While we were busy worrying about our impending doom, something very hopeful yet tragic is happening in Canada.
Two weeks ago Chief Theresa Spence went on a hunger strike to protest the removal of environmental protections on Canadian water ways and the general lack of regard for the plight of the aboriginal peoples by the current “Harper Government”.
At first I was excited to see the native people rallying and working towards making their presence known.
Unfortunately, I think they have their eyes on the wrong target.
A Tail of Violence
Some of you old enough may remember the Oka Crisis in Canada in 1990. Basically someone wanted to build a golf course and residential development on top of an native burial ground.
This ground was declared sacred by the Governor of New France in 1717 and had remained so until 1961 when they started building the Club de golf d’Oka (Oka Golf Club). The Mohawk band filed a grievance in court but by the time the case was heard, the land had been cleared and development had started.
This started a series of court cases that lead up until 1989 when the Developer announced they would be clearing more tree’s to expand to 18 holes and a new residential development.
A road block was erected by the Mohawk and a face-off with the Government began. When the Quebec Police forces moved in to remove the blockade with tear gas and flash-bang grenades, the Mohawk had gathered an stockpile of weapons and ammo at the road block and began to fire at Police forces killing one officer.
Then the Quebec government then sent in the RCMP who had no luck ending the situation, while the Mohawk worked in conjunction with other first nations people in order to block-aide more highways (3 major routes where shut down).
After the RCMP ended up in a confrontation, which ended in 10 officers being hospitalized, the Quebec Premiere called on the Canadian Army to come in and supply force to prevent the further escalation of tensions.
During the last day of the block-aide, one lone Mohawk warrior walked around with a stick setting of flares that were placed by the military to help monitor any individuals that may try and leave the protest.
The military then opened fire with a water cannon on the warrior who was then surrounded by a large crowd who began to throw water balloons.
The next morning, the Mohawk’s dis-assembled their weapons and burnt them in a large fire while ending their protest.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the whole story was towards the end. They had worked out a deal to cancel the golf course expansion in order to have the block-aide of the major highways. Once the block-aides where removed, the military remained and suddenly the government was refusing to negotiate any further.
We Are Idle No More
Since Oka, a lot has changed. Conditions for indigenous peoples have gotten worse. The general feeling that native people get to much “free shit” from the Government has ballooned. The over-all division between the First Nations and the rest of Canada has grown into a deep chasm.
The #IdleNoMore movement has made some demands and the government isn’t listening, though the support for the movement is gaining momentum.
Unfortunately, I can’t see this ending any better than the above mentioned Oka crisis.
The First Nations are asking for a meeting with Prime-Minister Stephen Harper to discuss the plight of aboriginal Canadians, while Harper is steadily declining and offering up his Minister for aboriginal affairs.
Many in the #IdleNoMore movement seem to have this ill-conceived notion that the Treaties their for-fathers signed are actually good for something.
The assumption is that if Harper won’t do anything, they will take it over his head to the Queen. They fail to realize that the Queen (and her family) are directly responsible for the current struggles of Native Americans, having ordered the slaughter of millions of their brothers & sisters as well as institutionalizing the Residential School system.
I’m going to make a prediction here. First up, I think sooner or later Stephen Harper will meet with Chief Spence, and then ignore her demands. This is the way Harper has worked from the start of his leadership.
IF the First Nations decide to start interesting road-blocks across major highways again, this time it won’t be nearly as easy for them to walk away from.
In the 2 decades that have passed since Oka, the RCMP has gained much Military style training (you know, to fight “Terrorists”) and the Military itself has become a much more aggressive demeanor than previous generations.
Add that to the pent-up anger that has been building in the Native Population for some time, and you have all the ingredients of a “Mega-Oka”.
Harper isn’t Mulroney. Harper drives the hard right line of politics while Mulroney was more center leaning.
We are not at the point where things could boil over yet, but it seems as if the current Canadian Government wants to stoke the hatred fires and build this into a full blown country wide crisis.
It is a dangerous time for the Native people as they build a movement that has lots of room for “infiltrators” to sneak in and help erode some of the popular support from non-Natives.
All it will take is one person to do something proactive that results in a non-native being hurt or killed, allowing for the popular racist segment to rise up and take away what rights the First Nations have left.
Don’t trust the government, Son. They are always going to try and fuck ya.