Sunday, January 13, 2013

More Non Native Musings on #IdleNoMore and Chief Spence

To be quite honest, I don’t have a full understanding of the #IdleNoMore Movement but I have been trying to follow this movement through the media and trying to learn more as I go.  Part of this is trying to figure out if Chief Spence is part of the #IdleNoMore Movement or if the two are separate but share the same followers.

As I understand it, the request or demand of Chief Spence to have a meeting with Stephen Harper included the inclusion of the “Queen’s Representative” who would be the Governor General David Johnston.  And that request was there from the get-go.

You probably already know that less than a week before this proposed meeting, an auditing firm’s report on Chief Spence’s community, Attawapiskat was leaked by the Government and followed up with a release of the audit by the Government.  I felt the timing of the leak was suspect and I was going to write about it.

My blog was to be entitled “You Wanted Harper’s Attention, It Appears You Have It.

But I got sidetracked.

As I was reading stories at various sites and following the Twitter responses to the situation I was struck by the bile and viciousness of comments regarding the request of Chief Spence to meet with Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston (like it was a brand new idea of hers) and the lack of accountability for funding to Attawapiskat and just general venom shot from all sides of the situation.

All this negativity towards the natives made me think about how we like to make polite talk about our “Cultural Mosaic” and how nice we are to people with differences in Canada...  Just don’t start to scratch at the veneer of civility we show, because it ain’t very thick.

If you bother to listen, you’ll hear the snide remarks and barbs about “those people” because of their clothes, or their religion, or their accents, or the way they look, and so on.  You’ve heard the jokes, probably told a few too.  Most of us have.

Most of the time, this distrust and dislike stems from the fact that the target group is generally made up of newcomers to our country.  But there is one group that is perennially on that list and they have been here a lot longer than the rest of us and the dislike borders on smouldering hate.

Listen, I was reading a blog post by Peter Mansbridge just the other day.  In it he described going to a bar when he was younger where he was permitted to sit in the raised area in the centre of the bar and the natives were relegated to “the racetrack”, a lower level that circled the main bar.  He basically described it as being “separate but equal”, sound familiar?

And I read a news story where a Native Community is boycotting a neighbouring town because a Town Councillor blamed local crime on the Natives.  This isn’t an isolated case, just one that made the news.  In the town where I work there were a few car thefts, some of the locals suggested the police should spend more time checking in a nearby Reservation for the missing cars.  If you have a reserve near you, you know what I’m talking about.

These people don’t need proof to make these allegations, they “just know”.  They’ve “heard” about how the government throws our money at “those people” and how “those people” are all idlers and drunks.  They probably don’t realise that they could very well be working beside “those people” every day. 

Read the comments after the articles.  Read the Twitter posts.  We are not the nice people we pretend to be…

And then someone on the Harper side of the House leaks a “damning” fiscal analysis of Attawapiskat.  The torches are lit and the Harper faithful and their army of echo boxes start screaming about the waste of our money and how the Chiefs live in mansions and so on and so on and the Chief Spence’s supporters rally around her with their torches alight as well.

The truth is lost in the rhetoric.  No one can hear because everyone is yelling.

Is this the plan Stephen?  They tell me you are the “Master Strategist”.

 Seriously, from where I sit it looks like someone took a big chunk of dry wood and tossed it into a pile of glowing embers.  All it will take now is for someone to spill some gasoline on it and we can have a conflagration on our hands.

Maybe something as simple as someone making a nasty remark to exactly the wrong person.

It would get you a place in the History books.  How about “The Great Indian Uprising of 2013” or maybe the Canadian version of Wounded Knee?

I seriously hope that this is only a bad joke that I am making with those comments Stephen, but God knows there are enough crazies on the fringes all around and any one of them could have that can of gasoline as we speak.  I doubt that you or your inner circle wants anyone to be harmed, at least I hope that is the case, but your actions are saying otherwise.

Stephen, in my last posting I mentioned that maybe it was time to stop giving to the Native Peoples and start taking instead.  #IdleNoMore is not a youth movement, there are many elders involved.  Take their time, take their words to heart.  Take this opportunity to enter into a dialogue with these peoples.  They don’t know what the problems are because someone told them.  They don’t know what the problems are because they’ve seen them.  They know what the problems are because they live them every day.

The leaders of #IdleNoMore have worked hard to keep their protests positive and peaceful and I applaud them for that.

I also commend the Mayor of Sarnia and the Sarnia Police for their diplomatic handling of the CN rail line protest which ended peacefully after the protesters had made their point.

Look, the rhetoric over these protests has been heated at times but nothing akin to the open hostilities that have opened up since that leaked report.  It is time for someone to take a step back and consider the future. 

It is time for all of us to step back and consider the future.



  1. You know, BC, many of those accusations are true, however one assumption that the common folk seem to make that is not true, is that "evil manifests out of thin air."

    Yes, a lot of natives are involved in crime, drugs and alcohol and other anti-social behaviours. Instead of trying to suggest that they are not, or not all of them are, or that white people do their fair share of crime - let's go a bit deeper and find the reason why this might be so, because evil does NOT manifest out of thin air, natives are not born this way, they were made.

    It doesn't take very much research to discover the source of this problem, not very much at all. As late as the 1960s, the church and state worked together to destroy the natives through residential schools. This affected several generations of natives and killed roughly half of them - do you think that perhaps the sustained abuse of their culture might not have had an adverse effect on their behaviour and the behaviour of their children? Not to mention that "desperate people do desperate things" and when living in that kind of poverty and squalor, desperation does arise. There are many reasons WHY natives might steal, fight and drink, why they can often seem rather dull (the quality of education isn't exactly high on the res, when the kids are even able to show up) and most of those reasons, the good old white man is directly responsible FOR - so it's not about it being true or not, it's a matter of where to point the real finger of blame for it. Evil does not manifest out of thin air, it had a beginning and it is absolutely clear where that beginning was.

    There are a couple of documentaries you can look up. For one, just Google "Kevin Annett" & "documentary" and you should find it. The other is from the NFB about the people in Attawapiskat. There is the link for you.

    We owe these people. Canada owes the native people for stealing their land (and I mean chipping away at what was given to them, not just showing up here in the first place) and attempting to destroy their culture. We owe it to them to do whatever we can to make things right, but it will take a VERY long time. Letting mother's freeze with their children in shacks with no running water is not the way to do that.

  2. Bravo, a truthful look and interesting perspective. Thank you for that