And the promise of this whole magnificent country of ours, of the 100% of us are who are “Treaty People”, is being acted out at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi in boring Midhurst, ON.
An interesting article in The Globe and Mail by John Ralston Saul, Wake up to the aboriginal comeback. pdf
Saul claims from a population at contact of 2,000,000 First Nations, it dropped to 150,000. But what some may consider a racial genocide has ended. Forever.
Those 150,000 or so aboriginal people are now approaching a million and a half, and they’re on their way to two million. Those who were forbidden the right to hire lawyers as recently as the Indian Act of 1927 now have more than 1,000 lawyers of their own. They are in an increasingly strong legal position, having won case after case at the Supreme Court over the past 40 years. Having been forbidden the practice of their own spiritual beliefs, an increasing number of their young are embracing them. Forty years ago, there were virtually no aboriginals in colleges and universities. Now, there are more than 30,000 and the number is growing.
As a whole, Canadians have not yet woken up to this reality. Worse still, our governments, bureaucracies and most of the legal community are still lost in denial of the aboriginal reality. They go on fighting every detail of every negotiation in order to slow down this return in force. There is still no willingness to admit that Ottawa funds far less for the education of each First Nations child than the provincial governments fund for each non-aboriginal child. Officials at all levels are still ducking and weaving over the lack of clean water and housing, inadequate sewage systems, malnutrition, child poverty and other poor reserve services. They continue to hide behind numbers and narrow arguments.
He suggests that we get used to a fundamental shift of power, similar to the anglophone and francophone relationship.
The simple truth is that we are all witnesses to the remarkable comeback of the aboriginal peoples. This will mean fundamental shifts in power, in financing and in how we all live together. We can pretend this is not happening; we can manoeuvre in order to delay it. But it is going to happen. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose by embracing this comeback as living proof of the strength of these cultures and peoples. We are witnessing how central they are to the future of this country.
Now is the time to listen to what they are saying and understand what they are calling for.
And the role of Idle No More and many similar actions like Springwater Park – Camp Nibi?
What indigenous peoples are after is their full and proper place on this territory. They are the original founding pillar of everything done here. Their influence on the shape and habits of this country has been and remains enormous.
Yes, Canadian authorities began acting badly once they saw they could get away with it. Yes, the indigenous population plunged in the second half of the 19th century from as many as two million to fewer than two hundred thousand people. And so the racist policies aimed at assimilation, as well as cultural and even physical disappearance, gained traction.
But those days are long past. That is, the aboriginal position has changed radically. And that was the underlying message of last winter’s protests and fasts, of Idle No More.
For more detail, see Dr. John Ralston Saul Osgoode hall lecture notes: “Aboriginal Peoples and the Law”