Because I live in the very specific bubble that I live in, in some ways my perception of things isn’t any clearer than that of people who get all their news from Fox.
I don’t get my news from anywhere specific. When I read multiple references to a story on Facebook I eventually Google it. Considering what I know about the ethics of mainstream journalism I never know what sources to trust. So I read a bunch of sources and try to piece it together.
I’ve learned that everyone is biased to their cause. I’ve seen multiple posts stating, “As of December 4 there were (widely variable and increasingly large number of) protected lakes and rivers. On December 5 there were (alarmingly small number). I’m not saying that something seriously goddamn alarming isn’t happening here, I’m saying the information on either side can be misleading.
But that isn’t the point at all.
The point is that something really amazing is happening. Round dances in malls, highway blockades and a hunger strike on the steps of Parliament. It’s amazing in its beauty and it’s happening because something really goddamn alarming is happening.
Fucking Harper. That guy just keeps getting scarier. I see that Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has offered to meet with Chief Spence, despite the fact that Chief Spence is making a very specific request to speak to a very specific group of people. Now I get that you just can’t insist on talking to a Very Busy Man like Stephen Harper, at Christmastime no less, just because you take issue with his sneaking in of drastic and potentially catastrophic changes to policies that affect the entire country. Again. If we could the guy would get no sleep at all.
Was that snarky? Whatever. Anyway, I remember reading about Attawapiskat this time last year. They were in a state of emergency for months and no one came to help. I’ve heard some cynical comments that their predicament was their own fault. But I do wonder if, say, Turner Valley were in the same predicament, fault would have meant those people not being aided?
I also wonder if a massive toxic spill beneath a school house could be classified as their own fault.
We have a lot of racist attitude in this enlightened country of ours. Like it or not, we all have our biases. So do they (by “they” I mean whoever we happen to be biased against) of course and this all makes for a big miscommunicative clusterfuck. But you name me one other racial, cultural of geographical group that can be totally abused and neglected without some bleeding heart roaring about it.
I hear people saying, “They should integrate!” In the case of any immigrating group I agree wholeheartedly. You chose to come here pal. Learn the language, don’t drag your country’s problems along with you and don’t expect the laws and customs to change just because you decided to move here instead of somewhere else. Except of course that we (We being the European ancestors of fouth-genners like myself) didn’t do that ourselves. We showed up, took what we wanted and said “Fuck those guys! This is gonna be a Christian land!” (By Christian I mean racist, classist, opportunist, capitalist, environmentally irresponsible spoiled megalomaniacs, I guess.)
I really have to learn to focus. Anyway, what I’m saying that of all the people to whom we could reasonably say, “Integrate!” to, it’s pretty laughable to do it to the people whose way of life you bulldozed to make room for yours. But we keep doing it, from metal cook pots and whiskey to residential schools all the way up to polluting treaty lands and fucking with the justice system to marginalize those people even more. It’s like we figure if we ignore them they will eventually go our way or go away.
They aren’t about to go away. They are the fastest growing population in Canada at the moment. We like to present them as a dying culture but they are not.
I also don’t see them going our way, do you? Those who haven’t preserved their traditional culture seem lost and it is largely the lost ones that we see in the streets of our cities and base our lofty judgements upon. Or perhaps those few of us who have bothered to do slightly more research can tell us, “We keep throwing money at them and they keep squandering it!” So popular perception paints them as hopeless drunks and addicts or avaricious idiots who don’t even know how to make proper use of their ill-gotten gains.
Now lets consider for a moment that they don’t want to integrate. Who would? They also realize that we aren’t about to pack up en masse and let them get back to doing things their way. So there they are, stuck between their own way of life which is in many ways dying out thanks to over 200 years of interference and bullying, and ours which is repugnant to them and many of us quite frankly. Should they really be asked to sacrifice all that they still hold sacred and embrace the earth destroying machine?
This brings me back to the point I started out on. For Theresa Spence this has moved way beyond Attawapiskat. And this is what I think (conjecture, I haven’t asked her personally) is the real reason why Chief Spence refuses to meet with John Duncan. She hasn’t been starving herself for over two weeks in the hopes of getting some decent heating and plumbing for one town. John Duncan is pretty irrelevant to what she wants now. I think this is about making us all aware that it can’t be us and them anymore.
We don’t need the intermediary of an Aboriginal Affairs minister. We need to look each other in the eye. We need to acknowledge that we have given these people no tools for successful “intergration” with the culture we’ve forced on them nor have we made it even remotely possible. Racism against our native population is ingrained and widely considered acceptable in so many ways that we aren’t even aware that we are doing it. We have a nation in crisis, spiritually and materially and yet some people have the gall to state that Chief Spence’s concerns are unworthy of the direct attention of a man who once said, “You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey. The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.”
Fine words, Harper. In what very real sense are you joining in this journey when you fail to respond to a nationwide movement clamouring for true change and justice?
The First Nations people have wisdom we really need to listen to. If we don’t we are going to destroy ourselves. It may very well be that if we (European culture) could quietly destroy ourselves without taking them (Original people of this continent) down with us, they might just let us do it. I mean maybe not. Maybe they are way more forgiving than we would ever be of such a contemptuous oppressor. But they are drawing a line at the threat to whatever number of sacred waters our current legislation now threatens.
So I’m thinking, and I think Spence is thinking, the solution is not to ignore them or throw money at them, but to talk to them and fucking listen to them. Include them in the decision making processes of our country. Because if we want the right to tell them to integrate we need to integrate some of their values too.
My main point I guess is that very few people in this country are being included in the making of decisions which affect not only us but our descendants. And that the one culture for whom the preservation of the land for future generations is a priority are being disrespected and ignored. And that we all need to stand up for our right to be heard. And that Stephen Harper is an evil, soulless robot (is it possible to be evil without in fact having a soul? No, but in his case I feel an exception can be made) who needs a good spanking, a non-confidence vote and a competent replacement with the best interest of all Canadians in mind, in that order.
Idle no more? I really hope so, you guys. Not like I have any idea what to do about it personally mind you. But no one deserves to create a peaceful revolution in this country more than the First Nations do.