Even in this more enlightened era, it seems they never learn from experience, governments were not through with trying to make sweeping changes in the lives of First Nations peoples without their consent. After the disaster of centralization http://www.danielnpaul.com/Centralization Implemented-1942.html, one would have thought that they would have been more sensitive when trying to introduce drastic changes into First Nations communities. But they weren't! In 1969 the government of Canada under the leadership of Pierre Elliott Trudeau had its Minister of Indian Affairs Jean Chrétien, later the country's Prime Minister, present to Parliament a draconian policy on Indian Affairs for future implementation. His "White Paper" advocated the complete and immediate integration of First Nations citizens into Canadian society. This would have assured the realization of Britain and Canada's 254-year-old goal of the extinction of First Nations by assimilation.

In line with historic practices, this paper blamed the plight of the Registered Indian on everything and everyone but the biggest culprit of all, Canadian governments. The First Nations peoples were blamed, the provinces were blamed and so on, but Canada walked away almost unscratched.

This definition of the "Indian" used in the White Paper exemplifies the racist mentality still prevalent:

"To be an Indian is to be a man [sic], with all a man's needs and abilities. To be an Indian is also to be different. It is to speak different languages, draw different pictures, tell different tales and to rely on a set of values developed in a different world.

Canada is richer for its Indian component, although there have been times when diversity seemed of little value to many Canadians.

But to be a Canadian Indian today is to be someone different in another way. It is to be someone apart-apart in law, apart in the provision of Government Services and, too often, apart in social contacts.

To be an Indian is to lack power-the power to act as owner of your lands, the power to spend your own money and, too often, the power to change your own condition.

Not always, but too often, to be an Indian is to be without-without a job, a good house, or running water; without knowledge, training or technical skill and, above all, without those feelings of dignity and self-confidence that a man must have if he is to walk with his head held high.

All these conditions of the Indians are the product of history and have nothing to do with their abilities and capacities. Indian relations with other Canadians began with special treatment by government and society, and special treatment has been the rule since Europeans first settled in Canada. Special treatment has made of the Indian a community disadvantaged and apart.

Obviously, the course of history must be changed.

To be an Indian must be to be free-free to develop Indian cultures in an environment of legal, social and economic equality with other Canadians."

Whoever wrote this statement either did not know or chose to ignore Canadian history. It reads like the product of someone's stereotypical imagination. It talks of "special treatment"-does that include the genocide practised in eastern Canada? Does that include the "special treatment" of being denied schooling for 129 years during British colonial times? Does that include the "special treatment" of being denied equal citizenship until Bill C-31 was enacted 118 years or more after Confederation?

The authors discuss the lack of power of First Nations, but they do not explain why. They don't mention that White society would not permit First Nations peoples any power. It doesn't mention that the drive to take away the power of the First Nations forever was a fixation with the English and their successors in this country.

Further, the authors don't mention that the drive to strip the First Nations of their dignity, independence and property was exemplified by the 1715 meeting between the Chiefs and the British officers who demanded submission and the extinction of Mi'kmaq culture. The authors of the White Paper would not have displayed such ignorance of Canada's past if schools had taught them the true history of their country. If they had been so taught then they would have been aware that the only "special treatment" First Nations citizens ever received from British society was the "special treatment" of unbridled horrors, and that an almost identical course was adopted by Canada.

Armchair historians such as those who wrote this "statement," which stereotypes First Nations peoples, are one of the enduring obstacles that Canada's First Nations peoples confront in modern times. Native Americans from across the Americas have suffered greatly from the misrepresentation of historical facts by these people. I would suggest that before such people begin to use their pens they should appreciate this: to become a knowledgeable historian of Native American-European relations requires many years of study and research. It is beyond the capacity of any one human being, even over a lifetime, to put a dent in the mountains of material available on the First Nations in this country alone. I can state from experience that the material available on the Mi'kmaq encounter with the Europeans is mountainous and takes years to analyze adequately.

Compounding our problems further, many professional historians write about us with minds clouded by White elitist views. To write objectively about Native American-European relations requires one to have an ability to see Amerindians as dignified human beings in their own social environment. It is incredibly biased to try to judge Native Americans' "degree of civilization" only according to European concepts and standards. I have read many works of individuals who have aspired to write intelligently about the subject, but the stereotypes they hold of "uncivilized Native American savages" hamper their efforts greatly.

When trying to appreciate, analyze and understand the First Nations' viewpoints, these writers must put themselves in the shoes of these peoples who suffered continuous oppression under European occupation. They should put themselves in the place of the families and friends of those who were held hostage at British forts; in the place of those who were starving in the midst of plenty in the 1800s; and in the place of peoples who loved their way of life and tried unsuccessfully to fend off the extreme efforts of another civilization over five centuries to bring them to extinction. The non-Native writer must try to understand that, in the midst of the hardship they have been forced to endure because of their race, these people have loved and cared for one another just as non-Natives have loved and cared for family and friends!

The one line of the White Paper that does state the profound truth of why is: "All these conditions of the Indians are the product of history and have nothing to do with their abilities and capacities."

The only reason First Nations peoples have been forced to endure their sorry plight for so long is because they wish to maintain their separate identities and cultures. If they had agreed to renounce their civilizations and assimilate, they would not have been subjected to the hideous treatment they have endured. Of course, if they had renounced their civilization, their Nations would no longer exist.

This crucial fact was ignored by the bureaucrats who thought out the White Paper: The First Nations of the Americas are a unique race of people in this world. They cannot be lumped into the same pot with, for instance, the English citizen. Canadians of English heritage have another country called England that they can always refer to as their ancestral homeland, and the same holds true for the French, Italians and so on. The Native Americans have only the Americas to call home. No country beyond the American continents affords them a place under the sun. In this context Canada must give their inherent right to revive and enhance their cultures the utmost protection under law.

After country wide protests the Paper was later withdrawn.