You know, we sometimes refer to Americans as "the Ugly American". It refers to the down side of their country. It refers to their actions abroad. It tells the story, that despite their ideals, there is another side. We have that to. It's called "the Ugly Canadian" and it refers to our treatment of Aboriginal peoples.
Make no mistake, it is a black mark on our history, even more disgusting than the US treatment of Black America. I was prompted to write this blog by a few local media types - and some national ones. Their comments centered around Chief Spence and her hunger strike. They denigrated her effort, especially the spirit of her actions, by labelling it as "not quit hunger-strike-like", because she consumed moose broth and water during her action. Not quite satisfied with that cheap shot, the feds released an audit of her community's spending early, and some media types swarmed over it like a pack of vultures. Then, some guy we call a Senator, who claims to be an ex-national Chief, but sounds like a Reform Party member, led a charge to attack the very legitimacy of Chief Spence's hunger strike.
By now this strategy should sound familiar. It is Steven Harper. Period. End story. His modus operandi. Kill the messenger no matter the message. Stifle dissent. Continue the agenda. What has he succeeded in doing? He has lit his own country on fire.
For starters, and to all you uneducated or bigoted people out there, the Aboriginal Nations signed TREATIES with the Crown - read Royal Family. Nation to Nation. That's what treaties are folks. Treaty of Versailles, etc, you get the idea. Treaties are not written with minorities, average white people, corporations, municipal or federal governments, etc. They are written between Nations for peace - either as a result of war or to avoid it. Aboriginal people's allied with the French, they allied with the British, you get the idea. They were Allies. They did not work for them. They were allies. Nation to Nation.
Our Kings and Queens signed treaties with the Aboriginal people with and out of respect. The understanding being that no government in the colony, at the time, could ever breach the rights laid out therein. That the Crown, read King or Queen, had the responsibility to ensure those rights were upheld. Not some politician. The Crown. So it remains to this day. Those rights are for eternity. There is no sunset clause. There is no expiry date. There is no final abdication of responsibility. The Crown agreed to treaties with the Aboriginal people as nations. Each Aboriginal group had their own treaty. They were not treated as one lot of "Indians". They were recognized for what they were, and are, separate peoples. The treaties brought peace to the land. A country was forged in that peace. We like to wave that at the rest of the world: "Look at us! Aren't we civilized. You should be more like us."
Yes, the Ugly Canadian. Bigots, mostly in Western Canada, but also elsewhere, have been muttering for decades about what the Aboriginal people get. Complain because they have land, and the ranchers want to use it. Complaining they have water, and it should be diverted. They have free education, and we want it. You get the idea. It's called envy. One of the mortal sins. Wait. You say: "No it's not envy! We just want equality!" Really? Why are you so concerned that somehow you are less equal than Aboriginals? You say: "Well, I'm not racist, but they get this, that, and the other thing.." So it's not that they have, but what you don't. So it's envy. Thank-you.
Envy has caused wars throughout history. Envy's mother, Greed, reigns supreme on this count. If they have it, and we want it, we are going to take it. History repeating itself over, and over again. You can't build a railway with all these Buffalos running mad, no problem, you get rid of them. You can't run that African diamond mine with the locals making things tough? No problem, kill them. You can't do business with that Leader? No problem, overthrow him. And so it goes. The rules of civility fall. The respect leaves. The laws of the jungle take over, and men enter the heart of darkness. We never learn from it. We don't want to. After all, to learn from it would require from all of us that most uncommon of human ideals - respect.
It seems that when I listen to the Aboriginal people, including the #idlenomore protesters, I hear a call for that one ideal - respect. The white guys on the block go: "What respect! They get free houses and make fun of me cause I have to work!" The room dims, the eyes roll, and Envy enters the room - again. The respect the Aboriginal people are calling for, demanding, is the respect for who they are - not what they have. The respect they call for is the real, and unequivocal recognition, that they are special. That they gave guardianship of their land to the Crown in a sacred trust. That at the heart of that sacred trust laid the responsibility of the Crown to safeguard the lands and water. That this was their sole responsibility before the Crown arrived, and the Crown agreed to carry that torch for them if they would renounce their land to the Crown - and only the Crown.
The fact is the Aboriginal people are very special. Not to be trotted out at the Olympics to say: "Look at us! See how we respect our Indians. You should be more like us!" No. The Aboriginal people have been, since time immemorial, the guardians of the lands and water - not just in Canada, but around the world. We got the place in pretty decent shape. Yet, in little over two hundred years, we have desecrated that alter. The lands, the air, and the water have been poisoned. The sacred trust has been broken. The treaties have been broken. The faith has been broken. Not by the Aboriginals. Us. Now, the Aboriginal people are rising up. They have had enough - i.e.: Idle No More. The demands they make are not that specific at the moment, because how can you encapsulate the damage done into one or two demands - other than perhaps: it's time for you to go home whitey.
We are entering a dangerous time in this country. Our very own Prime Minister has Shepparded us to this place. This isn't Oka and a golf course. This isn't James Bay and a dam. No, it's all those things and more coming together now. For those of you out there that say: "Hey, I'm just doing my job and paying the bills, they should to", guess again. Aboriginal people do not value their existence based on a dollar figure. Their spirit is not wrapped up in a 60 inch flat screen. They do not need media coverage to justify their existence or their issues. Of all the peoples of Canada, they are the only ones specifically exempted in the Constitution. Why? Because they had the TREATIES before the Constitution, and they carry precedence over the Constitution - unless they agree otherwise.
It is time for us, all of us, to acknowledge the true nature of who we are. We are all Canadians. We have equality of human rights. Where we differ is in constitutional status, because the Aboriginals have treaties and we do not. That in itself should tell you something. It is not a "sin of our fathers" as some people put it. It is actually the "wisdom of our fathers". The wisdom to know that the core Aboriginal beliefs of respect for all things, including the earth, are necessary for all to survive. The wisdom to understand that a special constitutional place, bought with their birth right, could restrain us from abusing the water and the land. Stop us from being our own worse enemies. Hold the peace. The Great Peace. Keep the Circle strong. We've heard these saying before and rolled our eyes as at least one Newfoundland and Labrador MHA called them "mumbo-jumbo". The truth is they are eternal words. They are sacred to the Aboriginals.
In a sense they are also sacred in the religions of the world. They are not so sacred in the new world of pure economics. Given history you would think we would understand there is no "pure" system of governing that has ever lasted. Not Communism. Not Fascism. Not Devine Rule. Etc. It is only the truly brainwashed that think "pure economics" is the way. This is where Mr Harper is guilty. He is sacrificing everything we have ever believed about ourselves on the alter of pure economics. He is sacrificing our core beliefs. He is sacrificing the social contract. He is sacrificing the treaties. So much so that one woman, a woman of strength, had to starve herself for over three weeks to get a "symbolic" meeting with him. The Crown. The Honour of the Crown. Nation to Nation. You want to know why the Chiefs demanded the Governor General be at their meeting with Harper? First reason: Harper cannot be trusted with the sacred trust. Second reason: They made the deal with the King/Queen not the Prime Minister, and they want the King/Queen rep there - Nation to Nation.
When you break the rules, when you sacrifice the sacred for the convenient, you lose the trust. This is where we are at. So do not listen to the next person you hear on radio talking about wasting dollars, etc as a reason to deny the sacred trust. Those words are truly as idiotic as they sound. Do not look on your Aboriginal brother with envy and/or greed. Do not denigrate his place because you do not understand it or refuse to accept it. Do not be the Ugly Canadian.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)