Idle No More: This White Man Wants Answers

As the days continue to pass and the issues raised by Idle No More participants continue to be mostly ignored by the government, misunderstood by the press, and vilified by bigots, I have to ask myself why the issues that exist today between government and indigenous people still persist. In a “melting pot” culture, it seems natives are the one minority that it’s still acceptable to persecute.

To me, it seems that indigenous people have been singled out for maltreatment whereas other minorities have not seen anything nearly as bad. I have some points and questions to ponder on this day, and am listing them out so you can do the same.

1)                  Correct me if I am wrong, but, as far as I know, we have not seen the Canadian Parliament remove Mennonite children from their traditional schools and force them into residential schools.

2)                  Question: If oil was discovered beneath an Mennonite community, does anyone think Parliament would evict them from their lands, exploit their property, and keep the acreage afterwards?

3)                  Do you know about the Doukhobors movement? It emerged in 18th century Russia as a Christian peasant reaction to the Russian Orthodox Church. 7,500 people settled on the Canadian prairies in the early 1900s. 6,000 of those went to British Columbia in 1908. They lived in as many as 80 communal villages in BC. They are active passifists  and live by traditional values. The are also known to strip naked when protesting something they don’t agree with. Yet I don’t know of them ever being persecuted by government bodies to the extent many natives claim to be persecuted today.

4)                  Does the United Nations’s statements on the rights of indigenous people carry any weight whatsoever with North America’s governments?

5)                  Likewise, when Amnesty International supports natives, and speaks against the mistreatment of them, shouldn’t North American governments ask themselves if maybe the statements put out by AI should be taken seriously?

6)                  When President Obama of the United States calls Canadian Prime Minister Harper a “lump” in reference to his attitude toward indigenous issues, doesn’t this imply a souring of diplomatic relations between the two countries? A souring that could be mended through a reevaluation of the integrity of Bill 45, an apology to all indigenous people, and a new policy of good faith, trustworthiness, and honesty towards natives?

7)                  Since Chief Theresa Spence was so callously ignored as she went about her hunger strike, does anyone else besides me wonder about how North America’s governments will treat other starving people?

8)                  Looking at the numbers in Canada, “Indians” with status may account for as many as one in every 35 Canadians (and that’s a conservative number). Because of the “Indian Act” and other legislation, both existent and pending, isn’t that like saying 3% of all Canadians have been afforded different rights than the other 97%? In which case, isn’t that discrimination?

9)                  Does anyone think if Bill 45 passes that ignorant people will suddenly treat indigenous people as equals?

10)               Currently, there is much talk in the press about how reservations supposedly mismanage government grants, but has anyone noticed how little talk there has been in the press about the government allegedly mismanaging the investigation into the murders and disappearances of over 600 native women in just the past decade?

I could go on, but these ten points are enough to ponder for the present.

I’m thinking though, that there might be a way for indigenous people to get out of their predicament, and that would be for them to have a lawyer write whoever claims to be in charge of them, and ask what age, sex, sexual orientation, race, color, creed or minority status they have to be to avoid being discriminated against. Perhaps someone will be able to tell them how other minority groups can claim discrimination with virtual impunity and have their persecutors brought to court whereas natives don’t seem to be able to do that with the same degree of success.

If anyone knows what to do, and if anyone has any answers for this white man, leave a comment please.

Thomas D. Taylor

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