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Esoterica

thetyee.ca
crankyskirt:

Amazing story. Glad that the real, fuller story behind this photo is available. Yet another reminder that history is far from fair, or neutral, and that the “official” version is far from the only one.




STORY OF A CAPTION

When I first heard Melanie Reid tell the story behind this photograph at the Duty Calls edition of Rain City Chronicles, I was, like the rest of the audience, absolutely spellbound.
It didn’t take much to convince my editors at The Tyee that it was a captivating and important narrative that deserved a wider audience. But could I fact check it, they wondered? Could I verify that the caption on the photo did indeed change as Reid had described?
That proved to be a more difficult task. When I put my query to the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC), its senior rights and licensing specialist Nancy Fay told me that the short answer was, they didn’t know.
Ultimately, it’s up the individual archivists at any particular organization to determine a photograph’s caption. And when photos are in the public domain, like this one, the LAC has no control — or authority — over how they are captioned.
So it appears that there are at least three versions of this photo. One is the original caption that Reid described seeing in the Canadian War Museum: “Unidentified Indian princess getting blessing from her chief and father to go fight in the war.”
The second is the version that Reid says the photo was changed to after she identified the woman as her mother-in-law (The Tyee also spoke to Reid’s husband on the phone, who confirmed that yes, the woman in the photo was his mother). That caption was as Reid described in the end of her story: “Private Mary Greyeyes, Cree, from Muskeg Lake, Cree Nation, Canadian Women’s Army Corp.”
(This Department of National Defense website includes the photo with this caption as well.)
And the third is the one that the Library and Archives of Canada currently has attached to the photo: “Mary Greyeyes being blessed by her native Chief prior to leaving for service in the CWAC, 1942. Source: Library and Archives Canada/Department of National Defence fonds/PA-129070”
With no clear answer for my editors, we decided to go ahead and publish the story anyway. Mostly because it’s just such a darn good one, but also because it reminds us that history is often one particular version of events, and no one version is ever the whole story.
— Colleen Kimmett



What Does This Photo Say?
Images can mislead, as the subject of this one, my Cree mother-in-law, revealed to me. The story behind a famous Canadian war photograph.
 By Melanie Fahlman Reid, 7 August 2012, TheTyee.ca
[Editor’s note: Melanie Fahlman Reid is an instructor at Capilano University. Her areas of specialization include teaching composition, the British Literature Survey, and Drama. This is an edited version of a transcript of the story Melanie told at Rain City Chronicles “Duty Calls” edition in Nov. 2011. Transcription by Colleen Kimmett.]
I’m telling the story about that photograph, but it’s not really about the photograph. It’s about my relationship with the woman getting the blessing. That’s my mother-in-law, Mary Reid.
I married into a family that was dominated very much by the mother, and Mary kind of wanted a different kind of daughter-in-law, I think. I’d known her since I was 14. She met me when I was screaming at her son, telling him to fuck off and leave me alone.
And it kind of bounced up and down from there until we got married at 26. She organized the wedding and after the wedding she kept trying to remember what I did for a living.
She’d show up with brown pottery that she got at Super Value that she thought I’d like, and I didn’t, and brown towels.
She’d give me advice about how to cook at 5 a.m. to have dinner ready, and then when I came home I could just pop it in the oven.
It was a rough start. And though I kind of never got her, we got along better.
After her husband died, Mary got talked into going to a [military] service reunion. We encouraged her to go, to Calgary. I thought, great — Calgary! I drove her to the airport. And she came back with that photo.
‘They all knew me’
Now, I’d always known Mary had been in the Canadian Women’s Army Corp.
And that wasn’t unusual — I’m a boomer. My parents fought in the army for World War Two, my grandparents fought in World War One, and it’d been going on forever. I’m the first generation that didn’t fight in a war.
But I hadn’t quite realized what Mary did. She brought this picture back, and she said it was wonderful.
“They all knew me,” she said, “but I didn’t know them.”
And I asked her about that photo.
She joined up when she was a 20-year-old woman from Muskeg Lake, just north of Saskatoon. It’s a Cree reservation. Her brother had joined the war. It was the Depression, there wasn’t much to do, so she thought she’d join too. She wrote a letter, and she got a reply. The postmaster came and found her on the reserve. He was from Marscellin, and he said, “They’re looking for you.”
She went down to Saskatoon and took the dayliner to Regina, she told me. She was met by a sergeant and she had to go and get a test. She was the fourth woman to get the test and she was nervous. Everybody ahead of her had gone to school. Mary had gone to a residential school, and of course natives weren’t allowed to go past Grade 8 in those days. So she didn’t have a good education, she thought.
They were just starting to recruit women into the army in Canada, and each one, each woman ahead of her, was rejected. Mary went in and she took the test and she passed. And she became the first native woman in Canada — full status Cree — to join the Canadian Women’s Army Corp.
But that’s not the story. Though it’s a good story.
When Harry met Mary
When she enlisted, they didn’t really want her in the barracks. There was a lot of racism against natives and it was all kind of hushed up. But she said, “I knew what was going on.”
So she boarded outside the barracks. One day her sergeant and two Mounties showed up and said, “We’ll give you a good new uniform and a good lunch. We want you to take a picture.”
And this is the picture.
They drove over out to the Piapot reserve. The man standing there is a man named Harry Ball. He’s a World War One veteran. He wasn’t the chief of the Piapot reserve [at the time he was a councilor, and later became chief], but he was a vet. And he happened to be hanging around.
The regalia that he’s wearing was cobbled together by the Mounties. They went into people’s houses and pulled out a blanket here, an old headdress from a powwow there. And they found a pipe. The stem on it was pieced together with some tape and a bit of twine one of the Mounties had.
And they told them to pose. And this picture is apparently an Indian princess getting a blessing from the chief of her tribe.
Now Harry is from Piapot. Mary is from Muskeg Lake, Cree. And they didn’t know each other.
They took picture after picture. Mary joined up in June, so this picture was taken in late June in Saskatchewan. If you know much about the prairies, you know how goddamn hot it is there.
She’s kneeling in the grass. The grass is full of bugs. And they’re flying up and the Mounties are telling them to stand still and the photographer is trying to get the picture.
And Mary and Harry are talking. Mary says, “Christ.” (They’re speaking in Cree, and this is Mary’s story now, I’m telling you.)
And Harry says, “God it’s hot. What did you get for this?”
Mary says, “I get a good lunch.”
Harry says, “I got 20 bucks.”
Mary says, “So what are you bitching about? You get 20 bucks and I’m down here with bugs.”
And that’s the blessing that you see.
This picture was published in the Regina Leader-Post, and it went viral, I guess, in those days. It appeared all over the British Empire to show the power of the colonies fighting for King and country.
‘This is her real story’
Mary shipped out very rapidly and she went to the theatre of war. She became a laundress at Aldershot, which she hated. And when she asked her sergeant for a transfer, her sergeant wrote on the papers — which I have — “Does not speak English.”
So they shipped her off and she went to headquarters in London to become a cook for the war centre. She was a big deal. She got to meet this lady [Melanie points at a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II hanging up] who was then a princess, she got to meet the Queen Mother, she got to meet the King. She said every time they needed an Indian, there she was. She was known as the Indian.
Her picture was in a lot of London papers. And the headline of my favourite one reads, “She’s a full-blooded Indian but now she cooks for palefaces.” So she was always the Indian. She’d get proposals from what she called “limeys.” Limeys would write her letters, some of which we have, offering to marry her.
Mary stayed in the army, she was asked to stay on in England after the war ended. And she finally shipped back to Canada in 1946, at which point she was discharged and went home. She went back to Muskeg Lake. And this is her real story.
I asked her, I said, “How did you put up with this shit?”
(I’m a union activist, I’m usually out there on weekends protesting or getting arrested or whatever I do, and I always took the kids with me, which appalled her.)
And Mary said, “Well, my real story,” she says, “happened when I was on the reserve with my mom. My sergeant shows up with a couple of Mounties again, and they want to take a picture of me. It’s a federal election. So they came out and said, ‘Mary, you gotta come out and you gotta come and vote.’”
Now, Indians who fought in World War Two were allowed to renounce their treaty rights and vote.
So Mary says to them, she says, “Can my mom vote?”
And they said, “No, she didn’t fight in the war.”
She said, “Well, what about my cousins over there, can they vote?”
And they said no. They said, “C’mon Mary, you gotta come, we’ve got the photographer.”
And she said, “All those years, I said nothing. Now I’m saying no.”
When Mary told me that story, I finally kind of got her. That picture hangs in the Canadian War Museum, I found out in about 1995. And it was stated as “Unidentified Indian princess getting blessing from her chief and father to go fight in the war.”
So I thought, what I’m going to do is get that identified. I phoned Oxford Canada, they publish pictures in the Oxford University Press about native people in Canada. I phoned up and said, “I know who that woman is and I can prove it.”
So the author, in a panic, immediately pulled the picture in the next edition.
And Mary eventually went into a home.
Mary liked the army, it was the best days of her life. She liked how all the people knew who she was, and after she died, I found out that in the public archives of Canada (and this took me 12 years, this was me kind of paying back, for not getting Mary) the picture now reads: “Library and Archives of Canada, PA 129070. Private Mary Greyeyes, Cree, from Muskeg Lake, Cree Nation, Canadian Women’s Army Corp.”
And she’s not a princess.
This story was told at Rain City Chronicles, a Vancouver community-building storytelling night produced by Lizzy Karp and Karen Pinchin. The theme of the night was “Duty Calls.” They’re always on the hunt for new stories, community partners and friends, so get in touch at raincitychronicles@gmail.com, on Twitter @raincityvan or online here. 

crankyskirt:

Amazing story. Glad that the real, fuller story behind this photo is available. Yet another reminder that history is far from fair, or neutral, and that the “official” version is far from the only one.

STORY OF A CAPTION

When I first heard Melanie Reid tell the story behind this photograph at the Duty Calls edition of Rain City Chronicles, I was, like the rest of the audience, absolutely spellbound.

It didn’t take much to convince my editors at The Tyee that it was a captivating and important narrative that deserved a wider audience. But could I fact check it, they wondered? Could I verify that the caption on the photo did indeed change as Reid had described?

That proved to be a more difficult task. When I put my query to the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC), its senior rights and licensing specialist Nancy Fay told me that the short answer was, they didn’t know.

Ultimately, it’s up the individual archivists at any particular organization to determine a photograph’s caption. And when photos are in the public domain, like this one, the LAC has no control — or authority — over how they are captioned.

So it appears that there are at least three versions of this photo. One is the original caption that Reid described seeing in the Canadian War Museum: “Unidentified Indian princess getting blessing from her chief and father to go fight in the war.”

The second is the version that Reid says the photo was changed to after she identified the woman as her mother-in-law (The Tyee also spoke to Reid’s husband on the phone, who confirmed that yes, the woman in the photo was his mother). That caption was as Reid described in the end of her story: “Private Mary Greyeyes, Cree, from Muskeg Lake, Cree Nation, Canadian Women’s Army Corp.”

(This Department of National Defense website includes the photo with this caption as well.)

And the third is the one that the Library and Archives of Canada currently has attached to the photo: “Mary Greyeyes being blessed by her native Chief prior to leaving for service in the CWAC, 1942. Source: Library and Archives Canada/Department of National Defence fonds/PA-129070”

With no clear answer for my editors, we decided to go ahead and publish the story anyway. Mostly because it’s just such a darn good one, but also because it reminds us that history is often one particular version of events, and no one version is ever the whole story.

— Colleen Kimmett

What Does This Photo Say?

Images can mislead, as the subject of this one, my Cree mother-in-law, revealed to me. The story behind a famous Canadian war photograph.

 By Melanie Fahlman Reid, 7 August 2012, TheTyee.ca

[Editor’s note: Melanie Fahlman Reid is an instructor at Capilano University. Her areas of specialization include teaching composition, the British Literature Survey, and Drama. This is an edited version of a transcript of the story Melanie told at Rain City Chronicles “Duty Calls” edition in Nov. 2011. Transcription by Colleen Kimmett.]

I’m telling the story about that photograph, but it’s not really about the photograph. It’s about my relationship with the woman getting the blessing. That’s my mother-in-law, Mary Reid.

I married into a family that was dominated very much by the mother, and Mary kind of wanted a different kind of daughter-in-law, I think. I’d known her since I was 14. She met me when I was screaming at her son, telling him to fuck off and leave me alone.

And it kind of bounced up and down from there until we got married at 26. She organized the wedding and after the wedding she kept trying to remember what I did for a living.

She’d show up with brown pottery that she got at Super Value that she thought I’d like, and I didn’t, and brown towels.

She’d give me advice about how to cook at 5 a.m. to have dinner ready, and then when I came home I could just pop it in the oven.

It was a rough start. And though I kind of never got her, we got along better.

After her husband died, Mary got talked into going to a [military] service reunion. We encouraged her to go, to Calgary. I thought, great — Calgary! I drove her to the airport. And she came back with that photo.

‘They all knew me’

Now, I’d always known Mary had been in the Canadian Women’s Army Corp.

And that wasn’t unusual — I’m a boomer. My parents fought in the army for World War Two, my grandparents fought in World War One, and it’d been going on forever. I’m the first generation that didn’t fight in a war.

But I hadn’t quite realized what Mary did. She brought this picture back, and she said it was wonderful.

“They all knew me,” she said, “but I didn’t know them.”

And I asked her about that photo.

She joined up when she was a 20-year-old woman from Muskeg Lake, just north of Saskatoon. It’s a Cree reservation. Her brother had joined the war. It was the Depression, there wasn’t much to do, so she thought she’d join too. She wrote a letter, and she got a reply. The postmaster came and found her on the reserve. He was from Marscellin, and he said, “They’re looking for you.”

She went down to Saskatoon and took the dayliner to Regina, she told me. She was met by a sergeant and she had to go and get a test. She was the fourth woman to get the test and she was nervous. Everybody ahead of her had gone to school. Mary had gone to a residential school, and of course natives weren’t allowed to go past Grade 8 in those days. So she didn’t have a good education, she thought.

They were just starting to recruit women into the army in Canada, and each one, each woman ahead of her, was rejected. Mary went in and she took the test and she passed. And she became the first native woman in Canada — full status Cree — to join the Canadian Women’s Army Corp.

But that’s not the story. Though it’s a good story.

When Harry met Mary

When she enlisted, they didn’t really want her in the barracks. There was a lot of racism against natives and it was all kind of hushed up. But she said, “I knew what was going on.”

So she boarded outside the barracks. One day her sergeant and two Mounties showed up and said, “We’ll give you a good new uniform and a good lunch. We want you to take a picture.”

And this is the picture.

They drove over out to the Piapot reserve. The man standing there is a man named Harry Ball. He’s a World War One veteran. He wasn’t the chief of the Piapot reserve [at the time he was a councilor, and later became chief], but he was a vet. And he happened to be hanging around.

The regalia that he’s wearing was cobbled together by the Mounties. They went into people’s houses and pulled out a blanket here, an old headdress from a powwow there. And they found a pipe. The stem on it was pieced together with some tape and a bit of twine one of the Mounties had.

And they told them to pose. And this picture is apparently an Indian princess getting a blessing from the chief of her tribe.

Now Harry is from Piapot. Mary is from Muskeg Lake, Cree. And they didn’t know each other.

They took picture after picture. Mary joined up in June, so this picture was taken in late June in Saskatchewan. If you know much about the prairies, you know how goddamn hot it is there.

She’s kneeling in the grass. The grass is full of bugs. And they’re flying up and the Mounties are telling them to stand still and the photographer is trying to get the picture.

And Mary and Harry are talking. Mary says, “Christ.” (They’re speaking in Cree, and this is Mary’s story now, I’m telling you.)

And Harry says, “God it’s hot. What did you get for this?”

Mary says, “I get a good lunch.”

Harry says, “I got 20 bucks.”

Mary says, “So what are you bitching about? You get 20 bucks and I’m down here with bugs.”

And that’s the blessing that you see.

This picture was published in the Regina Leader-Post, and it went viral, I guess, in those days. It appeared all over the British Empire to show the power of the colonies fighting for King and country.

‘This is her real story’

Mary shipped out very rapidly and she went to the theatre of war. She became a laundress at Aldershot, which she hated. And when she asked her sergeant for a transfer, her sergeant wrote on the papers — which I have — “Does not speak English.”

So they shipped her off and she went to headquarters in London to become a cook for the war centre. She was a big deal. She got to meet this lady [Melanie points at a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II hanging up] who was then a princess, she got to meet the Queen Mother, she got to meet the King. She said every time they needed an Indian, there she was. She was known as the Indian.

Her picture was in a lot of London papers. And the headline of my favourite one reads, “She’s a full-blooded Indian but now she cooks for palefaces.” So she was always the Indian. She’d get proposals from what she called “limeys.” Limeys would write her letters, some of which we have, offering to marry her.

Mary stayed in the army, she was asked to stay on in England after the war ended. And she finally shipped back to Canada in 1946, at which point she was discharged and went home. She went back to Muskeg Lake. And this is her real story.

I asked her, I said, “How did you put up with this shit?”

(I’m a union activist, I’m usually out there on weekends protesting or getting arrested or whatever I do, and I always took the kids with me, which appalled her.)

And Mary said, “Well, my real story,” she says, “happened when I was on the reserve with my mom. My sergeant shows up with a couple of Mounties again, and they want to take a picture of me. It’s a federal election. So they came out and said, ‘Mary, you gotta come out and you gotta come and vote.’”

Now, Indians who fought in World War Two were allowed to renounce their treaty rights and vote.

So Mary says to them, she says, “Can my mom vote?”

And they said, “No, she didn’t fight in the war.”

She said, “Well, what about my cousins over there, can they vote?”

And they said no. They said, “C’mon Mary, you gotta come, we’ve got the photographer.”

And she said, “All those years, I said nothing. Now I’m saying no.”

When Mary told me that story, I finally kind of got her. That picture hangs in the Canadian War Museum, I found out in about 1995. And it was stated as “Unidentified Indian princess getting blessing from her chief and father to go fight in the war.”

So I thought, what I’m going to do is get that identified. I phoned Oxford Canada, they publish pictures in the Oxford University Press about native people in Canada. I phoned up and said, “I know who that woman is and I can prove it.”

So the author, in a panic, immediately pulled the picture in the next edition.

And Mary eventually went into a home.

Mary liked the army, it was the best days of her life. She liked how all the people knew who she was, and after she died, I found out that in the public archives of Canada (and this took me 12 years, this was me kind of paying back, for not getting Mary) the picture now reads: “Library and Archives of Canada, PA 129070. Private Mary Greyeyes, Cree, from Muskeg Lake, Cree Nation, Canadian Women’s Army Corp.”

And she’s not a princess.

This story was told at Rain City Chronicles, a Vancouver community-building storytelling night produced by Lizzy Karp and Karen Pinchin. The theme of the night was “Duty Calls.” They’re always on the hunt for new stories, community partners and friends, so get in touch at raincitychronicles@gmail.com, on Twitter @raincityvan or online here. 

Harper Launches Major First Nations Termination Plan: As Negotiating Tables Legitimize Canada’s Colonialism - Gitxsan Unity Movement

adailyriot:

On September 4th the Harper government clearly signaled its intention to:

1) Focus all its efforts to assimilate First Nations into the existing federal and provincial orders of government of Canada;

2) Terminate the constitutionally protected and internationally recognized Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights of First Nations.

Termination in this context means the ending of First Nations pre-existing sovereign status through federal coercion of First Nations into Land Claims and Self-Government Final Agreements that convert First Nations into municipalities, their reserves into fee simple lands and extinguishment of their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.

To do this the Harper government announced three new policy measures:

  • A “results based” approach to negotiating Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements. This is an assessment process of 93 negotiation tables across Canada to determine who will and who won’t agree to terminate Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights under the terms of Canada’s Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies. For those tables who won’t agree, negotiations will end as the federal government withdraws from the table and takes funding with them.
  • First Nation regional and national political organizations will have their core funding cut and capped. For regional First Nation political organizations the core funding will be capped at $500,000 annually. For some regional organizations this will result in a funding cut of $1 million or more annually. This will restrict the ability of Chiefs and Executives of Provincial Territorial  organization’s to organize and/or advocate for First Nations rights and interests.
  • First Nation Band and Tribal Council funding for advisory services will be eliminated over the next two years further crippling the ability of Chiefs and Councils and Tribal Council executives to analyze and assess the impacts of federal and provincial policies and legislation on Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

These three new policy measures are on top of the following unilateral federal legislation the Harper government is imposing over First Nations:

  • Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act
  • Bill C-45: Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 [Omnibus Bill includes Indian Act amendments regarding voting on-reserve lands surrenders/designations]
  •  Bill S-2: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
  •  Bill S-6: First Nations Elections Act
  •  Bill S-8: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations
  •  Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act [Private Conservative MP’s Bill, but supported by Harper government]

Then there are the Senate Public Bills:

  • Bill S-207: An Act to amend the Interpretation Act (non derogation of aboriginal and treaty rights)
  •  Bill S-212: First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill

The Harper government’s Bills listed above are designed to undermine the collective rights of First Nations by focusing on individual rights. This is the “modern legislative framework” the Conservatives promised in 2006. The 2006 Conservative Platform promised to:

Replace the Indian Act (and related legislation) with a modern legislative framework which provides for the devolution of full legal and democratic responsibility to aboriginal Canadians for their own affairs within the Constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Of course “modern” in Conservative terms means assimilation of First Nations by termination of their collective rights and off-loading federal responsibilities onto the First Nations themselves and the provinces.

One Bill that hasn’t been introduced into Parliament yet, but is still expected, is the First Nations’ Private Ownership Act (FNPOA). This private property concept for Indian Reserves—which has been peddled by the likes of Tom Flanagan and tax proponent and former Kamloops Chief Manny Jules—is also a core plank of the Harper government’s 2006 electoral platform.

The 2006 Conservative Aboriginal Platform promised that if elected a Harper government would:

Support the development of individual property ownership on reserves, to encourage lending for private housing and businesses.

The long-term goals set out in the Harper government’s policy and legislative initiatives listed above are not new; they are at least as old as theIndian Act and were articulated in the federal 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, which set out a plan to terminate Indian rights as the time.

Previous Termination Plans: 1969 White Paper & Buffalo Jump of 1980’s

The objectives of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy were to:

  • Assimilate First Nations.
  • Remove legislative recognition.
  • Neutralize constitutional status.
  • Impose taxation.
  • Encourage provincial encroachment.
  • Eliminate Reserve lands & extinguish Aboriginal Title.
  • Economically underdevelop communities.
  • Dismantle Treaties.

As First Nations galvanized across Canada to fight the Trudeau Liberal government’s proposed 1969 termination policy the federal government was forced to consider a strategy on how to calm the Indian storm of protest.

In a memo dated April 1, 1970, David Munro, an Assistant Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs on Indian Consultation and Negotiations, advised his political masters Jean Chrétien and Pierre Trudeau, as follows:

… in our definition of objectives and goals, not only as they appear in formal documents, but also as stated or even implied in informal memoranda, draft planning papers, or causal conversation. We must stop talking about having the objective or goal of phasing out in five years… We can still believe with just as much strength and sincerity that the [White Paper] policies we propose are the right ones…

The final [White Paper] proposal, which is for the elimination of special status in legislation, must be relegated far into the future… my conclusion is that we need not change the [White Paper] policy content, but we should put varying degrees of emphasis on its several components and we should try to discuss it in terms of its components rather than as a whole… we should adopt somewhat different tactics in relation to [the White Paper] policy, but that we should not depart from its essential content. (Emphasis added)

In the early 1970’s, the Trudeau Liberal government did back down publicly on implementing the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, but as we can see from Mr. Munro’s advice the federal bureaucracy changed the timeline from five years to a long-term implementation of the 1969 White Paper objectives of assimilation/termination.

In the mid-1980’s the Mulroney Conservative government resurrected the elements of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, through a Cabinet memo.

In 1985, a secret federal Cabinet submission was leaked to the media by a DIAND employee. The Report was nicknamed the “Buffalo Jump of the 1980’s” by another federal official. The nickname referred to the effect of the recommendations in the secret Cabinet document, which if adopted, would lead Status Indians to a cultural death — hence the metaphor.

The Buffalo Jump Report proposed a management approach for First Nations policy and
programs, which had the following intent:

  • Limiting & eventually terminating the federal trust obligations;
  • Reducing federal expenditures for First Nations, under funding programs, and prohibiting deficit financing;
  • Shifting responsibility and costs for First Nations services to provinces and “advanced bands” through co-management, tri-partite, and community self-government agreements;
  • “Downsizing” of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) through a devolution of program administration to “advanced bands” and transfer of programs to other federal departments;
  • Negotiating municipal community self-government agreements with First Nations which would result in the First Nation government giving up their Constitutional status as a sovereign government and becoming a municipality subject to provincial or territorial laws;
  • Extinguishing aboriginal title and rights in exchange for fee simple title under provincial or territorial law while giving the province or territory underlying title to First Nations lands.

The Mulroney government’s “Buffalo Jump” plan was temporarily derailed due the 1990 “Oka Crisis”. Mulroney responded to the “Oka Crisis” with his “Four Pillars” of Native Policy:

  • Accelerating the settlement of land claims;
  • Improving the economic and social conditions on Reserves;
  • Strengthening the relationships between Aboriginal Peoples and governments;
  • Examining the concerns of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples in contemporary Canadian life.

In 1991, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney also announced the establishment of a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which began its work later that year; the establishment of an Indian Claims Commission to review Specific Claims; the establishment of a BC Task Force on Claims, which would form the basis for the BC Treaty Commission Process.

In 1992, Aboriginal organizations and the federal government agreed, as part of the 1992 Charlottetown Accord, on amendments to theConstitution Act, 1982 that would have included recognition of the inherent right of self-government for Aboriginal people. For the first time, Aboriginal organizations had been full participants in the talks; however, the Accord was rejected in a national referendum.

With the failure of Canadian constitutional reform in 1992, for the last twenty years, the federal government—whether Liberal or Conservative—has continued to develop policies and legislation based upon the White Paper/Buffalo Jump objectives and many First Nations have regrettably agreed to compromise their constitutional/international rights by negotiating under Canada’s termination policies.

Canada’s Termination Policies Legitimized by Negotiation Tables

It has been thirty years since Aboriginal and Treaty rights have been “recognized and affirmed” in section 35 of Canada’s constitution. Why hasn’t the constitutional protection for First Nations’ Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights been implemented on the ground?

One answer to this question is, following the failure of the First Ministers’ Conferences on Aboriginal Matters in the 1980’s, many First Nations agreed to compromise their section 35 Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights by entering into or negotiating Modern Treaties and/or Self-government Agreements under Canada’s unilateral negotiation terms.

These Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements not only contribute to emptying out section 35 of Canada’s constitution of any significant legal, political or economic meaning. Final settlement agreements are then used as precedents against other First Nations’ who are negotiating.

Moreover, Canada’s Land Claims and Self-Government policies are far below the international standards set out in the Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canada publicly endorsed the UNDRIP in November 2010, but obviously Canada’s interpretation of the UNDRIP is different than that of most First Nations, considering their unilateral legislation and policy approach.

Canada’s voted against UNDRIP on Sept. 13, 2007, stating that the UNDRIP was inconsistent with Canada’s domestic policies, especially the Articles dealing with Indigenous Peoples’ Self-Determination, Land Rights and Free, Prior Informed Consent.

Canada’s position on UNDRIP now is that they can interpret it as they please, although the principles in UNDRIP form part of international not domestic law.

The federal strategy is to maintain the Indian Act (with amendments) as the main federal law to control and manage First Nations. The only way out of the Indian Act for First Nations is to negotiate an agreement under Canada’s one-sided Land Claims and/or Self-Government policies. These Land Claims/Self-Government Agreements all require the termination of Indigenous rights for some land, cash and delegated jurisdiction under the existing federal and provincial orders of government.

Canada has deemed that it will not recognize the pre-existing sovereignty of First Nations or allow for a distinct First Nations order of government based upon section 35 of Canada’s constitution.

Through blackmail, bribery or force, Canada is using the poverty of First Nations to obtain concessions from First Nations who want out of theIndian Act by way of Land Claims/Self- Government Agreements. All of these Agreements conform to Canada’s interpretation of section 35 of Canada’s constitution, which is to legally, politically and economically convert First Nations into what are essentially ethnic municipalities.

The first groups in Canada who have agreed to compromise their section 35 Inherent and Aboriginal rights through Modern Treaties have created an organization called the Land Claims Agreement Coalition. The Coalition Members are:

  • Council of Yukon First Nations (representing 9 land claim organizations in the Yukon)
  • Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
  • Gwich’in Tribal Council
  • Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
  • Kwanlin Dun First Nation
  • Maa-nulth First Nations
  • Makivik Corporation
  • Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach
  • Nisga’a Nation
  • Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
  • Nunatsiavut Government
  • Sahtu Secretariat Inc.
  • Tlicho Government
  • Tsawwassen First Nation
  • Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

The Land Claims Agreement Coalition Members came together because the federal government wasn’t properly implementing any of their Modern Treaties. So the Coalition essentially became a lobby group to collectively pressure the federal government to respect their Modern Treaties. According to Members of the Coalition Modern Treaty implementation problems persist today.

The fact that Canada has already broken the Modern Treaties shouldn’t inspire confidence for those First Nations who are already lined up at Canada’s Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government negotiation tables.

According to the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs there are 93 Modern Treaty and/or Self-Government negotiation tables across Canada [http://www.aadncaandc.gc.ca/eng/1346782327802/1346782485058].

Those First Nations who are negotiating at these 93 tables are being used by the federal government (and the provinces/Territories) to legitimize its Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies, which are based upon extinguishment of Aboriginal Title and termination of Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

The First Nations who have been refusing to negotiate and are resisting the federal Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government negotiating policies are routinely ignored by the federal government and kept under control and managed through the Indian Act (with amendments).

Attempts by non-negotiating First Nations to reform the federal Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies aren’t taken seriously by the federal government because there are so many First Nations who have already compromised their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights by agreeing to negotiate under the terms and funding conditions of these Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies.

For example, following the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision, which recognized that Aboriginal Title exists in Canada, the Assembly of First Nations tried to reform the Comprehensive Claims policy to be consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukwdecision.

However, the then Minister of Indian Affairs, Robert Nault on December 22, 2000, wrote a letter addressed to then Chief Arthur Manuelthat essentially said why should the federal government change the Comprehensive Claims policy if First Nations are prepared to negotiate under it as it is?

A fair question: why do First Nations remain at negotiation tables that ultimately lead to the termination of their peoples Inherent and Aboriginal rights, especially since it appears that Modern Treaties are routinely broken after they are signed by the federal government?

Many of these negotiations are in British Columbia where despite the past twenty years of negotiations the B.C. Treaty process has produced two small Modern Treaties, Tsawwassan and Maa’Nulth. The Nisga’a Treaty was concluded in 2000, outside of the B.C. Treaty process.

All of these Modern Treaties have resulted in extinguishing Aboriginal Title, converting reserve lands into fee simple, removing tax exemptions, converting bands into municipalities, among other impacts on Inherent and Aboriginal rights.

The Harper Government’s Termination Plan

Aside from the unilateral legislation being imposed, or the funding cuts and caps to First Nation’s and their political organizations, the September 4, 2012, announcement of a “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations amounts to a “take it or leave it” declaration on the part of the Harper government to the negotiating First Nations.

Canada’s Comprehensive Claims Policy requires First Nations to borrow money from the federal government to negotiate their “land claims”. According to the federal government:

To date, the total of outstanding loans to Aboriginal groups from Canada to support their participation in negotiations is $711 million. This represents a significant financial liability for the Aboriginal community. In addition, the government of Canada provides $60 million in grants and contributions to Aboriginal groups every year for negotiations.

It is Canada’s policies that forced First Nations to borrow money to negotiate their “claims”, so the “financial liability” was a policy measure designed by the federal government to pressure First Nations into settling their “claims” faster. As the federal government puts it, the Comprehensive Claims negotiation process has instead “spawned a negotiation industry that has no incentive to reach agreement.”

This accumulated debt of $711 million along with the $60 million annual in grants and contributions have compromised those negotiating First Nations and their leaders to the point that they are unable or unwilling to seriously confront the Harper government’s termination plan.

Over 50% of the Comprehensive Claims are located in B.C. and the First Nations Summit represents the negotiating First Nations in B.C., although some negotiating First Nations have now joined the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), thus blurring the historic distinctions between to two political organizations. The latter organization previously vigorously opposed the B.C. Treaty process, but now theUBCIC remains largely silent about it.

These two main political organizations — the First Nations Summit and the UBCIC — have now joined together into the B.C. First Nations Leadership Council, further blending the rights and interests of their respective member communities together, not taking into account whether they are in or out of the B.C. Treaty process.

This may partially explain why the Chiefs who are not in the B.C. Treaty process also remain largely silent about the Harper government’s “results based’ approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations.

First Nations in British Columbia are failing to capitalize on that fact, that since the Delgamuukw Decision, the governments have to list unresolved land claims and litigation as a contingent liability. Such liabilities can affect Canada’s sovereign credit rating and provincial credit ratings. To counter this outstanding liability, Canada points to the British Columbia Treaty Process as the avenue how they are dealing with this liability, pointing to the fact that First Nations are borrowing substantive amounts to negotiate with the governments.

Another recent example of how disconnected B.C. First Nations and their organizations are on international versus domestic policy and law, is the First Nations’ outcry over the recent Canada-China Treaty.

The B.C. Chiefs and their organizations are publicly denouncing the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement as adversely impacting on Aboriginal Title and Rights, yet they say or do nothing about Harper’s accelerated termination plan. It seems the negotiating First Nations are more worried about the Canada-China Treaty blocking a future land claims deal under the B.C. Treaty process.

The Chiefs and their organizations at the B.C. Treaty process negotiation tables have had twenty years to negotiate the “recognition and affirmation” of Aboriginal Title and Rights, but this continues to be impossible under Canada’s policies aiming at the extinguishment of collective rights. As a result only two extinguishment Treaties have resulted from the process. Even Sophie Pierre, Chair of the B.C. Treaty Commission has said “If we can’t do it, it’s about time we faced the obvious - I guess we don’t have it, so shut her down”.

By most accounts the twenty year old B.C. Treaty process has been a failure. It has served the governments’ purpose of countering their contingent liabilities regarding Indigenous land rights. Yet it seems the negotiating First Nations are so compromised by their federal loans and dependent on the negotiations funding stream that they are unable or unwilling to withdraw from the tables en masse and make real on the demand that the Harper government reform its Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies to be consistent with the Articles of the UNDRIP.

The same can also be said for the negotiating First Nations in the Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions.

The Chiefs who are not in the B.C., Quebec or Atlantic negotiating processes have not responded much, if at all, to Harper’s “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government. The non-negotiating Chiefs seem to be more interested in managing programs and services issues than their Aboriginal Title and Rights. As one federal official put it, the Chiefs are involved in the elements of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy like economic and social development while ignoring the main White Paper objective—termination of First Nations legal status.

Conclusion

Given their silence over the Harper government’s “results based” “take it or leave it” negotiations approach, it seems many of the negotiating First Nations at the Comprehensive Claims and/or Self-Government tables are still contemplating concluding Agreements under Canada’s termination policies.

This can only lead to further division among First Nations across Canada as more First Nations compromise their constitutional and international rights by consenting to final settlement agreements under the terms and conditions of Canada’s termination policies, while undermining the political positions of the non-negotiating First Nations.

In the meantime, Harper’s government will continue pawning off Indigenous lands and resources in the midst of a financial crisis though free trade and foreign investment protection agreements, which will secure foreign corporate access to lands and resources and undermine Indigenous Rights.

Some First Nation leaders and members have criticised AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo for agreeing to a joint approach with the Harper government, including the Crown-First Nations Gathering (CFNG), but to be fair, the Chiefs across Canada did nothing to pressure Prime Minister Harper going into the CFNG. Instead, many Chiefs used the occasion as a photo op posing with the Prime Minister.

The negotiating First Nations who are in joint processes with Canada seem to be collectively heading to the cliff of the “Buffalo Jump” as they enter termination agreements with Canada emptying out section 35 in the process.

Much of the criticism of AFN National Chief Atleo has come from the Prairie Treaty Chiefs. Interestingly, if one looks at the federal chart of the 93 negotiation tables [http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1346782327802/1346782485058] not too many First Nations from historic Treaty areas are involved in the Self-Government tables, except for the Ontario region where the Union of Ontario Indians and Nisnawbe-Aski Nationare negotiating Self-Government agreements.

As a result of the September 4, 2012 announcements regarding changes to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations, cuts and caps to funding First Nations political organizations and unilateral legislation initiatives, it is obvious that Prime Minister Harper has tricked the AFN National Chief and First Nations by showing that the CFNG “outcomes” were largely meaningless.

One commitment that Prime Minister Harper made at the CFNG—which he will probably keep—Is making a progress report in January 2013. The Prime Minister will probably announce the progress being made with all of the negotiating tables across Canada, along with his legislative initiatives.

It appears First Nations are at the proverbial “end of the trail” as the Chiefs seem to be either co-opted or afraid to challenge the Harper government. Most grassroots peoples aren’t even fully informed about the dangerous situation facing them and their future generations.

The only way to counter the Harper government is to:

  • have all negotiating First Nations suspend their talks; and
  • organize coordinated National Days of Action to register First Nations opposition to the Harper government’s termination plan;
  • Demand Canada suspend all First Nations legislation in Parliament, cease introducing new Bills and
  • Change Canada’s Land Claims and Self-Government Policies to “recognize and affirm” the Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of First Nations, including respect and implementation of the Historic Treaties.

If there is no organized protest and resistance to the Harper government’s termination plan, First Nations should accept their place at the bottom of all social, cultural and economic indicators in Canada, just buy into Harper’s jobs and economic action plan—and be quiet about their rights.

*

The First Nations Strategic Bulletin is a publication of the First Nations Strategic Policy Counsel, an informal group of individuals who are practitioners in either First Nations policy or law. The publication is a volunteer non-profit effort and is part of a series. For Back Issues Go To: Canada Library & Archives - Electronic Collections.


(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)

hardhatpartycat

So racism against black people does not exist in Canada.

biyuti:

sourcedumal:

hardhatpartycat:

Good to know.

So that whole slavery thing just didn’t exist, right? Okay. Just checking.

I suppose no one should mention how Black Canadians get 1/3 of racial hate crimes while only being about 2% or so of the Canadian population…

Next you’ll talk about Canada’s history of segregation & all kinds of shit will pop off.

(via biyuti)

hardhatpartycat

So racism against black people does not exist in Canada.

sourcedumal:

hardhatpartycat:

Good to know.

So that whole slavery thing just didn’t exist, right? Okay. Just checking.

Transgender participant in Miss Universe beauty pageant disqualified after being revealed as trans

alexandraerin:

mandapolos:

alexandraerin:

mandapolos:

alexandraerin:

mandapolos:

It’s entirely possible that she was disqualified for something like not yet legally changing her gender but I doubt that’s the whole story, especially since they won’t say why she’s disqualified.

And?

? Speculating on possible reasons for her disqualification? 

You haven’t added anything new to the idea that she was disqualified for being trans, though. You just phrased it a little differently.

Ah, I see. I was trying to make a distinction between technically legal methods of disqualification and others. 

And that kind of hair-splitting legalism doesn’t sit well with me. It gives cover to bigotry. 

If they eventually come out and say that sadly they unfortunately had to disqualify her because a form still inaccurately reflected her as male… there is not a universe in which they would have kept her on even if she had all those particular i’s dotted. There would have been some other reason.

Or “no reason”. I guarantee you they have the right to disqualify people for no reason. We’d be hearing something about the “spirit” or “traditions” of the competition. Or they’d be saying that it’s not a disqualifying feature but not being upfront about it was.

Whatever rationale they’re using is just that: a rationale. The reason is that she’s trans. Positioning some excuses as more legitimate than other ultimately legitimizes what they’re doing.

(via blue-author)

youtube.com

adailyriot:

commodcheese:

inspirationby:

leadpipelucy718:

ATTAWAPISKAT HOUSING-CRISIS (by charlieangus)

PLEASE WATCH AND REBLOG

I will be posting this video onces an hour [you’ve been warned]

3 weeks ago Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency and no one has helped. This is a place in Ontario, we need to help.

Absolutely heartbreaking

This is extremely fucked up. We need to start looking into alternative energy resources for our reservations.

re-reblog for those of you who have begun following me since November. This is still an on going issue/reality though the media has now almost all together stopped paying it mind.

please watch this video, educate yourself on this issue and help these folks out.

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)

ayiman
ayiman:

A painting by Cree artist Allen Sapp, depicting a mother with her baby in a waspison

ayiman:

A painting by Cree artist Allen Sapp, depicting a mother with her baby in a waspison


(via dammitcaleb-deactivated20130328)

Children of the Dragonfly Excerpt - Black Robes

adailyriot:

 The importance of language in the replacement of Indian culture “cannot be overstated,” according to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: “The entire residential school project was balanced on the proposition that the gate to assimilation was unlocked only by the progressive destruction of Aboriginal languages” (Canada, Report 1.10.1). Yet in “Black Robes” (1996), her grandmother will not let the young Lee Maracle speak her own language. Her advice to the girl is to “Master their language, daughter; hidden within it is the way we are to live among them.” From that directive the writer’s work grows.

[ADR Warning: ableist language ahead]

Black Robes

By Lee Maracle

            The children of our people must seek knowledge wherever life presents it. Black Robe was a new thing: thus, she was there in the green meadow where Mexica horses lolled about, clipping grass and enjoying the soft warmth of mother sun. Here, indeed, was something different. Wordlessly, she absorbed its newness.

            Black Robe seemed agitated. He spoke fast, and later the girl learned from her father’s account to her mother that he never repeated his listeners’ words as we do (very rude). She heard everything Black Robe said only because her father spoke in the old way. He was careful to repeat Black Robe’s words verbatim, to show respect for the speaker’s vision of truth and to ensure that no misunderstanding or distortion of his words occurred. Then, her father answered him.

            “There is only learning and knowledge, Black Robe. We do not deny our children knowledge. You say that you have teachers who will show my children how to live. Can you not see? Behind me sits my daughter, who is neither blind nor deaf no imprisoned. She is free to seek knowledge among whomever she chooses to learn from. Her presence among adults indicates her desire to know. Hence, are we not obligated to give her our knowledge whenever she walks among us? You see her. She will have no need of interpreters if we continue to counsel, you and I. What need, then, has she of this place called ‘school’?

            “Her brothers and she can learn things that we cannot teach them, like medicine, sanitation, housekeeping and flight, you say.” Her old father laughed. “When she grows wings and learns to fly, will she also acquire the beauty and sense of freedom of the eagle, the brazenness and wit of raven? Will her eyes see at night like owl? Black Robe, show me how you fly and my daughter will fly tomorrow; then, she will have no need of canoes. It takes a long time to build a bridal canoe.

“You say she will learn not flying, but different things than her brothers; that her brothers will learn about flying in something of their own making, not by themselves. In a glider, you say. That they will not actually make such a thing but only know of its existence. Of what use is such knowledge? You will fill my young men’s minds with useless knowledge, Black Robe. You say my daughter will learn how to be a good Christian wife, to do a thing called read from deadwood leaves. What need has she to be a woman different than what she is? To kill trees and put marks on deadwood leaves o remind her of how she must conduct herself? She is not lazy, nor is she forgetful. She is a good girl and will become a good woman. She will make a good wife –maybe Pierre’s wife,” he teased. She blushed and looked at the ground. Her old father chuckled sensuously.

            Black Robe sucked in his breath. (I should not say this, nor even think it, but written on his face was exasperation, like when a young girl weaves her first basket and her fingers disobey the heart and will not weave it right.) The interpreter interjected, trying to bring depth to Black Robe’s shallow vision of life. He tried to make the father and Black Robe see each other’s point of view; to make them understand hat there is no disagreement over the value of different (new) knowledge, but only a difference in how to learn –at home, or far away, with children from many different villages.

            The interpreter is not speaker or listener, so neither Black Robe nor the father responded. But his words stayed with the young woman. She looked hard at the interpreter. She knew that her father would not relent. Her eyes tried to tell the interpreter that Black Robe was wasting his time. She wanted to save him more embarrassment. Soon the father would look upon his pleas as begging. No woman should sit and watch a man reduce himself to a beggar without first warning him. Black Robe was blind to the young woman’s eyes and the interpreter dared not say what he thought he saw in the young woman’s eyes.

            Black Robe did not stop talking.

            In the end, the father did not relent, but he invited Black Robe to counsel whomever he pleased. “Turn anyone around that you may, Black Robe.” It was for her father a great and generous concession.

            His prophecy about the young woman and the interpreter came to be. Pierre Deneuve, a man whose father came from a place called France and his mother from her own people, came to be her partner.

            Partner. Husband in English. She learned to understand his immodest and mean language which has so many names for the same man; as though they were the land, not men from-such-and-such a land. She never bothered to speak the language much, and by the time I came to be it was hard for her to speak English.

            In the warmth of her kitchen the soft tones of her voice toughed my ears and gentled my raucous spirit. She brought me sadness but once in the multitude of after-school days I spent in her kitchen. I had learned not to query uselessly before I learned to speak. This day I mentioned all my great-grandmothers and how I would like to see them. She could not give me their presence; instead she gave me her story.

            “Pierre tried to teach me all the new things he knew, but they never made sense.” She winced and laughed mischievously. “He said that he was a Christian, a Catholic, an interpreter, a Half-breed, a worker, and not just Pierre. To me, he was always Pierre. The funniest thing he said was that he was a Roman Catholic. Rome is in a place called Italy –far away. How could he be from here and from Italy?”

            She stopped laughing. Silent, gentle tears flowed from her tired eyes. “He made me send my children to school. All my babies, I knew them only while they were small. They came home men and women. So different were they from me. So many of their words grated on my being, foreign words, like Pierre’s. So little did they speak their own language. Today, I am surrounded by the faces of our people speaking as the Black Robes spoke. IN the faces of the children are written the characters of the people of the Black Robes. The laughter of my ancients died in the house that Pierre built.

            “ ‘My brothers, my sisters are all dead from the Black Robes’ disease or killed in their wars. How can you ask me to send my little ones to grace their presence and not shorten my own life with their smiles and their growth? Will you call me wife, yet deny me motherhood’ I asked him.”

            She said that Pierre had said a lot of nice things to ease her pain, but he sent the children. “Of what use were nice words? Was he standing at the precipice of our son’s grave –my son–alcohol-crazed, screaming insane words at a room with deaf walls, in a dirty hotel, while alcohol ate the life from his body? No. The Black Robes’ disease had already taken his life and it was I who had to bury my son. All mothers ever ask of life is to die before their children. I have buried four of mine. Worse, now I must bury my tiny little grandchildren.”

            She whispered in the language of the old people, a language she forbade me to speak lest the craziness of her sons and daughters who had died overtake me. Lest I have no one language but become a crippled two-tongue.

            “Master their language, daughter; hidden within it is the way we are to live among them. It is clear that they will never go away. Every year more of them come. England, France, Wales –all must be terrible places, for they keep coming here to get away from there. I do not begrudge them a place here, but why do they have to bequeath to us the very things they escape from?”

            It was like that in the 1950s in the wood-smoked kitchens of our grannies. I thought then that I would join the lonely march of six-year-old children going to grow up in the convent, missing my mom and unable to speak to my brothers. What a shock when school arrived and I was thrown not among Native children, but Europeans. The teacher was not a nun, but an ordinary white woman.

            Back in my granny’s kitchen I was in tears, complaining about not being with the other children. She watched me weep until a deep sense of foolishness overtook me and I stopped the flow of my tears. “You are fortunate. How else will we master the language and keep our ways unless we can learn among them and still live with our mothers and grandmothers? You are fortunate. How else will we learn to master their ways and still master the ancient art of motherhood unless we are schooled by them and our mothers too? Further, it is not our way to bring misery to others. Better to teach them to treat you as a human being ought to be treated than to come here making gifts of misery to an old woman who has done you no harm.” Her silence spelled dismissal.

            At age ten I stood at the edge of my granny’s grave, surrounded by Europeans, and witnessed the burial of our ancient ways. I wondered if the birth of a new world founded on the coming together of both our histories was really possible. Would Europeans ever look at me and see an equal, not an aborted cripple but a human being with all my frailties, my separate history, and our common future? I would not have had such thoughts if the grandmothers of this land had not battered themselves with the question, mused aloud in the presence of their granddaughters.

            Had mass death, tuberculosis, and the loss of our grandmothers’ right to raise their young not have accompanied the development of Canada, the settlers would not have though thus. Should we have been invited not as inferior sub-humans, but as people with a great contribution to make the creation of a next nation, death would not haunt us as it does. More, our disappearance from the realm of history –the lingering realization that to most Canadians we do not exist –would not be our intimate agony.

            Racism is an essential by-product of colonialism. That Europeans came her to escape something may be true, but it was not the real reason for erecting a colonial colossus all over the world. It was not the reason for he enslavement and importation of millions of African citizens to work our lands and build a meaner system than the world had ever known.

            Europeans today see Natives without being able to imagine our grandmothers. They never see the old woman who shaped our lives: the ankle-length flowered and paisley cotton skirts; the warm earth colours of their clothes; the kerchiefs and laughing eyes are lost to Europeans. They can never hear the soft tones of our grandmothers’ ancient languages.

            Europeans are blinded by Hollywood images. How sad. Not for me, but for them, as humanity is forever lost to those who would object to the colours and voices of the people of the past that have left their mark on the hearts and minds of the people of the present.

            As a child I was humiliated by a string of teachers wearing brothel-tinted sunglasses. I was accused of sluttish behavior by a moralizing principal whose assessment of me was guided by the colour of my skin rather than my character. Now that line of teachers look pathetic and the poetry of T.S. Eliot burns new meaning into the pages of my own book: “We are the hollow men / stuffed men…”

            I no longer weep for myself or the lost Europeans, but rather insist on writing myself into a new book that counts all of humanity on its tender warm and colourful pages.

            We are not integrated people. We do not even co-exist peacefully. The reality of death still mangles our existence.

            Black Widow-maker

            Death hangs over us

            like a black widow-maker

            on a treeless mountainside.

            A beleaguered army

            caught in a valley

            we thought green, lush

            and teaming with life

                        suddenly becomes a swamp

                        full of alligators

                        leeches, filth and disease

                        DIS-EASE

            Caused more by the shame

            of being fooled one more time.

            In the darkness of our own

            confusion we have forgotten

            our reason for being.

In our grannies’ kitchens, where the scent of wood smoke and sumptuous meals cooked over a thousand fires lingered in the unpainted walls and cupboards, that is where I learned he laws which enabled me to love my children. In my granny’s kitchen, the sweet smells and gentle words soothed the aches and pains of a six-year-old growing up in a schizophrenic situation. Unlike in school, in my granny’s kitchen I as not made to memorize or even contemplate the meaning of her words.

            “You will remember what you need to know when the time comes.”

            Right then, it was he sunshine of her presence that I needed. Her radiance was neither finite nor momentary. It was this shower that I bequeath to my children.

            Her love was not without discipline, but it did preclude violence. I searched her story for some parable, but after many years realized there was none. She could not give me my ancestors. I would have to find them myself. Not to let me walk away empty-handed, she gave me herself. She must have known I was desperate, for she never shamed me for begging. I was desperate, so desperate.

            Before the fires of maddened Blacks burned their anger into the face of a frightened white America and made it forever impossible to erase African-Americans, there was sleep. The sleep of fools who know what they do but don’t think of the consequences of their actions. It was the sleep of an insipid historical continuum that repeated its idiocy, not just by force of habit, bt because no one raised any objections.

            Force is the midwife of historical change.

            “I was the best of times and the worst of times…” We need only add, “and the stupidest of times,” and we will have painted the prosperous ‘50s in the bleak colours of mass insensitivity and righteous, red-neck practice. In the ‘50s there was no challenge. The Red “man” was vanquished –cosigned to a kind of living purgatory in curio shops and tourist-trap trading posts. The Black “man” was reduced to a toe-tapping bundle of rhythm. (Black and Red women did not exist for anyone, yet.) All Natives were happy, and working-class European-cum-CanAmerica was movin’ up.

            Before Rusty and Alexander Street,

            skid row and my children

            there was my grandmother.

            On the shore by the lakes

            and in the hills of our heritage,

            our grannies sat on dead wood logs

            behind the Black Robes

            and their fathers.

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)

rabbrakha

GTA woman has niqab pulled off in assault

paradiscacorbasi:

glockgal:

jogi-nachle:

A Muslim woman from Mississauga, Ont., who had her niqab pulled from her face at a local mall, says her young children no longer feel secure with only her nearby.

Kadri was shopping with her three-year-old son and two-year-old daughter when she was approached by two women. One of the women began swearing at her, about her religion and her veil, telling her, “Leave our country. Go back to your country,” Kadri said.

The woman can be seen in the video grabbing Kadri’s veil and pulling her off-camera. The attacker walked away while Kadri ran for help.

The accused, Rosemarie Creswell, pleaded guilty after the video was played in court.

When CBC News spoke to Creswell on the phone, she admitted to pulling off the veil but insisted it was all just a misunderstanding, before hanging up mid-interview.

Kadri believes the attack was motivated by hate, which could bring a stiffer sentence.

Y’know what’s really sad is that there are probably (supposedly open-minded, supposedly anti-racist, supposedly liberal) people out there who will try to argue that this attack wasn’t a hate crime/ that Kadri was over-reacting/ that it really was just a misunderstanding. 

Go Canada, eh.

“Leave our country. Go back to your country”.  

NOTHING TO MISUNDERSTAND.  

Lots of racism. Lots of assumption, as people who wear niqab or burqa or hijab can be NATIVE TO THE COUNTRY in which they are currently standing.  

Ignorant ignoramuses.

Watch someone who will insist they are a feminist claim she was trying to help her by freeing her from the tyranny of her veil

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beatbank

beatbank:

Song: Viola Desmond by the Stolen Minks

Viola Desmond

On 8 November 1946, Viola Desmond, a black Nova Scotian, refused to leave her seat in the white only section of a cinema. She was forcibly removed from the theatre, held in a male cell block, charged with tax evasion in the amount of 1 cent (the cost difference between white floor seating and black balcony seating), tried without counsel and fined $26 dollars. She fought the conviction up to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia but her appeals were denied.

The authorities never acknowledged that she was black and arrested because of a racist policy. Her struggle contributed to the eventual changing of segregation laws in Nova Scotia. In April 2010, against the wishes of her family, the Nova Scotian government pardoned Viola Desmond.

Today I can’t find a single article acknowledging what should be a well known event in the history of Canadian civil rights. Without public recognition of systematic institutionalized racism in Canada (past and present) we are ill-equipped to identify interpersonal racism or our own prejudices. Those who experience racism remain oppressed yet invisible.

More:

Viola Desmond is not Canada’s Rosa Parks by Renee Martin

Viola Desmond (and more links) from BlackHistoryCanada.ca

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