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First Nations News Events
STATUS INDIANS COULD LEGALLY BE EXTINCT IN 75 YEARS:
A/Prof. Pamela Palmater, Ryerson, U. - Winnipeg Free Press
October 19, 2011
A Mi'kmaq author is touring the country with a dire warning for First Nations people: the rights that set them apart from other Canadians are dying out.
Ryerson University associate Prof. Pamela Palmater says status rights are slowly being legislated out of existence but few people, including many in Canada's 633 First Nations, are aware of it.
The consequences mean the lands set aside for First Nations will return to provincial control as birth rates of children entitled to full status fall, registration rolls decline, adults die off and reserves are lost.
Some internal federal projections Palmater obtained through federal access to information laws predict many of the country's First Nation lands will be dissolved within 75 years.
An entire way of life is vanishing, she said.
"I go around the world presenting this information to people and they say, 'What? That can't be. You have a Charter of Rights. A constitution that protects aboriginal rights.'
"The thing is, a lot of this information doesn't ever filter down to the people."
Palmater is the chairwoman of Ryerson's Centre for Indigenous Governance and she's laid out a complex scenario for the legislative extinction of Indian status in a new book, Beyond Blood, Rethinking Indigenous Identity.
Palmater said her research shows the legislative foundation dates back more than a century to the 1876 Indian Act.
Successive amendments, including changes in response to landmark court victories against gender discrimination in status rights in 1985 and 2010, entrenched the timeline to status extinction.
Manitoba First Nation chiefs have been briefed in closed-door sessions about the research Palmater presents publicly. Those consequences are the elephant in the room behind pronouncements that focus on sovereignty rights.
For years, lawyers have privately warned First Nations leaders to do something or watch their power base disappear and treaty rights vanish.
First Nation leaders in British Columbia and Ontario have issued explicit warnings to their people, Palmater said.
When thousands of children and grandchildren of women who lost their Indian status were recently entitled to restore their Indian status for up to two generations, the downside was never mentioned, the professor said.
"You went from a situation that was gender discriminatory you were supposed to fix to a situation now where it will guarantee the extinction of status Indians," Palmater said.
"There are some First Nations that in less than 75 years will be legally extinct. The people will still be living. They will still be there but that means there will be no legal land owners... and the land goes back to the Crown.
"So your land's gone. You're no longer a community. You can't exercise your aboriginal rights. Then what about the treaties? If there are no treaty beneficiaries, I guess you don't have to worry about treaty rights, either."
Palmater is speaking at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 1120 Grant Ave., Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Cornwallis renaming is the right thing to do
We shouldn't honour the architects of genocide.
Posted by Tim Bousquet, News Editor, Sun, Jun 26, 2011
I hadn’t reported on the proposal to change the name of Cornwallis Junior High because I was on vacation, in Germany, when the proposal was put forward, and so wasn’t in a position to interview people. I did, however, follow the story on local news sites, and was pleased to see the school board unanimously approve the change. But I was immensely surprised to come back home and find wide disapproval of the change. It makes me sad, to be honest.
The issue is straight-forward: children, of all ethnicities, are attending or interacting with (via sports teams, for example) a school named in honour of a person who . This is simply wrong. It’s wrong to subject Mi’kmaq children to this---honouring the murderer of their forebears is necessarily an emotional and, yes, oppressive act; it undermines their self-worth and expectations that they can fairly and fully lead successful lives in a society dominated by Europeans. But it’s also unfair to subject children of European extraction to attending/visiting a school named in honour of a mass murderer; white kids implicitly learning to celebrate the genocide of natives will not likely be agents of fairness and democratic values---and their own lives are lesser for it.
It was reasonable and right for the Mi’kmaq community to bring this issue forward. They are a large community, who have suffered a series of historic wrongs, arguably right into the present, and they asked for a small act, not of redress, but of simple acknowledgement of past wrongs done onto them. It really comes down to this: why not change the name? Are we willing to acknowledge that a community says with good cause it is negatively impacted and we can readily address their concern, or not?
Are we kind, or not?
Unfortunately, “kindness” doesn’t characterize the response from many people. I don’t know how to characterize it other than a visceral reaction; a seemingly unlimited number of thoughtless objections are barfed up, assertions really, of unchallengeable fact, often said with a sort of wizened attitude of “this is how the world really works, you children.”
There are many different objections, but I’ll start with an exchange I had with a friend, someone whose opinion I respect on many issues. On this, he wrote:
“Consider what is in a name... like the name of a ship. Through all of history we take the names of ships very seriously, not because of the name itself or where it came from---because some ships have silly and misguided names--but because the name represented the spiritual and physical effort of the builders and the claim of right that each created thing has to exist. Like a ship, this school was built through the dedicated efforts of men and women now gone. The lines on their faces and hands can only now be seen in the chiseled stone and cracked concrete of the school. The name, which they chose thoughtfully, represents their beliefs at that time and place of beautiful celebration which we still share and their good-hearted understanding of the world along with their hope for the children of the future. In this spirit they named the school without anything but purity of effort and hopefulness for a better future...” [clipped]
The name the builders gave this ship of learning dedicated to generations of children is not just lost on the rocks of an ancient rancor---equaled and surpassed in so much of history---but sullied such that when my little 12 year old boy went to "his" school this morning it was with head hung low. Was it guilt he was feeling? Is that what we want? Or maybe just sadness from a young crew member for a ship that has lost its name.”
My response, admittedly written with some anger, was this:
“The Mi'kmaq of course were not part of that community of wise elders who considered the name of the school 60 years ago. They had been excluded from any position of power to affect anything even as remotely trivial as naming a school, and their kids were hauled off to torture chambers pretending to be schools, out in the countryside, away from sensitive urban eyes.
Now, however, they have gained at least the pretense of being democratic actors in a fair society. The kids have grown up and their own kids are taught side-by-side with the kids of Europeans. But every day, they'll enter that building (or play against he sports teams from that building) honoured with the name of the man who started the long road of oppression and dispossession. The message is clear: yea, we have to pretend that we're all equals, but we know who you *really* are, and we're not going to let you forget it. And if you dare to challenge it, if you dare object that we can't celebrate your genocide, the lost of your culture, the triumph of our culture as superior to your savagery, well, you're anti-democratic, you have a warped view of history, you're petty, you hate tradition, you have no respect. You're a dirty fucking Indian.
Those opposed to the name change are in denial. They either do not see, or discount as unimportant, the crux of the issue, which is the dispossession of an entire people of their land, their language, their governments, their culture, which started with Cornwallis, the very first Englishman to step foot in Chebucto, and who put a bounty on the scalps of the people who owned this place.
And to claim some sort of historical “objectivity” by saying, as , that “in those days wars were nasty affairs with atrocities committed by all sides” is not objective, but rather a perverse reading of history. The Mi’kmaq and Europeans did not meet on some vacant island in the middle of the Atlantic and decide to pointlessly murder each other. The Mi’kmaq did not invite Europeans to come here to conduct against natives or put a bounty on their scalps. Rather, Europeans came here for their own geopolitical reasons of empire, and were happy to slaughter whoever stood in their way in order to control the land and all its products.
The objection, repeated dozens of times on Twitter, that “the Mi’kmaq killed Europeans too!” is a suggestion that the natives weren’t behaving kindly enough to the people slaughtering them and stealing their land. Any resistance to genocide is considered bad behaviour, still more proof that the natives are subhuman beings and deserved everything they got. This argument is, in a word, racist.
We see this exemplified by a historian quoted in the :
Canadian historian Jack Granatstein, interviewed by The Canadian Press on Thursday, agreed with Fisher’s stance.
"People, who by our standards today, are seen as viciously anti-Indian, in the 1700s were seen as great patriotic soldiers who made it safe for whites to live in Nova Scotia," he said.
"You can’t apply today’s standards to people of the past. That just gets silly."
But why should whites have had a right to “live safely” in 18th century Nova Scotia? More to the point, why should whites have had the right to murder the occupants of the land, steal their land and resources, break their economies, and throw the survivors into quasi prison camps?
Am I “applying today’s standards”? Well, given today’s apparent right of “whites” to drop , to , to , to force economic restructuring, etc, on any off-hue populace in the world, I’d say that standards haven’t much changed.
Then there’s the chin-stroking assertion, said with authoritative cynicism posing as wisdom, that “the victors write history,” and so who is anyone to object to the Cornwallis name on schools? Yea, I guess we can back ourselves out of any responsibility to affect positive change by sighing and saying, “and so it goes,” but the refusal to claim agency, to be responsible citizens, to give two shits about the people in our community, is to be an asshole. To be sure, history is full of horrors; we can either do something to acknowledge that, to name that, to change that, or not. We can strive for a better, more respectful, more peaceful, more just world, or not. How we act, or don’t act, defines what kind of people we are. Are we kind or not?
I’m struck by the difference between the local reaction to the Cornwallis name change and the frank and thoughtful acknowledgement of the historic wrongs wrought by the German people I witnessed in Berlin. You simply cannot miss the weight of history on the German people. For example, there’s the impressive honesty of the museum and the reflective occupies a prominent block just steps away from the Reichstag and Brandenberg Tor. My German friends, born long after the fall of the Nazis, speak of their part of the collective responsibility to atone for their history, a sentiment I heard repeated many, many times during my short stay.
Here in Halifax, however, the suggestion that we simply not honour a genocidal agent of imperialism is met with disdainful reaction, and absurd process issues: We can’t change the name to everything, so we can’t change the name of anything; Where does it stop---do we have to change the name of anything anyone objects to?
Here’s a suggestion: How ‘bout we in the white community work through those issues in a spirit of kindness and cooperation with the Mi’kmaq community, give pause and deep thought to how we have benefitted from historic wrongs, and how we have a responsibility to create a better world, instead of smugly accepting our position of privilege as the natural, inviolable state of things.
Not only in Canada, eh?
No doot aboot it, U.S.-Canadian border security major issue
LEE-ANNE GOODMAN, Thu, May 12, 2011 - 4:54 AM
Tell an average American you’re Canadian, and they’ll declare two things in short order: "I knew it! I could tell by the way you say ‘about!’ Go on, say it for me! Hilarious! You say ‘aboot’!"
And then: "I love Canadians. You’re so funny, so unfailingly polite and, as a country, you’ve got it all figured out. I want to move to Canada!"
And yet, apparently, the majority of American politicians didn’t get that message, if a report from the Fraser Institute is any indication. The Canadian think-tank released a study this week based on congressional debates from the years 2001 to 2010. And according to those discussions, U.S. law-makers view Canada as little more than a stable source of energy with a serious border security problem.
Many of them still believe, erroneously, that the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, entered the United States through Canada.
It’s an urban myth that utterly refuses to go away. Frank McKenna once described it as a "viral infection" when he served as Canada’s ambassador to the United States; he was called upon frequently to debunk it.
One of Michael Wilson’s most public moments as ambassador involved him indignantly correcting Janet Napolitano, the freshly minted Homeland Security secretary, when she slipped up in an interview with CBC and suggested she believed it as well (she later claimed she was prodded into misspeaking and knew the truth, but that didn’t stop us in the Washington press corps from badgering her at a public event a day or two later).
(Premier of Saskatchewan) Gary Doer was also forced to correct the record when Sharron Angle, the Nevada Tea Party candidate who ran against top Democrat Harry Reid in last year’s mid-term elections, also publicly declared it.
Indeed, even after the death of al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden, homeland security is of paramount concern to American legislators. And if possible, fears about the Canadian border have only escalated in recent months, particularly after a report by the investigative arm of U.S. Congress, the Government Accountability Office, that suggested just one per cent of the 6,400-
kilometre boundary was under "operational control."
The report also suggested that Islamic extremists bent on the destruction of the U.S. were far more likely to enter the country through Canada than via Mexico, where a drug war rages and illegal immigrants flood into America looking for a better life.
When the GAO report was released, a White House source of mine scoffed at it, saying it was exaggerated and unfair. Napolitano herself, when questioned about it, was almost equally dismissive, insisting that Canada and the U.S. were working hard to ensure the border was as secure as possible.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced a framework agreement on a security perimeter just days after the GAO report was released. The message: We’re on it.
Indeed they are, and for good reason. While Americans are wrong about the 9-11 terrorists, there’s little doubt the Ahmed Ressam case two years before 9-11 muddied the waters. Carrying a fake Canadian passport, the bin Laden-trained Ressam was apprehended by diligent U.S. customs officials in Port Angeles, Wash., while on his way to Los Angeles to blow up the airport during millennial celebrations.
In the minds of some American citizens and legislators, this incident has been intermingled with the events of 9-11, and they remain deeply nervous not only that Canada’s border is a porous one, but that Canadian officials aren’t careful enough about whom they allow into the country and provide passports to.
With the Harper government now enthusiastically co-operating with the Obama administration on everything from information-sharing to joint border control, perhaps American legislators will soon view us as not just a friendly source of energy, but a true partner in ensuring terrorists are apprehended before they do any harm.
Tighter border security isn’t necessarily pleasant, as anyone who’s crossed the Canada-U.S. border in the past few years knows. If, like me, you grew up in an era when going across the border was as easy as walking down the street to a friend’s house, the beefed-up security often seems like an affront.
My teenaged son, in fact, must share the name of some would-be terrorist somewhere — apparently a Scottish one, since his name is Alexander Stewart — because he gets held up almost every time he travels back to the U.S. from Canada.
Yet we are two sovereign nations, and the security measures aren’t out of the ordinary in other parts of the world. And when you see, up close and personal, the enduring trauma from 9-11 here in the U.S., it becomes a bit easier to understand why Americans — despite their love of the way we say "about" — are so passionately self-protective.
Lee-Anne Goodman is the White House correspondent for The Canadian Press. She reports on American politics, emerging social trends and changing demographics, as well as on bilateral issues between Canada and the U.S.
Slop pails advised as water crisis cure
By CHINTA PUXLEY The Canadian Press
Fri, Apr 22 - 4:55 AM
WINNIPEG — The same remote northern Manitoba reserves that were sent body bags during the H1N1 flu outbreak say Ottawa has come up with a similarly "archaic and degrading" solution to their lack of running water — 1,000 slop pails.
The Island Lake Tribal Council says it asked Indian Affairs to help address the water crisis on its four remote reserves northeast of Lake Winnipeg. At least half of the homes on the reserves, which together have a population of 10,000, don’t have running water
Chief David McDougall of the St. Theresa Point First Nation said Thursday what they got was a shipment of 800 water containers and 1,000 slop pails — knee-high black buckets with lids, intended to be used as toilets. Each of the four communities also got a sewage truck, but they don’t have the resources or fuel to run it, he said.
"Three years ago when there was an outbreak of H1N1, Health Canada supplied body bags to our communities, which was very offensive and insensitive," said McDougall, who lost his niece in the outbreak.
"Now Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is supplying slop pails as a solution. This is not acceptable to our people."
The council had recommended several solutions with a price tag totalling $8 million. They included outdoor, communal toilets in the short-term and an engineering study to determine how to service the reserves.
Instead, McDougall said Ottawa expects 15 people in one house to share a slop pail rather than ensure the communities have running water.
Not only is that archaic and degrading, it’s dangerous, McDougall said.
"Use of slop pails as toilets contributes to health risk for families," he said. "The health of our children will be at greater threat. In the summer months, flies will be attracted to the waste and eventually contaminate food."
Jeff Solmundson, spokesperson for Indian Affairs, said the department met with the chiefs in December and agreed to send out some immediate supplies — including slop pails — while the winter ice roads were still open.
"The trucks and supplies — which were (worth) about $1 million — that we sent up were not the first or the last thing we’re doing to address this problem. It’s one step," he said. "We’re still working with them on longer term solutions."
Indian Affairs has spent $41 million on water and wastewater for the Island Lake communities since 2006, he said. But Solmundson couldn’t say whether it was common for Indian Affairs to supply the reserves with slop pails and wasn’t sure when more homes will be hooked up with running water.
"It’s not feasible to have 100 per cent of homes hooked up," he said. "You’re on the Canadian Shield and things can be spread out."
But Chief Alex McDougall of Wasagamack First Nation said people on his reserve are living in Third-World conditions.
"The majority of our people have to haul water," he said. Running water "is a basic right in Canada. For our community, it’s a daily struggle."
"We’re frustrated," added Chief Dino Flett, of Garden Hill First Nation. "We’re fighting for our people."
The Daily Gleaner, Fredericton, New Brunswick
University community needs to speak out about injustices
Published Thursday March 17th, 2011
By ANDREA BEAR NICHOLAS, Chair in Native Studies, St. Thomas University
I recently attended a session at UNB titled "How the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet Peoples Are Key to Our Future."
As if this title was not offensive enough, it was billed as a "conversation to focus on the ways in which First Nations People contribute to and enrich all aspects of society, and the means by which First Nations can realize their full potential in New Brunswick, particularly through education."
Quite frankly, there is something deeply disturbing about the idea of wanting to awaken the potential of First Nations people without acknowledging and restoring what has been and continues to be stolen from us.
For example, the theft of our lands which occurred in blatant violation of the Royal Proclamation continues to serve as the main source of our impoverishment and so-called undeveloped potential. As purveyors of truth and knowledge universities have a responsibility to teach this fact.
As long as they fail to do so they effectively stand against the one thing that has the greatest potential for enhancing the potential of First Nations people in this province - the restoration of our lands.
Not only have universities failed to teach this truth, but some elements within universities have also actively worked against it - some faculty have served regularly as expert witnesses against us, while at least one unit on campus has taken major funding from the province to assist the government in resisting our claims.
Where are the voices from academia supporting us in our claims if it is truly concerned about our potential?
Even though we have won several important cases in the Supreme Court pertaining to our treaty rights to natural resources, the N.B. government still refuses to recognize those rights and still arrests our people. Again, where are the voices from this university community, if it is truly concerned about our potential?
The theft of our form of life continues through education and its pressure on our people to assimilate.
As long as our children are forced to attend schools conducted in the medium of English or French, with no option for an education in the medium of their mother-tongue, the destruction of our language and traditions will continue. If this university community cares about the potential of our people, it needs to cease teaching our future teachers to teach only in English or French; and it needs to support and assist us in achieving our human right to publicly-funded mother-tongue medium schooling.
As long as western economic values of individual entrepreneurship and corporate development are taught in business education programs for First Nations, it will constitute an assault on our most fundamental communal values.
As long as pan-Indian or invented traditions (such as the Medicine Wheel and the Concordat) are taught as our tradition, our own traditions will be displaced.
As long as provincial schools assume the right to teach our children our language, and culture (in English or French), they hijack our right and obligation to do so, and subject our children to errors, distortions, and misinformation.
As long as our spirituality is treated as an academic subject in academia it will constitute an inappropriate, offensive, and unwarranted attack on our belief systems.
The theft of our oral traditions and practices compounds our impoverishment.
Since Canadian copyright law allows non-natives to acquire ownership of our oral traditions, languages, and practices simply by collecting them, copyright in many aspects of our culture is now vested in non-natives, both individuals and governments. If academia is serious about developing the potential of First Nations it would ensure that primary ownership of stolen traditions is returned to our people and that ethics protocols for research in First Nations specifically forbid the ongoing theft of First Nations' traditions under the provisions of Canadian
In short, this university community needs to speak out against the ongoing dispossession of our people, and cease serving as a vehicle for it.
And it needs to cease participating in the ongoing theft and destruction of our languages, oral traditions, and forms of life, before talking about "awakening our potential" in any other way.
Without our lands, resources, languages, and forms of life there can be no development of our potential, only continuing exploitation, injustice, and impoverishment.
Andrea Bear Nicholas is the Chair in Native Studies at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.
Holiday Greetings from Mi'kmaq Elder Daniel N. Paul, December 5, 2010
I awoke this morning, cautiously opened one eye, peeked around, and discovered that I was still here to celebrate my 72nd birthday and begin my 73rd year on Mother Earth!
There has been quite a change for the First Nations Peoples of the Americas during my seventy two years. For instance, when I was born in 1938, Indians in Canada were Wards of the Crown, having the same legal rights that were enjoyed by drunks and the insane. We were openly discriminated against, barred from most places, thrown in jail for almost anything, and Caucasian Canadian society was hell bent and determined to finish the destruction of our cultures by assimilation. Indian residential and Indian day schools were the prime methods used by the Canadian government to try to solve Canada’s “Indian Problem.” It didn’t work, we’re still here.
We and our ancestors have suffered greatly from racial and religious intolerance since 1492. Intolerance for the differences of others wasn’t a societal trait native to the Americas, it was imported into the Americas by Europeans. Unfortunately, today, far too many First Nation Peoples have adopted it with enthusiasm.
Perhaps this holiday season, whether one be Red, Brown, Black, White, or a mixture, a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or of other religious persuasion, or none, etc., it would be nice if we gave some thought towards being more tolerant and attentive to the views and needs of others. Too often we turn our backs on those who have helped us realize our goals and contributed to our well-being, and show no appreciation for the help freely given. Loyalty and support for family and friends was part of Mi’kmaq tradition, and it was also a mainstay for most of the other civilizations of the Americas. Because someone doesn’t agree with your point of view, need they be ostracized for it? If you have democratic views, the answer is a resounding no, of course, if you’re of the dictatorial persuasion, the answer is the opposite, yes.
In a discourse about Amerindian tolerance for the differences of others, Ronald Wright, in his history, Stolen Continents, relates a Seneca Chief's response to the efforts of a White preacher to convert his people to Christianity:
“In a scene reminiscent of the debate between Franciscans and Aztec priests nearly 300 hundred years before, the formidable Red Jacket rose to reply. His answer is one of the best ever given to Christianity's claims. Which mentality, he makes one wonder, is the more primitive: that which believes itself to have a patent on truth or that which pleads for cultural diversity, for tolerance, for mutual respect?” Wright
Chief Red Jacket's words:
“Brother ... listen to what we say. There was a time when our forefathers owned this great island. Their seats extended from the rising to the setting sun. The Great Spirit had made it for the use of Indians. He had created the buffalo, the deer, and other animals for food. He had made the bear and the beaver. Their skins served us for clothing. He had scattered them over the country, and taught us how to take them. He had caused the earth to produce corn for bread.... If we had some disputes about our hunting ground, they were generally settled without the shedding of much blood. But an evil day came upon us. Your forefathers crossed the great water and landed on this island. Their numbers were small. They found friends and not enemies. They told us they had fled from their own country for fear of wicked men, and had come here to enjoy their religion. They asked for a small seat. We took pity on them, granted their request; and they sat down amongst us. We gave them corn and meat; they gave us poison in return.
The white people, Brother, had now found our country. Tidings were carried back, and more came amongst us. Yet we did not fear them. We took them to be friends. They called us brothers. We believed them, and gave them a larger seat. At length their numbers had greatly increased. They wanted more land; they wanted our country. Our eyes were opened, and our minds became uneasy. Wars took place. Indians were hired to fight against Indians, and many of our people were destroyed. They also brought liquor amongst us. It was strong and powerful, and has slain thousands.
Brother, our seats were once large and yours were small. You have now become a great people, and we have scarcely a place left to spread our blankets. You have got our country, but are not satisfied; you want to force your religion upon us.
Brother, continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to his mind, and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We ... only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?
Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it?...
Brother, we do not understand these things. We are told that your religion was given to your forefathers, and has been handed down from father to son. We also have a religion, which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us, their children. We worship in that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favours we receive; to love each other, and to be united. We never quarrel about religion.
Brother, the Great Spirit has made us all, but he has made a great difference between his white and red children. He has given us different complexions and different customs.... Since he has made so great a difference between us in other things, why may we not conclude that he has given us a different religion?...
Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion, or take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own.”
Happy Holidays to all, enjoy the time with family and friends, and also the rest!
Celebrating European Colonization
By Mi’kmaq Elder Dr. Daniel N. Paul, C.M., O.N.S.
November 16, 2010
Roger Cohen - Columnist for theNew York Times, November 15, 2010. His opinion piece is about how the Palestinians are charting a new effective course that will ultimately give them internationally recognized statehood.
“...That “something” is fundamental: the transition from a self-pitying, self-dramatizing Palestinian psyche, with all the cloying accoutrements of victimhood, to a self-affirming culture of pragmatism and institution-building. The shift is incomplete. But it has won Clinton over. And it’s powerful enough to pose a whole new set of challenges to Israel: Palestine is serious now...”
We, the citizens of the First Nations of the Americas, must do what the Palestinians are doing to achieve their goal of effective self government, chart a new course that is built on our cultural heritage, which is the solid effective self-government that our Peoples had developed and implemented before the European invasion.
European Invasion and Colonization
The summer of 2010 saw an event happen in Nova Scotia that happens far too often throughout the Americas, Indigenous Peoples celebrating with European institutions, in particular European royalty and European Christianity, the invasion of the two Continents by Europeans. In July of last summer, such a celebration occurred in the Maritimes, the Mi’kmaq feted the English (British) Crown, as represented by Queen Elizabeth II, and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. During colonial times these two European institutions were responsible for the destruction of Mi’kmaq civilization as our ancestors knew it, the loss of our country, and the near extermination of our People. I credit such a happening with the fact that our People are largely unaware of the horrors that these two institutions visited upon the Mi’kmaq during European colonial times, and other First Nations of the Americas.
When one takes into account that the true history of the European invasion of the Americas, which relates the barbaric attacks against all of the First Nation civilizations of the two Continents, which were, in the face of far superior European armaments, almost helpless to defend themselves, is mostly unavailable, the before mentioned statement is understandable. The true history, which is not taught in schools, but is readily available if desired, relates that over the passage of time these barbaric assaults resulted in many Indigenous civilizations being exterminated altogether, and the remaining civilizations reduced to near ruin, millions dead, virtually all of their territorial lands, resources, and property stolen, and most survivors today living in destitution. In place of the truth, we get a diet of lies, which is willful blindness on the part of the descendants of the invaders. But this can now be changed, we ourselves can collect the truth, and teach the truth, in particular to our own Peoples.
The before mentioned explanation I’ve given for why some of our People, and leaders, would celebrate the European colonial invasion, and consequent appropriation of our countries with the two institutions mentioned, and the imposition of foreign ideals, is why I wrote a First Nations History Book and entitled it “We Were Not the Savages” (I encourage all to read it). It’s my attempt to set the record straight. I did so because the demonizing colonial propaganda, which dehumanized the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas by depicting them to be bloodthirsty barbarian savages, and is the root cause of the systemic racism that stigmatizes Indigenous Peoples today, is still widespread, and, indefensibly, there is no concerted effort being made by the descendants of the invaders to set the record strait.
Before I go further, I’ll provide some information on what the European invaders used during their colonization of the Americas to try to legitimize and justify their barbarity. The following is only an overview, only a book on the subject can relate the full story.
Doctrine of Discovery and Christianity
The origins of the Doctrine of Discovery can be traced back to a Papal Bull (proclamation) issued by Pope Nicholas V in 1452. In it he proclaimed that it was permissible for Christians to claim lands held by non-Christians because only Christians were entitled to hold lands. In 1493, one year after the barbarian Christopher Columbus got lost and landed in the Americas, Pope Alexander VI extended to Spain the right for it to conquer newly-found lands by issuing the papal bull Inter Caetera. This was after Christopher Columbus had already begun appropriating for Spain the lands of the Indigenous People of the Americas. Arguments between Portugal and Spain led to the Treaty of Tordesillas, which clarified that only non-Christian lands could thus be taken, as well as drawing a line of demarcation to allocate potential discoveries between the two powers. It must be noted that in spite of their hatred for the Catholic Church, European Protestant Nations adopted the warped Bulls of the Popes with great enthusiasm, and applied them as enthusiastically as the Catholics did when stealing Indigenous lands.
The Doctrine of Discovery was used when France claimed the land of the Mi'kmaq, which they christened Acadia. In 1618, Marc Lescarbot, a French lawyer, articulated how this warped Christian law legalized France's right to Acadia (now the Canadian Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island): This, by the way, was eight years after Chief Membertou had converted to Christianity.
"The earth pertaining, then, by divine right to the children of God [Christians], there is here no question of applying the law and policy of Nations, by which it would not be permissible to claim the territory of another. This being so, we must possess it and preserve its natural inhabitants, and plant therein with determination the name of Jesus Christ, and of France."
Thus, in 1713, at the end of one of their numerous wars, England and France signed the Treaty of Utrecht, which, unknown to our ancestors, included a provision that transferred the lands of the Mi’kmaq and other First Nations to England.
In view of the White supremacist attitudes prevailing at the time, the fact that Amerindian Nations, including the Mi'kmaq, were left out of the treaty negotiations, not even made aware of its signing, should come as no surprise. A letter from Governor T. Caulfield to Vaudreuil, dated May 7, 1714, attests to the fact that the Mi'kmaq had been left in the dark:
“Breach of the treaty of peace and commerce committed by Indians under French government upon a British trading vessel at Beaubassin. Enclosed letter from Pere Felix, giving the Indians' excuse, i.e., that they did not know that the treaty was concluded between the two crowns, or that they were included in it....”
Finally, in 1715, the Mi'kmaq were enlightened. At a meeting with the Mi’kmaq Chiefs two English officers informed them that France had transferred them, and the ownership of their land, to Great Britain via the Treaty of Utrecht, and that King George I was now their sovereign. The Mi'kmaq responded, in no uncertain terms that they did not come under the Treaty of Utrecht, would not recognize a foreign king owning their country and would not recognize him as having dominion over them. The Chiefs then clarified for the English that they had never given over ownership of their land to the French King, or considered themselves to be his subjects, and therefore he had nothing to transfer. With no agreement, open hostilities between the Mi'kmaq and the English resumed. Thus, the die was cast for close to fifty more years of conflict, broken, from time to time by occasional periods of uneasy truce.
After the Mi’kmaq learned that the French had claimed their land and, unbeknownst to them, transferred their territories to Great Britain by treaty two years earlier, the Mi'kmaq directed protests to St. Ovide de Brouillant, Louisbourg's military commander in 1715, and after September 1717, Governor. He responded: “He [the French King] knew full well that the lands on which he tread, you possess them for all time. The King of France, your Father, never had the intention of taking them from you, but had ceded only his own rights to the British Crown.” In view of Marc Lescarbot’s 1618 legal opinion that France was the owner of Mi’kmaq lands, because the Mi’kmaq were not Christians, and the Treaty transfer provisions, one can easily conclude that Ovide told a bald faced lie to continue France’s alliance with the Mi’kmaq.
In the future, before we celebrate anything with the Catholic Church that happened during European colonial times, the Pope should be asked to come to the Americas and publically revoke the Papal Bulls that the European invaders used to steal the lands of the Indigenous Peoples of the two Continents, apologise for the tens of millions that were killed by the European invaders under the umbrella of the Bulls, and the loss of our freedom. And, above all, use the moral authority of his office to pressure the Eurocentric countries that were created in the Americas as a result of the invasion, to begin a process of writing history as it transpired, and discontinue the fairy tales that now pass for the history of the Americas.
Now for the English Crown.
After 1713, Great Britain was hell bent and determined to subjugate the Mi’kmaq and reduce them to beggars in their own land, or exterminate them all-together. Every barbaric means available was put to use to realize it’s goal.
The most reprehensible of the methods selected by the British colonial governors of Nova Scotia were proclamations for the scalps of Mi’kmaq men, women and children, a practice that was widely used by British Governors before to decimate, and in several cases exterminate entire Tribes in what is now the eastern states of the United States of America,.
Three proclamations for Mi’kmaq scalps were issued by Nova Scotia’s British colonial governors. During 1744, the Mi’kmaq had the British fort at Annapolis Royal under siege, which caused the colony’s Governor, Paul Mascarene, to request military assistance from the British Governor of the Massachuetts Bay Colony, William Shirley. On November 2, 1744, Shirley responded by declaring war on the Mi’kmaq, and their allies. The war declaration included a provision that provided that cash payments would be paid to those who harvested the scalps of Mi’kmaq men, women and children, and for the scalps of any who were assisting them. Captain John Gorham, who commanded Gorham’s Rangers, was sent to Nova Scotia with his men to enforce the declaration. Their barbarities terrified all, including many British subjects.
Shortly after June 21, 1749, when Governor Edward Cornwallis arrived in Nova Scotia to found a settlement of suitable Protestants settlers at Chebucto Harbour, later renamed Halifax, he had English officers meet with the Mi’kmaq Chiefs to inform them once again that the King of England owned their land, and as the owners they were going to start building English settlements. In response, on September 23, 1749, the Mi’kmaq renewed their declaration of war against the British.
On October 1, 1749, Governor Cornwallis convened a meeting of his colonial military government, aboard HMS Beaufort, at anchor in the harbour, to decide upon a response to the Mi’kmaq declaration of war. It was decided not to declare war in return upon the Mi’kmaq, but to treat them as bandits, and offer a monetary reward for their scalps. Thus, on October 2, 1749, Cornwallis issued a proclamation that specified monetary rewards that would be paid to British Subjects that harvested the scalps of Mi’kmaq men, women and children. Geoffrey Plank, a history professor at the University of Cincinnati, labels it “a time when it was a capital offence to be a Mi’kmaq.” The stated intent of the policy was to exterminate the Mi’kmaq. The following year, although scalps were being brought into British forts for payment, they apparently were not coming in fast enough, on June 21, 1750 the monetary reward was increased five fold. Cornwallis was removed as governor in 1752, however, before departure he, on July 17, 1752, revoked his bounty proclamations. Obliviously, as I’m writing this in 2010, his extermination plans failed!
Another scalp proclamation was issued in 1756, by Governor Charles Lawrence, this one was only for males over 16 years. It has not been repealed by an Act of Parliament.
On June 25, 1761, some of the Chiefs of the Mi’kmaq Nation gathered at the Governor’s farm in Halifax and participated in a Burying of the Hatchet ceremony with British Governor Jonathan Belcher, and also signed several Peace and Friendship Treaties with him. The treaties were afterward ignored until the 1980s, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled they were valid documents.
From 1761 onward the remaining Mi’kmaq were reduced to poverty, and suffered from starvation and malnutrition, which made any diseases they contracted almost always fatal. In the mid 1800s the situation was so bad, and the population was dwindling so fast (around 1400), that it caused two of the colony’s Indian Commissioners, Joseph Howe and Abraham Gesner, to make predictions that the “Tribe would be only a memory if corrective action were not taken.” After which, assistance increased somewhat, but did not end starvation.
When Canada was created in1867, by an Act of the British Parliament labelled The British North America Act, the federal government was given responsibility for Indians and Indian lands. Starvation was reduced considerably, however, malnutrition ran rampant up until the 1940s - the remaining population was somewhere around 1500 - to 2000. Finally, after 1946, vastly improved health care and better food supplies provided by the Feds stabilized the population and it started to increase. As a result, today there are somewhere around 25,000 Mi’kmaq. If proper assistance had been provided by the British Colonial Government after 1761, and by the Canadian government after 1867, the population of the Mi’kmaq today might well be half million or more.
In view of the before-mentioned, it would be only proper if all the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas put off any future celebrations with the English Crown, and other European governmental and social institutions, until such time as the Queen, or one of her successors, and other European leaders, come to the Americas and make full and open apologies to us for the horrors that their colonial ancestors inflicted upon our ancestors and their descendants!
Note: A slightly different version was published in the November 2010 issue of the Mi’kmaq/Maliseet News.
Kings considers Cornwallis name change request
BY JENNIFER HOEGG
The Kings County Advertiser/Register March 31, 2010
Dr. Daniel Paul, Member of the Order of Canada and
the Order of Nova Scotia, signs a copy of his book,
We Were Not the Savages
for Kings County Councillor Dick Killam.
The Cornwallis River winds through a large part of Kings County. Dr. Daniel Paul is leading a campaign to change the landmark's name - and all others named for Governor Edward Cornwallis.
Paul spoke to Kings County's committee of the whole (COTW) March 16 about the petition to rename all schools, streets, parks and other public areas named for the founder of Halifax because of his "attempted genocide" of the native population.
The author of is a leader and advocate for the Mi'kmaq culture: he received a honourary Doctor of Letters Degree from the University of Sainte-Anne in 1997 and is a member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia. He appeared by invitation of the Race Relations and Anti-Discrimination Committee, in accordance with the municipality's commitment to "promote respect, understanding, and appreciation of cultural diversity and inclusion of Aboriginals and racialized communities into the cultural fabric of the municipality."
Addressing the past
Paul said the petition is "a project I have been working on for about 25 years.
"We really don't know that a great deal of wars were fought here…. It's a very long history and a very sordid history and very hard to condense it into a 20-minute presentation."
However, he did provide councilors with extensive historical background.
"In 1749, Cornwallis came and set up shop in what is now Halifax," Paul said. "He sent out emissaries to meet with Mi'kmaq chiefs to let them know Britain now owned Nova Scotia. They were now subjects of the king and had no property rights
In response, Paul recounted, the natives "renewed their declaration of war against the British on September 25, 1749."
After Mi'kmaq attacked a group of British men in what is now Dartmouth that month, Cornwallis decried "perhaps it would be best to eliminate the Mi'kmaq all together," Paul said, "and enacted a bounty for Mi'kmaq scalps men, women and children." He wrote to British authorities to "exterminate the people and get rid of them in Mainland Nova Scotia all together."
Considering the "cruel nature of what he had done," the British worried it would encourage tribes to ally against whites. A bounty was set at 10 guineas per head at first, rising to 50 guineas in June of 1750.
Quoting Joseph Howe, Paul said, "the indians… had good reason for what they did. They were fighting for the country they loved."
The Mi'kmaq had a good relationship with the French Crown, whose representatives first claimed what is now Nova Scotia in 1604. When Britain won the territory in 1713, a lengthy war began.
"You can't go back, you can't change history, you can't take Cornwallis out of the history of Nova Scotia - but does he have to be idolized?" Paul asked. "Absolutely not.
"It's not a civilized thing to do."
Councillor Chris Parker thanked Paul for his presentation and suggested to his colleagues, "if we were in a Germany, we wouldn't have a street named Hitler Street, we wouldn't have a river named Hitler River."
"If our council wouldn't sign the petition, I sure will"
"There were a lot of things in (the presentation) I didn't know," Councillor Dick Killam said. "But, over the years, I have sensed there were some big things in the background." Killam said he also would sign the petition and he had visited the Annapolis Valley First Nations community to discuss the Cornwallis River, which flows through the Cambridge community.
"You can't go back, you can't change history, you can't take Cornwallis out of the history of Nova Scotia - but does he have to be idolized? It's not a civilized thing to do." - Daniel Paul
"We definitely need to get the name Cornwallis out from their eyes, if possible."
Councillor Wayne Atwater asked if Paul would be presenting to the Town of Kentville. Paul replied he was concentrating his efforts on Halifax Regional Municipality, but would welcome the opportunity.
"I want to commend you for your effort," Atwater told Paul. "I'm just not one for signing petitions."
After the presentation, COTW recommended council send letter to Kentville and the premier requesting they "deal with" the petition from Dr. Daniel Paul, and the petition be posted on the municipality's webpage.
"We recognize the fact the building is located in Kentville," Deputy Warden Diana Brothers said before making the two motions, "but we represent 50,000 people outside town of Kentville, including two first nations, and I'm very aware of that."
"I'm very proud of you people," Paul said. "You have shown there are very forward-looking people in this country. We may be able to start a ball rolling here that will be unstoppable."
Halifax Herald - April 25, 2010
Hair ad raises ire of Mi'kmaq
Photo insensitive, Dan Paul says
Models With Hair Packets
By JON TATTRIE Special
A Halifax business is apologizing to Mi'kmaq people after running an advertisement featuring models holding human hair extensions in front of a statue of Edward Cornwallis.
Kevin Stanhope, the owner of Hairdressers' Market Inc., said he had no idea that Cornwallis, the Englishman tasked with founding Halifax, offered a bounty for the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women and children in 1749 and 1750.
"Whose statue it was, we knew nothing about. Absolutely nothing," he said Thursday.
Hairdressers' Market sells hairdressing supplies and its ad in the April edition of Faces Magazine showed four young women laughing and holding packets of human hair.
Stanhope only discovered Cornwallis's grisly past when Mi'kmaq people contacted him to ask him what he was thinking.
Stanhope, who is from New Brunswick, said he got the models to pose at the statue because it had multiple levels and was near his south-end business.
"Who would suspect? It's a public park. If there's such an offensive connection to it, why's it there? Why aren't there warning signs on it?" he asked.
Kyle Turk, publisher of Faces, likewise pleaded ignorance.
"I didn't even know what that statue was. Obviously, we wouldn't have published it if we had known."
He said the ad has been pulled from the May edition and would be taken off the website.
Dan Paul, Mi'kmaq historian and the author of We Were Not The Savages, was one of the people who contacted Stanhope. He said he was appalled when he saw the photograph and wanted to find out if it was created out of ignorance or racism.
After exchanging emails with Stanhope, he believes no racism was involved.
"I think it exemplifies the ignorance of Nova Scotia's history," Paul said. "It was the actual hope of Cornwallis to wipe out the Mi'kmaq population on the mainland of Nova Scotia, which at the time included New Brunswick. You're talking about most of the Mi'kmaq population."
Paul, who has long campaigned against the statue in Cornwallis Park near Halifax's train station, described the governor's explicit targeting of women and children as "sick in the extreme."
The plaque on the statue briefly outlines Cornwallis's short career in Halifax but says nothing of the scalping proclamations.
Paul said that's indicative of Nova Scotia's "hidden history."
He compared it to the 1946 incident in which Viola Desmond was arrested for sitting in the whites-only section of a New Glasgow theatre.
The Dexter government gave Desmond, who was a beautician, a posthumous pardon this month.
"How many Nova Scotians knew that had happened? I would say very few, (outside of) the black population," Paul said. "Nova Scotia has diligently crafted an image that it is and has been for some time a racially equal society, which it wasn't and to a large degree still isn't. If it was, you wouldn't see Cornwallis's statue down at the end of Barrington Street.
"I'm not trying to erase his name from the history of this province. You can't erase Hitler's name from Germany's history either but to continue to honour him is almost impossible to believe."
Paul said the incident points to a failure in the province's education system.
"Are we doing a good job of teaching history to our children here in Nova Scotia? The answer is no. If you want to prevent the wrongs of the past from happening again, you have to teach the population about the past," he said.
Stanhope said he agreed with Paul. He's ordering a copy of We Were Not The Savages and has signed Paul's online petition calling for the removal of the statue.
Halifax Herald - April16, 2010
Viola’s vindication, Province apologizes, pardons Desmond
By Sherry Borden Colley
VISIONARY, entrepreneur, pioneer and Canadian hero.
Those words were used at Province House on Thursday to describe the late Viola Desmond as the Nova Scotia government officially apologized and pardoned her.
More than 60 years ago, Desmond, a black Halifax beautician, was jailed and fined for sitting in the whites-only section of a New Glasgow movie theatre.
"On behalf of the Nova Scotia government, I sincerely apologize to Mrs. Viola Desmond’s family and to all African-Nova Scotians for the racial discrimination she was subjected to by the justice system in November 1946," Premier Darrell Dexter told a packed Red Chamber.
"The arrest, detainment and conviction of Viola Desmond is an example in our history where the law was used to perpetuate racism and racial segregation — this is contrary to the values of Canadian society."
Unbeknownst to her at the time, Desmond took a courageous step on Nov. 8, 1946, that would later help to eliminate segregation in Nova Scotia.
That day, a New Glasgow police officer dragged the successful businesswoman out of the Roseland Theatre for refusing to give up her seat in the downstairs section, which was reserved for white people. For that, Desmond was jailed for 12 hours. Under theatre policy, blacks were only permitted to sit upstairs.
Desmond, 32 at the time, had gone to the theatre to pass time while her car was being repaired.
In court the next morning, she was convicted of defrauding the provincial government of a penny — the difference in tax on a 40-cent ticket to sit downstairs versus a 30-cent ticket for upstairs.
During her trial, Desmond testified that she had offered to pay the extra 10 cents for the downstairs ticket but theatre staff would not accept it. The provincial tax included in the price was three cents on the 40-cent tickets and two cents on the 30-cent tickets.
Desmond paid a $20 fine, plus $6 for the theatre’s court costs.
On Thursday, Dexter said the government of today recognizes that the behaviour for which Desmond was arrested was an act of courage, not a crime.
"On behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia, I am sorry," the premier said.
Desmond died in 1965 at age 50.
On Thursday, Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis granted her a free pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, the first time in Canada that such a pardon has been granted posthumously.
"Viola is the most recent addition to a series of important Canadian historical figures to receive much-deserved recognition for past injustice," Francis said.
"History is filled with tales of injustice. It is only on rare occasions — with the clarity of hindsight and benefit of careful thought and measured reason — that a society comes together to undo the wrongs of the past.
"But make no mistake. It is impossible that with the stroke of a pen, and the granting of a free pardon, history is forgotten and the proverbial slate is wiped clean."
Instead, Francis said, this moment in the story of Viola Desmond will ensure that her legacy lives on in newspapers, legal journals, human rights research, political science debates and race relations studies.
Unlike a federal pardon, the rarely used free pardon is based on a person’s innocence and recognizes a wrongful conviction, the province said.
Desmond’s official certificate of pardon will hang in the legislature.
In a series of stories beginning in March, The Chronicle Herald recounted Desmond’s 1946 arrest and conviction. After the first story appeared on March 6, the Dexter government said it would begin the process of pardoning her.
"There can be no doubt that a grievous error was made," Dexter said. "The injustice committed against Mrs. Desmond is a part of Nova Scotia’s history, a history that is taught in Nova Scotia’s schools, a history that needs to be kept alive and in our hearts. Nova Scotians cannot and should not forget."
Desmond’s younger sister, Wanda Robson, said Nova Scotians must learn from her sister’s history-making moment.
"What happened to my sister is part of our history and needs to remain intact," Robson said. "We must learn from our history so we do not repeat it. If my parents were here today, it would warm their hearts to see Viola recognized as a true Canadian hero.
"I’m numb. I really did not believe all this would come to a political thing, a government thing. She would be so happy, and not only for her personal achievement but for leaving something behind for the young people."
Last year, Robson, 83, wrote to New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan asking the town to do something to honour her sister.
MacMillan announced Thursday that the town will unveil a lasting tribute to Desmond during the Black Gala Homecoming in August. The tribute will honour Desmond’s courage, leadership and dignity.
"She is a pioneer in human rights, and we are proud to recognize the contribution she has made in our province and our country," MacMillan said.
"A terrible wrong occurred and we are here today, inspired by and to pay tribute to, the strength and integrity of Viola Desmond."
Contact Shirley Borden Colley:
Nova Scotia Government Press release: http://gov.ns.ca/news/smr/2010-04-15-pardon.asp
Halifax Herald Story: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Search/1177464.html