While under the COVID 19 pandemic, Trudeau’s Liberal government has continued implementing zoom forced tactics, verbalizing policy without concrete funding and looking at legislation that will continue to threaten First Nation Indigenous existence.
Canada was formed as an afterthought for the British Empire. Canada was to be a colony beholden to the United Kingdom for their livelihood. Canada has no standing as a country without the “inheritance” left for them by Great Britain.
This “inheritance” is conditional where Canada must maintain a good relationship with the original peoples. Treaties and inherent rights were negotiated so that the European rabble would have some say in the new land. This “say” was not to be absolute. The ability for Canada to govern was tempered by living a peaceful co-existence with the original peoples.
How is Canada faring in living up to this “inherited duty?” Canada is failing. World indexes that measure health or quality of life place the non-Indigenous settler immigrants as “living highly” on this land. But the First Nation Indigenous come in last on any measurement of health, housing, quality of life or ability to go forward within this state.
Canada has been working on destroying the last strongholds of inherent rights holding nations that exist outside of legal international treaty jurisdictions. Canada’s department of Indian Affairs worked for many years with a racist archaic document in its federal Indian Act legislation. The Indian Act chipped away at the original people’s rights, jurisdiction and land bases.
Canada’s department of Indian Affairs did not have legislation beyond the Indian Act and delineated powers over First Nations who had not signed treaties or agreements whether in a province or territory. While Canada worked on nullifying the rights for bands in provinces, they also set up “self-government” processes in territories that took years to complete.
Once Canada completed withering away rights in self-government agreements, Canada then rewrote federal legislation to include a division of services (Department of Indigenous Services) and a division of crown relations (Department of Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs). First Nation analysts who know of past federal maneuvers wrote critiques and posted these findings on social media platforms to make all First Nation Indigenous people aware of the federal agenda under various federal governments. Whether these federal government actions were developed by the Liberals or by the Conservative governments, there remained an active termination agenda.
Mainstream Canadians do not see a problem with the special words and tactics that undermine First Nation Indigenous people in this country. Why? For one thing, Canadians have been misled historically and have been given one-sided racist accounts that fit into the manifest destiny video.
Today, First Nation Indigenous groups are rising to contest the one-sided histories, misrepresentation and broken legal undertakings that continue to mark Canada’s attempt to stand on its own with stolen lands.
Canada has had a three-pronged attack advancing on the indigenous. In addition to breaking Indigenous societies by disrupting clan systems with the residential school kidnappings, Canada has also been utilizing its administrative, judicial and legislative branches to complete their coup.
The administrative control comes in the form of contribution agreements. These are haphazard amounts that Indian Affairs bean counters make in back offices in Ottawa and run to Treasury Board and the sitting house for genocidal approval. Federal offices release these poverty dollars with lofty deliveries such “a new path” or “the way forward”. Whatever the term used, they are empty words without substance. It is the same as putting lipstick on a pig.
Legislative control came from the Indian Act but sneaky federal attempts over the years continue to derogate or abrogate the long held way of life of the original peoples. Canada has introduced or tried to introduce governance legislation, education legislation, transparency of spending legislation and recently a new framework. These legislative attempts are heralded with big news releases complete with federal employees showing up with somber faces, ruffling through serious papers delivered in deadpan voices. Sometimes, Trudeau or the leader of the day sheds tears.
The judicial control has been more insidious. With each case, whiteman made law attempts to build a colonial box of “aboriginal law”. This law is supposedly the First Nation Indigenous people’s law. In fact, it is the application of whiteman made law about First Nation issues. Therefore, whiteman made law can only surmise what “aboriginal law” really means. We know from existing case law that it is sui generis or of it’s own kind from the case called Guerin.
Judicial decisions are argued then decided by predominantly non-First Nation jurists who think they understand First Nation issues or problems. These non- First Nation jurists apply their mainstream tests, towers and tidbits of thinking to try to develop solutions in a cookie cutter fashion with application to all other “Indian” cases that come before them. This is completely wrong.
Individual bands or nations are nations, so lumping all these cases together results in a hodgepodge of rules that don’t make sense to the nations seeking remedy or relief. The Vuntut Gwitchin were just handed such a case decision.
Twenty years went into making a self-government agreement for this nation. What was the result? The first challenge to the governance structure went into the whiteman made courts for a final decision. This decision was made without adequate knowledge of the people affected or their prior ways of governing. What was written in a linear fashion has become the governance of the Vuntut Gwitchin subject to Canada’s whiteman made courtroom interpretation for a governance system that is older that the Canadian courtrooms. This is not Vuntut Gwitchin governance. This is Vuntut Gwitchin forced governance still defined by colonizer institutions.
First Nations are rising because the world is changing. The environment and land are interconnected to our governance systems, therefore the self-government agreements being pedaled by Canada are inadequate and fraudulent. Canada has been acting like a used car salesman, peddling dud rides to the original peoples. This genocidal treatment has not gone unnoticed globally. Perhaps Canada should try to understand securing First Nations equity first in their own backyard before globe trotting around at the UN level on failed campaigns.