Friday, May 26, 2006

Say What?

Hyperbole and activists go hand in hand, and by doing so, they tend to diminish their cause.

Take for example Doreen Silversmith, member of the Feminist Organization for Women's Advancement, Rights and Dignity (FORWARD).

Ms Silversmith spoke to the press this week about the state of affairs in Caledonia, and about a UN report released Monday that cited several areas of concern with regard to Canada and discrimination.

Here are a couple of quotes from Ms Silversmith:
"It's all interconnected. You see the product of (neglect) in what's going on in Caledonia right now. Human rights are an illusion (in Canada).
We want to hold Canada up to its promises. The genocidal practices that the country is doing to our people must stop."
That's right -- genocidal. I know, I know -- some people like to use the term 'cultural genocide' to refer to the irradication of the language and heritage of a race group. The use of the word 'genocide' in this fashion has always irked me. Since the beginning of time, cultures have changed, grown and evolved -- sometimes due to invaders, sometimes simply as a natural progression. Historically, most invaders have to some extent, erased or irreversibly altered the culture of the native inhabitants of the conquered land. It is part of our global history --not just Canadian history, not just British/French history, not just Western history -- it has happened throughout the centuries in societies both east and west. Some conquering nations have long since fallen and some conquered nations are extinct. Only in the late 20th century did the expectation of compensation, reparation or restitution attach itself to historic injustices and iniquities.

But Ms Silversmith doesn't even use the modifier 'cultural' in reference to the 'genocide' that she says is being perpetrated against her people by Canada. The implication is more cynical when considering the continuing reality of genocide worldwide.

Whatever Ms Silversmith's grievances are, her attitude does nothing to advance her cause, and in fact tends to alienate people like me who might otherwise be willing to listen.



Ottawa Core said...

the cause of her people is to not become extinct. if it takes the word genocide to alarm people to the centuries of ruinous management over the aboriginal communities left after our conquering forces then so be it.

we can all gather as much information about the situation as we can. ms silversmith's communication with the UN is an attempt to reconcile the native claims with canada's from an outside international body. while i don't have any love for the UN or feminist agendas, the issue of native abuses supercede these prejudices.

from history, canada's governments (left and right) do not tend to acknowledge native land claims (were you aware that there was a canadian law that made it illegal for native communities to hire legal counsel for their claims at one time?), or they prolong the suffering with endless bureaucratic hoops to leap through, and if there ever is a hope that the claims have merit they change the rules and regulations making it almost impossible to resolve in the native's favour.

maintaining this sort of process is not to anyone's benefit. hopefully mr prentice will be able to make strides in resolving some of these inequities. it's a big portfolio with very significant capital outlays which have historically proven to have very little good for the people we serve.

involving independant reasoning over the complicated policies without knee jerk partisan rhetoric might get the politicos to improve their priority list. do we need any more community water emergencies, caledonia incidents, and speeches to the international community to get people concentrating their energies to solving the ugly truth.

arctic_front said...

The 'ugly' truth, as the previous poster refers to is that, the people of Canada are not being told the truth as to how the Native land claim, residential schools and reserves are not only cheating the natives, but taxpayers of this land. By perpetuating the apartied system in Canada that is foisted upon us by a by-gone era, is the real injustice. By endless welfare, land claims included, we prevent the native people from ever achieving their own personal greatness. It is not for governments to hold the collective future of any group of citizens in their hands. Nor is it those same people's insistance that they be paid to be kept in those conditions.

It has been reported on the news time and time again how deplorable the conditions on some reserves are, and yes, they are deplorable. But we have to ask ourselves where the countless billions of taxpayer's money has gone, and what usefull purpose it has done? The Government, A.K.A, the taxpayer, would have gotten far more value for those billions had they given each living native 1 million dollars in cash and totally dismantled the Indian Affairs department. As an ethnic group, individually, or collectively, the natives could have pooled their resources, or gone their separate ways to seek out the 'Canadian Dream'. If they wanted to preserve the culture of their people, they could do so freely, if they chose to stay and live off the land, they could do so freely, and if they wanted to join the rest of us to persue our individual destiny, they could do so freely.

Pity, guilt, and never ending indebtedness, is never going to fix the problem, EVER! What it will do, is feed the 'Indian Industry', and we can continue to watch billions more of our taxpayer's dollars disappear down the endless black hole that has become the Native welfare state.

Nothing changes, nothing ever improves, billions change hands from the government to the native leaders, and no improvement to the lives of any of the people living in squalor, but a lot of new large luxury homes and expensive automobiles will find their way into the Assembly of First Nations heirarchy, and endles editorials will emminate from endless bleeding hearts that completely fail to expose the corruption that occurs every day at the expense of those who can least affod it: The people living on the reserves, and the voiceless taxpayer.

The Indian Act keeps the Natives suckling the public teat because they cannot leave the reserves without forfeiting the their entitlements. The Native leadership wants to keep it that way too, so they can contiue to bleed us dry with ever-increasing horror stories CAUSED by the leadership that seeks to increase their own power and influence and access to the billions we pay for no measurable good.

Think about the total Native population, and compare that to the 9-12 BILLION dollars budgeted to the DIAND. How can those amounts year after year, not show some measurable results? How?

The 'Racist' label is thrown in anyone's face at the mere mention of accountability and transparency.

Tough questions are not being asked, and worse, not being answered. Canadians exploded in outrage at Adscam, gun registry and softwood lumber, and combined, those issues don't add up to the annual budget for Indian affairs.

Have we lost our minds?

Canadi-anna said...

You both make really good points.
But Ottawa core -- speaking at the UN is fine, but it really is just venting. It gets so little media play that it's fairly useless. And like I said, making this kind of hostile accusation isn't going to play well with people who have sympathy for the plight of the Natives, but who are tired of being blamed for a history we had no part in shaping.
If people like Silversmith have any solutions or anything to say beyond recriminations they'd do well to present those to the media rather than trying to 'alarm' people. That kind of word (genocide) about a situation in Canada, just doesn't wash with most people.

I agree, Arctic-front -- the problem is that we keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results -- isn't that Einstein's definition of insanity?

Anonymous said...

An ignorant woman speaks, it's unfortunate that anyone would listen to her garbage.

Candace said...

Actually, upon reading your post, it occurs to me that we British descendants probably have a class action suit against Britain for not properly defending our rights, doncha think?

arctic_front said...


It's not that we keep doing the same things over and over, which we do, but the big problem is nobody seems to care that the money is just being stolen....

If we got mad about the theft of money in Adscam, why are we not even more angry when the total monies stolen at DIAND is on a scale 10 or 100 times greater?

I live in Yukon, and the land claims have been settled, more or less, and even after that, the waste and mis-management continues with no positive effect. Next door in the NWT, some native bands have actually done very well indeed on their own .....why is it that some can pull it off, yet other's, like Hobema in Alberta, can't drag themselves out of dispair and degredation with twice the money from Ottawa, and even some resource revenue?

The simple fact is that money is not the solution, and its seldom managed properly. Money is often the root of the problem. It's money the hard working taxpayer's of this country earn with sweat and hardship. Don't we deserve to know exactly how it's being pissed up against the fence? And by whom?

Ottawa Core said...

"speaking at the UN is fine, but it really is just venting."

you don't just walk up to the UN and get to speak with a committee because you're anger and frustrations need venting. this is a serious international shaming the natives have won. it shows you the desperation of dealing with the feds in the traditional status quo manner of avoid, obfuscate, and deny.

"making this kind of hostile accusation"

there's no threat in hearing both sides of the story. i won't test your patience but suffice it to say, i believe they have a legitimate case. you may be right about it not getting any play. the leftist moralizing zealots of the UN and associated communities that foster promoting their agendas off the backs of the native people have no ability to sway opinion to doing what's right. it's unfortunate that the leftist leeches encircling the native plight effectively cuts off conservative opinion. most of what i've read in the bloggingtories camp is idiotic comments like candace. it's not all that comical when people are dying.

"who are tired of being blamed for a history we had no part in shaping."

we are living history. we are participating in the historical milieu. our words and actions shape the history of the future's course. all we have to do is approach the all too real conditions with a mind to changing conditions our forefathers tried and failed. the apathy of past generations, should your argument be to leave well enough alone, would have us do away with elections, abide an eternity under liberal law, leading to the entire civilization's rot to set in. we have the power. addressing the insanity of perpetuating a state owned and operated segment of society is anathema to conservative ideals.

i don't know how many people have the correct understanding, as artic_front seems to. it doesn't take a genius to understand the experiment in socialism being foisted on an entire race of people does not work. it's time to free the slaves and only a conservative government could ever see past the horrific socialist agenda grinding the race to annihilation. all we have to do is get past the colour branding.

Loki said...

Ottawa Core.
How do we settle land claims in BC when they total more than the total landmass of BC?
There are no simple answers and having the sins of the past foisted on us is not the answer either.
Sad to say but in hind sight it might have been better for them in the long run had we conquered them rather than bargained with them.
PS. there are ten times the natives in Canada now as then so where is this extiction comment coming from?

Canadi-anna said...

Ottawa core -- you say there is no threat in hearing both sides of the story and I agree. But how likely are non-natives to listen when someone is saying they are complicit in genocide? There are legitimate grievances. If the rhetoric were toned down, people might not get their backs up -- The Natives in Caledonia would have done better to have made allies of the townsfolk, rather than using them to forward a position that most of them didn't know they had until very recently.
By 'history we had no part in shaping' I meant that land claims and class action suits over cultural decimation are not the answer. The former might right historic wrongs, but they drag out because they are impractical and tend to set dangerous precidents for the future. If we are realistic, the Natives could say they want it all back -- it just ain't gonna happen. Courts, governments are trying to appease, while not opening the door to claims that would bankrupt cities etc.
We have to get past paying the lawyers for the landclaims and class actions, and start worrying about the quality of life of Natives. That won't happen until people stop blaming and start looking for answers.

Candace said...

arctic_front, the times that I have asked questions around DIAND spending I have been slapped down by left-leaning bloggers and told that since I know little or nothing about the problem I should just stfu. Which is where "idiotic" remarks come from.

I don't know why some communities are successful and others aren't, and it's a question that warrants some open discussion without fear of being accused of being racist or simplistic. When you look at the Tsitsika nation east of Calgary, they are currently considered successful (or were the last time I looked) and their elected chief held an MBA from Harvard. He applied business-like approaches to ongoing issues and solved them (or was getting there). He was voted out and things got messy for a while, then he was voted back in & went to work fixing things again.

So I would agree that money alone is not the solution, it has to be applied effectively.

As for water crises, those exist in communities across the country as well as on reserves. But there doesn't seem to be an easy way to find out which communities.

With the provinces holding responsibility for water quality, and INAC responsible for everything on the reserves, things sadly fall through the cracks. One high-level bureaucrat in AB's IANA asked me how many water treatment plants should be around? At what population is it an acceptable expense? That's an interesting question, I think. If we have towns on reserves housing say 300 people, do we spend how ever many millions it costs to set up a treatment facility? or pipe the water in from a major centre (assuming there is one close enough to make it feasible)? And if we DO put a water treatment facility in place, then should we not also have a similar facility for say, Elkwater AB. Sure, it's population is only 67, but it's a tourist attraction (it's the town closest to Cypress Hills Nat'l Park), so that population is deceiving.

What's really sad is I just hunted around Capital Health's site (covering Edm & northern AB) and can't find a simple summary of what communities have water advisories. Yikes.