To Frances Widdowson and Associates: An open letter

[Note: in the interest of full disclosure, I point out that Frances Widdowson recently attacked The Aboriginal Healing Foundation, at which I am employed. I am writing as an individual Haudenosaunee citizen, and not as an employee of the AHF. My views do not reflect or pertain in any way to my employer or associates.]

Frances Widdowson has been in the news again of late. The National Post has lent her, once again, a generous platform. Reading her output over the years, I’ve found three main contentions regarding Aboriginal people. The first is that lawyers, consultants, politicians – in short, the professional class – make enormous sums of money on the backs of Aboriginal people. The second is that there is much corruption in Aboriginal communities and that this corruption is endogenous, or in other words, proceeds from Aboriginal culture as an inevitable product of it. (The alternative is to claim that corruption is exogenous — a result of colonization, government policies, etc.) The explanation is that Aboriginal culture is organized around reciprocal kinship and lacks the concept of equality under the law, hence institutions which ensure peace, order, good governance, and justice. “Reciprocal kinship” is a professor’s way of saying It’s Who You Know. Under it, a family or group dominates at the expense of everyone else. The third chronic Widdowson contention is that Aboriginal people suffer a “development gap.” By this she means Aboriginal culture is pre-scientific, and therefore traditional knowledge ought not to be considered in matters of science, such as Canada’s northern environmental policy. From this it flows that assimilation into Canadian society is the only recourse for those trapped in a Stone Age Aboriginal culture. There you have it: a rough, but I think fair, summary of her ideas.

Jonathan Kay, of the National Post, thinks these are new insights. I appeal to the reader: is any of the above unfamiliar? — the claims that professionals are making money off Aboriginal people, that Aboriginal culture is primitive, that there is corruption in the communities, or that assimilation is best for Aboriginal people? I submit that these are antique ideas. If they seem new, it’s only in the manner of the cliché that everything old is new again.

To argue that Aboriginal people are hindered by their culture is to invite the standby charge of being racist. My view however is that Widdowson isn’t writing about race, but a construct she designates “Aboriginal culture.” If she were a racist, she would conclude that Aboriginal people are inherently savage and that there is no hope for them as a race. Instead she argues that Aboriginal people are inherently savage, but that with some help they can become good white people. This is best termed Hand-up Chauvinism.

In Widdowson’s world, there are two Aboriginal subject positions, or if you like two kinds of Indian. Either you live in the woods and talk to the trees, or you are a slick Aboriginal Industry Indian, working from inside the machinery to shove taxpayer dollars toward bogus enterprises like cultural indoctrination or self-government. I doubt she considers the latter to be authentically Aboriginal, so perhaps there is only one kind of Aboriginal person. It’s a tough subject, on which she has publicly ruminated:

Determining whether or not someone is “Aboriginal” is becoming increasingly difficult since in certain cases (hiring at Memorial University, for example) one only has to check a box “identifying” as such to be considered an indigenous person. This means that many people who now identify as ”Aboriginal” have little in common with the isolated members of the native population who, because of their marginalization, are the focus of social policy.

I’m given to the weird notion that this could be a germ of her next book. In the meanwhile I wonder how much work exactly has she put into this Real Indian Test? In another era such matters were determined by blood quantum (which really is racist, and is also advocated by some Aboriginal people), but whatever the criteria will be I find it curious that she would even raise this as an issue. Is Memorial University, or any institution of higher learning, being overrun by the Faux Indians Problem? The issue surely is that more Aboriginal people results in more Aboriginal Industry, hence more diversion and waste of taxpayer dollars in the service of an outmoded culture.

Notice the singular culture has been used throughout, as if there were only one. Widdowson recognizes there are Aboriginal cultures, but it hardly makes a difference to her conclusion, which is that they are all archaic. Try getting some actual work done in a community, proceeding from the assumption that everyone adheres to a pre-modern code of kinship and consults with the animals, or even that everyone is simply alike. That’s doable in polemics, but in real life it rather makes a balls-up of things.

If you need an example of diversity, have a look at my own group, the Haudenosaunee. There is a great deal of debate and disagreement among us about the Indian Act, reserves, corruption, governance, sovereignty, traditionalism — in short, everything. This is a good place to mention, in contrast to Widdowson’s complaints about the habit of romanticizing Aboriginal people, that I’m not at all inclined romantically toward the Haudenosaunee or Aboriginal cultures in general. There are some good reasons our Huron and Algonquin enemies called us snakes (Iroquois) and cannibals (Mohawk). Even our Kaianerekowa (the Great Law, or constitution) was in my view an outcome of brutality submitted to the conditions of realpolitik. We were quite prepared, and willing, to get as near mutual genocide as could be had. Making the implications of this stick among the Confederacy’s five constituent members was a quite unromantic task, I’d say. Romance, no: but I do have reverence for the Great Law. I note also that it appealed greatly to the Enlightenment authors of the American Constitution, and rightly so. Far from lacking the checks and balances of Liberal democracies, the Kaianerekowa inspired them.

All of this is however a sort of throat clearing. What I dislike about the Widdowsons of this world is their disingenuous carping about self-sufficiency and self-reliance as they fight every real-world effort of Aboriginal people to direct their affairs. I know she is a bookish sort, but some of the people with whom she consorts are committed to taking this to the streets. Her charming new associate, Gary McHale, is a first-order thug and carpetbagger who announced his intention to move to Caledonia, presumably to shorten his commute to the exquisite task of inciting violence. You have to wonder about, and then consider the unpleasant implications of, Widdowson’s inviting him to sit on a governance panel for something called “New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums.” In this connection, Widdowson’s writing seems less a critique than a diversion. By all means, try to change the subject to the “development gap.” The essential point is that the Haudenosaunee have a unique legal-historical relationship with the British Crown and subsequently to Canada. Widdowson would respond that Canadian history and Canadian law do not support our position, but the Haudenosaunee have always maintained, with abundant examples, that Canada ignores our agreements and rewrites history and laws in an effort to make it appear otherwise. Dubious anthropology won’t change the fact that our struggle has always been, and always will be, a political struggle against officials who want simply to do away with us.

My commitment is to seeing that this struggle is principled, respectful, and peaceful, and that it has as its endgame a just resolution which appeals to the best in all of us.

12 responses to “To Frances Widdowson and Associates: An open letter

  1. Wow! There’s so much here to explore and think about. I’ve read Ms Widdowson and Mr. Howard’s book and found much of it persuasive. I’d have to go through it again to sort out what I agree with and what I don’t. One thing is for sure: there hasn’t been an awful lot of progress in bringing First Nations communities to a point where they aren’t regarded as ghettos, backwaters or slums. As a non-aboriginal who attended a residential school with Blood (Kainai) kids for 6 years, I have a great interest in — and affection for — those people and, by extension, all First Nations people, and if the Widdowson book helps spark a debate about the efficacy of current policies and practices — on both sides — then it will have done a great service. Oh yes, I too worry that the term “racist” is bandied about when in fact the topic under discussion is cultural divergence and whether some cultures are indeed superior to or more advanced than others. Mr. Spear mentions genital mutilation as a cultural practice that he condemns; I’m sure there are others, and some of them would have been practised by pre-1492 North American aboriginals.


  2. Please read my critique of Widdowson’s book on my website:
    Also, Dr. Widdowson continues her to discredit Traditional Knowledge by claiming that it is only available to Aboriginal peoples, therefore lacking in any universal credibility. Someone up north tossed her that idea years ago and despite numerous examples of people of other ethnic background gaining knowledge of the way of things, and being told that her statements are not true and unprofessional, she makes that argument in her public forums. Further to her own discredit as a scientist, she has an open invitation to attend ceremonies on the Blood Reserve, and she refuses to do the dilgent research necessary to comment on such important matters.


  3. “The Judge would not allow for a trial saying both sides to get more disslocure on the case.” Both sides? Disclosure is a fundamental element of the Canadian criminal justice system. The Crown must disclose all information in its possession or control. Since when does the judge decide what the defence requires? The Crown has no right to examine the any evidence the defence wishes to bring forward at trial. If there were no objections the CANACE members charged why didn’t the trial go ahead? It’s the Crown that must prove its case; not the other way around. If the Crown cannot prove its case why weren’t the charges dismissed? I know the case was heard at the Haldimand County Courthouse in Cayuga. Is it so close to Caledonia that two-tier justice flows downriver with the Grand?


  4. Dear Frances,

    Thank-you for the clarifications and qualifications. These are large topics, the sort that to get to the bottom of which would take, as Socrates is reported to have said, a Delian diver. I’m typing this on a handheld device, which is not ideal, but I’ll do my best to make as few typing errors as I can. If I have left anything out you would like me to address specifically, please let me know. I’ll do my best.

    Racism is a very serious charge, and I’d like to be clear I don’t see your arguments as racist. However the sentence invoking savages and Chauvinism is the result of a compression of a longer reflection on Lewis Henry Morgan’s evolutionary anthropology (more widely known through Engels), in which hunter/gatherer societies are placed in the Savage stage and horticultural ones the lower stage of Barbarism. The point being that over time cultures progress from a lower to higher state. I’m not opposed in principle to comparing cultural practices and finding some of them deficient or backwards (I would cite genital mutilation as an instance), but if you wish to level a charge against the Haudenosaunee culture in particular, the burden of proof has not been met, in my judgment. It is Chauvinist to suggest that people who are influenced by a hunting or gathering culture are ipso facto being held back. Is the development gap an ontological one, or do you concede that material conditions (colonization, appropriation of resources, etc.) have played a role in the social outcomes you describe? And if the issue is being influenced by a culture, then how is this not a judgment of the culture itself? In other words, can you show me that you are not indeed boasting of a higher civilization? Perhaps I should have left this elaboration in the post, but I think Chauvinism is a reasonable descriptive term for the concept of a development gap as I have apprehended it.

    Absent from your critiques is the notion of choice. What do you say to people who choose to make a living from a trap line? Or to pray to the Great Spirit? More to the point, since I know what you have said about religion (and I myself am an atheist), what do you propose by way of policy? For in the absence of state interventions deployed in pursuit of a goal (incentives and coercions) one has only the force of an argument on her side. In the past, arguments for the improvement of the Indian have led to some rather counter-productive policies from above.

    You’ll have noticed the tagline on this blog is A Personal View. These are my opinions. I’m no expert, and I don’t wish to be seen as a spokesperson (and I doubt I ever would be, since I spread my criticism around liberally). I don’t know what is good for Haudenosaunee, let alone Cree or Dene or Inuvialuit. I’m suspicious of anyone who seems to think they do know. Onkwehonwe debate the very things we are discussing. These are very large issues, as I’m sure you know.

    Now on the question of integration, this is a big challenge. There are actually some very creative ideas about this. There’s no question that this has been happening, mostly due to education. But there are serious limits to a focus on education, such as the tendency for communities to lose their best resource (people) and to actually end up more impoverished than before. Some people argue that, to achieve integration, the reserves should be abolished and all the people should be made, somehow, to move to cities. The amount of coercion to make this happen would have to be considerable. There are precedents, and they do not commend this course of action. There are other ideas, however, which respect the concept of choice.

    I submit we agree to disagree about the relationship of the Great Law and the US Constitution. Your characterization of this as a deception places you behind even the US Congress itself, which acknowledged the matter in 2001. Your reply to me is very generous and civil (and thank-you for that), but I respectfully note that your peppering of quotation marks quite suggests feelings of evident contempt on many points. If you really feel that way, please feel free to say so openly.

    I suspect we are speaking at cross-purposes concerning the legal-historical relationship of Canada and the Haudenosaunee. Your arguments are addressed to isolated communities. As I mentioned, I don’t claim to have a pan-Aboriginal argument or proposal. I only know about Haudenosaunee, and I know that we do have this relationship. I doubt I could find anyone inclined to debate the matter who would do so. Would you debate the right to Canadian sovereignty with an American? Would you debate that a woman is a human being, equal in rights to a man? And although you didn’t quite say it this way, whenever people question the practicality of our aspirations – our false hopes – what I hear is “Stop saying these things; we don’t want to talk about this.” Somehow a continental country from sea to sea with a railroad cut by hand and dynamite through the mountains was a practical idea, but our ideas are pie in the sky. The practicality trope is a political manoeuvre. The huge practical issues are a starting point, not the last word, and where political will go before, all ways do lie open.

    But I like to end on a positive note, so I’ll observe that we do agree what we have today in Canada (deprivation, poverty, dependency, suicide, despair) is shit.



  5. Dear Mr. Spear:

    I am very appreciative of your open letter. Although I disagree with a number of things that you say, I thank you for your thoughtful engagement with the arguments put forward by myself (often in conjunction with Albert Howard). This is very different than the mostly ad hominem comment that has plagued other commentaries about our work. From my experience, there is very little open and honest debate about aboriginal-non-aboriginal relations, and I see your letter as an important attempt to facilitate this process. In this way, we can all learn from one another.

    I was very happy to see your opposition to arguments characterizing my work as racist, but then you make the following statement: “instead [Widdowson] argues that Aboriginal people are inherently savage, but that with some help they can become good white people”. This results in the same flawed logic of the “racism” smear that you are trying to avoid: the conflation of race (ancestry) and culture (learned behaviour). It should be stressed that the developmental gap refers to those members of the aboriginal population who are still influenced by cultural features associated with hunting and gathering and horticultural modes of production. “Savagery” is a stage of development that existed in the context of hunting and gathering activities and technology such as the bow and arrow; all human beings were, at some point in history, at this stage of development and therefore it does not make sense to phrase our argument as the “inherently savage” can “become good white people”.

    I have never said that traditional knowledge “ought not to be considered in matters of science”. It is the spiritual component of traditional “knowledge” that I am opposed to the incorporation of. The empirical component – where animals migrate, ice conditions, etc. – should be (and often is) considered; it should, however, be systematically verified in scientific studies.

    I am not arguing for assimilation, but integration. Those characteristics that are helpful for aboriginal survival (and human survival more generally) should be retained – artistic sensibility, noncoercive forms of child rearing, etc. They should, in fact, be embraced by all people and part of the wider culture. The problem is when organizations like the Aboriginal Healing Foundation argue that public funds should be spent on the promotion of “traditional healing” (which is, at best, useless and, at worst, harmful).

    It is not my argument that there are “two kinds of Aboriginal subject positions”. What I am arguing is that a number of aboriginal people retain cultural characteristics associated with hunting and gathering/horticultural modes of production that are preventing them from making a full contribution to modern society – undisciplined work habits, tribalism, and superstitions, for example. Many aboriginal people no longer retain these characteristics and are completely integrated. Therefore, there is a spectrum within the aboriginal population of those continuing to be influenced by traditional cultural features and those who fully participate in modern society.

    My rumination about the question of “who is an aboriginal person” is due to the difficulties in trying to conceptualize the relationship between the native leadership and the Aboriginal Industry (defined as non-aboriginal lawyers and consultants), and the organizations that are maintaining aboriginal dependency. Much of the funding being dispersed to aboriginal organizations is justified on the basis that it will improve the terrible social conditions in isolated and undeveloped aboriginal communities. Today, however, an increasing number of people are identifying as “aboriginal” so as to access these funds. Even worse, these educated and completely integrated people often use their identity to head organizations promoting aboriginal traditions that are keeping marginalized members of the native population isolated and dependent. Therefore, it probably makes more sense to talk about “marginalized” versus “integrated”, rather than “aboriginal” versus “non-aboriginal”.

    I am glad that you are opposed to the romanticism that currently exists with respect to aboriginal cultures. If so, you might want to investigate the basis of the “reverence” that you have for the “Great Law” and its supposed “appeal” to the authors of the American Constitution. This claim appears to be largely mythological – a deception being perpetrated to justify pre-contact aboriginal “sovereignty” and “democracy”.

    My concern is more with ending dependency and facilitating social contribution than “self-sufficiency” and “self-reliance”. I am not opposed to the “real-world effort of Aboriginal people to direct their affairs”; it is the manipulation of these processes by the integrated to enrich themselves at the expense of the isolated and marginalized that needs to be opposed.

    The “New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums” are an attempt to open up debate about aboriginal policy development. The Forum tries to bring in people of different perspectives to try to increase our understanding about aboriginal-non-aboriginal relations and policy development. We are hoping to have supporters of Mohawk sovereignty debate McHale and Vandermaas in a respectful manner. Other subjects will concern economic development and social policy. Perhaps you might know someone who would be interested in this?

    One area of debate concerns aboriginal peoples’ “unique legal-historical relationship with the British Crown and subsequently to Canada”. There are some who see recognizing this as the solution to aboriginal dependency and deprivation. Others argue that this is raising false hopes of marginalized members of native communities so that educated and integrated can be enriched with legal negotiations, consultations, and foundation and board appointments.

    Thanks, once again, for your thoughtful comments and attempts to open up debate on these important matters.


    Frances Widdowson


  6. Hi Mark. I’ll review the links you’ve provided. My preferred approach is to do the work first and then discuss once I’m satisfied I’ve processed everything. Sincerely, -Wayne.


    • Dear Wayne: That’s very kind of you and very much appreciated. I’ll let my readers know that ‘John’ has agreed to look at the material, and I’ll pass on your comments to Dr. Widdowson. Please contact me if you have any questions. Regards, Mark.

      P.S. Mr. Whittle (comment above) has his own biases. While we were marching peacefully to protest against racial policing and the lawlessness that ripped Caledonia and its cherished relationship with Six Nations apart he was spending time on the occupation site from where the attacks were launched which was under the banner of the Mohawk Warriors.

      Here is some testimony about the Warriors from the just-settled Brown-Chatwell trial:

      According to one reporter: “The officers said the OPP grew more concerned about the possibility of violence after the arrival of militant members of the Mohawk Warriors, a group described as “akin to the Hell’s Angels.” The Warriors were involved in organized crime and cigarette running and had a reputation for physical confrontation and access to guns, including assault rifles, court heard. “Their flag was raised higher than the Six Nations flag which is symbolic of who controls the site,” Insp. Haggith testified.”


  7. I have revised the post on VoiceofCanada regarding my response to your statements about Gary McHale to remove anything that might identify you or your site. After consideration, I realized that I/we have no obligation to provide an audience for your statements – unless you are willing to engage in a productive, factually-based dialogue.

    The new URL:

    To ‘John': About those thugs in Caledonia…

    I do hope you will take me up on my request that you examine the evidence yourself, apologize/retract, and reach out.


    Mark Vandermaas, Editor
    Co-founder, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality

    I do hope you will take me up on my request that you examine the evidence yourself, apologize/retract, and reach out.


    Mark Vandermaas, Editor
    Co-founder, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality


  8. Looks like you have gotten Hamilton resident McHale and fellow traveler Mark Vandermaas, of London, Ontario all wound up respecting their attendance at Woddowson’s get together out West, judging by Mark’s latest post as his blog, Voice of Caledonia. Surreal, considering their track record and impact on Caledonia. I wonder who will foot the bill for their air fare to attend?


  9. Dear Mr. Spear:

    I have just posted the complete comment I sent you earlier on VoiceofCanada at this URL:

    I do hope you will take me up on my request that you examine the evidence yourself, apologize/retract, and reach out.


    Mark Vandermaas, Editor
    Co-founder, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality


    • No doubt all the usual suspects, (Caledonia 8), will show up at Canadian Tire to swarm and diprsut this press conference. One can only hope that the proper level of security is provided for the Leader of the Official Opposition, and other PC officials, to ensure their safety. The last time McHale, who lives in Binbrook, marched onto the DCE, he was removed for his own safety, when violence ensued. The OPP have a catch and release program for demonstrators like McHale. He usually gets released after a few hours, with no charges as a result. The extra Policing costs are paid by the Province, not the local Haldimand-Norfold Council, or their property taxpayers. They are left to deal with the fall-out, after the fact. Obviously the Aboriginal people in the area have made it abundantly clear they want nothing to do with the Caledonia 8), or their self-serving arguments about (two-tier) Justice. Keeping my fingers crossed.


  10. Dear Mr. Spear:

    I apologize for the length, but you have made some statements that deserve to be addressed in a manner which enables readers to access evidence and judge for themselves if we are, as you say, act in a manner which appeals to the best of us:

    A. A THUG INCITING VIOLENCE?: As someone who has worked with Gary McHale on a daily basis for more than 3.5 years I really must take exception to your characterization of him:

    “Her charming new associate, Gary McHale, is a first-order thug and carpetbagger who announced his intention to move to Caledonia, presumably to shorten his commute to the exquisite task of inciting violence. You have to wonder about, and then consider the unpleasant implications of, Widdowson’s inviting him to sit on a governance panel for something called “New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums.””

    These repugnant comments about Gary McHale have no grounding in fact. He/we and our organization Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality ( have a track record of advocating peaceful protest against racial policing and the terrible native lawlessness that has victimized thousands in Caledonia and elsewhere – including native people.


    You are obviously receiving your information from one of two sources:

    1. The Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (who is now facing a criminal charge for illegally influencing municipal officials during an attempt to smear McHale and intimidate them into not supporting him – clearly, a violation of Charter right to freedom of association and freedom of speech), in which case I suggest you review these two documents from the Race-Based Policing page: one is a defamation claim (for falsely accusing us of being “involved” in violence and having a violent “agenda” curiously enough) currently before the Court; the other is a Police Services Act complaint regarding possible criminal behaviour by the commissioner, one allegation is the crime he is now charged with. Both documents deal extensively with his campaign to smear and arrest McHale. Both are shocking:

    2. If your information is coming from sources who support the violence and crime in Caledonia who are very much opposed to our quest to end their criminal activities against innocent people, then I would suggest you look at the videos on this page regarding Dec 01/07 when Gary was viciously swarmed and attacked by native smokeshack supporters who sent him to hospital in a disgusting, unprovoked attack during which Gary did not use his fists or angry words in retaliation:

    A Six Nations woman is charged with mischief for setting off the swarming by loudly – and falsely – screaming that McHale had pushed her. Her ‘street theatre’ was caught on video and you can watch it yourself. The man who led the attack by cowardly jumping on McHale’s back pleaded guilty to assaulting him. Our camera man was knocked to the pavement and while laying on the ground unconscious witness say Six Nations people were calling to ‘finish him off.’ I myself was assaulted by a group of thugs who pushed me to the ground. Numerous police officers were assaulted by native thugs, but not a single one of them was charged. I have a transcript of testimony by an OPP officer talking about how they were yelling to get the cop’s guns. I’d be happy to send you the relevant excerpt.

    3. If you want more evidence of who the thugs are in Caledonia, just look at the photos on this page:

    … and the court decisions and statements of claims on this page:

    4. And, if that’s still not enough, you might have a look at our report, ‘The Human Costs of Illegal Occupations':


    Our principles and values are on our website for all to see and read:

    We follow the teachings of Dr. King:

    Information about CANACE founders and our motivations are here:

    Finally, I’m sure you and your readers have no idea that we have repeatedly talked about the native victims of the race-based policing that has traumatized Caledonia. On Oct 08/07, for example, I gave this speech on the topic:

    Gary McHale gave a speech on the same day about how the media failed the victims of residential schools and Caledonia:

    [video src="" /]

    Of course, the media did not report any of our words, including the journalists from Six Nations. They didn’t report on the words of a 15 yr old girl who has to take medication and go to counselling because of the trauma of being terrorized by masked native thugs with guns who hung a deer carcass on a telephone pole so the kids on the school bus could see
    it. Her mother recently tried to kill herself. I dare you to watch this girl’s speech about how she lives on a road without policing because thugs won’t let the OPP patrol it, and THEN tell me who the thugs are:

    [video src="" /]

    SUMMARY: You closed your post claiming that your commitment is to see “this struggle is principled, respectful and peaceful, and that it has as its endgame a just resolution which appeals to the best in all of us.” I agree totally, and if this is really true, then I would ask that you do this for me, for your readers, and all Canadians -native and non – who share that view:

    1. Review with an open heart the evidence I have provided for you.

    2. Review next this 1 page diagram we provided to Brantford Council on Sept 29/08 as part of our ‘Reconciliation: the CANACE Path’ presentation on Sept 29/08:

    We were interviewed recently for 4 hours by an investigative reporter with a major news organization. After listening to us talk about how native people were being hurt too, and our belief that healing and reconciliation can never take place when the rule of law has been lost, I showed him this diagram. His exact words were, “What you guys are doing is good for native people, too.” Yes, we believe so.

    3. Call me at your convenience, day or night at: 519.457.0709. Yes, that’s my home #. I will answer any questions you have about Gary McHale. If that’s not enough, then you can call him yourself.

    4. Consider if our words are truly those of ‘thugs’ and ‘carpetbaggers’, and then please revise this article to remove the offensive description or at least apologize for your words. How would you feel if I made such repulsive, unfounded, statements about a non-violent native activist you knew had spoken out on behalf of both native and non-native victims? Please give me the same consideration for the great man I know as Gary McHale.

    I do hope to see you at Ms. Widdowson’s forum in May. I’ll be the tall, chubby fellow standing next to an even chubbier fellow named Gary McHale, who I suspect will go down in history as one of the greatest civil rights leader in modern Canadian history.

    As for Ms. Widdowson, I thank her for speaking out and for making it possible to bring, for the first time ever, the concerns of the innocent victims of land claim lawlessness and racial policing to the policy debate. Your article shows exactly why that debate needs to take place.

    Thank you for your time. I will be sending this ‘comment/novel’ :-) to Ms. Widdowson so that she may post it on her blog as our ‘open letter’ to you if she wishes. I will also be posting it on VoiceofCanada. Please do feel free to call or write me.

    Mark Vandermaas, Editor
    Co-founder, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality


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