Sunday, January 13, 2013

Idle Forever

White Man divies up the land ca 1860

So IdleNoMore will continue. The meeting with the Prime Minister has happened with high marks from some and unequivocal condemnation from others. From here, it looks like Stephen Harper dropped the ball, but let’s not be too quick to make it sound like he’s a complete incompetent; since John A. MacDonald, every prime minister has bungled this one. There hasn’t been a government able to deal with the meaning of treaties in its time, and there isn’t likely to be one anytime soon.
               It’s monumentally frustrating. Like a bunch of people pushing a car to get it started and no one bothering to notice that someone has removed the wheels. Until the wheels are replaced, there’s no way that the car will ever go even if by some miracle, the engine could be made to start.
The first wheel was taken off by the fur trade; the colonialist drive for new economic frontiers that changed the face of the then-“Canadian” commerce. The second wheel was removed by the bartering of territory for the privilege of being perpetually dependent—a bad trade if there ever was one. That would already have disabled the vehicle, but then the asinine idea of assimilation through residential schools gained impetus and the very core of any culture—the nurturance of children by their mothers and fathers, family if you will—was decimated. The final wheel wouldn’t have needed to be stolen; the die was already cast, but being the greedy culture that we are, we had to have it. This we achieved by consigning the aboriginal population to perpetual poverty by providing cheap schools, cheap housing, cheap healthcare while eying even the little territory with which they were left for further theft.
               Maybe manifest destiny is a fact. Maybe if Europeans had said, “Hey, this land is occupied; we’ve no right to it until invited!” and gone back home, Asians would eventually have crossed the Pacific and forcibly colonized it from the west. Absurd thought, but given the geometric population increases in the world, the constant struggle for Lebensraum that that entails, maybe subjugation of people with fewer means by people with greater means is the manifest destiny of the planet. Maybe fairness in this struggle to conquest on the one hand and survival on the other is as natural to the human condition as is eating and breeding.
               But it seems so wrong. We ought to be advanced and intelligent enough to find ways to replace the wheels on the car. Obviously, our current government and our present governor-general haven’t a clue how such a development might even get started. But then, do you? Do I?
               Here’s one attempt I would suggest to replace at least one of the wheels for a start: a treaty senate. This would be a continuous parliament of a dozen (give or take) of the brightest and best of the First Nations community and a similar dozen of the most astute Canadian nation thinkers whose task would be to arbitrate what it means to enact treaties in the current climate in the spirit in which they were signed. Their rulings would be binding on both First Nations and Canadian governments.
               It’s so sad to see IdleNoMore straining at a car that has no wheels. So very sad.

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