At Perpetual LoggerheadsHow's this for a conscienceless rather interesting perspective on the 'true agenda' of the Government of Canada while dealing with aboriginal Canadians and keeping in mind the needs of the country to advance its minerals- and energy-extraction future for the benefit of all Canadians:
"Indigenous death and despair serve the government's purpose ... through underfunding and interference with local governance, the current government is starving people off reserves (to) make it easier for the government's friends in the oil, gas and mining industries to go about their business unhindered."
Daniel Wilson, formerly senior director with the Assembly of First Nations
This, in describing a government that more than any other previous government, has been wracking its legal and intellectual resources in consultations to find ways to finally hope to solve some of the intractable problems inherent in satisfying the needs of First Nations peoples. Yes, it is disgraceful that an antagonistic situation exists between Canada's aboriginals and its government. It is to no one's advantage that land treaties remain far too long outstanding and require urgent settling, but lack momentum.
The Indian Act, which perhaps at one time had a useful rationale, has long outlived its purpose. No people should be maintained in their maturity as a dependent demographic of adolescence-arrested societies. Yet, in remaining on northern, inaccessible reserves with the conceit that in so doing their ancestors' way of life is being honoured, and love of the land and tradition must be observed by living on the land in the traditional way, aboriginals have been mired in hopeless dependency and lack of opportunity to advance their interests.
If land claim settlements were successfully concluded, they would at the very least, be able to take full advantage of the natural resources that lie on those lands, although resources are likely less widely deposited on future First Nations-claimed lands than many may believe. Living in far northern areas, furthermore, where there is no industry, no opportunities for employment other than with the band council, simply extends the hand-out and hand-me-down culture that has evolved, creating dependency and dysfunction.
The agenda that this government has been slowly proceeding with is not one geared to produce 'indigenous death and despair', but a level playing field for aboriginals. Bill S-8 is The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act; Bill S-2, The Family Homes on Reserve and Matrimonial Interests or Right Act; Bill S-6, The First Nations Elections Act; Bill C027, The First Nations Financial Transparency Act, and Bill S0212, The First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill.
Do any of those sound like a genocidal agenda being put into malicious play by the federal government? Does the plan to change restrictive land-lease agreements to enable bands swifter access to employment and sharing of extraction resources through leasing land to mining entrepreneurs sound as though government plans to short-change aboriginals, or rather to elevate their pecuniary interests?
Modernizers within the First Nations communities, like former chief Manny Jules who is critical of the Idle No More movement as a grass roots protest group more inclined to make noise than to produce useful solutions, and National Chief Shawn Atleo, are tugged toward making useful accommodation with the federal government to advance the futures of their people, and hauled backward by those who feel themselves representative of the 'traditional agenda' of aboriginal activists who scorn all solutions, but insist on a greater share of everything, irregardless.
Clearing the way for better educational opportunities for First Nations children, and assuring property rights and with those a sense of personal investment and responsibility are to the advantage of First Nations. Who need to enter the modern, market-based economy and participate wholly in it, given the opportune tools through the enactment of new legislation, like the legislation that the Idle No More movement is resistant against and declares must be repealed.
There is the way of advancement and mutual trust in the interests of finally achieving goals that will honour the past and pave the way to a decent and just future for aboriginals. And there are its opponents who believe, as Pam Palmater, a Ryerson University academic does, that "The days of waiting for the AFN to do something are over. Clearly, the AFN has crossed the line and no longer works on our behalf."
She would do things differently than Shawn Atleo with whom she contested the position of National Chief of the AFN, and lost.