Otter Dance

5″ x 6″
Walnut Ink
on Paper
2007

I just read that Native Groups who protest land claim decisions by putting up road blocks or gathering together are now classified as terrorists. Apparently using these means to sway public opinion or government policy is now considered on par with the actions of the Tamil Tigers, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Jihad according to a new Training Manual draft document created for the Canadian Military.

“Although they do not seek complete control of the federal government, they do seek particular political concessions in their relationship with national governments and control (either overt or covert) of political affairs at a local/reserve (‘First Nation’) level, through the threat of, or use of, violence.”

“What we’re seeing,” (says Stewart Phillip, the Grand Chief of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs who recently predicted “a summer of aboriginal protest” in response to the perceived lack of action on native poverty in the federal budget), “is the deliberate criminalization of the efforts of aboriginal people to march, demonstrate and rally to draw public attention to the crushing poverty that is the reality within our communities.”

And here’s an interesting take on self-oxymoronification:

Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice has responded with warnings of financial penalties for any native group that uses federal money to plan such protests.

“Working together to find common solutions is a much more constructive way of dealing with issues than planning blockades,” he said in a letter to The Globe and Mail this week.

(…but we’ll still find a way to demonstrate that you are using federal money to plan your “insurgency” by claiming, oh I don’t know, that Federal money was used to build your dilapidated community hall. He neglected to mention that the only reason the blockades occur is because the government refuses to sit down and discuss these issues beyond telling the Aboriginal community that they have no say on the matter under discussion or on the land to be converted into a golf course, or the quality of water they can drink)

Anyway, here’s the link from the Globe and Mail: Forces’ terror manual lists natives with Hezbollah

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Personally, I do think that some of these blockades have gone too far, but from my perspective, it’s been errors on both sides that have escalated situations that should have been able to have been dealt with peaceably. On the Native side, you’ve got land claims of a conquered people who were promised many things if they would lay down their weapons and submit to the Crown, few of which have been kept or delivered on.

On the Government side, if you negotiate and deal in good faith with this group, then that group will want clean water, too, or that group won’t want their great grandmothers’ bones to be removed from sacred ground, and so on.

This translates into a lot of money that most taxpayers won’t want allocated to “the Indians” who already get lifelong “handouts”.

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I have no doubt that when the final draft of that Training Manual comes out, the First Nations section will be heavily revised. The Conservative government is looking for a majority and the last thing they need is to painted as racists once again.

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It’s a crazy world, my friends.