Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thoughts on Native "Day of Action"

Excellent essay in today's National Post by Peter Shawn Taylor, "Indian Give and Take".

Taylor argues that Canada's natives need to recognize the necessity of compromise and bargaining in good faith; otherwise they may very well lose the support of the ROC in terms of the battle for hearts and minds (and money and land).

Ottawa's latest attempt to do right by Canadian natives involves the creation of a specific claims tribunal to clean up the huge backlog of land claims. Rather than leaving the final settlement process to politicians, the tribunal will create a more court-like arrangement. Final decisions are to be made by impartial judges. It is a welcome proposal. But setting up a conventional arbitration-style process to settle treaty claims will require a business-like approach from both sides.

Anyone familiar with labour arbitration understands that giving judges the power to impose settlements typically means saw-offs for both parties. The two sides often get about half of what they asked for as deals are cut down the middle. If this is the case with the new tribunal, it will require a major attitude adjustment on the part of Canada's native communities. Because from what we have seen and heard to date, the most vocal of Canada's natives have little interest in giving up anything other than their threats to wreak havoc.

Thus, Taylor seems skeptical that the new process could work much better than the current 'hostage' approach, unless the more radical elements can be somehow reigned in.


If Canada's natives decide to focus exclusively on past injustices, ignore good faith efforts by Canadian governments and refuse to accept honest compromises in current negotiations, the rest of the country may well decide there is no point to negotiating at all.

There are many groups in Canada who feel that they have been harmed in some way by the Canadian government. Some have accepted gestures of regret, such as the Chinese Head Tax reparation, even though nothing can take away all the pain and injustice.

I think Canadians want to do right by the natives, but they also want fairness and equality. If rail blockades and situations like Caledonia are allowed to continue to grow and fester, there may come a 'tipping point' whereby the lack of compromise may very well work against native goals in the form of a public backlash.

And that will not help anyone.


* * * *
Related Links - Tory: Indians not above the law. (Star)

A lesson to learn (Sun).

* * * *
Wednesday Update: Protest day just the beginning. (CTV)

Mohawk protester plots major disruption. (Winnipeg Free Press) (H/T National Newswatch).

Illegitimate Threat of a New Blockade - (Globe).

Threats weren't part of it - by Minister Jim Prentice (Globe).


* * * *
Thursday Update: Native Leaders ask for calm. (Star)

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Taylor argues that Canada's natives need to recognize the necessity of compromise and bargaining in good faith;

Well, gee isn't that cute. Perhaps if the government itself had used that lesson in the past we wouldn't have this problem. Would we?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Perhaps if the government itself had used that lesson in the past we wouldn't have this problem.

If you're referring to "government" in the historical sense, you're faulting a lot of different parties, leaders and circumstances. How will clinging to past anger and resentments help to resolve problems now?

Gabby in QC said...

"How will clinging to past anger and resentments help to resolve problems now?"

You're absolutely right. Doesn't that explain a lot of world conflicts - seeking redress for past wrongs?

I have never agreed with any kind of reparations to ANY community - native, white, black, ethnic or religious group - to atone for past injustices.

The best reparation that could/should take place is learn from mistakes and NEVER repeat them.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Gabby, it's so hard to do that, but it's the only way to come to some kind of understanding and resolution.

I just finished a great book by Daniel Goleman, called Social Intellingence.

It's a pretty heavy read, but well worth the effort. Among other things, he talks about how when we are feeling threatened, we automatically start grouping those around us into and "us" vs. "them" mentality. It becomes hard-wired. You could see how generations of children being raised with a particular belief-system could end up having it become integrated into their personal and cultural psyches.

I highly recommend the book. It changed a lot of how I view things and my own belief system. You begin to understand how your feelings and attitudes are a function of your brain wiring in a physical sense, but also how your environment influences your brain connections at various levels.

Anonymous said...

What bothers me most is that the voices of those who feel wronged by our governments don't ever include those majority, middle-class 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. generations of Canadians who were born here and feel just as slighted by their governments as those of the First Nation.

Why is it our majority keeps electing
such disappointing representatives. I do believe that all voters, taxpayers and voice-raisers need to raise the bar MUCH higher and elected more representative governments all'round, whether municipal, provincial, or federal.

It all starts with us. If the weekest link is the uneducated, apathetic voter, well then, there's no end to the whining and complaining.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Not quite sure what you're trying to get at there, Anon, but I'll certainly agree with your last statement.

We all need to take a lot more responsibility re: learning about the issues, and stop expecting the government of the day to solve all our problems.

Gabby in QC said...

Not having read the book yet (thanks for the suggestion) I cannot really comment; however, when you say that the book illustrates "how your feelings and attitudes are a function of your brain wiring in a physical sense, but also how your environment influences your brain connections at various levels" that reminds me of the nature/nurture, heredity/environment influences on human beings.

I just wish that more people - no matter their origin and grievances - would learn from that old Johnny Mercer song:
"You've got to accentuate the positive Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

(To illustrate this last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark)

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, don't mess with Mister In-Between
Do you hear me, hmm?"

OK, not profound, but something to consider on a sweltering summer day :-)

Anonymous said...

"If you're referring to "government" in the historical sense, you're faulting a lot of different parties, leaders and circumstances"

Of course. Liberals, Conservatives are both to blame along with provincial NDP governments.

But the historical anger that you refer to is not the point here. I find it hillarious that Taylor would note that "Canada's natives need to recognize the necessity of compromise and bargaining in good faith" when the government has done little of it and continues to do little of it.

Its similar to a bully pushing you down in the school yard everyday for a week and then acting surprised when you push him back on Friday. "No, no fighting is not the answer buddy. Just calm down. Why aren't you acting rationally?"

If deception, violence and manipulation are the tools of the trade how can First Nations people be expected to respond in any other way. Simply look at the recent annoucement by Jim Prentice to extend the land of the Roseau River reserve. That land claim was ongoing for seven and a half years but once the notion of blocking the CN Rail line near the reserve was mentioned its time to capitulate. The results speak for themselves. Taylor would like Natives to sit back and continue to negotiate for land that has been part of a discussion two decades long, in some cases. What results would Taylor expect? Another 20 years worth of meaningless conversation?

The government is finally begining to get the message and so are Natives. June 29th is going to be a productive day.

PGP said...

Anyone who knows the history of Canadian native land claims know very well that the vast majority of claims that have gone long unsettled are unsettled primarily because of intransigence and duplicity on the part of the native representatives.

Good faith has nothing to do with the tactics being used by the natives but it's the first accusation that they make when they don't get what they want.

When natives stop behaving like petulant children and petty thugs perhaps they will gain something in credibility and results for themselves.

Until then spare me the BS!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Gabby, good song that. I could almost hear you singing it. ;)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anon, I'm assuming you're a native, based on what you've been saying.

One thing I've always wondered is who exactly is it that speaks for the native people?

Anonymous said...

"Anyone who knows the history of Canadian native land claims know very well that the vast majority of claims that have gone long unsettled are unsettled primarily because of intransigence and duplicity on the part of the native representatives."

Since your a legal scholar who is well read on the history of native land claims and not some ignorant blow-hard with little to no knowledge of the land claims process besides holding a very narrow-minded opinion of native people, perhaps you would like to tell me exactly which claims have gone unsettled because of "the intransigence and duplicity on the part of the native representatives"?

That is, unless of course your talking out of your ass. You wouldn't be doing that, would you?

Anonymous said...

One thing I've always wondered is who exactly is it that speaks for the native people?

Am I the first native person you've had a discussion with or something?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Am I the first native person you've had a discussion with or something?

Actually, no. But I find this "traditional chief" vs. "elected chief" thing confusing. Just wanting to become informed. No hidden agenda.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough.

It depends on the level of government involved.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

OK, so there's a certain level of government on the reservation or within the tribe and then another higher up?

Gabby in QC said...

"I could almost hear you singing it."

Perish the thought! A much better version here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PrZ8vVZ2no
Bing Crosby & Bette Midler

P.S.: Don't mean to hi-jack your thread. Just a bit of levity, is all

Joanne (True Blue) said...

lol! Gabby, levity is good. Thanks!

PGP said...

Very easy for you to set a substantial task at my feet to substantiate my assertions to YOUR satisfaction Anon!

Let's put the shoe on the other foot and have you substantiate the claims of those you support or even your own assertions.

History speaks for itself and it's not me who is promoting revisionist views to justify or bolster a self serving position.

I'm also not making demands on government and society to accommodate unsubstantiated grievances nor am I threatening to break the law to get attention for my own issues.

I repeat spare my the BS!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Let's try to keep the discussion as civil and low-key as possible. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Very easy for you to set a substantial task at my feet to substantiate my assertions to YOUR satisfaction Anon!

Very easy for you to make a broad, unsubstatiated claim then resort to such a cowardly position once asked to prove it.

You said that "the vast majority of claims that have gone long unsettled are unsettled primarily because of intransigence and duplicity on the part of the native representatives."

Are you going to prove it, or simply resort to calling all natives "petulant children"? I think I already know what position you will take.

It must be so easy for you to paint us all with the same brush - the very large "lazy, drunken Injun' lounging around on a reserve, ever screaming for larger share of your tax dollars" brush. You need to broaden your perspectives regarding First Nations people because you are way off base.

But, if it makes you feel better you can call me a petulant child. It's fine by me, I've been called worse in the past.

threatening to break the law to get attention for my own issues.

Your politicians has already given passive acceptance to such practices. I mentioned the Roseau River resolution brought by Jim Prentice earlier. For seven and a half years, two political parties, and three prime ministers nothing happened but once the idea of blocking off the local CN rail line is mentioned it is finally time for "fairness", or whatever term of endearment that Mr. Prentice utilized.

Taylor is attempting to convince Aboriginal people to simply revert to their old bargaining practices - sit quietly and the government of the day will acknowledge you when it is politically expedient. Natives are tired of waiting for the government to act. Rather, it is time to act ourselves and allow the government to react.

Anonymous said...

Aboriginals were defeated by the Europeans so all Treaties should be seen in this context, they are in fact surrender documents - magnanimous gestures on the part of the Europeans at the time, but not very relevant today.

Forget history, aboriginal issues need to be dealt with today and the Chiefs need to be told the gravy train stops here - they can keep the millions they've already taken but they're not getting any more.

Non-millionaire aboriginal peoples need help and the government could finally get help to them if they bypass the aboriginal feudal system under which they are subjects and the Dept of Indian & Northern affairs.

liberal supporter said...

Aboriginals were defeated by the Europeans so all Treaties should be seen in this context, they are in fact surrender documents - magnanimous gestures on the part of the Europeans at the time, but not very relevant today.

Sure anon, you mean something like "Get those f'ing Indians out of the park"?

Joseph Brant, a Mohawk, was also a British military officer. Among other things, during the US Revolutionary War, he "played a major role at the Battle of Oriskany in support of a major offensive led by General John Burgoyne" (from wikipedia). He stopped a rebel (U.S.) threat to Detroit by completely defeating a detachment of the army of George Rogers Clark of Virginia.

Far from "a magnanimous gesture to the defeated", some land grants, such as the Haldimand Tract that is at the centre of today's Caledonia troubles, were actually land grants to loyal veterans, given by a grateful Crown. The Caledonia dispute today is about what happened after that grant, whether the natives sold the land off or not (it seems they did sell much of it, I think even Brant sold some).

So, since some of these lands were basically grants to veterans, the question should be: why don't you support the troops?

teej said...

Aboriginals were defeated by the Europeans so all Treaties should be seen in this context, they are in fact surrender documents - magnanimous gestures on the part of the Europeans at the time, but not very relevant today.

"liberal supporter" is right. Natives on several occasions fought on the same side as the British, defending this country. But don't let those facts get in your way. These are conquored people, right?

Swift said...

The truth of the matter for the Six Nations, is that they, along with the British were defeated. The members of the Six Nations that fought against the British and most of those who stayed nuetral, remained in the US. The members of the Six Nations who came to Canada, came as political refugees, as they feared the treatment they would recieve from the new US government. True, they had also been promised land for their services. The Haldimand Tract, which had recently been bought from the Mississauga tribe was given to the people of the Six Nations who fled the US. It was not their ancestral land, nor was it the ancestral land of the Mississauga.

As for the Plank Road that the Indians are claiming was stolen from them, the Federal government has presented documents to show that it was bought and paid for. There may be many legitimate claims, but the Plank Road is not one of them. And many people who support the resolving of legitimate claims are getting rather annoyed at hat is going on in Caladonia.

Anonymous said...

Swift, that's a nifty idea but the federal negotiators disagree with you, specifically Ron Doering, who stated on May 31st that:

"Canada has done an assessment and feels there was a breach of some lawful obligation".

The reports submitted to the federal government in 1984 and 1992 said the same. The political actor you are trying to protect by stating that the claim is illegitimate has capitulated. As far as the federal government is concerned, there is no debate left. It is over and there is $125 million now on the table.

Swift said...

Off topic, but somebody might want to see the reviewers comments for the IPCC fourth reports. There is a link available at ClimateAudit.org on the "IPCC review comments now on line" thread. A first look by some of the CA site experts wasn't too compimentary. I expect there will be lots more comments. Here is your chance to look at some of the things that went on before the report was adjusted to fit the politicians Summary for Policy Makers document.
Lots of other interesting stuff going on there including a discussion of the climate models that "predict" what the climate will be like in 2100. I am running in the background a climate model at the moment. It is a scaled down model for students that can run on an ordinary home computer. You can download your own copy from edgcm.columbia.edu/ link.
The values I got for the first run looked rather suspicious for my inputs. So I'm changing one value to an unrealistic number to see what's going to happen. Fun for the amatuer scientist.

The project to document the micro site influences on the weather stations that are used to compute the average global temperatures has run into a little difficulty. The departures from the "high quality" network that have already been found seem to have struck a raw nerve at NOAA. They have deleted the contact information from their website for the local caretakers that look after the sites. More butt covering?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

But, if it makes you feel better you can call me a petulant child. It's fine by me, I've been called worse in the past.

And I've been called far worse than that!

I added a few links at the end of this post. Interesting interview on MDL with Shawn Brant yesterday.

Swift said...

There is a claim that the money, or at least some of it, that was paid for the land was stolen by the trustee. This does not involve the land and is a competely seperate issue. If you sell a property and the money is deposited with your lawyer the sale is made. If your lawyer takes off for parts unknown with the money you don't get the land back.

For legitimate grievances persued by legitimate means you havemy support, for what is going on in Caladonia you don't.

Kunoichi said...

Aboriginals were defeated by the Europeans so all Treaties should be seen in this context, they are in fact surrender documents - magnanimous gestures on the part of the Europeans at the time, but not very relevant today.

Actually, this is inaccurate. I know people who used to live in the Queen Charlotte's. The Haida were certainly never defeated, nor were any treaties signed. The Europeans just sort of acted like they owned the islands, but this has never been negotiated. To the non-Haida living on the islands, like my friend and his family (he taught at one of the schools), they felt welcome, but there was no question they were viewed as guests allowed to stay, not residents.

Also, many of the treaties signed by the government of the times, the gov. had no intention of ever honouring. John A. and his treatment of the Metis are a prime example of that.

It was a strange relationship between the European gov. and local populations. Many native peoples preferred the British, whom they saw as more honourable, to the US gov. at the time. The US gov. was far more interested in exterminating the native population completely, which is why so many fought alongside the British in the war of 1812.

There was an awful lot of duplicity on the part of the Europeans at the time. The native peoples were savvy negotiators, for the most part, and negotiated treaties in good faith. If those treaties had been honoured back then, we wouldn't have the problems we have now.

Unfortunately, they weren't, and times have changed drastically. I don't see how the originally treaties can be met in their original forms. Some way must be found to meed those obligations within a modern context.

Sadly, too many leaders among the first nations are not at all interested in doing what's right for their people. They're far more interested in lining their own pockets. Corruption is rampant in many reserves, with people fearing for their safety (this is what I've been told first hand, by the way, not hearsay).

There are a lot of issues today that didn't exist when these treaties were first signed.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Kunoichi, that was very informative. Thank you.

I hope our "Anonymous" native visits here again, because I am interested in hearing his/her reaction to the corruption comment.

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting notion Swift but one that is entirely false. Your government has stated that the claim is legitimate. They have stated that the review process has found inaccuracies and wrongdoings. Your wrong.

I will repeat once again: the political actor you are trying to protect has capitulated. You are attempting to defend the indefensible.

There is an old saying Swift: if you have the facts, hammer the facts. If you have the law, hammer to law. If you have neither hammer the table. You have neither the facts nor the law on your side, so I expect you to hammer the table in pithy indignation. If your smart enough you may even be able to work in a reference to natives being “petulant children”, like you compatriot earlier. But, that is, if your smart enough.

SouthernOntarioan said...

Considering what anon said about the Manitoba tribe, it is my opinion that if a group threatens to break the law then then all negotiations should cease until they promise not to.

Violence should not be encouraged. For places like Caledonia and others, if native groups decide to break the law, police should be on hand to disrupt, detain and arrest immediately. The longer police delay the more difficult it will be to enforce the laws (as it now is in Caledonia).

Groups that pursue their claims through proper avenues should have their claims expedited and quickly solved.

I'm not saying that the native groups are completely wrong in all their claims, nor am I saying that they are also 100% innocent.

But native groups should also consider cleaning house in some places before they start demanding more land. Some of us, who live near reserves, know about the crap that goes on there.

SouthernOntarioan said...

Think Walpole Island and the human trafficking problem as one example.

Swift said...

I would like anon to point out the source of his information. Perhaps I missed it.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Swift, very non-confrontational attitude. Well done. I admire that.

Anonymous said...

Ron Doering, the chief federal negotiator made that statement to the Star on May 31st. The content is from his fourth report the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs presented on June 3rd of this year.

Swift said...

The Star only has public archives for the last four days, however the CBC story of the same day does not mention any errors in the sale. It does mention that the money was subsequently invested in thr Grand River Navigation Company. It is my understanding that this investment was improper.In other words the land sale was valid but the money disappeared later. That the Six Nations should be compensated for the money lost is quite proper and I support that. And they should be compensated by the federal government, becaus, if memory serves me correctly, it was a federal appointee that made the error. (I don't trust either the Star or the CBC to get a story straight, however the CBC story does agree with the research on this subject that I did last year. For once they got it right.)