Saturday, July 11, 2009

Re: Natives

My comments appear to be on the fritz. My reply to Cmax is posted here instead.

Cmax, you make me out to be some big white demon who wishes to oppress the Natives and all those who oppose me. That is far from the truth. Tell me how I am oppressing the Natives? For that matter, how is Canada oppressing basic rights of the Natives. Anyone, native or not has the basic rights and freedoms allotted to them. A Native woman can go to university, get a job, or practice their religion just as I can. I do not, and have never suggested that these things should be taken away from them. I did not say that we should cancel any and all scholarships and funding for First Nations people. In fact I would not mind if it were increased. I merely said I wished that there would be a scholarship for us poor(er) average Joe Canadians. There is nothing at all racism about that statement. Wherein my past statements have I been even in the least racism? Please do point it out to me.

Furthermore, I did not say that we should ignore or “suck up” social inequality. I stated that the Natives and anyone for that matter should not hold onto past injustices simply for the sake of being pissed off. As I have made the point in my previous post, apologies must be made, and restitution (if possible) agreed upon. However, all of those gesture are for not if the Natives do not accept them. That is my base point. If the Natives do not accept the apology and restitution there is NO solution to the problem.

To be a conservative is to hang on to the old biasness, the old cultural ways of exclusion, for the benefit of one segment in society. Once a racists always a racist!

Your statement reacts of radical Liberalism. You label me a racist for remarks that do not even resemble racism. Yet, you paint me and all conservatives with the same brush. That is not racism but I am sure it is some sort if “ism” or prejudice against and all of the right wing. If you reread my statement with your mind and not your bias you will see that I did not advocate the elimination or exclusion of the Natives. For Goodness sake man, I simply stated that us “white folk” should have scholarships designed for us as well.

Yet native people have been stripped of all things, and yet people can still point the finger at them for their poverty. They have no land and no less little access to its resources on the land in which they reside.

It seems to me like you did not read my rather large post concerning the Natives. You colour me as someone who is hell bent on keeping the Native people downtrodden. If you take care to read what I have written you should see that I am advocating equality. I will not get into my views on Native reservations and what not at the present, but I fail to see how I am being so racist and oppressive. You are misquoting my words and intentionally misreading them in such a way as to justify your anger against the “oppressive white man” and to justify your bias against conservatives.

Harper Interview with Globe and Mail

I noticed the article on the interview, and instead skipped to the transcript of it. There's some interesting stuff here. It shows, in my estimation, Harper to be a smart man, careful with words so that they are not twisted. He talks about G8 and the economy among other things.

Read it yourself here

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reverse Discrimination

Following my post on the First Nations land claims, I stumbled across this older article about the University of Saskatchewan. The bursary was intended for Nursing and Medical students. The alumni proposed the bursary wanted it to be for "non-aboriginals."

The woman approached the university last month with the donation request and was met with resistance when she asked the money be given to a non-aboriginal student, she said.

When asked why she wouldn't then be sympathetic to a student of any background who doesn't have the means to afford post-secondary education, she said aboriginal students, in particular, are more likely to have an opportunity to receive a scholarship or other benefits....

"All I'm asking for is fairness," she said. "I think there is an unequal playing field ... I want to reduce the barriers for non-aboriginal students who don't expect or receive benefits."

I can certainly see where she is coming form. As a student myself I have slogged through pages of information on different scholarships. I rarely meet the criteria. Many scholarships are designed for those of visible minorities, Natives (a separate category from visible minorities), genius level IQs, and the very poor. There are not many scholarships for the average Joe male or female Canadian. I see no problem with a scholarship designed for white Canadians. To cater only to the minorities is discriminating against the majority. In this case the majority is white Canadians. Just because I am not a visible minority, Native, or living on the streets does not mean I do not have financial difficulty.

One comment stated

Education is the first step to improving our world, it is definitly important! I have seen many scholarships saying anyone can apply but preference will go to a minority student. So how about saying "anyone can apply but preferenece will be given to a non-minority student" no race card being played! school is expensive, everyone needs help.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

The First Nations: Apologies and Reconciliation

Recognition would be easier if what are now called First Nations wanted to be recognized the way the rest of us would like. 1

The “native problem” is one which has no easy solution. The problem is not simply that a group of people have been unjustly displaced from their lands. It is not simply a dispute about who owns what land. It is not simply about keeping alive a culture. The native issue is one which is, ultimately, the white man’s fault. The previous statement does not give one the right to demonize every white man in existence. The sins of Canadian’s fathers do not rest on the heads of their posterity – at least not entirely. Some responsibility should be taken; apologies and restitution made if possible. However, such restitution is not a simple matter; it may be impossible. In order to appraise such restitution an evaluation must be done.

What injustices have been done to the Native people of Canada? First of all, they were harmed and killed by the invading white man. Granted, cooperation and agreements were made. Yet, there were fights between Europeans and Natives. Furthermore, bands could more easily attack each other (or anyone) due to the influx of “modern” weaponry from Europe.

Secondly their land was taken by the white man. The agreement for land use was not mutually understood. According to native culture, land was not a commodity to be given away. Furthermore, settlers agreed to compensate the natives for land – land they believed that they had “bought.” The natives, believed those agreements meant peace. A lack of understanding caused conflict – past and present. These crimes happened long ago. One of the demands of some Natives is that the government restores lands to them which they claim were given to them. Yet, the legalities involved are far from simple. For one, if land is (or was) not a commodity to be divvied up, then the Natives claim for their land back is ludicrous. Granted, it was, according to modern belief of ownership, Native land which the Europeans took. Whether this “theft” was intentional or not is a question that cannot be accurately answered. In any case, it was a series of misunderstandings to which restitution is nearly impossible. Whose land it was, and who stole from who cannot be accurately verified. Even if ownership could be arbitrarily assigned and agreed upon, could it be given back?

The final question is how to preserve the First Nations culture. But, what is the Native culture? Some, like Samuel Hearne described he natives as wild and exotically primitive: in essence your “savage” stereotype. The other popular image is that of the Spiritual Native. It is described as:

the mythic Noble Savage. Elevated to a sphere of goodness unreachable by those in contaminated white society and usually possessing some spiritual connection to the land, the Noble Savage (who American academic Rennard Strickland calls "the first ecologist") communes in a cloud of mysticism and places no value on material possessions.

There is also the “loyal sidekick,” the sexual Native woman and many other portrayals of the First Nations people. Were Natives great spiritual leaders in harmony with nature and themselves? Where Natives wild, savage and (the woman) sexually uncontrollable? Both options are equally unlikely. The idea that the First Nations culture has been lost is likely. The White Man’s romancing, demonetization and misunderstanding of Native culture has caused a least a partial bastardization of the true Native culture. In effect, it has been lost.

Thus, how these crimes can be paid for when one cannot return knowledge that was lost, nor lives that were lost. Or, even, return land which did not belong to the Natives (according to their traditions) but was everyone’s land to use. What was lost is (redundantly) lost. It cannot be regained. I would argue that the government cannot pay restitution. What then should be done? The question may not have an easy answer. I do not have an answer. Throwing money at the Natives or even throwing land does no good. Would programs and grants for Native research and historical preservation help? It is possible. Might I suggest a simple solution: a sincere apology from the government on behalf of all Canadians (or, rather our ancestors) and an acceptance of the apology by the Native people. After all, there are two sides to the coin. An apology needs acceptance in order to be valid. If the Natives wish to move past their history and work towards bettering their future they need to forgive and forget past wrongdoings. Forgetting does not mean that society must turn a blind eye to the atrocities which occurred. Rather, the misdeeds must be recognized as something that happened, and the Natives must forgive those who harmed them (and their ancestors).

In over eight hundred words I have not laid out a clear plan for any governing body. I neglected to address what should be done with reservations, with funding and what not. Those questions are not easy. I doubt that all Natives would quickly give up their reservations and fully integrate themselves into society. I also question whether that is a good solution. I also wonder what purpose the reservations serve – or more accurately what they were designed to serve. In essence I have spent 800 and some words purposing nothing more than an apology. Is the solution really so simple? I’ll leave that up to you to figure out.

1. Hunter, Ian. 06 June 2009. Many Questions Remain about Reconciliation.

2. Media Awareness Network. 2009. Common Portrayals of Aboriginal People.

(see also)