming from Eastern Canada, the United-States and Europe.
We often hear how the ‘Indian’ approaches in Canada were more humane and less infringing in dealing with Indian tribes across the West. Not so.... In fact all efforts by Conservative and Liberal Indian Affairs Department policies; were designed to assimilate an ethnic group employing methods that assured increased assimilation rates to the fullest.
The first of such methods began by defining what an ‘Indian’ was for the purposes of segregation and excluding the Métis,
“It did so in very sweeping term, for it included all persons of Indian ancestry and all persons married to such persons, belonging to or recognized a belonging to an Indian band, and living with a band.” John L Tobias, Sweet Promises.
Location of such Reserves had to be approached. Once on reservations the process of enforcing the Indian Policy became the responsibility of the North West Mounted Police.
Success was to be measured by the degree in which the ‘Indian’ assimilated the concept of property; and failed miserably.
“It will be found desirable, to assign to each family parts of the reserve for their own use, so as to give them a sense of property in it.” said Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Morris in Treaties in Canada with the Indians.
 The purpose of the Reserves was designed to drive home this single outcome; eventually allotting 160 acres of land for each family of five and successfully affranchise each family, which would no longer be part of the reserve, “It also imposed the reserve system as a laboratory for cultural (genocide) changes on the Plains Indians by means of these Treatises.” John L Tobias, Sweet Promises.
 Then, Commissioner Edgar Dewdney and Indian Agents sole purpose within the reserve were to subjugate the Indian population to abide by the will of the Minister of Indian Affairs. The methods employed were often harsh, swift and without remorse.
“Backed by a small contingent of Indian agents and Mounted Police, he used the distribution of rations as a device to impose state authority on the First Nations population. Facing hunger and destitution, First Nations people were compelled to settle on reserves, adopt agriculture and send their children to mission schools.”
The need to decrease assistance to the said reserves was in the view of the Government compulsory.
Prime Minister Steven Harper cannot extinguish the Indian Act and therefore the laws governing Statues Indians. He can however seek other methods to circumvent, weaken and re-define the Indian Act, hence the introduction of Bill C-45.
“The problem is that the Canadian Government continues to maintain and rely upon the cede and surrender provisions in our treatise. This is the issue; no one would have surrendered and ceded their land. No one in my community, anyway, would have ceded and surrendered anything. However that’s what this whole country, {Canada} is based on. That’s the problem. Section 35 has to be developed,” said Joan Jack, a lawyer and councillor for the Berens River First Nation.
“ We have to get back to the constitutional table and fill up section 35 with what we think should be in there, because we are the indigenous people,” said Jack, adding, “ move the discussion from ward of the state back to were it originally started; as a Nation to Nation state.”
A difficult proposition considering that  none of the previous or current federal government (s) to date, were not a all interested in rendering First Nations autonomous; in so doing, allowing First Nations the ability to access, benefit and exercise their harvesting  rights in areas of commercial land developments, forestry, mining and fisheries on treaty land.
“First Nations had land given to them, as reserve land, held collectively and this is one partisan issue were the Conservative Government over many years has consistently tried to privatize reserve land. We are certainly seeing this government move very aggressively to privatize every which way in the book {Indian Act} it can,” said Peter Kulchyski, professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba.
In order to “assimilate” Indians, the Indian Act gave the government the power to supersede traditional methods of governance. To this end the Indian Act is truly reprehensible; and did not give moral authority to the federal governments, politicians, department officials, the Roman and Anglican missionaries of 1869,1876, 1951, and 1969 to deliberate the fate of First Nations without its representative equivalent.
The introduction of the ‘White Paper’ by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, then Minister of Indian Affairs in 1969 signalled the strongest political resolution by any federal government to permanently extinguish the Indian Act and in so doing the special statues of First Nations in Canada.
 “By adoption of this policy and by repealing the Indian Act, the Indian would be assimilated by government fiat, and what the Indian Act of 1876 had sought as a long-term goal--the expiration of the Indian and Indian lands-would be realized,” John L. Tobias, Sweet Promises. In no way shape or form were reserves intended to be sustained in perpetuity. The ability to successfully assimilate, indoctrinate and educate future generations into western culture; the better. Mission schools were best adapted to further the assimilation process. The resulting experiments of the measures employed are still being felt 160 years later. The vote did not exist on any reserve until 1960.

 In terms of First Nations issues, Canadians are over stimulated. The inequalities stemming from outstanding land claims have created an unfavourable perception on what First Nations self-governance entails for the rest of the country. “First Nation” issues; continue to act as a rope being tightened around the neck of non-native Canadians. Open or under-currents of racism-then and now still are present. Every social ill imaginable remain within reserves; as to the root cause sustaining these ills, again depend on who offers “expert” opinions as to the “why”.
“Since 1983, we were making some progress on Indigenous self-government; and there are communities that are now self governing in the Yukon, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and in northern Québec. In 2005-2006, that process has stopped altogether.
Now they are re-focusing our attention on the Indian Act; saying this is a step in the right direction toward self-government. Well it’s not; the step forward for self-government is an “Indian Nation Self-Government Recognition and Validation Act” that says automatically First Nations come forward with the model they want and replace the Indian Act with that,” explains Kulchyski.
 I daresay the only moral and legal option for Canada is to uphold existing Supreme Court decisions and give a clear mandate to the federal government to resume and honor outstanding land claims with First Nations on their behalf.
“The courts have moved the agenda along further than the government. If we {today} decided to implement federal policies that reflected the Supreme Court of Canada’s thinking we would be miles ahead of where we are currently,” says Kulchyski.
Joan Jack agreed, “We’ve won 40 decisions at the Supreme Court of Canada; and how many have been implemented... Maybe none eh? I think that the Canadian government and the Canadian taxpayers should start focusing on the fact that our Supreme Court of Canada has said... ‘hey be nice’... and what’s happening?”
According to Kulchyski the need to ratify Supreme Court decisions is crucial, “These decisions come to bear on people’s daily lives and communities. This is why (First Nation) communities can’t plan because they don’t know what kind of government funding they’re going to receive. In the end, these are bread and butter issues for First Nations (peoples).
We are going to sink to a worst national catastrophe than we are already seeing, unless someone steps up to the plate (federal government) and says “we have to develop a change of policy that reflects what the (Supreme)courts are telling us so that the (process) moves forward.”
What we are challenged with today is the validity past governmental policies that have affected so many in such a destructive way. Unfortunately, the result of those policies will be with us as long as we deny the severity, the duration and the ramification done on behalf of Federal Government towards the Indian Nations of Canada.
The INM movement will truly have gained resonance as non First Nations Canadians protest along side, demanding the Conservative government to desist further attempts to weaken protective laws designed to achieve the complete removal of a People from the Canadian landscape.