Friday, May 23, 2008

It's Called a "Treaty"

I'm getting tired of all the native-bashing all over the media and the Internet. This is merely the latest.

Yes, the natives are blocking development. They're blocking progress. They're blocking economic growth. What are they thinking, anyway, those crazy natives?

They're probably thinking that they have a treaty which entitles them to that land. Are they right? This ought to be a fairly simple question. Do we have a copy of treaty, either in the National Archives or in the hands of the tribe in question? What does the treaty say?

But no, let's not discuss the treaty. Instead let's refer to the protest as an "occupation" of the development site. Occupation? Are you insane? Do you know what irony is? I begin to understand the right-wing preoccupation with Muslim immigration altering our culture. Of course a tiny amount of Muslim immigration can wipe out our culture! After all, it worked perfectly when we did it to the natives!

But seriously, how can someone be so unaware of history and irony that they could refer to the native population as occupying our land? Do you have any idea how ignorant that sounds?

If you want to solve the problem of native relations, we have to admit that, as a country, we've done some really stupid, unproductive things in order to force native people to integrate in to Canada against their will. We've been trying to take more and more of the land we promised them and we've been trying to shrink their band lists to help that along. Once we stop trying to do this, maybe then we can find a reasonable path forward, a path that treats our fellow human beings with respect and allows at least a margin of dignity.

Until then, let's knock off this nonsense about using the Canadian Forces to put down riots. Sit down with these people and figure out whether or not they have the right to the land. If you're being honest, it can't take a bunch of cartographers more than a week to figure it out.

From that starting point of respect and honesty, we can start working on solving the systemic problems in the native community and in government relations with native people.

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