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Idle No More – and who gets to structure the debate…

January 19, 2013

The “official” map of Canada

So, this week I watched as Canada’s mainstream media “re-focussed” the growing Aboriginal Idle No More protests, as “unpopular”, “annoying”, and “not supported by “Canadians””.

How much easier it is to bring the protest back to me – and my grievances at the Indians for having the audacity to disrupt my day by delaying my commuter train!

How much easier it is for the media to focus on “Aboriginal in-fighting” about where the protest should go from here.

It is so much easier than looking at the deep, deep problems the Aboriginal communities have with the dominant political/economic culture.

For fuck sakes, Canada still “governs” the aboriginal communities from the perspective of the “Indian Act” (first enacted in 1876). This gives the federal government “exclusive authority to legislate in relations to “Indians and Lands Reserved for Indians”.

The act determines how reserves and bands can operate. The government approves all activities on the reserve. All business initiatives. Housing. Schooling. Waste management.

And the government spends not a nickel more than is necessary to keep the rest of us from caring one fat fuck about what happens on the reserves.

How much easier than thinking about Aboriginal peoples everywhere (Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Russia…), and what role states play in keeping them impoverished, marginalized, and oppressed.

Above, is a map of Canada. This is the map we are taught in school. Compare it with the following historical map of Canada (before “Canada” was Canada). It highlights the First Nations’ boundaries found when the Europeans arrived:

 These are the nations that existed long before Europeans arrived. Imagine if we related to Chiefs as heads-of-state? Imagine if we took our First Nations treaties as seriously as we take our international trade agreements?

Not surprisingly, the government has little interest in dealing with the current protest movement. They say they don’t want to be “bullied” by the protesters. They say they don’t negotiate with “terrorists”. That there are “established” political channels for dealing with issues.

Will Idle No More succeed, where so many other previous attempts have failed? I doubt it. Our Aboriginal community is only 2% of the greater population. It is growing – but it is still insignificant. Our enormous ignorance in the mainstream about the issues facing the Aboriginal communities, is overwhelming. Deafening. We have problems of our own… 

Hey, the NHL is back today, so let’s all just forget that the Harper government has passed bills effectively eliminating Aboriginal rights and previous treaty agreements. 

Think the Leafs will finally make the playoffs?

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