A Land Acknowledgement, But About a Stolen Bike

Before we get this meeting started, I’d like to acknowledge that we’re on land where I stole Chris’ bike. You see, this is the traditional land where he would cycle. Then I moved here and saw the bike, and I thought, that’s a nice bike and I think it would be fun to ride. Which it is, to be honest. So I’d like to thank Chris for being a steward of my bike. He kept it well tuned and clean as a whistle all the time before I came along and stole the bike from him. It wasn’t easy, either. I used a bolt cutter and it took me over 20 minutes. In his wisdom Chris locked the bike up really well so that no one would take it before I came along. Back before I stole the bike, Chris would have a gathering with the other traditional people of this territory. Ryan, who works as a bartender in that tapas place on McCleod Avenue, Jim the graphic designer, and Phil, who last I heard was trying to open a barbershop. The hipster kind where they have pinup girls and indie bands on Saturdays, and somehow they play between the barber chairs. They would traditionally get together for bike rides, which they don’t now because Chris can’t afford a new bike, and certainly not one as nice as my bike, which I acknowledge I stole. Also, his traditional name is Christopher and not Chris. I called him Chris for years because I just like it better than Christopher. One year I dressed up as Christopher for Halloween. I found a plaid shirt, just like his, at Value Village, and that stupid green jacket he always has on. I got the idea while I was riding my stolen bike. I figured, with the bike I was already half way to a costume. Christopher didn’t like it, even after I explained that I was honouring him. “Give me my fucking bike back,” he yelled. And I totally get it. That’s why I want us to be friends again, like we were before I had sex with his girlfriend and then stole his bike. I’ve done a lot to atone for these things. I acknowledged that I had sex with his girlfriend in his bed and stole his bike from his yard. And, yeah, I took his Macbook, too, because I’m pretty sure he wasn’t using it and I wanted to burn some CDs. I think we can all agree that there’s been enough animosity, enough rancor. It’s time for a new relationship, and being chill again like the old days, before I killed his brother in a bar fight. And then the girlfriend thing, the Macbook, the bike. It’s history now, and I feel bad about it. Sometimes when I’m riding my bike I even tear up a bit, but that might just be the wind in my eyes. Maybe I should get some sun glasses. I noticed Chris has a nice pair.

A Governor General Worthy of the Post

Mary Simon

Mary Simon will make an excellent governor general

WAYNE K. SPEAR | JULY 7, 2021 • CANADA

Over the years my work has brought me into the orbit of Mary Simon, the next governor general. In a time of disturbance, where the relationship of Canada and Indigenous people is concerned, I recall Simon as a patient and calming presence. By now you’ve seen the highlights of her resume: broadcaster, diplomat, politician, ambassador, negotiator. All of these roles require the skill of working effectively with people of diverse natures, a skill she possesses in quantity.

A governor general should have an impressive career, and Simon’s has been very impressive indeed. There are things a resume will not tell you, however, and it’s these that make her an excellent choice. She is an exemplary listener and an astute observer. She possesses humility and, in contrast to a recent governor general, will not besmear her function with drama. Her empathy served her well as moderator of the RCAP hearings, where for the first time Inuit told stories of the residential schools. Mike DeGagné, the former Executive Director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, remembers her ability “to tap into what people were feeling” and her “wonderful way of allowing people to express themselves.” These are the qualities I expect her to bring to the job, and they are the right qualities for the times.

The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, the Charlottetown Accords, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the creation of Nunavut, the Indian Residential School System — there is no major event or issue of the past fifty years, touching upon the affairs of Indigenous people, in which she’s not been involved; and yet I would dare to guess that many Canadians have not heard of her. The reason is that, in contrast to many public figures (including some Indigenous ones I could name) she is not driven by ego and therefore does not crave attention and accolades. Again, a delicious change.

On July 11, 2008 Simon responded to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “Apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools,” saying, “I am one of those people who have dreamed for this day … Let us now join forces with the common goal of working together, to ensure that this apology opens the door to a new chapter in our lives as aboriginal peoples and in our place in Canada.” Christi Belcourt’s stained glass window, installed in Parliament’s Centre Block and commemorating that day, reflects Simon’s phrase that “a new day has dawned, a new day heralded by a commitment to reconciliation and building a new relationship with Inuit, Métis and First Nations.”

These words will sound to many as excessively optimistic, but they are consistent with a career that has emphasized listening, cooperation, opportunity, and negotiation. In a 2011 article, Canadian Inuit: Where we have been and where we are going, Simon lists the many colonial assaults on the Inuit yet concludes that “we continue to hope that other Canadians seek and support creative solutions to our issues in ways that will benefit us and Canada as a whole.” She was likewise hopeful today, when she characterized her latest role as a historic and inspirational moment.

The new governor general will have her critics, but know that she is a serious and effective person. The past few years have highlighted the poor judgement of the Prime Minister where appointments are concerned, but in this instance and for a change he has made a good decision.⌾

When it comes to racism, the RCMP may be bad-apple friendly

One_Bad_Apple_Featured-Custom

It has the feel of a system and not, say, a series of accidents

WAYNE K. SPEAR | JUNE 16, 2020 • National Post

WHEN ALBERTA’S Indigenous Affairs Minister said it was tough to watch his friend Chief Adam being brutalized in a March 10 Fort McMurray video, we knew what he meant. But he might well have said more, and been nearer the point, if he’d known to use brutalize in an earlier and now-obsolete sense: the action or process of lowering oneself to the level of the brutes. We’ve abandoned that usage, to our loss, and with it the insight that to use, abuse or degrade a fellow human being is to make of oneself a beast. Used this way the term reminds us that (for examples) the institution of slavery diminishes and perverts the slaveholder, and that the subjugation of colonized peoples debases the colonizer.

The RCMP officer who charged into the frame of a dashboard camera, to beat Chief Allan Adam, behaved brutally. And while my leap from colonization to policing will be as narrow or as wide as your leanings allow, it’s objectively the case that the North-West Mounted Police was established to put down resistance to settlement and the opening of land for private ownership and profit, at the expense of Indigenous people. This history is well-known within First Nations and its legacy is keenly felt. The 1870s was a time of westward expansion by settlers, the Trans-Canada railroad, the numbered treaties, and the Métis Scrip system—a convergence that is no work of happenstance. The RCMP, as the North-West Mounted Police would later be known, played their part by invigilating Indigenous people and enforcing provisions of the Indian Act, so much so that the Mounted Police could fairly be described as an adjunct of Indian Affairs and a handmaid of dispossession.

It all has the feel of a system and not, say, a series of accidents, with the focus upon people considered by officialdom as a race. (More specific, “a weird and waning race,” as Duncan Campbell Scott, former Deputy Superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs, wrote in a poem titled The Onondaga Madonna.) But apparently it’s a matter of scandal and of controversy to fadge the terms system and race, in a country that to this day administers Indians through an Indian Act underpinned by a bureaucratic schema of blood quantum. The flaw of a bad apples theory of policing has been exposed by the ever-increasing scrutiny into a system that attracts, recruits, and retains some number of goons and that thereby produces a steady stream of headlines concerning the deaths of Indigenous and black people in the custody of police.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has affirmed that the problems within the RCMP are bigger than “a single individual or the actions of one person.“ We had fresh evidence of this when the RCMP initially refused to release the video, said the officers’ actions were reasonable, and denied the need for an investigation. Only outside involvement and evidence of public displeasure seem to have brought the RCMP bosses round to the idea that an expired license plate sticker might not be an occasion for beatings.

We’ve had the bad apples because we’ve had a system that is bad-apple friendly. The problem is bigger than individuals, but the individuals who are big problems debase the entire system. One might even say that they brutalize it. ⌾

Standing In for the Wet’suwet’en People

Wet'suwet'en Solidarity Protest
This article previously appeared in the February 25, 2020 edition of the National Post.

We have data for almost everything, but we lack information about what the Wet’suwet’en think and why they think it

✎  WAYNE K. SPEAR | JANUARY 26, 2020 • Current Events

WHEN DID YOU LEARN TO SPELL “Wet’suwet’en”? If you’re like many Canadians, you hadn’t yet heard of this First Nation, in British Columbia’s central interior, when the latest cable bill arrived. Now, everyone has a view. If opinions could be shipped to market, millions of barrels of them would be headed to Kitimat, B.C., for export.

I know the politicians’ positions, and I know where Extinction Rebellion and the Toronto anarchists stand. The only opinions I’ve had trouble sourcing are those of the Wet’suwet’en, whose interests every side of the aisle claims to be supporting. Did voting occur, and what were the results? I’ve read reports on consultations, but nowhere have I found voting data. The closer you get to the ground, the muddier things become. Amber Bracken, in her article, The Wet’suwet’en Are More United Than Pipeline Backers Want You To Think, mentions a survey that found 83 per cent of the Witset First Nation’s members were against the pipeline. The company that undertook this survey, she adds, doesn’t seem to exist anymore, and if there was ever a document, it appears to be unpublished. Whatever the views of the people, the Witset band council eventually voted to support the pipeline. Further east, 70 per cent of the Nak’azdli — another branch of the Dakelh tree — rejected an agreement with Coastal GasLink in a 2015 referendum that the chief overturned three years later, and the First Nation became the last nation to sign on. Less than 15 per cent of Nak’azdli’s 2,000 members voted.

Accurate, relevant data are critical — that’s why governments collect them. Every day, data firms solicit opinion on a range of matters. How popular are Canada’s political leaders? What do Canadians think about their health-care system? Do they trust the media, and how much? How do they feel about immigration, affordable housing, climate change? According to the Environics Institute, 49 per cent of Canadians say they’re better off than their parents were at their age. (Thirty years ago, that number was 60.) Seventy-one per cent of respondents answered “No” to the question, “In your opinion, is Alberta treated with the respect it deserves in Canada or not?” These aren’t just numbers, they are the raw materials for future political campaigns, government initiatives and public policy.

We have data for almost everything, but we lack information about what the Wet’suwet’en think and why they think it. As Robert Jago has written, “we don’t know how many chiefs are opposed to the pipeline, we don’t know for certain what percentage of people in the Wet’suwet’en country support or oppose the pipeline and we don’t know if the pipeline was approved by a referendum, a town hall or a simple vote in council. With that information gap, people grasp onto whatever numbers are presented to them.”

Some of the examples are trivial but make the point. A report coming out of a Feb. 19 public meeting, at a Houston, B.C., movie theatre, asserts that “about 200 people gave up three hours of their afternoon” to express community support for a pipeline. That’s a decent turnout in a town of 3,500, which is precisely the point that the author of the article wants you to absorb. I mean, imagine if only one-quarter of that number had turned out. Well, you don’t have to imagine, because there’s an article for that outcome, too, stating that “around 50 people were in attendance.” That’s not a small discrepancy. It’s a difference of magnitudes, like winning a majority government versus deciding you’d like to spend more time with your family.

Lyndsey Gilpin’s Feb. 21 article for the Columbia Journalism Review, A Pipeline Runs Through Southern News Deserts, concerns a 965-kilometre natural gas pipeline along the eastern coast of the United States that has much in common with the Coastal GasLink project. Both face opposition and are currently stalled, and both run through what Gilpin calls “news deserts” — areas where outside media “parachute in to cover major updates or catastrophes,” but otherwise ignore. The burden of reporting on these projects is left to local citizen-journalists and under-resourced independent media, and in the absence of consistent national reporting, the likelihood of misinformation and confusion increases. The people who live in news deserts are typically poor and, Gilpin writes, “stand to lose the most … from a lack of information.”

As if this lack of reliable information isn’t bad enough, some non-Indigenous pipeline opponents will tell you that the numbers don’t matter, because democracy is a Western colonial construct and what matters is the hereditary chiefs, not the views of the people. Nonsense. Band councils and traditional leadership have differing mandates and represent contrasting governance systems, but hereditary leaders are not monarchs, just as guesstimates aren’t facts. The concerns and aspirations of ordinary people matter. And we need to know what they are. ⌾

When Christie Blatchford Came Calling

Christie Blatchford

She was interested in law and order, and only in law and order. That was both her strength and her limitation.

✎  WAYNE K. SPEAR ○ FEBRUARY 15, 2020 ○ Personal Essay

ON THE MORNING OF Monday February 4, 2008 I got a phone call from Christie Blatchford. I was the Director of Communications at the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and Blatchford was working on a series of articles for the National Post concerning the Yellow Quill First Nation, where the AHF had funded a project.

In a few years I’d be writing for the National Post myself, but I never got to know Christie Blatchford well. I’d long known of her work, and we’d had a few conversations. Even before I’d ever spoken to her I had inferred from her writing that she was tough and to-the-point. And she was. Her vocabulary was peppered with shits and fucks, which was fine by me. I knew why she was calling: she had a hunch that with a bit of digging she’d unearth nastiness. The Executive Director, Mike DeGagne, was lining his pockets, or perhaps we were funnelling dollars to the well-connected. Something had to be rotten in the state of Denmark, and Blatchford was calling me to work out exactly what it was.

After the call I wrote a briefing note and took it to Mike. He knew Blatchford’s writing, and so he knew as I did that she wasn’t exactly a champion of Indigenous perspectives. I had a standing policy with journalists, which was to educate them as best I could about the nature and importance of our work, and to win them over to the cause. If it took days or months or even years, so be it. My door was always open to them, and so was my phone line. I’d give them as much time as they wanted. Sometimes I found myself pushing on an open door, as was the case with media folks like Marie Wadden and Shelagh Rogers, but I knew that wasn’t going to be the case with Blatchford. She was a court reporter who’d seen the worst of humanity. For years my father was an OPP court officer, so I was well acquainted with the skeptical mindset that this work engendered. In fact I welcomed the skeptics because I understood them. So winning over Blatchford became something of an obsession.

I said to Mike, listen, I think I know what makes Christie Blatchford tick. She’s drawn to the courts because it throws the drama of human morality into sharp relief. The injustice she confronts there makes her churn wth indignation, and if we can make her see that we’re in the business of addressing historic injustices, maybe she’ll become as fierce an advocate as she is a critic. Imagine that! After all, I said, inside every skeptic is a disappointed idealist. Let’s invite her to the office and put every goddamn file in front of her, nothing hidden, and let her see with her own eyes that we are not the villains she imagines—and that to the contrary we are trying to do something of positive value.

It was an easy pitch, not that Mike ever resisted my counsel. He ran a transparent operation and in sixteen years no one ever caught us with our knickers round the ankles, although many of the best put their shoulder into it. I remember sitting at the AHF boardroom table with Curt Petrovich, an investigative reporter who cast a cold eye on our organization. He went away disappointed, as they all did. I’ll be candid and admit that I enjoyed the game. I had journalism in my background and respected people who were hard headed and tenacious and challenging. Suppose there was in fact corruption. Well, then we would have deserved to be brought down, and the fact is I admire the people who commit themselves to doing it.

When I was young and contemplating a career in journalism, Blatchford was living the life that I fantasized for myself. The by-line at a major outlet, fame, house parties where the booze flowed and the elbows of colleagues rubbed. Back then journalists could still believe they were doing something nobIe, even if it was bullshit, and there was no shortage of money to help them do it. That’s all gone. I was just old enough for the dying years of the old school of journalism, where newsrooms were loud and smoked-filled and a lunch would stretch well into the afternoon. Now the business of journalism goes about in eerie silence, and the changes are so remarkable and happened so fast (at least it seems that way now) that Kelly McParland and I got talking about it one day at the National Post’s headquarters. Some of the changes reflect the decline of the occupation, but most of the change is good. The alcoholism is no longer glamourized, and while journalism remains dominated by men, chauvinism is regarded more as a bug than a feature. Editors tell me they want a more diverse workforce and admit they have a ways to go. So there’s that.

Why this digression into the world of journalism? In my ideal world I would have won Blatchford over and, who knows, we might have become colleagues and even friends. But I was operating in the real world, where neither of these happened. Christie Blatchford made it very clear to me that she was interested in law and order, and only in law and order. That was both her strength and her limitation. When she realized there was nothing lurid to write about the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, nothing to get people outraged over, no human malfeasance to press into the ready forms of her worldview, she lost all interest. One day the calls just stopped, and she moved on.

I kept her phone number and her email and I suppose I also held to a remnant of my idealism, because I sent her an email later on, when she was writing articles about Caledonia. Once again, I tried to win her over. Christie, I wrote, there’s a long history leading up to the Haldimand Tract dispute, and if you really want to understand what’s happening today, and if you want your readers to truly understand, and to be informed, you need to look at that context. Nothing is going to change in this country until we come to terms with the past, I told her. And after all, isn’t it the job of a journalist to dig, and to present all the perspectives, and to make people understand?

Christie was a lot of things, but one thing she wasn’t was subtle. She had told me in no uncertain terms that she was only interested in punishing people who had broken the law, and I guess I should have left it at that. In any case, she never wrote back. ⌾

The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Rights Framework Changes Nothing

Indigenous people have had to fight for recognition of every right we have. And we always will.

✎  Wayne K. Spear | February 15, 2018 • Politics


IN A WEEK WHEN Indigenous people announced that reconciliation is postponed, if not cancelled, the Prime Minister sprinkled us with the sunshine of his forthcoming legal framework on Indigenous rights. Mr. Trudeau used bold words like engagement and implementation, even uttering the C-word, and claimed that his government would complete the unfinished business started by Trudeau the Senior, with the repatriation of the Constitution.

The fashionable words were all there: rights, recognition and engagement, partnership and reconciliation. Not any, old partnership, but full partnership—a new relationship with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. Team Trudeau even had social media hastags, like #IndigenousRights and #decolonization. What a historic reconciliation engagement of full partnership respect recognition historic rights day it was.

A little background might help. Never forget that the federal government didn’t give Indigenous people Section 35 of the Constitution. Indigenous people—natives, as we were then known—weren’t even invited to the conversation, at first. Pierre “The White Paper” Trudeau had no appetite for discussing native rights, which in his view were simply the rights of all Canadians, and made no mention of a Section 35 in his 1980 proposal. Indigenous people made a stink, and you know the adage about squeaky wheels and grease. Eventually the Indian politicians got a seat at the table, and quite a few native people protested that, too, not wanting to be a part of whatever dirty work they suspected the feds were up to.

I’m not an expert on what happened next, but I’ve talked to every AFN National Chief involved in the repatriation talks and beyond. The Assembly of First Nations led the charge for recognition of inherent Indigenous rights, and met the resistance of Team Trudeau and the provinces, who whittled a much more robust series of proposed clauses into the now-familiar language of Section 35:

35.(1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed. (2) In this Act, “aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. (3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired. (4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

The resource-extraction provinces, particularly Alberta, took the position that Section 35 (existing aboriginal and treaty rights) was an empty box, to be filled in the future at the discretion of the courts. The premiers had seen similar work in Australia, where existing Aboriginal rights were interpreted to mean rights that come into existence, from this moment forward. But of course that’s not how it’s gone in Canada. Indigenous people have taken their Section 35 rights to court, over and over again, and fought like hell to get our rights into the box. And in many instances, certainly more than Canada would have preferred, we’ve won.

Constitution Express

The Section 35 fight for Indigenous rights, recognized and affirmed by the Constitution of Canada, has been a restless work from 1982 to the present. The view that we’ve made progress is not universal, with people like Mary-Ellen Turpel and Art Manuel and Russ Diabo arguing that the post-Section-35 world is a colonial world, just like it was before. Instead of Indigenous sovereignty over our lands and resources, and a nation-to-nation relationship with Canada, colonial interpretations of Section 35 give our communities municipal powers and brown bureaucrats. We can choose the day Rez garbage will be picked up, and our signs say Tésta’n instead of STOP. We get to say Yes to pipelines, and if we’re lucky receive a share of the take, but we don’t get to say No, because we are a minority sub-sect of Indigenous-Canadians.

What we all agree on as Indigenous people is that we’ve had to fight for everything we’ve ever had. Someone once said that government doesn’t give you your freedom, you have it already—if you exercise it. That’s true of all people, but it’s doubly and triply true for Indigenous people, who would have vanished entirely, like a narrow river into the ocean of Canada, if things had gone as originally planned. There isn’t an Indigenous right on Earth that we’ve been given by a colonial government, and there never will be. And Trudeau’s rights framework changes nothing.

Podcast 94: Celebrating the Work of Cree Author, Larry Loyie, with Constance Brissenden


Podcast Season 5

Visit the Living Traditions Writers Group website to learn more about Larry’s work. You can also order the iBook version of Residential Schools with the words and images of Survivors here.

Colten Boushie’s Death Must Have a Purpose

For Indigenous people, change is often a matter of life or death

✎  Wayne K. Spear | January 30, 2018 • Current Events

RCMP ROOFTOP SNIPERS were at-the-ready when Gerald Stanley arrived in North Battleford last April for his three-day preliminary hearing. There was drumming and a show of support for the family of Colten Boushie but no violence. There’s been no violence of any kind in the months since this Indigenous Rodney King (as some have called Boushie) was shot in the back of the head while sitting in a car stalled on Stanley’s Biggar, Saskatchewan property. The family has made it clear that what they want is not blood but justice and change.

Colten’s death must have a purpose. While his death revealed a deep divide that exists between many within this province, it has also brought us here to this courthouse, where we could come together and ask for a fair trial for everyone involved. We, Colten’s family, hope that this preliminary hearing and the issues that it raises about our relationships with each other will generate further discussion and dialogue to help us bring our communities together.

Biggar, Saskatchewan

It’s an understatement to characterise this sentiment as dignified, but then what isn’t an understatement when speaking of confronting the death of a child. As the family were grieving their dear lost son and grandson and brother and nephew, strangers were posting hateful comments on social media. The rooftop snipers, presumably deployed to snuff an incipient Indian uprising, turned out to be unnecessary. But there was rabble rousing and racial hatred to be shot down in the other column of the deep divide ledger, so the Premier stepped in to denounce racists and their racism. Before long a Browning municipal councillor named Ben Kautz had resigned over a posting on the Saskatchewan Farmer’s Facebook group, where a number of other mean-spirited comments could also be found. As if losing Colten wasn’t bad enough, random citizens heaped contempt on the family’s pain, and still the family called for healing.

There are good reasons why Indigenous people call for healing and peace at times like this. The first and perhaps most compelling is that we need healing and peace. At roughly five percent of the population, Indigenous people are not going to win a contest of force against Canada, and we know it. But there also isn’t an appetite for perpetuating the hatred and violence that has been commonly experienced by Indigenous people, for generations, whether in the residential schools or on the street. Far too many of us have become experts in trauma, intergenerational violence, and hate. We don’t just want something better, we need it, in a life-or-death way.

Last week the RCMP cleared themselves of a charge of misconduct made by the family of Colten Boushie. The officers can’t recall doing or saying the things that witnesses affirm that they did and said, in the course of their investigation of the Baptiste home. At the time of Colten Boushie’s death the RCMP issued a press release suggesting he was connected to an investigation of property theft. Then the RCMP allowed the 2003 Ford Escape in which Boushie was shot—a critical piece of evidence—to go to the salvage yard before it had undergone forensic (blood spatter) anaysis, thereby jeopardizing the integrity of any later trial. “The RCMP were, best case scenario, negligent,” the family lawyer Chris Murphy told a journalist. Still the RCMP seem to think they have done nothing wrong, which apparently means that they haven’t.

Next Spring Gerald Stanley will go to court, where he will face a charge of second-degree murder. In the meantime his rural Saskatchewan house has been put up for sale as he prepares for a new life either inside or ouside of prison. He has expressed regret for the death of Colten Boushie, just as Ben Kautz has expressed regret for his Facebook post, just as the RCMP has said it’s sorry for offences taken in the course of its faultless  investigation. The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) meanwhile agitates for a broadened right to defend property against trespass. The two solitudes of Saskatchewan, the reserve and the farm, remain as estranged as ever, and Indigenous people everywhere hold their breath in anticipation of a trial they don’t dare allow themselves to believe will be fair and impartial.

Colten Boushie is gone and the white cattle ranchers found guilty of property theft of their neighbours remain alive and well in the community, despite their crimes. There is indeed a deep divide, deep as the chasm between life and death.

The Roundtable Podcast 72: Crimes Against Headlines

Week of 28.09.2014

TanyaTagaq

Walking In LA | One Month to the Toronto Mayoral Election | Game: Crimes Against Headlines | Music: Tanya Tagaq | The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples | Paul Calandra | Is Canada Going to War? (Yes) | Fighting ISIS: The Coalition is Growing

 

Download entire podcast (320 kbps mp3) | Visit The Roundtable on Facebook.

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On Going to the Pow Wow

IN ALL CULTURES, social dance figures. The pow wow has, as is the case with so many things indigenous, both its historic (which is to say “pre-contact”) and contemporary manifestation. Without doubt, the pow wow is today an expression of pan-aboriginalism, being a social festival which looks roughly the same across North America. The seasonal and ceremonial dances of long ago varied widely, from culture to culture, so that it is probably of little help to look back more than a couple decades to discern the roots of a modern pow wow.

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Doing the Math in Attawapiskat

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.

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Canadians need to educate themselves about indigenous peoples

TOMORROW MORNING I will get on an airplane and fly to Halifax, where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is hosting its latest gathering. Already the event has produced headline material, derived from the statement yesterday of University of Manitoba President, David Barnard. Toronto Star Reporter Louise Brown characterizes this apology to Aboriginal people “an unusual move,” and so it is. Yet Canada’s universities, and indeed the entire education system, have good reason to feel the bite of conscience. Please allow me to expand upon that theme.

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