The neo-conservative myth in Canada is that our oldest allies are the United States. Really? The first agreement was not until 1917 and the first North American Defence Agreement until 1926, one the U.S. ignored in 1939. We were allied with Japan, Italy, France, Belgium and the Commonwealth before then. Canada as a British Dominion and before that a British Colony shared Britain’s Alliances and have inherited quite a few. Before Britain France was our colonial power and we shared those alliances. Alliances come and go, Empires come and go.
Why does Canada, mainly but not just the Conservative Party, value some alliances more than other? Since the first recorded use of the term Canadian in 1640 Canada has had a few conflicts. There has been one group of allies always there for Canada, always ready to serve along side Canada. Our Native Allies have volunteered for every war Canada has fought. Native North Americans took the brunt of the casualties and devastation of the War of 1812, volunteered even when they had no say in the democracy they defended and will gladly fight for Canada again.
Native Canadians are more than allies, they are partners in Canada’s future. Or could be if we stopped treating them like rat infestations. Being non-Native growing up when I did Natives were called Indians. Indians came in three one dimensional varieties; noble savage, blood thirsty savage and drunken injun. The casualness of throwing ‘Indian giver’ in a conversation showed how dehumanizing peoples can enter even good people’s language. Being of Welsh decent I understand the insult intended; ‘Welch on a bet’ was the language used by those dehumanizing the Welsh. Funny they both mean much the same; don’t trust them they aren’t us.
Studying history, archaeology and anthropology both in school and on my own I learnt there is more than one dimensional characters. Trade routes the ran from coast to coast, Arctic to South America and all before Europeans left site of the coast. Beautiful art, complex building projects, exquisitely made tools and so much more. Stone age Egyptian stone carvings in the ROM and pictures of stone carvings found in Ohio both have a quality and beauty that are interchangeable.
Canada is in a period where history and culture are becoming pawns in an ideological struggle for the Canadian soul. Jobs and the Economy are the current government’s focus and anything in the way must be removed. Today the Speaker had to rule in the house that MPs had a right to oppose the government. The Prorogations, omnibus bills, secrecy, attacks are all to remind us who rules and who is ruled.
Idle No More was created after the most recent omnibudget bill. The link will explain the roots of the movement better than I can. The Conservatives say some of their legislation will make Band Councils more accountable. Accountability isn’t Caesar removing a bad Proconsul but the people of the Band removing the Chief and or council next election. We treat our Allies like we are an evil empire, redundant all empires are evil. The Conservatives will not stop when they finish destroying Native governments they will just push on. Like the song says: If you tolerate this soon your children will be next.
The Harper government is making changes to people’s lives and the way they are governed. The only consultation has been with people who share his vision of assimilation. In my view assimilation is the precursor to genocide and the reason so many problems exist. Native Canadians have treaties with Canada and the government is violating those treaties. Many wars have started because treaties have been violated. We are lucky our treaty partners are using peaceful protest.
I have experienced some of what Native Canada has to offer; employment services at No Ke Kwe, a PowWow in Hamilton’s Gage Park, music, TV, movies, knowledge, comedy and a pair of buckskin moccasins I still miss thirty years after they wore out. Aboriginal youth are an important demographic for Canada going forward. I have a suggestion for the youth; highjack the Liberal Party. The infrastructure is there and the leadership race is open to new candidates.
Non-Natives need to support this movement and the goals they have. The time has come to dust off an old Australian song. Ultimately the goal is our Human Rights.
Thanks to Naomi Sayers for the feedback.