Monday, January 28, 2013

Silent no more...

          When I was staying in Edmonton (during my research) I was standing in a lunch line one afternoon and the Native gentleman in front of me turned around, looked me in the eye and said, “ I hate White people… you diddle our children”. My response was, “Yeh, sorry ‘bout that, but nobody invited me in on that decision”.  Like most people, I resent be held accountable for things I had no control over… so we will not spend much (if any) time discussing, residential schools, small-pox conspiracies and all the past atrocities, both accidental and intentional  to colonization. I will affirm that all of these things need to be remembered because they stand as monuments to the strength, beauty and power of the Native people. Every Canadian regardless of race (or arrival date) is responsible for what comes next. This is our country, my country, a country that should stand proudly for social justice, environmental protection and equality for everyone; in an all too often unjust world. That is the Canada I want to live in and that is the future I want to help create. We can all create the Canada we want to be, by the actions we take now. As always ignorance is the enemy… so we each have a responsibility to learn, educate and share.
          The Idle No More movement has created a wonderful opportunity to dialogue on “Native” issues, because the more we learn, the more we come to realize these are HUMAN issues. We all need clean water, we all need a safe place to sleep, we all need food to eat, we all need peace, love and purpose (meaningful work). The Buddha said, "We are all alike in our desire to avoid suffering and embrace happiness," So let's stop making ill informed judgements and try to understand this situation... put ourselves in the other guys shoes/moccasins for a minute.
         When I was staying in Thunder Bay my friend and I, were discussing the land claims issue (Caledonia in particular) and I presented my argument as follows. If you left me to house-sit while you went out of town for the winter (something I actually did for many winters) and I sold the house. How would you feel about that? You come home and find strangers living there and doing extensive (possibly expensive renovations).  Do they get to stay… are you forced to move? After all they bought it in good faith… It’s not like you were actually using the house, you were in Florida. Ponder that for a moment.           Another issue is the validity of the treaties themselves. These were “bad faith” contracts by most legal standards. A contract is more than just a piece of paper signed by two parties. Contracts require a meeting of the minds; both parties must have the same understanding of what is being agreed to… the party initiating the contract has a fiduciary duty to ensure that such is the case. At the time that Canada was being settled there was no such a thing as land ownership in Native culture. Natives believe(d) that we are merely custodians of the earth. I am not saying that either party was deliberately deceitful,  just that neither knew the other’s culture well enough to create a meeting of the minds.
          For anyone whining about the “tax” dollars being handed over to support the Natives, that may be entirely not true. I use tentative language here because although this rings true to me I would require a forensic accountant to verify exactly what is going on. Apparently the monies being paid out to Native Bands is from interest earned on the agreed sums from various treaty settlements.  In White-man’s terms, it would be something like this… Your grandma died and left you $5 million dollars and your parents are in charge of your trust fund. Grandma forgot to put an end date on that. So here you are 40 years old, every time you want anything you have to ask mom, she can approve or withhold the funds. It is your money, it is your life but someone else is dictating every choice you make.  You want to be a balloon vendor, but mom doesn’t understand your priorities, so no… you must live in this city and work at dad’s office or she will cut off your funds.  I bet you would be fighting in court to break the terms of the trust, but if the courts were biased in favour of your parents (friends of the family and all that)… you would have to seek a change of venue. Think of Idle No More as a change of venue, a petition to the court of public opinion.
          I guess this is going become a series of discussions since I try to keep my blogs under a 600 words (I am well in excess of 700 today) and this is a complex subject with many issues that need to be examined  so I will continue this again later. Have a joyous day my friends.