Sunday, June 17, 2007

An End to Colonial Assimilation?

With the Harper Governments announcement that it was abandoning forty years of colonial assimilation that was Liberal Indian policy of Trudeau and Chretien. This is one Liberal policy I am happy to see torn up. Could this be a new beginning for Canada's First Nations peoples?

Statement of the Government Of Canada On Indian Policy, 1969

Presented to the First Session of the Twenty-Eighth Parliament

by the Honorable Jean Chr├ętien, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

The Government believes that its policies must lead to the full, free and non-discriminatory participation of the Indian people in Canadian society. Such a goal requires a break with the past. It requires that the Indian people's roles of dependence be replaced by a role of equal status, opportunity and responsibility, a role they can share with all other Canadians.

The policies proposed recognize the simple reality that the separate legal status of Indians and the policies which have flowed from it have kept the Indian people apart from and behind other Canadians. The Indian people have not been full citizens of the communities and provinces in which they live and have not enjoyed the equality and benefits that such participation offers.
Ironically it is a policy that Harpers grey eminence Tom Flanagan of the Calgary School agrees with.

“Europeans are, in effect, a new immigrant wave, taking control of land just as earlier aboriginal settlers did. To differentiate the rights of earlier and later immigrants is a form of racism.”

So sayeth Tom Flanagan, Stephen Harper’s advisor and mentor, a political science professor who the Tory leader first met at the University of Calgary.

In order to become self-supporting
and get beyond the social pathologies
that are ruining their communities,
aboriginal people need to acquire the
skills and attitudes that bring success
in a liberal society, political democracy,
and market economy. Call it assimilation,
call it integration, call it
adaptation, call it whatever you want:
it has to happen.
Tom Flanagan, First Nations?
Second Thoughts, pp.195-196

And Harpers announcement would be more credible if this wasn't happening;

- Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice replaced some of the country's most seasoned federal land-claim negotiators with hand-picked choices who have comparatively less experience - including his former law partner. Critics say the unusual political handling of the lucrative contracts is further proof that Conservative vows to shun patronage were hollow at best. It will also slow down complex land-claim talks as new negotiators climb steep learning curves, they say.

And while the Harpocrite Government practices realpolitik to avoid a showdown with First Nations peoples, their reactionary right-whing republican base uses this opportunity to attack the leadership of of those same first nations as unconstitutional.

According to a press release from the right-leaning Canadian Constitution Foundatiom, prominent legal experts agree with Chief Mountain and Nisibilada that the “third order” of government created by the Nisga’a Treaty violates Canada ’s constitution. Retired Supreme Court of Canada Justices William McIntyre and the late Willard Estey, retired B.C. Court of Appeal Justice D.M. Michael Goldie, former NDP Attorney-General Alex MacDonald, the late Mel Smith, Q.C. and former B.C. Attorney-General Geoff Plant have all stated publicly that parts of the Nisga’a Treaty are unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

Chief Mountain’s constitutional challenge has received funding from the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a registered charity with a mandate to promote and defend Canadians’ constitutional freedoms.

The foundation's website says it was founded in 2002 to explain to Canadians "the role of the Constitution in their daily lives, to teach them how to recognize infringements and abuse of the Constitution in the world around them, and to help them defend its principles from improper decisions or actions of governments, regulators, tribunals or special-interest groups."

The foundation, which believes the Constitution only recognizes two levels of government - federal and provincial - has a board of directors comprising some prominent conservatives.

Its board includes Ezra Levant, publisher of the Western Standard magazine, and William Johnston, a family physician in Vancouver and president of Canadian Physicians for Life.

Foundation executive director John Carpay, a former Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says the Nisga'a dissidents claim that the treaty "violates their constitutional rights as Canadians. It does so by creating a third order of government that is not accountable to either Ottawa or Victoria. "

One Step forward two steps back. Of course recognition of liberal human rights vs. collective rights is what this is all about. Whether Trudeau or Harper, both the Liberals and Conservatives see assimilation of first nations as an imperative, no matter what else they say. It's what they do that counts.
For over 100 years, aboriginal children, about 150,000 of them - Metis, Indian and Inuit, some only five years old - were yanked out of their homes and jammed into residential schools, some hundreds of miles from their families. They were not allowed to speak their native language, many died from tuberculosis and others suffered sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

In a shameful attempt to cover their butts, governments passed legislation that made it illegal to resist giving up these children, thus legalizing cultural assassination.
Given this history and the documented facts, it was heartening to see 270 MPs vote to apologize, but it was mostly symbolic since Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused to issue an official apology. In fact, he sent Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice out to say such an act could be years away. There is a word for the government's action, it's "disgraceful."

There are still 80,000 natives alive to whom it applies.

The Harper government continues to stall on what is an abomination. It sits on its hands despite the fact the Chretien government admitted in 1998 that native students had been badly treated, and in 2005 a compensation offer of $2 billion was introduced for surviving students. But in the meantime, a sneaky band of Tories has decided that a special investigative commission will travel across Canada before any apology is issued. This is a stubborn, hard-hearted stance, and the prime minister should be ashamed of himself.

Canada's decision to withdraw support for the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples coincided with a visit to Ottawa by Prime Minister John Howard of Australia -- a country that strongly opposes the declaration.

Shortly after Mr. Howard's meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in May, 2006, Mr. Harper called Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice to tell him to review Canada's position of support, government sources said yesterday.

Although previous Liberal governments had difficulty with the declaration that had taken more than two decades to craft, by 2005 Canada was fully supportive and actively encouraging other countries to sign on.

But the United States and Australia remained staunchly opposed. And Mr. Harper walked away from his meeting with Mr. Howard believing the declaration would be problematic, the sources said.

"It was very much the Prime Minister [Harper] directing Prentice to relook at this thing," a source said.

Mr. Prentice has since said there are concerns that the declaration is unconstitutional, that it could prevent military activities on aboriginal land and that it could harm existing land deals.


Mike Harris and State Terrorism

Tories Crush Whistleblower

Land claim

Alcoholism Is Colonialism

Bev Oda Minister of Aboriginal Affairs

Hewers of Wood

Cardston Home of Bigots

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