Archive for June, 2007

Joining the First Nations in protest

June 27, 2007

With the Native Day of Action upon the universal us, I wanted to get a few thoughts out. I’d say before the onslaught of media/mediated blather on the subject, but the river of ink has been flowing for months now. I’d also say corporate media blather, but there are a number of tributaries flowing into the main. The leftist media and the others are also helping to confuse the issue. I say confuse the issue fully aware that the issue is confusing, and anyone whose mind’s made up, should smash that wall of thought to pieces and start over again. I’ll end this little prelude by repeating that native issues are confusing, and the thoughts I’m about to write out are far from finished.

“If the blockade strategy goes ahead, one thing is certain: There will be rivers of ink spilled explaining that, while native grievances are legitimate, there is no excuse for such disruptive tactics.”
Naomi Klein

“I hope we will be marching for first nations rights with Canadians from all walks of life.” Phil Fontaine

“The protesters’ grievances center on unsettled native land claims. They have nothing to do with helping the aboriginal people who suffer under a system that lets small groups of vested interests rule.” The Globe and Mail

The Naomi Klein quote comes from the May 4th Globe and Mail, you could read the article yourself, but it’ll cost you. in that article she writes,

Mr Brant has a different message for non-native Canada – don’t just listen to us, join us. He points out that Canadians, even those who tell themselves they support native rights, “still treat them as a government problem.”

It was the “join us” line that I wanted to write about. You know that feeling when you want to say something, feel something needs to be said, but you’re not completely sure how to write it? I thought about sending a letter, but what can be said in 250 words?

The above quote from the Globe and Mail comes from an editorial on May 30. I mention this after asking what can be said in 250 words, because anything that goes against conventional wisdom, anything that isn’t a part of our national schema is meaningless if it can’t be grounded in readers’ minds.

I support indigenous rights, which are different from human rights, because they expand notions of human and community. I support the difference because it destroys the notion of equality that confines us to the same. What could that possibly mean to someone who could write “a system that lets small groups of vested interests rule” and not feel the cold irony of his own situation?

Indigenous people are defined by the land they inhabit, are bound by the land. When they are removed from the land they cease to be indigenous. Land is everything, to the first nations, because without it they are nothing.

Thought as action

June 17, 2007

Here‘s a current and brilliant example of thought as action.

Perry McLeod-Shabogesic, a Nipissing First Nation councillor, said that while they support other forms of action being taken nationwide June 29, Nipissing First Nation’s current situation would be best served by educating not only the general public of North Bay, West Nipissing and elsewhere, but also themselves.

“The politicians are the instrument, but it’s the people that are the power. And we want to make sure we give them enough information so that when they’re forming their opinions, that they have at least a well-balanced perspective on it,” McLeod-Shabogesic said. “When they go to vote, hopefully our issues are included in theirs.”

His reminder to include ourselves in the process of education is worth repeating.

Ball of Confusion

June 11, 2007

I’ve been thinking about the coming blockade action, and am at a point where I’ve lost complete control. I have no answer, not that I expected to write one, but as well I have no convictions. That said my head isn’t all that empty. I’m not indigenous to this land, so my role can never be more than that of a spectator or at most a philosophical ally.

So why am I bothering to think the situation through? If nothing else just to answer that question. But somehow this situation will shed some light on Canadian education. The concepts of identity, nationality, culture and difference are alive in this situation, and education, any discussion of education needs to be shaped with these recently sharpened conceptual tools.

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