DEAR DR. PHIL: ARE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN AN “ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP” WITH CANADA?
MNN. May 21, 2006. They say “love is blind”. When friends and relatives think your relationship is in trouble they start dropping you hints and sending you clippings from the newspaper. An alert Maliseet reporter sent this one our way. “Doesn’t this sound like Canada?”, she asked. Let’s take a look.
After all, according the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, we are “partners in confederation”. Marriage is a partnership? So let’s see how this partnership stacks up. Canada did not ask for our hand in marriage. So it must be common law! We were never given an opportunity to accept or reject their colonial advances. They came, they saw and they moved right in. To use the legal terminology, Britain assumed “sovereignty over us and our lands”. We had one hell of a dowry, didn’t we?
Marriages often begin with a honeymoon. When was ours? Marriage often creeps up on people and then they find themselves trapped. People used to think marriages lasted forever. Now they say you should get out if it’s abusive.
How can you tell if you’re in an abusive relationship? Let’s look at the list so we can decide for ourselves. Is this marriage worth saving?
1. Does your spouse stop you from talking to or prevent you from seeing family or friends? Geez! Remember the law that said we couldn’t leave the reserve and we had to get passes from the Indian agent if we wanted to visit anyone? Does the way they listen in on our phone conversations today count? We can tell that a lot of our phones and our emails are bugged. Where do people talk in this constitutional marriage partnership? Is it in Parliament? We don’t have elected representatives there. In fact, we don’t want elected representatives in a “foreign” government. Are they sure we’re married?
2. Does your spouse embarrass you with bad names and put-downs? Omygawd! Wasn’t the Indian Act called the “act de sauvages” in French? Omygawd! Remember how the Indian Act defined a person as anyone but an “Indian” right up to 1952? Didn’t Indian Affairs call us “children” and “wards of the state”? They pretended we were not capable of conducting our own affairs. Didn’t Canadian textbooks and the media present us as childlike, primitive, dirty drunken demons whose ancestors were naked, war-painted braves and princesses, kemosabes, big chiefs, squaws, flesh eaters, torturers who attacked innocent pioneers, wasted resources, whooping wagon-circling warriors, who should have died out instead of becoming gutter drunks and gun toting drug and cigarette smugglers and peace disturbers who blocked roads and bridges and burned tires? In fact, doesn’t the Canadian government have a special department of the JTF2 which bragged that “smear campaigns are our specialty”?
3. Does your spouse look at you or act in ways that scare you? Well, as a matter of fact, yes. It is rather scary to have all those guns pointed at us every time we try to talk to them.
4. Does your spouse treat you roughly, grab you, shove you, push you? Well, as a matter of fact it does. If we stare at them long enough, they’ll jump us and beat us up. In fact, they have lots of torture toys, like the latest taser guns, pepper spray, M-16’s, rubber bullets and helicopters that hover over our houses that disturb our sleep. If we don’t do as we’re told, they get court injunctions and beat us up. This happens all the time. We get stopped by the cops for potential
driving infractions and disturbing the peace. The jails are full of Indigenous people. In fact, going to jail is part of growing up for the average Indigenous youth in Canada. Many are finally murdered there.
5. Does your spouse control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go? Do they stop you from seeing or talking to friends and family? As a matter of fact, Canada thinks it can decide who our friends and family are! Look at the Indian act! It was passed without our knowledge or consent. Canada and the US also stuck borders right in the middle of our territories. About four out of five times when I try to cross to visit friends and relatives, I am stopped, searched, detained, harassed and reported on. They never find anything and have to let me go. They’re harder on our younger kids who often find themselves arrested. At Akwesasne there are 19 different policing agencies patrolling the community.
6. Does your spouse prevent you from getting a job, take your money, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money? Yeah! Didn’t it all begin with the great land grab! This spouse thinks it owns ALL of our land and resources, and even us! They always called us “our Indians”. They think they “gave” us our reserve. They think “self-determination” isn’t an inherent human right. Just the other day the new Great White Father, Jim Prentice, gave a talk about ,”How much self-determination should we give the Indians”!!! We guess he hasn’t the UN human rights protocols that Canada has signed and pledged to uphold. They’ve tried to take away our essential humanity. They like to keep us on welfare so they can keep us under control. There are lots of jobs for their “house Indians’ like band councilors to help them do this. You can be sure you’re fired if you don’t tow their line. They do everything they can to stop us from developing economic independence. They claim the right to expropriate our land to develop our resources in a way that only benefits them.
7. Does your spouse make all the decisions? You bet! We aren’t allowed to make any decisions. In 1982 Canada’s new Constitution Act claimed to affirm “existing Aboriginal and treaty rights”. The Supreme Court of Canada interpreted this to mean that before 1982 it was legal for Canada to extinguish our rights if they showed a “clear and plain intent”. What? After 1982 the Supreme Court declared that Canada can only infringe our rights if it has “valid justification”. Valid to who?? Them, of course! That’s how you rob people. Our involvement in decision making of any kind seems to be completely irrelevant in Canada’s mind. Anytime we have tried to assert our rights, we’ve been attacked and Canada’s courts have shot us down. A good marriage is supposed to be based on equal partnership. Canada should deal with us on the legal nation-to-nation basis. In this “partnership” Canada is the only one that gets to be a “nation”. They have taken to calling us “first nations”. Don’t be fooled. It’s double faced sweet talk. They think they still have us on a short leash.
8. Does your spouse prevent you from leaving after a fight? Hey, aren’t they are on our land? Shouldn’t they leave? Look at what’s happening at Six Nations. We’ve seen it all before. They come and attack us. We defend ourselves. They shove us into their paddy wagons, ambulances and take us off to their hospitals, jails and sometimes the morgue. We are not free to go to our homes. We have to be on guard and protect each other all the time.
9. Does your spouse tell you you’re a bad mother or threaten to take away your children? Well, Canada’s official state policy qualifies as genocide. [read the UN Convention on the Prevention of Genocide]. Our children were routinely taken from us to be raised in an alien culture. First, our children were killed. Then the survivors were snatched from their parents and sent to residential schools. We call them “death camps”. There they were beaten, raped, abused, malnourished, exposed to diseases and subjected to medical experimentation. About half died. Then there were the “sixties scoop” and the “seventies sweep”. Whole Generations of our kids were kidnapped and given to “nice white families”. Some were nice. A lot were not.
10. Does your spouse Act like abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny he did it? The whole nasty business began with the pretence that Canada was going to “civilize” and “protect” us. They focused on what’s wrong with us and our behavior. Instead of of setting up treatment for them, the abusers, Canada puts us in “healing circles” and all kinds of other therapies to try to “pacify” us as if we’re the ones with the problem. They don’t want to notice what they’re doing to us. We’ve been studied to death to justify their views on us so they can continue to hold us in bondage. Canada has always denied that is has carried out genocide of 99% of our people. Imagine! It just got itself on the Human Rights Commission at the UN so it can supervise the external international agencies that are available to receive complaints from the Indigenous Peoples of the world! This is a classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse.
11. Does your spouse destroy your property, use violence against you or threaten to hurt pets or things you care about? Look at the destruction from one end of Turtle Island to the other. When the colonists arrived this was a land of plenty. Our ancestors had a relationship with the environment based on mutual respect for mother earth and all of the natural world. We managed the environment so that everything was in balance. The fish in the Grand Banks were so thick you could pull them up with a bucket. The earth was full of nuts, big berries and all kinds of game. Turtle Island was a beautiful park. In a short time the European abusers ravaged almost all of the land. In 1720 the King of England passed a law saying “no more cutting of the white pine” [our Tree of Peace. Only one strand remains in Algonquin park.] They rolled across the land cutting down old growth trees and destroying the habitat of the animals. The dug up the earth to get minerals, poisoning the water and air, leaving toxic waste everywhere that will take thousands of years to repair. Today the Grand Banks are fished out. All kinds of natural food resources are depleted. In some places fish in the St. Lawrence River can qualify as toxic waste. Lake Erie is a cesspool. The prairies are turning into a desert. Southern BC is almost all clear cut. In the north the caribou have been decimated. The ice is melting and the polar bears are drowning. The land is scarred, poisoned and becoming increasingly unlivable. Anytime we try to protect it, we are faced with threats or violence. Look at what’s happening at Six Nations right now.
12. Does your spouse intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons? The latest! Take a look at item 4. Remember the weapons cache that was found just this spring at Kanehsatake. Remember the 77,000 rounds of ammunition shot at the 26 Indigenous people attending the Sun Dance at Gustafsen Lake. Remember the way the army was deployed around three of our territories during the Mohawk Oka Crisis of 1990?
13. Does your spouse force you into sexual acts that you don’t enjoy? This is really “undercover”. In Vancouver and other western cities there are streets where men go to pick up child prostitutes. These are our children. There are 500 native women missing. Their disappearances have not been investigated. What more can we say.
14. Does your spouse threaten to kill himself? Well, we finally found something on this list that Canada doesn’t do. If it did, could you blame us if we just let it happen?
So what do you think, Dr. Phil? What kind of therapy do you suggest for this abusers? Shouldn’t Canada sign up right away? If this is a marriage, we want a divorce!
MNN Mohawk Nation News