My friends... I don't normally go totally OFF on someone, but this morning? Yep. I am FIGHTING MAD! I was sent a link to the OttawaSun online and read the foolish words from a foolish man.
I wrote my comments back to the columnist (I placed my words in blue at the end of this piece if you want to read my reply to Geoff Matthews.) If you feel led to do so, perhaps our voices need to be heard on this one. Pilamaye, have a blessed day,
Here is the link to the Editorial Page:
By GEOFF MATTHEWS
Let's see. How can we put this delicately, so as not to offend politically correct sensitivities.
"It has been brought to our attention " ... no, that won't do it.
"There appear to be irreconcilable differences " ... nope, that's no better.
Aw the heck with it. Best just to blurt it out. I'm getting sick and tired of a never-ending series of demonstrations, blockades, sit ins and assorted other protests in the name of Native land claims.
There. Now I feel better.
This week the tussles between Natives and big, bad governments have been brought to our own backyard in the National Capital Region -- first with a threat by an Algonquin band that it may block construction of the north-south rapid transit rail link unless it wins compensation for land it claims along the route; then by off-reserve Natives who have set up a tent city in Gatineau.
Elsewhere in Ontario, meanwhile, a five-month old blockade finally appears to be coming down in Caledonia, near Hamilton, while 75 km north of Kenora protesters are blocking a bridge to stop logging on what the Grassy Narrows First Nation calls its traditional lands.
In these cases and countless others playing out across Canada the disputes center on treaties signed a couple of centuries ago, when our country was a far, far different place than it is today.
The treaties -- which may have been meaningful in the 1700s -- have lost their relevance in a 21st century world.
We have moved on and built cities and infrastructure. We don't have to hunt and forage for food; nor do we stitch our own clothing from animal hides.
We drive cars and SUVs from air-conditioned homes to air-conditioned offices and shopping malls. We use cellphones and Blackberries and desktop and laptop computers.
Some northern Native bands cling precariously to the ways of the past but even they give a nod to the inexorable onset of technology, traveling to the hunt by snowmobile and keeping in touch with one another over mobile phones.
And yet we perpetuate the concept of "us" and "them" societies with "us" being those who trace their ancestry to more recent immigrants to Canada and "them" being the descendants of the so-called Native bands that found their way to North America far earlier.
Many of today's Natives are segregated on reserve lands -- places of notoriously high unemployment and social problems, funded to the tune of billions of dollars a year by Canadian taxpayers.
Others have moved into our cities and towns, but still strive to maintain their links to their aboriginal pasts. It is this latter group that is now protesting in downtown Gatineau -- a stone's throw from a federal office building.
Isn't it time that we put aside this great divide between "Native" and "non-Native" segments of our society and learned to share the wonderful prosperity that Canada has to offer?
That's not to suggest that we forget anyone's heritage. Go back in history far enough and we all arrived here from foreign shores, whether our ancestors began their trek in Asia, Africa, Europe or South America.
But creating cultural enclaves, special rules, tax exemptions, financial compensation and land entitlements is serving no one well.
As our country developed, mistakes were made. Actions were taken 200 years ago that, viewed by today's standards, were horrific and wrong.
No doubt some Native bands were given the bum's rush from land they had occupied for decades to make way for the construction of cities and factories and stores.
But those days are long past. We cannot crank back the calendar and do things differently. What we can do -- and must do -- is embrace one another. Live together and in harmony, as a country where one set of rules and laws applies to all citizens.
Let each of us be proud of his or her heritage and ancestry, but at the same time let each of us be an equal member of today's Canada.
Letters to the editor should be sent to email@example.com.
MY REPLY TO GEOFF MATTHEWS:
I normally don't use this word but sometimes? This is the only word that fits. The dictionary states that the meaning of "Fool" is : a silly person, simpleton, a jester, a dupe, joker, to meddle with, to trick or deceive, to trifle."
Well Geoff, when the "shoe fits...wear it." I suppose you would have to remove the shoe from your mouth first, and then you could place it on your foot. Perhaps once it is on your foot, you might choose to walk a "mile in OUR shoes" beside us. The Native/Indigenous people of all the World communities would love to enlighten you during that walk.
You said, "The treaties -- which may have been meaningful in the 1700s -- have lost their relevance in a 21st century world." The very FIRST governments here were originally formed upon the tribal formats of whom we now refer to as the "6Nations." The Iroquois Confederacy directly influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in their drafting of the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation. The Iroquois and their "governments" provided the basis for the American system of federal democracy that exists today.
To thank the Native People for this amazing gift? George Washington murdered village after village of these same People. What a "thank you gift" that was. I guess if the "treaties are meaningless," as you say? Then because OUR people were here upon Turtle Island FIRST? We should ignore your treaties with us and kick you right back to wherever you came from. Sounds good to me. I hear the border between Israel and Lebanon has much available space. Perhaps your European doctrines would catch on well over there with those Indigenous People.
You said, "We have moved on and built cities and infrastructure. We don't have to hunt and forage for food; nor do we stitch our own clothing from animal hides. We drive cars and SUVs from air-conditioned homes to air-conditioned offices and shopping malls. We use cellphones and Blackberries and desktop and laptop computers." Yes indeed! All at the expense of the very environment that sustains us all...we have all these things at the expense of our own global health and future security for generations to come. When there is not an animal left for food or clothing or sheer enjoyment of their presence...when the plants we need for survival cannot grow in the earth because of pollution and the water undrinkable... I suppose we can thank the great Europeans for their "gifts" to us all. If you doubt the warnings that OUR People have given the World about the harm we are doing to Earth, then perhaps you should do some research into global warming, species extinction rates, pandemics...well I think you get my drift here.
You said, "Live together and in harmony, as a country where one set of rules and laws applies to all citizens. Let each of us be proud of his or her heritage and ancestry, but at the same time let each of us be an equal member of today's Canada." Here is the biggest hypocritical portion of your public sermonizing. This principle applies to all Indigenous People across the Earth... WE should not and WILL NOT adopt fully, your culture, religions, and theories as our own. For thousands of years, our languages, religions, forms of self-government and survival mechanisms met our needs. The procreation of the European ideal rears its ugly head again. Perhaps you were taught this mantra in school, "Teach the meek and lowly of heart... those poor miserable people who do not have OUR religion or thought processes, that OUR WAY is the BEST way."
Indigenous People all over the planet are being forced from their homelands and have been for centuries. They are losing their religions, languages, and cultural ways at astonishing rates. If your words have any validity to them other than trying to place the "healing band-aid" upon a centuries-old conflict? Then perhaps you should re-write your column and include the only true, bottom line information that applies globally to the "fools" out there....your story line should read:
"We want your land because we need it more than you, so give it to us immediately....even if we gave our solemn promise to you that you would keep these lands forever. Our words and promises have no meaning whatever. Give us the right to your natural resources. All of them.... and we will take them at a rate beyond which they will never recover...we need them more than you." Dare I continue with your thought process? I think not.
The pervasive greed and selfish attitude is not just in Canada, Britain or the USA, though they are perhaps the greatest of all in their desire to control the entire World and its peoples. If you truly have one ounce of sincerity in your comment, "What we can do -- and must do -- is embrace one another"
then I would invite you and all others of your ilk to enlighten yourself to Our culture and beliefs. You may have an eye-opening experience when you realize that many of the "bad" things about our People..."the notoriously high unemployment and social problems" are due to cultural and religious GENOCIDE. I think that you and your foolish people would suffer some ill effects if every ounce of your culture, land, religion and language were stripped from you by force.
Oh yes, you can take your foot out of your mouth now...shoe and all.
Shelley Bluejay Pierce