A COMPELLING SOLUTION TO ENDING THE TRAGICALLY HIGH DEGREE OF POVERTY AND SOCIAL DYSFUNCTION AMONG CANADA’S FIRST NATIONS PEOPLES: LEGAL EQUALITY!
For decades Canada’s indigenous and non-indigenous elites have been mindlessly doubling down on the apartheid-like, “separate but equal” dysfunctional status quo that has so harmed the vast majority of vulnerable, marginalized indigenous Canadians: all to no benefit!
Author-lawyer Peter Best offers as a compelling alternative the Nelson Mandela solution: complete legal equality with the rest of Canadians-the necessary precursor to social and economic equality- by amending the Canadian constitution, repealing the Indian Act, converting the reserves, and ending all the other special rights and entitlements that have so oppressed them.
Mr. Best also issues a strong warning against the serious diminution of Crown sovereignty by our Supreme Court and our politicians, resulting in a serious threat to the rule of law, serious economic harm, and harm to our national welfare generally.
A respectful and heartfelt argument and plea for our First Nations peoples to join our increasingly racially indifferent 21st century Canadian family on the basis of full equality of rights and responsibilities
Peter Best is a lawyer who has practiced law in Sudbury, Ontario for 43 years. Raised in nearby Espanola, favored with lifelong personal and professional relationships with indigenous Canadians, he brings a personal, literary and historical perspective to the greatest social crisis experienced by Canada today- the perilous state of its original peoples.
Excerpts from There Is No Difference
From Chapter 1, Introduction.
“Look at these children that are sitting around here and also at the tents, who are just the image of my kindness. There are different kinds of grass growing here that is just like those sitting around here. There is no difference. Even from the American land they are here, but we love them all the same, and when the white skin comes from far away I love him all the same. I am telling you what our love and kindness is.” -O-ta-ha-o-man, the Gambler, Saulteaux leader, spoken during the negotiations prior to the signing of the Qu’Appelle Treaty, Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, September 12, 1874
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.- King James Bible, Romans 10:12
“If we look into the future, is it not a heritage we have to leave to posterity, that all the races commingle and produce a civilization that perhaps the world has not yet seen? There are differences and misunderstandings, but I do believe, in the words of the sacred hymn, “We shall know each other better when the mists have rolled away.”- Mahatma Gandhi
“The Same, the Same: friend and foe are of one stuff; the ploughman, the plow and the furrow are of one stuff; and stuff is such and so much that the varieties of form are unimportant. Men contemplate distinctions because they are stupefied with ignorance. The nature of the Great Spirit is single, though its forms be manifold.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
“In May 1633, when Champlain came back to his settlement at Quebec, a large party of Montagnais arrived in their canoes to see him. Champlain gestured at the building works, including the fort, and said, “When that great house is built, our young men will marry your daughters, and henceforth we shall be one people.”- History’s People: Personalities and the Past, Margaret McMillan
“Somewhere along Canada’s way the liberal, humanist aspirations once common to our entire country have ceded to various forms of petty and chauvinistic ideological tribalisms and, with respect to our Indian peoples, to actual racial tribalism. Ignoring the emerging humanist political consciousness described by Richard Gwyn and exemplified by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, our elites, Indian and non-Indian, have decided that our Indian population’s Canadian experience will, now and forever, in most retrograde fashion, be focused on and defined by race, rather than shared, liberal, humanist values and attitudes. Our new Canadians, many of whom have immigrated from South Asia, where the odious caste system was and remains prevalent, must be bewildered to see a major element of the caste system- special hereditary rights possessed by one racial group to the exclusion of all others– becoming further entrenched in the Canadian legal and social fabric.”
“Ordinary Canadians, including me, are puzzled and perplexed about where our elites are pushing us. Why are our elites “binding us apart”- pushing us into a state of greater inequality under the law? What are they thinking? Why are they so seemingly smug and self-satisfied to be going against the grain of our hardwiring- going against the grain of human rights history– by expanding and further entrenching “separate but equal” and the reserve system? Why this rejection of 200 years of enlightenment thinking? With all the new money and rights afforded to it- mere gilding of dross metal, mere powdering over the pox- it’s still a fundamentally dysfunctional, harmful, segregationist, apartheid-like, caste-like stain on Canada’s civic and moral landscape and still fundamentally very harmful to ordinary, powerless and vulnerable Canadian Indians.”
“I write this book with immeasurable and humbling inspiration and assistance (“Novels arise out of the shortcomings of history”- “Novalis” via Penelope Fitzgerald) from numerous brilliant writers and thinkers whom I have encountered in my lifelong reading journey, as a form of plea for all of us to take the Gambler’s and Gandhi’s words to heart, to regard us all as equal human beings in the eyes of the law and the divine (in all the latter’s multi-cultural manifestations).”
“We need to restore to its former primacy our humanist, legal, social and political model as the only one to be governed and guided by in the task of carrying out our duty to improve the situation of Canadian Indians. Only by doing so will they, as one of the founding peoples of Canada, be put on the shared path of meaningful progress towards true equality and social justice.”
“Indians have always had special race-based legal status. But surely, having regard to our highest and best civic values , we must now realize that what happened in our increasingly distant past with respect to our fellow Indian citizens was a mere product of those very different times and should not constitute an unchangeable template for the indefinite future. And surely, given what we now know from experience about where race-based thinking and constructs can lead we should now be changing that old template by adopting new frameworks and solutions that accord with our current knowledge and values and that , deliberately, over time, point us all towards a common, shared, “one people”, race-free legal, political and social destination.”
“What a man has taken into his bloodstream in childhood from the air of that time stays with him. And despite all that is dinned into my ears daily…I cannot quite deny the belief of my youth that in spite of everything, events will take a turn for the better. I look up again and again to the ancient constellations that shone on my childhood, comforting myself with the inherited confidence that, some day, this relapse will appear only an interval in the eternal rhythm of progress onward and upward.”– Stefan Zweig
From Chapter 2, Terminology.
“The adoption of the cause means adoption of the language of the cause. When we speak within the language of this cause we give up our linguistic capacity to question and make moral choices.”- Christopher Hedges
“The reader of this book may have already uncomfortably noted that I have repeatedly been using the word “Indian”. This is deliberate. “Indian” is the most legally accurate word to use. It is the precise legal and denotative term for what is in fact a purely race-based category of persons in Canada. It’s used in the constitution, statutes and court cases. Canadian history at least provides us with an explanation and a reasonable excuse for the original legal separation of Indians from non-Indians in Canada. But now there is no such excuse. Therefore, in order that the essentially segregationist and benignly racist nature of what is happening be brought to the fore and kept there, in order to continually highlight how this situation runs counter to our modern hardwiring and our modern values, and in order that the wrong and discomfiting nature of what is happening be not just read but felt, I will sometimes use (but not exclusively), as if it were a verbal hairshirt, that precise, legal, racial term, “Indian.” If the reader feels uncomfortable because it “sounds racist”, then good! That’s the point! In today’s Canadian context, it is inherently racist! And as such it’s inherently wrong that it’s in our constitution, statutes and court decisions in the way it is.”
From Chapter 3, The Separate But Equal Doctrine.
“A State which has drawn a colour line may not suddenly assert that it is colour blind.”- U.S. government submission in a 1960 racial discrimination case.
“If apartheid were measured by results rather than intent, we would have it on reserves today.” –Indigenous writer and businessman Calvin Helin, from his book Dances With Dependency.
“We need to reverse what Canadian Indian leader John Kim Bell described in early 2018 as Canada’s official policy towards Indians: “apartheid”. To do this we must, over time, in a planned and lawful manner, end this now-archaic, wrong-headed and dysfunctional “separate but equal” legal straitjacket that Canada and Canada’s Indians have become bound and oppressed by-a straitjacket characterized by antiquated laws, institutions and arrangements that are totally incapable of addressing, much less solving, the real and serious problems facing Indian Canadians in the 21st century. Ancient pre-contact Indian cultures are extinct. Indians, like history itself, can only go forward. As the great Russian intellectual Alexander Herzen observed: “History does not turn back. All reinstatements, all restorations have always been masquerades.”
“A nation or society has a general spirit pervading all its aspects, and ideally its laws must conform with this.”- Montesquieu
From Chapter 4, Assimilation and Cultural Loss.
“Assimilation is not a dirty word. For the Canadian state it should be an indifferent one, a choice we make as much as the opposite. The argument made by advocates of self-government is that the native nations were here first. This is demagogy. The aboriginals were not here. Their ancestors were. Collective rights are not inherited. If they were, we could justify special privileges for the French-Canadians descended from the settlers whose ancestors were here second; the Anglo-Saxons who came third and so on, down to today’s arrivals who would have the fewest rights.”- Montreal lawyer Julius Grey
“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 different groups. Civilization is everywhere the stimulus evoked by the friction of one group upon another.” Sir David Cannadine
“Indian leaders who oppose legal integration and further assimilation with their fellow countrymen are fighting these stimulating, natural and beneficial processes, and by doing so are actually hurting their people rather than helping them. They’re ensuring further segregation and cultural loss, and further stagnation and decline overall rather than real and meaningful progress.”
“Real Indian culture is just about dead on the reserves.” –Indigenous AFN co-founder and pioneering indigenous lawyer, William Wuttunee, from Ruffled Feathers– 1971.
From Chapter 5, An Issue of Freedom of Speech.
“At any given moment there is a sort of self-prevailing orthodoxy, a tacit agreement not to discuss some large and uncomfortable fact.”- George Orwell
“Why do indigenous Canadians have the highest rates of victimization in the country? Because, as the latest data emphasizes, they live in the most violent communities in the country. The fact that I have to point this out, and that doing so will be met with anger, shows the embarrassingly primitive state of our national discussion on this issue.”- Journalist Scott Gilmour
“It’s not that ordinary Canadians don’t want to help Indians. We desperately do. But we’re not permitted to get involved except on the fallacious and unacceptable terms laid down by the Indian and non-Indian establishments. We’re in effect being told that to be involved and heeded, to be allowed into their conversation, we cannot challenge or question their pre-packaged orthodoxy. We cannot use our heads and think for ourselves. We cannot question the very existence of the Indian Act, the reserve system and the “separate but equal” status quo generally. So, fearful and unable to stomach that- unable to cope with the Alice in Wonderland nature of it- we find ourselves forced to stay out of it and, like the decent and caring Senator Beyak, we find ourselves expelled from the arena of public debate and engagement on this issue and forced to stand back and helplessly watch the terrible social damage being suffered by Indians continue unabated.”
“At times of great cultural catastrophe, an intellectual’s task is not to offer consolation, but to secure the foundations of humanity endangered by ideological lies, to find anew seeds of good sense, ethical norms with which to resist despondency.”- Czeslaw Milosz
“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”- Abraham Lincoln
From Chapter 6, Pre-Contact Indian Culture and the Shock of the New.
“Within a generation or two of the first contact by any Indian tribe with Europeans, that tribe’s essentially Stone Age technological culture, with all the skills, arts, knowledge, crafts and practices inherent in it, was to a large extent caught up in a process of being given up, let go and assimilated by and into the all too rationally-compelling, easy and understandable attractions and advantages of that more technologically-advanced European culture.”
“People have to accept that they can’t cling to the past and hold an iPhone.”
“But haven’t Canada’s aboriginals, by generally foregoing their pre-contact ways and means in favour of European/North American modern ways and means- by “culturally appropriating” these non-aboriginal ways and means- just as described by Joseph Boyden in The Orenda and Annie Proulx in Barkskins-done just that? And on a massive and all-encompassing scale? In fact, haven’t aboriginals” culturally appropriated” almost all of non-Indian, Eurocentric culture? Of course they have! And good for them! Everyone benefits from this! That’s how the world works!”
“The notion that indigenous Canadians are or would be better stewards of the land than non-indigenous Canadians is completely unfounded in history or by anything happening in the present. It’s not enough now, in the 21st century, clutching their cell phones like the rest of us, to just say that they have this “special relationship” with “the land,” (a tired, meaningless, overworked term if there ever was one), and that this somehow makes it still true or somehow makes them distinct as a culture. The feelings that Indians have towards the land- being the Earth and nature which all humanity shares and experiences- are no more profound, special or reverential than those of most other Canadians. All humans, of all cultures, have a profound relationship with the Earth, which we all equally and properly regard as life’s nurturing home.”
“Eurocentric man, as opposed to Canadian “indigenous man” (if you will) has only been a worse destroyer of nature, because, through a fluke of asymmetrical historical progress, he has developed the better technological capacity to do so. But Canadian indigenous man is catching up quick and proving, as he always in fact was, to be the depressingly equal of Eurocentric man in this dismal category of human behavior.”
“Just as Indian elites falsely say that they are better “stewards of the land”, so they similarly and falsely say that they have a “special relationship” with the land, thus unknowingly invoking variations of the creepy, “organic”, us versus the “other”, “Volkish”, mystical, anti-intellectual, proto-racist and proto-nationalistic “blood and soil” rhetoric that prevailed- with disastrous consequences- in Germany in the 1930’s (“blut und boden”), to a shocking degree in France as well, and more recently in countries like Croatia, Hungary and Serbia, and even, with the election of the American plutocracy’s stooge, Donald Trump-in the United States. This kind of crap, exceptionalist- “I’m an essentially different human being that you are because I, because of my race or blood, possess this unique, innate, authentic characteristic that you, because of your different race or blood, either don’t possess or possess in far lesser degree”-completely irrational, unscientific, racialist, ethno-tribalistic and superstitious thinking and talking leads only to bad ends. Such talk should be called out, discouraged and refuted.”
“There are no Hurons today in the vicinity of Lake Huron. That’s because in the mid-1600’s the Iroquois exterminated them, along with the Eries and the Neutrals, and then reduced the Algonquins to tribute bearing vassals…examples of Indians migrating, then conquering, enslaving, colonizing or exterminating other Indians, or perhaps more benevolently, merely assimilating with them!”
“What horrors of damp huts, where human beings languish, may not become picturesque through aerial distance.”- Novelist George Eliot.
From Chapter 7, Still Waters Stagnate.
“Time is a transparent medium. People and cities arise out of it, move through it and disappear back into it. It is time that brings them and time that takes them away. Time flows into a man or State, makes its home there and then flows away: the man and the State remain, but their time has passed. Where has their time gone? The man still thinks, breathes and cries, but his time, the time that belonged to him and to him alone, has disappeared. There is nothing more difficult than to be a stepson of the time.“- Vasily Grossman
“If life didn’t change, it wouldn’t be life, it’d be a photograph.” (Novelist David Mitchell) Indian elites won’t admit this. Instead they pretend (as human nature dictates that we all do to some degree) that the river of time has flowed into and now ended in a wide, calm, totally-enclosed lake of the present, where the status quo will never fundamentally change. This is a wrong and harmful view. Life-lessening stagnation and decline is the fate Indian elites must expect for their peoples if they continue to embrace this blinkered, static and wrong view of 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 with us, if they continue to prevent the active, uncertain future from unfolding naturally, and, by that blind intransigence, condemn their peoples to always be stepchildren of the times.”
From Chapter 8, Taking a Longer View of Time.
“All modern humans, regardless of their skin colour, form an entity united by physical bonds of descent from a recent African root, which embraces the idea of a common humanity. The reality of human unity is no idle political slogan or tenet of mushy romanticism.”- Sir David Cannadine
“It makes no sense, in these early days of man’s recorded history, in these still early days of human civilization, in these very early days of our own country’s brief history- given that we are all, Indians and non-Indians alike, being swept down this perpetual change-ridden river of time and history together-to permanently lock us all into the quasi-segregationist, race-based social and legal straitjacket we are creating for ourselves.”
From Chapter 9, The Violence and Dispossession Caused By Migrating Peoples.
“The history of mankind is the history of migration. The first farmers of the Stone Age arrived from the east to displace the hunter-gatherers, the copper users did the same for the stone users, the bronzesmiths for the copper users, until eventually we reached the Iron Age and the first millennium A.D.”- Peter Heather, Empires and Barbarians
“There is no justice in history. Most past cultures have sooner or later fallen prey to the armies of some ruthless empire, which have consigned them to oblivion. Empires too, ultimately fail, but they tend to leave behind rich and enduring legacies. Almost all the peoples of the twenty-first century are the offspring of one empire or another.”-Yuval Noah Harari
“Why not consider the coming of the Europeans as a fourth migration, a new set of tribes pushing others in front of them?Should we hesitate to do so because the European colonists had lighter-coloured skin, hair and eyes than the older inhabitants? At bottom the assertion of a right of self-government is a kind of racism. It contends that the only legitimate inhabitants of the Americas have been the Indians and the Inuit. According to this view, they had the right to drive each other from different territories as much as they liked, even to the point of destroying whole peoples and taking over their land, but Europeans had no similar right to push their way in.” – Professor Tom Flanagan, from his book First Nations? Second Thoughts.
From Chapter 10, Great Britain: A Conqueror With A Conscience.
“The degree to which Great Britain showed restraint and civility towards the Indians of Canada in its colonial dealings with them was an unprecedented departure from the historical norm of violence and dispossession. The norm, being a norm, was still operative. But the usual excessive effects of it- genocide, murder, pillage, rape and enslavement- were, in Colonial Canada, minimized to the extent so as to be almost non-existent. Instead of regarding and treating Indians as the sub-human “other”, the usual mental approach consciously or not adopted by conquerors since the beginning of history to justify their bloody deeds, the British, acknowledging to a remarkable degree the humanity of the Indians, dealt with them, in relative historical terms, in a benevolent and respectful manner. Most astonishingly, and probably never in history before, the British deemed the Indians to have legal rights, a purely European concept, and dealt with them accordingly.”
“Therefore, by properly and necessarily taking a deeper, longer, more informed, reflective and relative historical point of view, by considering Canadian issues today not with reference to a blindly naïve, never-attained standard of human perfection, but rather with reference “to the human norm, not with Utopia”, with reference to how man has actually behaved in similar circumstances throughout history, we can justly say that, after its victory over France in 1759, Great Britain did indeed act in a unique and superior fashion- in a manner way above the moral standards and regular practices of the times- in its subsequent dealings with the Indians of Canada…This is a part of our heritage to be proud of.”
From Chapter 11, The Grant of Legal Rights To Canadian Indians.
“The Royal Proclamation of 1763 in fact evidenced a benevolent, solicitous intention towards Indians, and in effect represented the extension of a soft, open, “unmailed” helping hand towards them. It was the very opposite of “genocidal” in wording or intent, clearly signifying as it did intentions to create an environment where Indian peoples were deemed to have legal rights, and thus they and their cultures could not, as was normally the historical case, lawlessly, (or lawfully), be casually and ignominiously erased from history…This was a total departure from the historical norm of violence and dispossession.”
“Among the Indians there have been no written laws. Customs handed down from generation to generation have been the only laws to guide them. Persuasion and physical force were the only methods of arbitrating disputes; social outlawry or physical violence the only means of punishing infractions of the moral code or offences against the band or tribe. Strangers however, even people of a neighboring tribe, might be robbed or killed with impunity: they had no rights unless they married into the band or placed themselves under the protection of some powerful family.”- Diamond Jenness
“”Call to Action” number 28 of the Truth and Reconciliation Report calls upon Canadian law schools to teach “indigenous law.” The reasoned and scholarly position of historian Diamond Jenness and the 1850 statement of Ojibway George Copway are apparently wrong. Their view was to the effect that, amongst Indian bands and tribes, law and order depended solely on strong chiefs and the strength of tribal opinion, that there were no private property rights, ( in fact, all property being communal, equal sharing, unlike today, was a mandatory matter of survival), and that there were no impersonal written laws, as in Anglo-Canadian law. So, other than the immediately above rather banal “tribal code” realities inherent to all tribal cultures the world over, past and present, what are the substantive particulars of Canadian “indigenous law”, worthy of being taught in law schools? It turns out that there are little or no such substantive particulars. It’s another emperor has no clothes situation.”
“Great Britain treated Canada’s Indians in this situation far better than Canada’s Indians treated each other in similar circumstances. Francis Parkman’s Jesuits in North America, and Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda both graphically and chillingly describe the “lawless”, brutal, torture-laden treatment meted out by battle-victorious Indians to their defeated enemies.”
“On a world historical level, the perpetual omnipresence of migration and assimilation means that it has to be regarded as essentially a neutral, mainly unconscious, collective human phenomenon- one that is a fundamental and unchangeable part of simply being human. To migrate, to set the process of assimilation in motion, is as natural as breathing. It’s definitely not always to participate in a blameworthy process! There are moral issues in history of course, and in this area of history a main moral issue is how the successful migrators behaved towards the people they achieved dominance over. That’s where the concepts of blame and shame arise. Were they cruel? Did they rape, kill and plunder as a matter of seeming policy? To what degree did they let the usual historical norm of violence and dispossession simply play out? How did they act relative to this historical norm? Viewed with this issue and these types of crucial questions in mind, the behavior of Great Britain and then Canada towards Canada’s Indians, overall, has to be regarded positively and with great admiration.”
From Chapter 12, The Essential Humanity of the Migrators to Canada.
“Too much history discourse is “big sweep-big picture” in nature, where the people who were actually involved in the narrative in question are abstracted and dehumanized in the service of some grand, overarching historical theory- treated like mere automata or bloodless units in some supposedly vast and inexorable world-shaping force or movement like communism, fascism, capitalism, colonialism or imperialism…This is how the Indian Industry- with these essentially empty word constructs- these abstractions, euphemisms and stereotypes- falsely portrays European migrators to Canada: as “colonizers”, “colonialists”, “settlers”, “exploiters” and “imperialists”- fictional”ist” or “ism” people– essentially as knowing, callous culture-killers and land thieves….But which non-Indian Canadian among us regards his or her pioneer ancestors in such an insulting, shallow and cartoonish way? Hardly any of us, and with good reason. It’s not true! In fact these were mainly innocent, vulnerable, individual human beings, just like us, not humans “ists” or “isms.” They were nearly as much the victims of larger forces beyond their control as were the indigenous peoples of their “new” lands whose lives they changed so profoundly. They were often themselves “oppressed” as much as they were ever “oppressors.” As such they have almost the same call on our powers of imagination, compassion, empathy, admiration and respect as do the ancient Indian peoples whose former lands they settled and whose way of life they inadvertently helped to end. Failing to maintain and defend our non-indigenous ancestors’ memory, sacrifices, hardships, accomplishments and legacy is wrong and dishonorable.”
“Mr. Saul’s and Mr. Rae’s books are illustrative of the sad fact that rarely before has an oppressed minority in a liberal society been so let down, so ill-served, so abandoned (albeit unintentionally) by their social, political and meritocratic elites as have been Canada’s aboriginal peoples.”
From Chapter 13 The End Times of Indian Cultures in Canada.
“The crows tell me” he says to the few men left, “that I shouldn’t listen to my dreams, that I should only listen to the crows and the Great Voice. But I can no longer ignore my dreams…my dreams tell me that it won’t be long,” he says, “before fires consume this country.” The last of the donnes walk out. Aaron looks at us three Jesuits. “My dreams tell me the end of this world I know is near.”-Joseph Boyden, The Orenda.
“But once the surveyors, the mapmakers, the constabulary, the government officials and the rest of the apparatus of British law and order had done their preparatory work- one the Hudson Bay Company’s ownership of and monopoly over the western lands of Canada was ended in 1870- then ever-greater numbers of settlers and traders began to pour into the West. The railroad was built. As the inevitable result of all this, the immediately destructive impact of European culture on pre-contact Indian cultures that first occurred in the 1600’s- and which had increasingly and uninterruptedly occurred after that time- quickened, and, for the Indians of Canada, reached its pathos-filled, catastrophic climax in the mid-to-late 1800’s.”
“The civilized world is intolerant of primitive peoples, whom it has neither the time nor the patience to protect and train for three or four generations until they can bridge the gap between the old conditions and the new. So the world is strewn with their wreckage…”- Dr. Diamond Jenness, 1932, from The Indians of Canada, published, 1932-1972, by the National Museum of Canada.
From Chapter 14, The Myth of Nation to Nation Dealings.
“William Robinson, in his report to his superiors on the Robinson-Huron Treaty, wrote that there were only 1422 Indians inhabiting all of the Lake Huron area, “including probably two hundred half-breeds; and when I paid the Indians they acknowledged they knew of no other families that those on my list.” Seventeen band chiefs, representing all the bands from Pentanguishine to Batchawana Bay on Lake Superior, signed the treaty, meaning that each chief signed for a band of only about 85 people! 85 people, or 1422 people in total, can’t make up a nation in the modern nation-state sense of the word that current Indian leaders like Chiefs Mahdahbee and Day incorrectly use it.”
“There can’t be a “nation” in the modern nation-state sense of the word when the highest loyalty of its members is to other members of their same extended family. That’s characteristic of a small tribe, band or clan only, not a “nation” in the modern sense of the word. The situation may have been a little different in western and northern Canada, but not so much as to constitute any of the Indian groups or tribes in Canada at the time of the original treaties as nation-states, or as nations generally, in any modern sense of the word.”
From Chapter 15, The Treaties: Fairly Made and Honourably Implemented.
“Ordinary Canadians often read and are told that the Indians of Canada are the victims of fraudulently or coercively-induced treaties, which even then were afterwards broken by the Crown, and that this is a large part of the cause of their present troubles. But an examination of some of the treaties entered into in the latter part of the 19th century and the circumstances surrounding the signing of them shows that this is generally not true. With respect to the implementation of the treaties, Canada and our provincial governments have more than just honoured them. Over the many years since they were signed they have, even though there are well-recorded and to me, over-emphasized exceptions to this, generally followed them to the letter. They have, in addition, in more than reasonable fulfillment of their fiduciary and “Crown honour” obligations, generously granted countless, significant, additional benefits to Indians, over and above the treaties, for which there is no basis in the wording of the treaties themselves, and which go far beyond the original intent of them.”
“The Supreme Court’s Daniels decision, granting legal “Indian” status to 400,000 Metis and 200,000 non-status Indians, highlights one of the great contradictions of our age. The author of the decision, Justice Rosalie Abella, is a Holocaust descendant. That event was a horrific but logical end-result of the irrational, perverse and racist blood myths that permeated Europe at the time, epitomized by the Nuremberg laws. Similarly, but with the best of intentions, Daniels defines legal rights based on considerations of “mixed ancestry” and “Native hereditary basis”- racist race terms! There’s even an uncritical reference to “Indian blood,” as if it were a biological fact, when in fact it is scientifically “nonsensical.” Metis Professor Chris Anderson wrote of the “deeply racist logic” of Daniels. The inadvertently “racist” Daniels decision, and similar recent Supreme Court decisions granting Indians new, special rights and entitlements based solely on their so-called distinct blood and race are all antithetical to the lessons of the Holocaust.”
From Chapter 21, Common Themes (of the Robinson-Huron, Manitoulin, Manitoba, North-West Angle and Prairie treaties).
“The historical record shows that the overall theme of the treaties, in the circumstances giving rise to them, in the talks engaged in before they were signed, in the treaty wording, in the speeches made by the parties after they were signed, was extinguishment of Indian rights and control over the lands surrendered, with no residual obligation on the Crown to continue to “share” the surrendered lands and the resources on them. Generally, the only (rather paltry) things given to the Indians in the treaties were small, annual cash payments, reserves, and the limited right to hunt and fish on the surrendered lands, all of which, in the Crown’s mind, were to be followed, hopefully sooner rather than later, by assimilation and integration of Indians into the mainstream of Canadian life, such as it was at the time.”
From Chapter 22, The Emasculation of Crown Sovereignty.
“When states are absent, rights- by any definition- are impossible to sustain. States are not structures to be taken for granted, exploited or discarded, but are fruits of long and quiet effort. It is tempting but dangerous to fragment the state”. -Historian Timothy Snyder
“Over the past twenty years, jurisprudence emanating from Canada’s higher courts has interpreted section 35 in such an ahistorical, overly-romantic, revisionist, activist way- has read into it so much that is not there and was never intended to be there, has created so many new rights for Indians they even they never knew they had or expected to be handed- that the need and ability of the Canadian state- of Canada’s federal and provincial governments- Canada’s Crowns- to solely embody ultimate political power and authority in the country in order to legislate and govern in all Canadians best interests, has been seriously eroded. As well, Canada’s higher courts have stacked the deck in favour of the right and ability of tiny Indian bands, with virtually no checks on them, to pursue their own economic interests at the expense of our already stressed and pressed-upon government treasuries, of otherwise lawfully operating corporations, of non-Indian Canadians, and at the expense of the Canadian general welfare as a whole. “Reconciliation“, the professed high value supposedly now governing relations between Indians and non-Indian in Canada, is being more and more rendered impossible by these court decisions and the emergent effects of them.”
“To an alarming degree, Canada is in a very real sense going back to the pre-treaties era of collaboration and shared power with Indians- to a situation of limited, reduced and emasculated- partially self-emasculated-Crown sovereignty, which is already having very negative consequences for all Canadians, Indians and non-Indians alike, and will continue to do so, in even worse fashion, in the years to come.”
“The vision of Canada as a harmonious, intermingling, unified “community of destiny” has been replaced by our elites with a meaner, more pinched and prosaic vision of Canada as a mere race-based community of economic and legal stakeholders- separate communities of racial origin, or as Amartya Sen describes it, a community characterized by “plural monoculturalism.”
From Chapter 23, The Haida Nation Case.
“I was a member of the House of Commons when the Charter was debated, and remember well the discussions and negotiations around s. 35 and the valuable references to the Royal Proclamation. Some protested no one knew exactly what the implications of these changes were, but in fact we knew full well that we were making progress in reducing the unilateral prerogatives of governments.“-Bob Rae (italics added)
“Haida Nation represents a very harmful, legally unjustified and unnecessary attack on and diminishment of Crown sovereignty, an irresponsible, thoughtless and dangerous attack against the necessary and legitimate powers and functionings of the Canadian state. In addition, Haida Nation, in its effect, mandates the largest, unilateral, unbalanced, unregulated, uncompensated transfer of wealth and power from government and private industry into the hands of one particular Canadian racial group- Indians- in our history. Haida Nation in effect amends our constitution without any input or consent whatsoever from the people of Canada expressed through our federal and provincial governments.”
From Chapter 26, Dancing With Danegeld.
“When you are talking about projects that could have a profound impact on the lives of First Nations people, you don’t just talk to us. You’re going to need our permission before anything goes forward. That’s just a fact of life.”- Art Sterritt, Coastal First Nations of B.C.
“These elite Indian band representatives are no longer victims talking. They are cock-of-the-walk clear winners of the judicial wars of the past thirty years talking and acting as such. These are people placed by our higher courts into positions of awesome power and control over the rest of Canada- power and control in no way democratically based– power with no accompanying burden of general responsibility– people who are making no bones about the fact that they are going to exploit this new position handed to them countrywide- to the maximum- with no moderating consideration of the whole country’s best interests.”
“Indian band elites have been handed positions in the Canadian economic order partially akin to those 19th century rentiers, except for now, their new-money, passive income, Danegeld wealth is not inherited. Rather, it is coerced from anyone nearby wanting to engage in hitherto untethered, (except for the obligation to pay taxes and comply with laws of general application), normal, entrepreneurial economic activity on their now (as decreed by the Supreme Court of Canada) “traditional lands” and their now, in B.C., thanks to Tsilhqot’in, for many important nation-building intents and purposes- sovereign, aboriginal title-based lands.”
“When kings fail to do their jobs and regulate the markets properly, it leads to loss of trust, dwindling credit and economic depression.”-Yuval Noah Harari.
“Our “kings” are failing to do their jobs.”
From Chapter 27, The Attack on Law and Order.
“The rule of law keeps the peace. Judging a legal result simply in terms of one’s own sense of right and wrong simply won’t do. The whole point of the rule of law is to set standards of governance that transcend individual moral feelings. The claim of moral righteousness and superiority has driven many of our species’ worst atrocities. The rule of law substitutes legal reasoning for moral righteousness.”- Lieff Carter and Thomas Burke
“Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law.” -Sophocles
“Criminal means once tolerated are soon preferred.” – Edmund Burke
“I argue in this essay that our courts have developed a two-tier system of justice for many aspects of the Indian experience in modern-day Canada.”
From Chapter 28, The Frontenac Ventures Blockade:
“Frontenac Ventures exemplifies our higher courts’ increasing tendency to stack the deck in favour of Indians in any civil suit involving them- to give members of any Indian band before it the full Walt Disney approach, to assume without critical inquiry that they have been injured, to regard them, regardless of clear evidence before them, as innocent, victimized, noble pre-contact beings, to refuse to place on their shoulders the same degree of personal responsibility for illegal behavior as is on the shoulders of non-Indian Canadians- all regardless of the plain, modern, reality of the situation before them. All this is a recipe for the breakdown of law and order…It’s also a recipe for economic disaster for mining companies involved in mining leases and for the mining industry generally- in fact for any other business or undertaking in Canada carrying out a state-authorized activity which finds itself in the same vulnerable, unjust situation as Frontenac Ventures found itself in.”
From Chapter 33, The 2012 Algonquin Land Claims Settlement Agreement: The Deal of the (19th) Century.
“A most retrograde and illiberal agreement! A fundamentally unprincipled agreement-in-principle! An agreement that will impoverish and demoralize all the people of Ontario. An agreement that will constitute a huge, reckless and unaffordable revenue and sovereignty giveaway. An agreement that will only harmfully overindulge those few thousand Algonquin Canadians affected (they will get their perpetual benefits under this new agreement while still keeping all their existing Indian Act rights and entitlement), and that will further retard, as a group, their integration into the Canadian mainstream.”
From Chapter 34, The Imperative of Sole Crown Authority.
“Haida Nation jurisprudence and our political, bureaucratic and police elites weak and confused- and, at crucial times, frozen– response to it, represents a full, frontal assault by our ruling classes against the system of hierarchy which Professor Wilson suggests must be present for a democracy to function properly, against what Brian Lee Crowley describes as Canada’s real wealth: our “endowment of rules, institutions and behaviors” that make up the civilization we inherited from our ancestors.”
“To diminish Crown sovereignty-the fount and guardian of our democracy, our property rights and the rule of law, the latter themselves the basis of a superior economic system which has provided so well for us, as Haida Nation jurisprudence has diminished Crown sovereignty- is to attack and diminish our democracy, our very civilization itself. Ordinary Canadians know or at least sense that. Unfortunately, our “ruling classes”- our increasingly post-liberal elites-seem not to know that any more.”
From Chapter 35, Indian Reserves as Tax Havens and Places of Privileged Fiscal Immunity.
“Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.”- Oliver Wendell Holmes
“No, it’s not right for Indians, while on the one hand, making ever-increasing demands for more and more funding on our cash-strapped governments- in effect on already hard-pressed Canadian taxpayers- and on the other hand, at the same time adopting tax haven policies and practices that knowingly and almost intentionally weaken and deplete the treasuries of those very same governments. To the increasing extent that this goes on, non-Indian Canadians have to shoulder an increasing tax load. We have to make up the difference lost by these activities. This is not right or fair.”
From Chapters 36, 37 and 38, A “First Nations” Education.
“Indian elites want more money and better on-reserve primary and secondary schools- schools run by themselves.”
“Segregating children from others solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The impact of segregation is greater when it has the sanction of law. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of the child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law tends to impede the educational and mental development of children and deprives them of the benefits they would receive in an integrated school system.” -Chief Justice Earl Warren, United States Supreme Court, in Brown vs. Board of Education, 1954.
“Canada succeeded by actively supporting ethnic and religious multiculturalism, believing that children educated together in the country’s public schools and hockey arenas would emerge as integrated citizens.”- Erna Paris, in From Tolerance to Tyranny.
“Indigenous teachings” is just another phrase denoting romantic, baseless, anti-intellectual, non-scientific, new-age malarkey.
“The approach of Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein is eschewed in favour of an approach that would countenance such an intellectual fraud as “native science”, and in favour of an approach grounded in “the spirit of things”, that is, in favour of the irrational and superstitious.”
From Chapter 39, Indian Reserves: Canada’s Gated National System of Gated Communities.
“A Canadian Indian reserve is Canada’s poor man’s gated community, where the pervading spirit is one of inertia and dependency, and the essential qualification for belonging and the essential reason why “outsiders,” i.e. the rest of Canadians, are implicitly told, “you don’t belong here”, is race, rather than wealth.”
From Chapter 40, Setting Indians Free From Their Past.
“Do not grieve- misfortunes happen to the wisest and best of men. What is past and cannot be prevented, should not be grieved for.”- Teton Sioux Chief Big Elk
“The current problem is that many indigenous leaders still seem to be stuck in grieving mode when the time to move on has already come and gone.”- Indigenous writer and businessman Calvin Helin.
“The truth is more important than consolation, and in the long run, would be more effective.”- Penelope Fitzgerald
“Canada’s Indians did not suffer “genocide” in any form…Please all, this writer begs you- especially you elites, who should know better, and who should be more careful and responsible with your words and with your privileged positions powers and media access, like retired Madame Justice McLachlin, late of our Supreme Court (see her description of the residential schools as “cultural genocide” below), and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Murray Sinclair- do not, in any way, equate or conflate the Canadian Indian experience with any of the German state-organized and carried out intentional, murderous, disgusting, repellant and unfathomable evil- “this Hell, in comparison with which Dante’s Hell seems no more than an innocent game on the part of Satan.”
“If, as Irwin Cotler says, we should shudder to mention the name genocide, then we should shudder to use it lightly, and we should never use the word in any context other than Juanita Vishniatskaia’s or Tamara and Itta Willemberg’s…We fail to act responsibly and to the highest of our abilities when we permit the key word denoting Juanita’s and Dina’s sufferings- genocide– to be casually, wrongly and insensitively conflated with much lesser events of personal and collective historical disturbance- as opposed to profound, cataclysmic events of personal and collective human annihilation… It’s insulting and demeaning to the memories of true genocide victims.”
“Residential schools couldn’t have “killed” aboriginal culture. Three hundred years of contact with European culture caused that culture to tragically but inevitably diminish to the point of near-disappearance before residential schools were ever thought of.”
“You may have heard 7000 negative stories about residential schools. But what you haven’t heard are the 7000 stories that were positive stories.”- Indigenous novelist, playwright and pianist Tomson Highway.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Report must be condemned with the verdict of being bad history… In fact the Report is being used by Indian elites to reinforce all the dysfunction, to continue the stoking of the guilt-making machine behind the past wrongs done to Indians, and to maintain difference between Indian and non-Indian Canadians, and thus is seen by ordinary Canadians as being cynically used too much as merely an agent for the accumulation of more money and power in the hands of the Indian Industry…It’s tragic that it didn’t emulate South Africa’s ubuntu spirit and philosophy.”
From Chapter 41, Rethinking The Honour Of The Crown” Principle.
Haida Nation, like Brown, said that the principle of “the honour of the Crown” was a fundamental principle governing the relations between the Crowns of Canada and Canada’s Indians, arising as it did out of the relationship of inequality and dependency between the federal Crown and our Indian peoples at the time the treaties were signed, and from the perpetual trust reposed in the Crown by Indians in those circumstances. Evidencing this, as related above in relation to the signing of the treaties, were the frequent references to the mother-child relationship existing between them, with the Crown being the “Great Mother” and the parleying Indians her “children.”
“Thus the Crown honour principle needs to be re-visited, re-thought and re-applied in such a way that Canada starts to treat Indians like a responsible parent would, not in accordance with what her Indian “children” subjectively want , but in accordance with what they objectively need in order to become self-supporting, civically-engaged, civic adults.”
From Chapter 42, Our Liberal Values.
“Indigenous AFN co-founder and lawyer William Wuttunee, in Ruffled Feathers, described the chief and band council-controlled land management system as “feudal.”
“Aboriginal writer and businessman Calvin Helin, in Dances With Dependency, set out in clear and depressing detail all that is wrong and illiberal about the status quo: “band governments answerable to no one; powerless community members; an AFN comprised of and representing only the self-interested Chiefs- “colonizers of their own people”- and generally, “a situation not unlike many banana republics.”
“We can and we must take Indians out their illiberal, race-obsessed, waking dream of voluntary servitude.”
From Chapter 43, The Myth of Race and Racial Differences.
“For all practical purposes race is not so much a biological phenomenon as a social myth. Biological studies lend support to the ethic of universal brotherhood.”- Sir David Cannadine.
“The conclusion is inescapable: genetically, “racially”, socially, and in every other way that counts, there is no difference between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians!”
From Chapter 44, The Amygdala Factor: Our Civic Duty To Give No Legal or Political Effects to Race-Thinking.
“Our elites need to be better aware of the amygdala factor. Haida Nation’s and Tsilhcot’in’s purported “reconciliation” of the Indian and non-Indian peoples of Canada is rendered virtually impossible when the underlying legal and political basis for it is one that increasingly focuses on the emotional triggers of racial differences and racial apartness.”
From Chapter 46, Why Bother?
“All the power and money pursuits Indian elites are engaged in are completely divorced from and has no bearing on the on-the-ground, behind-closed-doors, fist-to-face reasons why those hundreds of poor, dear missing women- those “daughters of famine and chaos with nothing to sell but their youth,” and with “too much thirst for life to join the suicides”, (Victor Serge) acted with such fatal desperation in fleeing from their reserves- “where the morning brings no hope…seeing only future scenes of home sorrow” (George Eliot)- why those other poor, dying young souls, male and female, their search for a safe and purposeful life too parched for far too long, were driven, in their final, respective acts of mind-numbed, nihilistic despair, to kill themselves.”
“The suicide epidemics break out again and again, the shocking and senseless violence. The handwringing “compassionate” politicians fly in again, all the right photos taken. The emergency extra funding is found, and additional psychologists and social workers, earning huge per diems, are flown in, and all is temporary excitement and focus. But, eventually, everyone who can goes back down South, the hustle and bustle is over, and all reverts to the old deadening, killing, quiet and sameness. The old despair and danger, put on hold by all the big-shots’ fuss, returns.”
“And everywhere- emanating from our sanctimonious, well-fed elites, Indian and non-Indian- there is a fundamental, sickening, demoralizing, kick-the-ball-down-the-road detachment from the immediate, urgent, life or death needs- imperatives! of these desperate young Canadians!”
“Whence this detachment? One day it would seem the very soul of the matter: a failure to imagine will make us die.”- Playwright Arthur Miller
“For the past 40 years we have been plowing money into the programs. We have no evidence that it’s working.”- Joe Wild, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister for Indigenous and Northern Affairs, 2016.
“We see now that too little of the billions of dollars paid annually by Canadians to Indian bands flows down to and benefits the dispossessed Indian underclass. The “strong men rule” nature of the tribal/reserve governance system, with its inherent lack of accountability, with its tendency not to nurture all the excellences of which human nature is capable, ensures that, even with all the consult and accommodate monies and entitlements flowing into the possession and control of these elites, this will always remain essentially the case.”
“Many Aboriginal youth feel that they are “conquered subjects” of a systemic and antiquated form of government suited to the benefit of the elites and paid for on the backs of the suffering grassroots indigenous people.”- Indigenous writer and businessman Calvin Helin, from his book, Dances With Dependency.
“Ordinary Canadians are similarly feeling weary and disconnected today. We’re weary of reading about the suicide epidemics and all the poor criminally-neglected Janices and the Kashechewans and the Attawapiskats, and hearing our Indian and non-Indian elites solely blame ordinary Canadians and our “colonialist-imperialist” ancestors for it- all to no good end and making little difference. We’re weary of being held hostages to guilt. We’re weary of our Indian and non-Indian elites continuing to pretend that the reserve system itself– the “disease at the root of the suffering” (Michael Ten Dandt), is not the real problem and that any public discussion of that fact is forbidden. We’re weary of these elites, wielding “the destructive power of ideological abstractions over human lives”, (Alexander Herzen), continually sacrificing present generations of aboriginal citizens for the sake of a utopian future- the “nation to nation” sovereignty chimera- that is nothing but glorified nonsense and that will never come!”
From Chapter 47, Amending the Constitution and Overiding Haida Nation Jurisprudence.
“Any steps taken by Ottawa or the provinces to fundamentally change the status quo, short of amending the Constitution by repealing section 35, would be unconstitutional, plain and simple. But constitutions are not meant to stay the same forever. They can and should be amended when circumstances warrant.”
From Chapter 48, Ending the Reserve System and Race-based Laws.
“It is imperative that Indians should have full equality before the law. The provisions of the Indian Act do not give them equality. They are saddled with disadvantages which hound them continually in their daily lives. Their problems cannot be attributed to white Canadians only. It is a problem which lies on the shoulders of everyone. Canada must be prepared to repeal the Indian Act completely.” – William Wuttunee, indigenous AFN co-founder and pioneering indigenous lawyer.
“The affording to Indians of the status of full equality with their non-Indian fellow Canadian citizens would constitute Canada’s version of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery.”
From Chapter 50, It’s Not Impossible- (Nelson Mandela Proved It.)
“Not one of our Indian and non-Indian elites is prepared to engage with, much less try to answer, the big question- the Nelson Mandela question: Why is Nelson Mandela’s goal and vision of “one set of laws for all races” in the country not the right goal and vision for Canada?”
“Canada needs to start off on a different path in order to better the disgraceful position of Indians in our country today, in order to achieve true progress for them. Indians and non-Indians need to become partners again, like we were in the early days of first contact, only this time, inevitably and necessarily, under the aegis of social and legal equality and ultimate Crown sovereignty.”
“Heroism is essential to politics. We live for an hour when a politician stands up in the dusty arena and we recognize, with astonishment, that here is a person to take risks, tell us what we don’t want to hear, face possible defeat for a principle, tackle insuperable odds, and by doing so, show us that politics need not just be the art of the possible, but the art of the impossible. Heroism is in fact a social virtue, nurtured by loyalties to people you know you must defend if you are to live with yourself afterwards.”- Michael Ignatieff
“I think all Canadians would be similarly richly affected if our Indian population, instead of being isolated from the rest of us, became an omnipresent, ubuntu, part of our daily lives; if that “double consciousness” described by W.E.B. DuBois (see Introduction), greatly and tragically exacerbated by the events of the past thirty years, became a fundamentally singular Canadian consciousness; if they lived in our neighborhoods instead of so far apart from us, and thus could better “share in the common inheritance of life’s best goods.” (David Brooks); if their cultural traditions were shared and seen as an open hand of greeting instead of being perceived by Canadians as a brandished fist, (“nothing comes from blame but evil tempers”-George Eliot), and as advocacy instruments in their elites’ constant, relentless, separatist-like power and money claims- were shared with other Canadians in the context of daily, commingled, community life, and thus experienced by Canadians as a positive, felt part of our Canadian community’s day-to-day- life, of our country’s rich, rainbow reality.”
“To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country.
Each time one of us touches the soil of this land we sense a personal renewal.
We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom.
The time for the healing of the wounds has come.
The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.
The time to build is upon us”- Nelson Mandela
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