Navigating a sea of indigenous irony.

It would be funny if it were not so sad. Canadian politicians constantly try to solve problems for our aboriginal peoples but they often use our concern to abuse us for just not being aboriginal.

What I have never understood is that instead of making sure they have clean water to drink in their communities, someone in government thought they might like to be called “indigenous” instead of aboriginal. I could care less but I know that “indigenous” means “from here.” They are not. Their ancestors came from Asia like many other Canadians—just thousands of years earlier. They should be proud of that.

But that is minor compared to the way the government tried to foist the national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls on them. They tried to set time limits on an oral culture. “Sorry Mr. and Ms. Politician, an oral culture does not rush to meet the deadlines for the next election.”

It was more than 35 years ago that I was involved in a long series of casual conversations about aboriginal needs with a friend in Winnipeg. What I helped to do was create a native-friendly fellowship centre in the city to try to have a positive place for aboriginals coming to the city. We also added a computerized training centre at a separate location for the disadvantaged, whether aboriginal or not. (We were hoping it would open windows for education in remote communities.)

But what annoys me about our aboriginals is when they try to hold us up for ransom. A current example is the problem with the liquified natural gas pipeline into Kitimat, B.C. We have the right to ask the tribes to resolve their own problems as to who speaks for them. When the elected leaders of the tribe sign a deal with the pipeline company, the company has the right to expect them to represent the tribe. It hardly makes sense for the company to have to call the police because members of the tribe are now listening to hereditary leaders rather than those they elected for the purpose.

There is a far more serious protest to be made when Trans Mountain tries to twin its pipeline to Burnaby. Trans Mountain has a long way to go to be approved by all the tribes along that route and those tribes really need our help to stand up for their rights.

And many of us, whose ancestors came to this land much later, will stand with them.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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