WHILE THE POLITICAL theatre of a possible meeting of some vague nature between the Prime Minister of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations strutted the national stage, I thought of a few lines from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 59:
“As Attawapiskat shows, matters may go on unresolved for years and even decades. I am convinced that the reason is a lack of political will, the status quo being just good enough, or perhaps not quite bad enough, that those doing the political math feel it unnecessary to change course. So far their calculations have been proved correct ….” Read More.
“Canadians seem as oblivious to the plight of aboriginal people as they are to their own vulnerability should aboriginal anger boil over into insurrection. Imagine what would happen, for example, were “warriors” to roadblock every intersection of the Perimeter Highway. Imagine how quickly such actions could escalate from anger to outrage to violence. Now imagine what might be done to prevent it ….” Read More.
“Canadians are under the sway of some heartfelt but improbable notions, for instance the idea that the reserve system and its chief-and-council governance are anachronisms and tribal hold-overs awaiting rescue, in this case by the free market. Although as bad as its critics contend, the status quo was in fact crafted and imposed by successive leaders of Canada and at considerable effort, better to open up the land and its resources to the Crown ….” Read More.
“I am going to choose to focus here on those compassionate people of Canada, and not on the silver-tongued politicians. Upon such common folk, and upon them alone, our hope depends. We all know, my friends, what failures governments and politicians are. Is it not so? ….” Read More.
“The curious fact of this Crown-First Nations affair is the degree to which it foregrounds the present non-eventfulness of Crown-First Nations affairs. Is it really over four years ago that the five-billion-dollar Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement came into force? And have over three years really passed since the apology was made to the former Indian residential school children? ….” Read More.
“The theme of relationship shows the way out of this legacy. It binds past, present, and future. It is the underlying reality. That is one reason why, for instance, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples chose as the title of the Final Report Summary, “People to People, Nation to Nation.” ….” Read More.
Georges Erasmus: “Deal with us now or suffer the consequences” | CBC TV – June 2, 1988.
IT’S BEEN ONE YEAR since the Attawapiskat First Nation housing crisis became a widely deliberated point, and perhaps that Attawapiskat itself became a known point on the map of Canada. It thus happens that the current hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence is among other things an anniversary marker of a sort.
“THERE ARE MOMENTS,” says the Annual General Assembly Co-Chair, Harold Tarbell, and he’s right. It will turn out to be the most emotional scene of the Assembly of First Nations’ three-day Toronto gathering: a cheerful and wholesome-looking, blonde-haired and blue-eyed thirteen year-old from Niagara Falls, brought to the podium at the behest of child-rights advocate Cindy Blackstock, has just delivered the week’s shortest but perhaps most eloquent speech, and the audience is on their feet:
Hello everybody, my name is Wes Prankard. For the past three years I have been trying to bridge the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. What I’ve been doing started three years ago, when I saw pictures of the community Attawapiskat. Just seeing these conditions the children were living in, I just knew it wasn’t fair. And so I decided to do something.
EARLY IN THE week, during an interview whose topic was the relationship in Canada between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, I was asked what I would hope for “in an ideal world.” My answer was an alteration of political will, and more specific a beyond-mere-rhetoric commitment to a renewal of the relationship on the principle of mutual respect. I then felt it necessary to argue, along the lines of Theodor Herzl’s “If you will …” , that the only impediment to progress in Canada is the absence of political will.