Canadian Principles?

The U.S. ATF has been here since April 2nd. There continues to be a police buildup.One of the paradoxes is that our Indigenous government and the Canadian government are supposedly founded on the same principles, that of human equality and mutual respect. Our way of understanding this is radically different. In our society everybody has always been equal. No one can make laws or impose laws or decisions on anyone else. Our laws are developed through consensual processes. We don’t have a head of state who makes decision for us or who orders us around. We have representatives who speaks on our behalf and only the decisions the people make. They are the go-betweens of our people and outsider that we have to deal with.

Canadian legality is totally different. It came to North America under Royal Charters by which the King of England authorized the theft of native land and the murder of native people. It has gradually tried to become more civilized. In the early 1800’s the colonists achieved what they called “representative government”. Instead of laws being made by England’s Parliament, where no Canadians could vote, they had laws made by representatives of rich Canadian men. The king in far-off England could still overturn their laws. Later they achieved what they call “responsible govenment”. The king could not overturn their laws anymore. They were still made only by rich men. In the early 20th Century they finally dared to experiment with the principle of human equality. After World War I the vote was extended to women and to all men over 21 who were “British subjects”.

Indigenous people were specifically excluded from the definition of a “person” in Canadian law until 1960. Canadians could not deal with the idea that personhood and voting rights should not be limited on a racial basis. In 1982 Canadians “brought home” their constitution. Canadians still don’t understand that “consent” is basic to the principle of equality. They think that by giving the vote to the Indigenous people, they have turned Indigenous people into Canadians. Not so! We never agreed to live under their laws. We have our own constitution. We never agreed to let them take all our land and resources and kill us. We never agreed that they could push us around and steal our children.

Canada’s recent so-called “magnanimity” hits us the same way a woman who has been abducted and raped would feel. It’s as if her abuser suddenly starts talking sweet to her while he keeps her tied up in the basement. The claim that Canada has “responsible government” sounds strange to us. Canada has never taken responsiblity for what it did to us. We have tried to sit down and discuss matters with Canadian officials on a lawful nation-to-nation basis. Even their documents, recorded by their colonial officials, supports us. Canada continues to refuses to talk to us on the basis of their own historical records. They keep pretending that we are in a good partnership, even as they keep their guns pointed at our heads.

Canada just can’t seem to bring itself to behaving in an honest, consistent and transparent way. Canada still runs things based on the ability to command, bully and scare people into submission. Look at Stephen Harper! He’s planning to hire 1000 new RCMP and build more jails!

poster: Kahentinetha Horn