First they came for the came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me
The forks of the Thames is a tranquil place despite the traffic and noise of downtown London. It was when I arrived today, a man enjoying a smoke, another feeding the duck, kids playing on the equipment, people reading. Slowly more people arrived, CBC, a lone police officer, a couple with a box of sandwiches and a few people with signs. Almost unnoticed at first the energy built.
I followed people to the road and heard the shouts of ‘IDLE NO MORE’ coming from Talbot. The energy was potent. Flags flying, signs raised high the mass of people came into view. It was an amazing experience for me, a nonnative, watching a marginalized and misunderstood people raising their voices as one. Babies to Elders were their displaying the symbols, clothing, frustrations and pride in their cultures. All the local Nations were there at the place the signed Treaties with Canada through the Sovereign.
I am a shy, introverted person with symptoms of social anxiety and agoraphobia. I did not join the mass around the speakers, I just watched in awe. I felt an outsider, I feel an outsider in every situation, I feel privileged to be allowed to watch and hear. Before the marchers arrived the man enjoying a smoke was an Elder, across the river was the voice of a woman singing, I should have asked if it was a prayer but didn’t want to spoil the moment.
There are people in Canada who call for more assimilation, for European style property rights to apply on Reserves, these people claim it is the only way forward. Really? Assimilation was the goal of the Indian Act passed by Sir John A. MacDonald. It lead to the residential schools, alcohol abuse, poverty, drugs and a host of mental illnesses. Reminds me of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Funny isn’t it, the drunk who hit me up for change while waiting for the bus was white, I doubt he assimilated to ‘Native Culture’.
Property rights in my reading of history come at the expense of human rights. I will let First Nations tell their own stories because it isn’t my place. The enclosing of the commons in Britain resulted in poverty, violence and mass removals of people. So many of the victims of Culloden, the Irish potato famine or too many other such ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ examples ended up in Canada, will their descendants permit it to happen again? We do not want another Culloden or Wounded Knee.
Perhaps examples from Non-Native history are not enough to move people to act. Perhaps they will look to what we all are losing. Salami tactics, slice by slice we are losing our Human Rights. The march to tyranny is always paved by dividing people, and if Non-Native become divided from Natives we will be making the paving so much easier. The latest omnibus budget bill is not the first slice, just the latest. Harper and his acolytes seem to believe Human Rights are a luxury when times are good or for those who fit his view of good citizen.
How about some of the previous slices:
- It is okay to take their rights because they are terrorists
- Sacrifice rights for security
- They are criminals
- They are entitled civil servants
- They are special interests who oppose the government
- They do not fit with the governments agenda
- Public servants attacked for not fitting the facts to the government view
- Bullying in Parliament and elsewhere
- KGB style minders following civil servants abroad
- more power in hands of ministers
- Policy developed by unelected Prime Minister’s Office star chamber
An incomplete list I’m sure but a lot of the salami is gone. With the Treaty violations in the most recent bills before Parliament the slices are getting bigger. Stephen Harper isn’t even finished yet and I already don’t recognize Canada. How many thousands of Canadians, Native and Non Native, have paid for our freedom?
Shame really, isn’t it? More Canadians are worried about the NHL lockout. Then, bread and circuses or beer and hockey have always distracted slaves from their chains.