The British Columbia Supreme Court Rules Human Progress To Be A Treaty Violation

Indigenous leaders wrongly say that assimilation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures was and is a bad thing. In fact, it is a very natural and positive thing. Change and assimilation, aspects of biological evolution, are processes that have been occurring since the beginning of life on earth and since the origins of humans. They have been fundamental to the development, adaptation, progress, and primacy of the human species.

To bewail and decry and to want to opt out of these processes is really to want to be segregated from  healthy and natural life processes that are inherent in being a part of life on earth-that are inherent in being human. It is to want to be excluded from  fundamental evolutionary life processes- to step outside of history- which no one can do.

Historian Sir David Cannadine wrote:

“Civilizations were not hermetically sealed off from one another, but interacted creatively, and this borrowing and cross-fertilization was the key to progress…Human advancement is the outcome of the co-mingling of ideas through the contact of different groups…Civilization is everywhere the stimulus evoked by the friction of one group upon another.”

One of the world’s most remarkable and resilient cultures in the world is that of the Jews. According to Israeli writer and humanist Amoz Oz the key to its survival has been its adaptive, assimilationist nature. He wrote:

“What does Jewish culture comprise?  It comprised everything we have amassed over the generations. Elements born inside it, as well as those we have absorbed from the outside, which become part of the family.”

Canadian historian Erna Paris, writing of Canada’s early development years, which mistakenly excluded our Indigenous peoples, wrote:

“Canadian pluralism…grew not from ideology or theology but from a pragmatic need to develop sparsely populated tracts of land. No matter the origin, the outcome was the same. Mixed populations ignited an explosion of raw energy and inventiveness.”

The many Indigenous leaders who oppose all changes that would further assimilation with their fellow countrymen are fighting these stimulating, natural and beneficial processes, and by doing so, are hurting their people rather than helping them. They are ensuring further segregation, cultural loss and stagnation, and decline overall, rather than real and meaningful progress for their peoples.

The Indigenous leaders of the Blueberry River First Nation in the Fort St. John area of northeastern British Columbia have taken these hurtful, retrogressive tendencies one huge and disastrous step further by actually suing the Province of British Columbia, in Yahey v British Columbia, for an injunction preventing the Province from authorizing any further human development of any kind, including industrial, commercial, residential and natural resource development- “anthropogenic disturbances” the Judge deciding the case, Madame Justice Burke, called it- in their 38,000 square kilometres “traditional territory”. They alleged that the “cumulative effects”- the profound changes- of all this development over the past 120 years- assimilative, human progress in other words- were such that there were no longer “sufficient and appropriate lands” for their members to meaningfully exercise their alleged treaty rights to hunt, trap and fish in a manner consistent with their way of life as it was in 1900 (!) when, on May 30th of that year, at Fort St. John, they adhered to Treaty 8, which had been negotiated and signedby numerous other Indian bands in their absence at Willow Point, Lesser Slave Lake, on June 20th and 21st, 1899.

Blueberry River won their case! All development in their 38,000 square kilometres “traditional territory”- a significantly large section of British Columbia- has been ordered stopped!

The old adage and basic truth to the effect that the only unchanging thing in life is perpetual change itself is apparently not so in the mind of Justice Burke of the British Columbia Supreme Court, at least when it comes to the interpretation of Canada’s treaties with its Indigenous peoples! According to her our Courts must ignore the insurmountable, transitory realities of the human condition and recognize the legal right of the relatively tiny Blueberry River First Nation to the perpetual existence of the essentials of their ancestors’ late 19th century harvesting activities way of life, and the corresponding legal obligation of the government of B.C. to protect that legal right, and that to the extent that modern, 21st century settlement, industry, trade and commerce and all their infinite and inexorable culture-transforming offshoots conflict with or impair that mainly long-gone, harvesting activities culture, then the latter, embodying the totality of what we generally call “modern life” and “human progress” (take it for good or bad),  must cede, give way, change, and if necessary, stop.

By her judgment, another example of an Indigenous legal decision exhibiting a “a conspicuous disdain for the whole texture of reality”, (Hannah Arendt), Blueberry River First Nation has been given an illusory free pass to step outside of history, with the remains of their hunting, trapping and fishing culture, such as it was in 1900, to be frozen in legal amber forever and now weaponized as an economic cudgel to be used for extractive purposes against their fellow non-Indigenous Canadians.

The very existence of Treaty 8, like that of all the previous numbered treaties, acknowledged the reality that the viability of the old Indigenous harvesting activities culture was becoming increasingly tenuous, and that profound economic change caused by greatly increasing white settlement and development was coming- with inevitable cultural change ensuing.

Treaty 8 contained explicit land surrender language which clearly intended to extinguish the “Indian title”, such as it was, to the land surrendered, so that this pending settlement and development could unfold in an orderly fashion.

By the terms of the treaty the ancestors of today’s Blueberry River leaders agreed to “cede, release, surrender and yield up to the Government of the Dominion of Canada, for Her Majesty the Queen and Her successors forever, (“the Crown”), all their rights, titles and privileges whatsoever.” (the “surrender clause”) to the vast lands covered by it.

In exchange the Crown agreed with “the said Indians that they shall have right to pursue their usual vocations of hunting, trapping and fishing throughout the tract surrendered, (“the harvesting rights clause”) subject to the regulations as may from time to time be made by the Government of the country, acting under the authority of Her Majesty, (the “conservation clause”) and saving and excerpting such tracts as may be required or taken up from time to time for settlement, mining, lumbering, trading or other purposes.” (the “taking up clause”)

Justice Burke’s radical, Crown sovereignty-shattering decision, in my opinion, is totally unfounded in fact, law, reason or human experience.

Prior to it the law was basically settled to the effect that the Haida Nation duty to consult and accommodate was limited to considerations around a single, proposed resource project. It was only relevant on a project-by-project basis.

Justice Burke expanded this by holding that the Haida Nation consultation process must “consider and address concerns about the cumulative effects (of the Crown exercising the taking up clause), as opposed to simply single projects or authorizations…” (All italics here and below are mine.)  She held that the Crown’s power to take up lands, (i.e. authorize any kind of settlement and development on Crown land- surrendered land-), “must be exercised in a way that still honours the essential guarantee and promise to the Indigenous people.”

 She held that this essential treaty guarantee and promise was that their “way of life, based on hunting, fishing and trapping would not be interfered with,” and that British Columbia, because of the “cumulative effects” of it allowing settlement and development as it did- of it allowing human progress as it did- over the past 120 years, violated its treaty obligations to Blueberry.

She held that Treaty 8 “did not require the Indigenous peoples to agree to a settler’s way of life”, and that “while change was foreshadowed (by Treaty 8) this was only to extent that it did not interfere with Blueberry’s ability to maintain their way of life…”. She held that because their harvesting activities way of life, based on hunting, fishing and trapping as lived in 1900, had been “significantly or meaningfully diminished” over this 120 year of time- because “the state of disturbance (from Crown authorized settlement and development), the status of wildlife, Blueberry members testimony and other evidence about their ability to exercise their treaty rights within a meaningful mode of life”-there was a treaty violation entitling Blueberry River First Nation to what is in effect an injunction against all further settlement and development in their treaty territory, which is what they were awarded by the Court.

In effect Justice Burke ruled that Treaty 8, properly interpreted, contained a Crown guarantee to the Indigenous treaty signers that their 19th century way of life was in and of itself a protected treaty right and that it must be legally and “diligently” protected by the Crown forever, and that in any legal contest between the existence of that old way of life and the realities of human progress and modernity the latter must change or cease in order to accommodate the former. The hands of history’s clock must be stopped- even reversed- in favour of Blueberry.

There is no wording in Treaty 8 to justify the Judge’s unprecedented, progress and modernity-ending conclusions. The surrender clause, the conservation clause and the taking up clause all denote and connote sole Crown sovereignty and discretion in relation to land usage, as the surrender clause says, “forever.” The harvesting rights clause is clearly subject and subordinate to the conservation clause and the taking up clause.

So where did Justice Burke find factual support for her legal ruling to the effect that the” foreshadowed change” that she acknowledged the treaty represented was limited to change that did not materially interfere with Blueberry’s ability to maintain their old way of life?

She implied it from her understanding and interpretation of  the “oral history” of the treaty making, including the “verbal promises” and “oral assurances” she found were made on behalf of Canada at the time the treaty was concluded, (the admissibility of which  into evidence the  Supreme Court of Canada, in Indigenous cases only, has permitted as an exception to the general law excluding hearsay evidence), and in contemporaneous documents, writings and reports generated by persons involved in the making or witnessing of the treaty.

As the Judge said:

“The verbal promises made on behalf of the federal government at the times the treaties are concluded are of great significance in their interpretation.”

The first, great problem with this statement, as least as it applies to the Blueberry River First Nation, is that there was no evidence before the Court that any verbal promises were made to the Blueberry band before they signed the treaty. All the verbal promises and oral assurances that the Judge refers to in her decision were made to the Indian treaty signers on June 20th and 21st, 1899, at Lesser Slave Lake, over 400 kilometres away from Fort St. John. The Blueberry band, known then as the Beaver Indians, were not there. They didn’t participate in the 1899 treaty deliberations nor were they original signers of the treaty. They only adhered to it on May 30th, 1900, almost a year later, at Fort St. John. As to what may have been said on that latter occasion Her Honour said: “The record is very slim as to what transpired during the adhesion at Fort St. John.”

Her entire judgment, to the extent that it is based on promises and assurances allegedly made, is fundamentally flawed for this reason, (amongst many others), because it is based on verbal promises and assurances in relation to which there was no evidence to the effect that they were made or given to the Blueberry treaty signers before or at the time they adhered to the treaty in 1900. Rather, as stated, they were made almost a year earlier to entirely different and culturally distinct Indian bands occupying different “traditional territories” hundreds of kilometres away. A promise made by one person to another person and relied upon by that second person so as to acquire legal or equitable force, cannot normally be legally enforced by a third person to whom the promise was never made or relied upon. In her judgment Justice Burke did not deal with this troubling issue. Instead, she merely deemed the promises and assurances given at Lesser Slave Lake in 1899 as having been given to all subsequent treaty signers and adherents.

Justice Burke did not so much “interpret” Treaty 8 with the aid of what was said and written at the time the treaty was concluded. In my opinion she misinterpreted it by cherry-picking certain oral and written statements, taking them out of context, giving to them a meaning clearly not intended, and generally re-shaping them to suit what seems to be her own preconceived, pre-determined and biased ends.

She wrote that “the interpreting court must “update” treaty rights to provide for their modern exercise”. (This is the rationale for Indigenous hunters and fishermen using the latest, resource-depleting, high-tech weaponry and equipment for their treaty-authorized year-round harvesting activities.) But in this decision calling a halt to human progress in the Blueberry traditional territory because it has purportedly significantly and meaningfully diminished their alleged treaty right to forever live their circa 1900 way of life, she declined to update Blueberry’s reasonable expectations as to how those rights were to be interpreted in the year 2021, when most Blueberry band members do most of their hunting and fishing at Costco, and she declined to “update” Blueberry’s Treaty 8 inherent obligations to, while generally benefitting from that human progress, reasonably expect to experience a significant and meaningful diminishment of that old way of life as the reasonable price to pay for it. (Treaties are two-way streets.)

As to the verbal promises and oral assurances, a fair and overall reading of the record of the entire treaty deliberations makes it clear that the federal government never promised expressly or impliedly that the Treaty 8 signers would be able to live their old harvesting activities way of life forever. Nor did it promise, expressly or impliedly, that progress and modernity would have to stop if its cumulative effects materially diminished Blueberry’s alleged treaty right to sustainably “live off the land” forever.

In fact the record before the Court showed the opposite.

The federal Order In Council setting up the Commission for Treaty 8 expressly stated that the treaty was required because, amongst other reasons, the treaty lands “should be thrown open for development and the lives and property of those who may enter therein safeguarded by the making of provision which will remove all hostile feeling from the minds of the Indians and lead them to peacefully acquiesce in the changing conditions.”

The Klondike gold rush had just occurred. There had been conflicts between miner and Indians. As an expert witness for Blueberry testified:

“On 28 June 1898 a report was received at Fort St. John that “five hundred Indians…camped at Fort St. John, refused to let police and miners go further north until a treaty has been signed with them. They claim that some of their horses have been taken by miners and are also afraid that so many men will drive away the fur.

Word of the proposed treaty spread among the Indigenous people living in the area. The Court found that their main concerns about it were about being forced to live on reserves and “the curtailment of their hunting and fishing privileges.”

The highly relevant response to these expressed worries from the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Clifford Sifton, in January 1899 was that “there would be no general prohibition in consequence of the treaty of the freedom of the Indian in roaming and hunting over the country. Of course when settlement advances there will be the restriction which necessarily follows, and it is to meet such contingencies that reserves are set aside.”

Justice Burke relied heavily on the Report of Commissioners for Treaty No. 8 dated September 22nd, 1899, sent to Mr. Sifton about three months after the original treaty was signed at Lesser Slave Lake. (“the Sifton Report.”)

The key “essential conclusion” made by Justice Burke in her decision was that “at the time the Treaty was entered into, the Indigenous people were also promised that there would be no forced interference with their mode of life. They would be as free to hunt and fish after the Treaty, as they would be if they never entered into it.”

Again, we have the troubling reality of timing. The Sifton Report, containing this key “no forced interference” phrase so heavily relied upon by the Judge, and which is the only place in the record the phrase is found to exist, was written and sent in September of 1899, about 8 months before any dealing with the Blueberry band occurred. There was no evidence before the Court that the phrase “no forced interference” was ever spoken at Fort St. John in 1900.  Thus there was no evidence before the Court that it was a verbal promise or an oral assurance made at the time the treaty was adhered to by the ancestors of the Blueberry band. Accordingly, it should not have been given the weight it was given by the Court.

In fact there was no evidence before the Court that the phrase was ever spoken to any Indian treaty signatory. The record merely shows that it was an imprecise phrase loosely used by one government official in a written report to another, so again, the aspect of treaty deliberation mutuality and reliance is missing.

Secondly, and more importantly, the phrase “forced interference” was lifted out of context and misapplied. The actual statement in the Sifton Report in which this phrase was used was as follows:

“We assured them that the treaty would not lead to any forced interference with their mode of life, that it did not lead to any imposition of any tax, and that there was to be no fear of enforced military service.”

Clearly, reading the phrase in this wider context, and reading the Sifton Report as a whole, the phrase “forced interference” meant interference with harvesting activities by prohibitive legislation or other such government action, and imposing taxes and military service by legislation or otherwise.

By artfully leaving out the second half of this key sentence, which clearly qualified and placed into proper context the phrase “forced interference”, she misstated what was said and misconstrued the reality of what was meant.

Further, the evidence at trial did not show any forced interference at any time with Blueberry’s right to hunt, trap and fish year-round. It only showed that the exercise of that right yielded poorer and poorer results over time because of the effects of progress and modernity.  But nowhere in the treaty documents or in the treaty deliberations as related in the evidence at trial, despite the Judge’s ruling to the contrary, was there any evidence that the federal government expressly or impliedly verbally promised or orally assured the Indigenous treaty signatories and adherents that it was guaranteeing successful and sustainable harvesting activities forever or a sustainable harvesting activities way of life forever.

Considering the entire realm of human experience, characterized by nothing but ultimate change and loss for all people and all cultures, who could ever reasonably promise such a thing? It would have required the federal government to have the power to put and keep time in a bottle!

The promise, which has been kept, is that Blueberry would have the right to the year-round pursuit of harvesting activities. On the record before the Court there was no promise, express or implied, that they had a perpetual right to demand the Crown to diligently do all things to guarantee that they would always be successful and culture-sustaining in the carrying out of that right. In light of the known changes “foreshadowed” at the time the treaty was discussed and signed, this was an illogical and unsupported conclusion for Judge Burke to have drawn.

Thirdly, and in any event, the evolution of human progress in the Fort St. John area of British Columbia over the past 120 years, as in the swift-flowing, ever-changing river of life the world over, was in no way “forced” interference with Blueberry’s old, now long-gone 1900 mode of life. Like all elements of change in human life, it was mainly an unconscious and unintentional process, the result of thousands of individual human decisions, all reflecting the essential haphazard and unpredictable nature of chance and time. To construe this incessant, unavoidable, poignant reality of human existence as a treaty violation is, with all due respect to the Court, a travesty against the dictates of reason and the lessons of universal human experience.

There were other statements in the Sifton Report, either ignored or downplayed by the Judge, that clearly showed that the federal government was not promising in the treaty that the Indigenous harvesting activities way of life was being guaranteed to be successful and sustainable forever, and which statements clearly showed that the Indigenous signers well knew this to be the case.

The federal government assured the Indigenous treaty signers that welfare, such as it was at the time, would be provided to the Indians in cases of “actual destitution” and in “seasons of distress”, an acknowledgement by all that the old harvesting activities way of life was no longer able to provide all the necessaries of life as before, and that the downward trend in this regard would likely continue.

The government promised “ammunition and twine”, an acknowledgment by all that the harvesting activities way of life could only be carried on, if at all, with the aid of Euro-Canadian technology.

Treaty 8 promised agricultural assistance in the form of seed, implements, mowers and cattle to those Indians interesting in taking up farming, although, recognizing that the time had not yet arrived when the Indians’ harvesting activities culture was no longer viable, but that that time would come sooner or later, the forward-thinking Sifton Report said:

 “The assistance in farming and ranching is only to be given when the Indians actually take to these pursuits, and it is not likely that for many years there will be a call for it…It is safe to say that so long as the fur-bearing animals remain, the great bulk of the Indians will continue to hunt and trap.”

But when the fur-bearing animals no longer remain? This had already happened in the Prairie provinces with the extinction of the buffalo. It was reasonable for both sides to contemplate that something like it would happen in the Treaty 8 territory. Indeed, as noted, the Indians had already expressed fears that the influx of miners would drive away the fur-bearing animals. And during the treaty talks at Lesser Slave Lake one of the Headmen, Moostoos, of the Lesser Slave Lake band said: “Our country is being broken up. I see the white man coming in, and I want to be friends. I see what he does, but it is best that we should be friends.”

The federal government, knowing that increased settlement would negatively impact the Indians harvesting activities way of life, as already at the time, as one treaty Commissioner told the Indians, “…times are hard, and furs scarcer than they used to be”, told the Indian treaty signers that reserves would be set aside for them in future.

J.H. Ross, one of the Commissioners, told them:

The white man is bound to come in and open up the country. When reserves are offered there is no intention to make you live on them if you do not want to, but, in years to come, you may change your minds and want these lands to live on.”

The Sifton Report:

“The Indians are given the option of taking reserves or land in severalty. As the extent of the country treated for made it impossible to define reserves or holdings, and as the Indians were not prepared to make selections, we confined ourselves to an undertaking to have reserves and holdings set apart in future, and the Indians were satisfied with the promise that this would be done when required. There is no immediate necessity for the general laying out of reserves or the allotting of land. It will be quite time enough to do this as advancing settlement makes necessary the surveying of land. Indeed, the Indians were generally averse to being placed on reserves. It would have been impossible to have made a treaty if we had not assured them that there was no intention of confining them to reserves. We had to very clearly explain to them that the provision for reserves and allotments of land were made for their protection, and to secure to them in perpetuity a fair portion of the land ceded, in the event of settlement advancing.”

In a subsequent report to the Department of Indian Affairs dated December 11, 1900, relating to the Treaty 8 adhesions that occurred that year, including the Blueberry band adhesion, J.A. Macrae, Commissioner, reported similarly as follows:

“It appears that this disinclination to adopt agriculture as a means of livelihood is not unwisely entertained, for the more congenial occupations of hunting and fishing are still open, and agriculture is not only arduous to those untrained to it, but in many districts it is as yet remains untried. A consequence of this preference for old pursuits is that the government will not be called upon for years to make those expenditures which are entailed by the treaty when the Indians take to the soil for subsistence.

The Indigenous treaty signers asked that medicines be furnished to them, that they be provided the services of a doctor and that the federal government provide them with schools, all indicia of the Indian treaty signers acknowledging and accepting change, modernization and cultural transformation out of their old way of life. In relation to schools one of the Chiefs, Kinsoayo of the Lesser Slave Lake band, asked:

“Are you willing to give means to instruct children as long as the sun shines and water runs, so that our children will grow up ever increasing in knowledge?”

This is not a question that would be asked by a chief expecting his  band members’ children to be out hunting and fishing all the time, instead of being in school acquiring knowledge so as to better adapt to and survive in the new world they all saw coming.

The Sifton Report:

“The Chief of the Chipewyans of Fort Chipewyan asked that the Government should undertake to have a railway built into the country, as the cost of goods which the Indians require would be thereby cheapened and the prosperity of the country enhanced.”

Prosperity can only come through development, which this Chief clearly wanted and expected.

The Sifton Report:

“All the Indians we met were with rare exceptions professing Christians, and showed evidence of the work which missionaries have carried on among them for many years.”

This is another indicator of change and of the beneficial assimilative process that was already underway in the Treaty 8 territory in 1899, by which date the industrial revolution, which caught up everybody, was in full flow.

The rules of evidence in Indigenous rights civil litigation cases are slanted in favour of the Indigenous litigants and against the Crown. Indigenous litigants are deliberately held to much lower evidentiary standards than their opponents. They usually “get all the breaks” from the Judge. This reality was on display in the Blueberry case.

One Father Lacombe, who the Court said was “assisting the Commission” more or less as a volunteer, and who was described by the Judge as an “old friend of the Indigenous people” piped in during the treaty talks on the issue of whether signing the treaty would negatively affect the Indigenous signers’ hunting and fishing rights and practices. He told the Indians: “Your forest and river life will not be changed by the treaty.” Despite the fact that Father Lacombe was not a treaty Commissioner, and basically only an interested bystander with no authority to speak for the federal government, the Court found that Father Lacombe’s statement was a binding treaty promise made by the federal government, and it was determinative in the Judge’s finding that the treaty, properly interpreted, guaranteed the perpetual existence of the Indigenous treaty signers 19th century harvesting activities way of life.

Yet when B.C. offered similar “bystander evidence” to the contrary, the Court rejected it.

Charles Mair was an observer to the signing of Treaty 8 in 1899. He signed the treaty as a witness. His 1908 book, Through the Mackenzie Basin: An Account of the Signing of Treaty 8, was a summary of notes he took during the treaty talks. In his book Mair wrote that at the time the treaty was signed there was an expected “incoming tide of settlement” and hope for “millions of settlers”, and that the Indigenous signatories and adherents understood that this would interfere with their freedom to move, as they referred to a “broken up” and fragmented country resulting from all this new settlement. This was entirely relevant to issues before the Court. But with some pretty specious reasoning, which she would never have applied to similar evidence proffered by Blueberry, Her Honour expressly placed no weight on this evidence.

In 1900, a year after the treaty was signed at Lesser Slave Lake, Chief Kinsoayo (the same Chief who requested educational assistance during the treaty talks) and the Councillors of the Lesser Slave Lake Band, none of whom could not read or write, had a letter written of their behalf by an unknown person, probably a missionary, requesting assistance as to how “best to go to work” and further saying:

“The reason we accepted Treaty was that we saw we had to change our way of living, that furs were getting scarce and also moose, and that if we had cattle and had potatoes and barley to eat we would be better off.”

Again, with the most specious and dismissive of reasoning relating to this most relevant, Indigenous-generated treaty interpretation document, because, in my opinion, the contents of this letter conflicted with Her Honour’s pre-determined bias, Justice Burke placed “very little weight” on it.

This is a terrible decision. It is most destructive to the common weal of Canada and B.C. The stupid, UNDRIP-embracing British Columbia government has declined to appeal it. It Is now to be added to the list of numerous other Indigenous law court decisions that are destroying the Canadian economy and tearing Canadians apart socially.

Most importantly, it will inflict further harm on Indigenous Canadians, who, by decisions like this, are being stuck in a retrogressive, segregationist, dysfunction-sustaining time warp by what this and these similar decisions and laws, like UNDRIP, represent.

The Blueberry decision constitutes a rejection of history and human experience.

As stated, the only constant for all human beings is constant change. “If life didn’t change, it wouldn’t be life, it’d be a photograph.” The poet D.H. Lawrence wrote that “there is no plasmic finality, nothing crystal, permanent…Life, the ever present, knows no finality, no finished crystallization.”

Indigenous elites and their non-Indigenous supporters like Judge Burke won’t admit this basic truth. Instead they pretend that for Indigenous peoples the ever-flowing and turbulent river of time and circumstance can be diverted into a wide, calm, totally-enclosed lake of the present, where the status quo can and should be stopped up and frozen forever, and where words on and surrounding treaty paper can make this so. This is a fundamentally wrong, futile and harmful view. We are all of us in this ever-flowing, unstoppable river together- we are all of us unable to lessen “the instability of all being under the influence of chance and time.” No words on paper, and nothing said on the shore of Lesser Slave Lake 120 years ago can alter this fundamental reality of our tenuous, fragile and shared human existence.

The waters of an ever-calm, ever-enclosed lake will inevitably stagnate and become less and less able to support life. Life-lessening stagnation and decline is the fate Indigenous elites, like the now-celebrating Blueberry leaders, must expect for their  peoples if they continue to embrace this blinkered, static, segregationist, benignly racist and just plain  wrong view of life, history and time- if they continue to try to dam up time’s river and prevent it from flowing into and through them and allow it to carry them along into the future with the rest of Canadians together– if they continue to try to prevent the active, uncertain future from unfolding naturally. By that blind intransigence they condemn their peoples to always be segregated stepchildren of the times.

July 31st, 2021

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