Thursday, 17 January 2013 13:14 GFP Columnist - Trevor Hill
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Well, isn’t this a merry-go-round of silliness.
 
While Chief Spence continues with her “hunger strike” (which is more of a ‘fast’ than anything else), the protesting Natives hold Canada and Canadians hostage over their never-ending mantra of not getting what they want.  (On the other hand – who ever does?)  

Chief Spence seems to be doing pretty good considering that most people on a “hunger strike” after 35 plus days would be at death’s door.  Chief Spence, however, is walking around holding one-sided press conferences.
 
And I’m not even going to mention the millions of Attawapiskat dollars (1) that seem to have been slightly misplaced.  Oh crap, I shouldn’t have said that.

 
Have the Natives of this country been screwed around?  Oh hell yes.  All of them?  No.
 
The Native Bands who run the casinos and tobacco production are richer than most of us in more ways than one.
 
Then there are those in Attawapiskat in northern Ontario.  And there are many others living in absolutely crappy conditions in the most inhospitable places.  Why?  Because the government of yesteryear decided it was a good idea to park these people in no-man’s land and take away any right to self-direction, self-governance and basically self-anything.
 
Probably something to do with an “out of sight, out of mind” solution.  Just like the lower income families that they place in areas that are usually on the edge of Canadian cities.  Most “low-income housing projects” are built far away from the centre of your favourite town.  Far, far away.
 
The Natives in their rush to have meetings with the Prime Minister and the Governor General have played everyone left, right and centre, and can‘t seem to make up their minds on when and where to have their pow-wow with the “white chiefs”.
 
The one thing the Natives can agree on is their desire to stop rail and shipping traffic so they can “bring the Canadian economy to its knees” (2) – because that’s the “right” thing to do – apparently.  And this works since the OPP, the RCMP, and other police forces across Canada won’t do diddly to stop them lest the Natives freak and use that famous word “discrimination”, usually followed by “Get off our Land!”   
 
Being “Above the Law” – another Canadian Heritage moment. (3)
 
I’d like to see how far I’d get with a group of buddies standing on the railroad tracks protesting anything.  I’d be phoning a lawyer before the day was over.
 
Most Canadians know the Native issue needs to be re-done, re-written, and re-everything to try to settle this once and for all.  
 
Protest your hearts out, march all over the place, but do it the same way all groups do in this country – peaceful assembly without inconveniencing others.  For example, why don’t the Natives take over Parliament Hill in Ottawa and blockade everything there?  That’s where the problems and the possible solutions lie.  Hell, you’ll probably get a lot more support from the rest of us if you took your fight to the right battlefield!
 
Ask the government to include all Canadians in finding solutions.  Ask for a Public Forum.  Okay… don’t ‘ask’ – ‘tell’ them instead.  Use your voices (and drums) and change the process first, then we’ll be able to change the solution - together.
 
But like everything else, the Natives have a responsibility to keep their shit together and to work with what we have to work with.  We can’t pull land treaties and other solutions out of magical hats and make all the badness go away with a wave of Harry Potter’s wand.  It will take all of us to make this work.
 
Of course, with another smooth move from PM Harper and his huge Omnibus Bill in which the Natives are getting screwed over – again, did not help one iota.  Are we surprised… no, not really.  Typical fare from the Conservatives.
 
It would be a hoot if the Native Chiefs could get their act together as a group, instead of the splintered mess they’ve created among themselves, especially if they want to change the history of repression and economic hardship.
 
Stop changing the rules of the game.  For the love of whatever god, please stop changing the rules.  In essence, making demands that change every five minutes is childish and non-productive.  
 
And the Canadian government - would you people kindly get it together so that we don’t have to listen to this fucking bullshit any longer!  We, your average Canadian schmucks, would like to see this settled.   If you yahoos can’t do it properly – hire someone who will – like former PM Paul Martin, who seems to have some sort of grip on what’s going on.
 
Threatening the Canadian economy and threatening the people of this country with blockades will not make you any friends; it will, however, piss off a lot of Canadians, and at last count (since you’re in the mood to threaten us) there are more of us than you.
 
And in case you were wondering, according to the 2006 Census, there were 1,172,790 aboriginal peoples equalling about 3.8% of this country’s national population, covering over 600 First Nations governments or bands. (4)
 
A little history:  the Natives who live here in Canada did not appear here magically, the people who showed up here first wandered over to North America across the Bering land bridge from Asia.  This is just before the ice sheet began its retraction to the north some 20,000 odd years ago.  This is also the same group who wandered into the southern part of North America and as far down as the tip of South America.  (See other Image below)
 
At what point in time did the American continents become “your” land? (5) 
 
In case you missed the memo, it is all of our goddamn land. (6)

Canadians from all walks of life have "ancestors" here as well.  The English, the French, the Dutch, and a variety of Europeans crawled across this miserable land on foot.  From coast to coast, they worked the land, built the towns – then the cities, and they helped to build “your” land.  People from China built the railways you now block.  And the Norsemen showed up in Newfoundland long before the French and the English.

Was the settling and expansion into these continents pretty?  No… it wasn’t.  The History of Mankind sucks everywhere, in fact, in some cases, it still sucks. 
 
But now, it is the blockading Natives who are willing to create a separation between us all – when many Canadians would just as soon have these issues solved because we can understand the positions you’re in, because most of us face similar situations in our everyday lives. 
 
This is what makes Canada strong – a combination of all of our backgrounds.  So when you say, “get off our land”, you may as well include yourselves.
 
Fortunately for all of us, it was the English and the French who showed up here first and not the Spanish.  Check your history books for more.
 
But hey, by all means, go ahead, stop the railways, block the bridges, halt the car traffic, go nuts; but don’t be surprised when it comes back to bite you in the ass.
 
But I wonder…   
 
What would the Natives do if large groups of Canadians blocked their roads going in and out of their lands?  Because we’re pissed with the government. 
 
What would they do if we halted all the goods and necessities from getting in to their lands?   Because we’re pissed with Harper.
 
What would they do if we put up blockades in front of the casinos?  Because we’re pissed with the government and Harper.
 
We ordinary, everyday Canadians don’t have the power to change the circumstances; we can barely vote properly and make a change that way. 
 
We, like you, are trying to survive.  Some of us don’t.  Just like you.
 
We, like you, want better lives (just in case you thought all Canadians are rich, 99% of us aren’t.  That’s roughly 32 million of us!)
 
So, why do it to us? 
 
And in the long run – yourselves.

Sources etc.
 
(1)  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/01/07/pol-attawapiskat-audit-monday.html
 
(2)  http://www.business.financialpost.com/2013/01/10/first-nations-chief-threatens-to-block-resource-development/ - Quote from Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
 
(3)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_Minute
 
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_peoples_in_Canada

(5)  No part of Canada has ever had an original population. For thousands of centuries after the earth's crust formed the physical features that comprise Canada, not a living soul trekked across that vast territory. It was terra nullis (empty land). The lonely wastes awaited the arrival of Aborigines - ab origine) (from the beginning) who spread across this empty land at the end of the last Ice Age.

(6) Canada is a land of immigrants, with some coming very much earlier than others. Archeological findings indicate that the Paleoindians, the first immigrants coming from the mists of Asia are ancestors of our Native people. They almost surely fled the hazards of the Ice Age on foot 13,000 years ago at the tail end of the Ice Age. Because the sheets of polar ice locked up huge amounts of water, sea levels around the world fell about three hundred feet. The shallow Bering Strait became a wide plain stretching between Siberia and Alaska and it was called Beringia. In theory, paleo-Indians, as they are known, simply walked across land that was exposed when sea levels were much lower. They crossed the Bering Land Bridge into the uninhabited continent we call North America.

The Alaskan corridor from Old to New World has often been called a land 'bridge', but this is something of a misnomer, for the area left high and dry measured more than 1300 kilometres at its widest and offered opportunity in a cold tundra-steppe environment for generations of animals and humans to cross it. These nomads driven by tribal wars, poor hunting or, perhaps, simply a wish to see the other side crossed over the bridge in waves. The new arrivals moved either eastward along rivers and through passes to the east flanks of the Rocky Mountains or southward along the coast. Both routes led through tundra, boreal forest, deciduous forest, prairie, and desert and other environments like today's.

Map Images and Excerpt (5,6) Courtesy of - http://www.uppercanadahistory.ca/fn/fn1.html
 
Top Image – iPolitics.ca - Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. - THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick




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You are here:   The FrontPageColumnistsCanadaTrevor HillThe Natives Seem a Tad Restless