I’m sitting on my da pigu / gruba dupa at McDonald’s trying to type up a quick post before I have to get this ass off to my work. Lately I have been much absorbed with this movement they call “Idle No More”. Today, as I opened up our Vancouver Province newspaper, I see various mini-articles in the “Opinion” section. Reading them over, I agreed with some of the opinions found there, covering both “for” and “against” the Idle No More movement. (See bottom of this post for the articles).
1. SO-CALLED CORRUPT CHIEFS: Honestly, I have rarely seen anyone who is totally against First Nations rights. What they are questioning usually is what they see as corrupt leadership of FN reserves in Canada. They see Canadian taxpayer money going down the toilet, as chiefs, in bed with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and other politicians/departments of the federal government, squandering the money they have been entrusted to spend for their people.
This IS an issue with many people young and old in the INM movement. They AGREE with many Canadians who question this. That is why, now and in the coming years, I’m expecting excellent, compassionate yet firm leadership to be emerging from among First Nations youth. Stay tuned. It’s coming to a reserve or town near you.
2. THE REMOTENESS OF RESERVES
Another issue is how far away many reserves are from the resources and population bases of “civilization”. Why should food, clothing, housing materials, fuel, etc. be shipped up to sustain such out-of-the-way places?
I remember listening to an episode of a reading of the 1996 Report of the Canadian Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples on a Saturday on Vancouver’s 106.3 FM. When I phoned up the author of the above-quoted report website, he told me that the unspoken policy of the Canadian federal government is to make the situation on reserves so intolerable that most of the people there leave. Then they can expropriate the land and offer it to the big corporations for exploitation of natural resources, etc. Sound like part of the plot of Avatar to you?
Yes, this remoteness is an issue. But if Debeers, the world’s largest diamond company, can happily mine for diamonds at the Victor Mine near the Attiwapiskat Reserve of the now well-known Chief Theresa Spence, why can’t her and her people live on the table scraps land that they received from the Canadian government after the European invasion and conquest?
3. WHO ARE THE IDLE NO MORE PROTESTS DIRECTED TO?
Some people think that the INM movement is aiming at the wrong targets. After all, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are not your most considerate types of people. Why would they care about what FN people are saying? And if they react, will it be to simply throw more of the same type of table scraps?
The Idle No More movement is about empowerment. Yes, I know this is an unpopular word after being overused in the 1990s. But it is appropriate here. On my last post, there’s a photo of a Peace Arch Park, US/Canada Border, Surrey, BC, Unceded Salish Territories, Jan 5th, 2013 Rally. The sign a girl is carrying says “HEAR OUR VOICES”. The main issue is that Canadians have merrily taken over the land and marginalised First Nations people, and have not listened to them.
Finally we can see that the message is getting out. This is not simply about PR. No, this is about First Nations people being invisible no more in this country, their country.
CANADIANS, TAKE THE TIME TO LISTEN TO YOUR FIRST NATIONS NEIGHBOURS!
YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU DID!
More to come here on Sleepless In Turtle Island, Great Spirit willing.
You can reach me at dimitri.pravdinATmail.ru
PROVINCE ARTICLES, Wed Jan 9, 2013:
Sadly, there is no way the federal government can wave its magic wand and all the problems on First Nations reserves can be eradicated.
Unfortunately, the problems with housing, clean water, getting supplies and other issues are multi-faceted. Obviously, with billions flowing to First Nations reserves annually, money isn’t the solution to these problems.
The remoteness of native reserves, such as Attawapiskat in Northern Ontario, makes getting supplies and setting up schooling and health care very complicated.
It may well be time to follow New Zealand’s lead and move such First Nations closer to larger communities. This would ensure schooling, better housing, clean water and an overall better standard of life.
Let’s face it, very few First Nations live solely off the land any more, as witnessed by the requirement for federal funding.
The other thing that must happen is for First Nations to demand better leadership from chiefs and band councils, so that funding helps those in the most dire need.
Until First Nations start looking inward and help solve their own reserve problems, nothing will change.
The blame game will solve nothing, and is likely to further irritate the Canadian population at large.
Larry Comeau, Ottawa
Don’t blame the Indians and Inuit; they take only what our politicians are giving them.
We have three levels of government that have been shovelling literally billions of dollars at them every year, whether they need it or not, for far too long.
It’s time to allow them to fly solo, and let them sink or swim like the rest of us.
Shut down the Department of Indian Affairs now, and cancel the budget.
With $9 million invested in the stock market, the Attawapiskat band doesn’t need more money. What’s desperately needed are forensic audits – and to prosecute the people who are ripping the system off.
As taxpayers, our rights have been violated.
Andy Thomsen, Summerland