I was so angry when I wrote this post, that I had to wait a few days to post it and I have not been this angry in a long time. I am angry because we as Canadians just do not care about our First Nations People as a government, or as a people and I guess, that I just do not get it. By that I mean we as Canadians stand by and allow our government to treat First Nations People like dirt. We know about the sub standard housing. We know about the lack of clean drinking water. We know about the deplorable plumbing and we know about the lack of schools, but we do nothing. We either do not think about our First Nation People and their suffering, or we simply choose to ignore their suffering for many reasons, one being we feel that we are better than them and that somehow they have brought all of this on themselves, because they drink all day, do drugs, or that their leaders spend all of the money given to them by Ottawa on themselves personally and divert it away from the people who are in such great need. These are just two of the most commonly used reasons that the government seems to have convinced most Canadians is the problem and the reasons for First Nations poverty and generally deplorable state of affairs and they are both crap.
The Trade Off :
This type of rhetoric has been used by all governments as far back as Canadian confederation and is so entrenched in our thought processes that we as Canadians become angry at the thought of more money being spent on the First Nations People. The Canadian government has made it an us, or them situation. By this I mean the government would have us believe that if they give the First Nations People more money to build schools, fix their plumbing, fix their sewage problem, build them houses for example, that all other Canadians will have to suffer because the money has to come from somewhere. I contend that they have maintained this lie for so long that 90% of Canadians are willing to pretend that Canada does very well by its First Nations People and so what if they do not have all of these things, by their own words they are not Canadians anyway right? Well I say wrong. This is a convenient way to release ourselves from the shame for all of the unfulfilled treaties that we made with the indigenous people of this country, when we literally took their country from them by force and tried to wipe them off the face of the earth. The way to give our First Nations People all that they need to live like all other Canadians is not all that difficult and would take nothing away from any other Canadian, in fact it may just benefit all Canadians. What if we as a country decided to stop spending millions of dollars on wars around the globe and started investing that money in Canada, solving Canadian problems? Looking at the world as part of our extended family and wanting to help them is great, but we can not let this desire to help our friends stop us from maintaining our own house and seeing to the needs of our family. How can you fight for the right and make it possible for another’s children to go to school and be able to eat, but not care if your children are not guaranteed an education, or get sick from unclean drinking water? I am open to an explanation if anyone would like to enlighten me.
We have been taught since the time we took this land from its native people that our need for it was real and their fight to keep it was wrong and that all of the savages needed to be wiped out. They were made the massacring, selfish enemy of Canadian people. Somehow we convinced ourselves that these simple living people were less than ourselves and that they were like the rats, roaches and other creatures we considered vermin found on the land. We decided that they needed to go, or at least be controlled and so the campaign of hatred and of our superiority, was started. As a government we made the people fear them. We put guns in our people’s hands, gave our country a name and told our people it was their patriotic duty to defend their new land from the hostile natives, by whatever means necessary. If it meant the death of every last indigenous person on the land, then so be it and when these once peaceful people tried to fight back, we out gunned them, we out hated them and then we massacred them.
We hated them so much that we tried to take away all that made them who they were and when they refused to lay down and die, we tried to punish them by putting them on reservations, removing them from our presence, hoping that out of sight was out of mind. Here on these reservations we could leave them, our First Nations People to die quietly, these people who we had come to hate for causing us so much aggravation by not having the good sense to quit, or try to accept the new way of life we were offering them and the opportunity to be just like us. Most Canadians still see our First Nations People as the enemy and the object of their scorn. Most Canadians have fallen for the rhetoric that our government is still putting out about the drunken Indian, the people just above children mentally, the people who could not change and refused to live with us in peace. The people who will come down and kill us in our sleep if we do not take care and so we continue to hate them and blame them and justify all that has happened to them in the past, is happening to them right now and perhaps all that will happen to them in the future. This is how great is our hate for these people and why we feel we must punish them for daring to be themselves.
We as Canadians seek to punish our First Nations People for having the audacity to survive all that we have done to exterminate them. We keep asking why they continue to embarrass us by staying alive. They make us look bad on an international level by bringing up the past that looks no different from the present and complain that this will be their future if the world does not help them. These people want what is ours, like land to call their own, a source of guaranteed funding to do all of the things that they need to sustain their people in a life they did not choose, but rather had forced on them and this makes most of us angry. We the Canadians of today did not steal their land, we counter; we the Canadians of today did not kill any natives is our answer to their laments; we the Canadians of today need to teach them once and for all who won the war, is our call to battle. It is in this spirit that we find the determination to hate these constant reminders of our cruelty, our guilt and our shame, so much that we allow them to be ignored, lied to, persecuted and oppressed. We seek to punish these people consciously and subconsciously by denying them the basic rights that we demand for ourselves out of just plain meanness, or a sense of apathy. We seek to keep them beneath us at every turn and it make this Canadian angry. I feel their suffering and it breaks my heart.
I threw away the education that they do not have a chance in hell of getting. I take for granted that I live in a house that has running water and a bathroom; I take for granted that I have access to medical attention in my community. We deny all of these things to our First Nations People, because they will not forget the treaties of the past that we have failed to honor and this is to be their punishment. They will be made to suffer all of their days on this earth, by governments formed by First Nations People haters.
Governments are determined to break these people down and make them say forget everything, the past is the past. Governments are determined to make First Nations People say, we were wrong to not accept your offer, your gift of a better life. Governments want our First Nations People to say, we could not see that you were right all of those years ago, but we do now, please forgive us. We accept all that we have had to endure as our own fault and we release you from all of the treaties that you were forced to signed in duress. The First Nations People will not, can not and should not do this and so they will continue to carry slop pots, get sick from drinking bad water and never be guaranteed any funding by law to improve their lot as a people. This is their punishment and this is our disgrace.
In closing I would like to just remind Canadians as we prepare for Christmas and all that it means to us and all that we will share with our families that there are others like our First Nations People who will not be having such a great time and for whom Christmas time represents hardships not even imaginable by most Canadians. Every Canadian has the right to drink fresh water, live in a safe warm house with proper plumbing. Every Canadian has the right to a guaranteed government-funded education and the right to be themselves entrenched in the law. These rights are not pay offs for losing all that you are as a people, these are rights on which our Canadian Constitution and our Canadian Charter Of Rights are based. How long are our First Nations People going to be made to suffer, because they refuse to let us out of treaties that we have signed with them? How long are our First Nations People going to be made to suffer, because they tell the truth about how we treat them? How long are our First Nations People going to be made to suffer, because they will not lay down and die, or go away?
Federal housing evaluation National assessment of water and wastewater systems Health Canada: water on reserves Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations AFN brief on water issues AFN brief on housing AFN on water standards legislation AFN submission on First Nations funding
Tuberculosis :: Photo Essay: Cross Lake First Nation
- Shacks and slop pails: Infrastructure crisis on native reserves (cbc.ca)
- Bands sue feds over substandard schooling on reserves (canada.com)
- We The People Of Canada Are The Solution To Crown Corporations Bad Treatment Of Our Less Fortunate Citizens (archemdis.wordpress.com)
- Who Are The Real Canadians? What Does that Statement Mean For You And Me (archemdis.wordpress.com)