Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Quiet Native Revolution


                                           http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/

In his book, A Fair Country, John Ralston Saul argued that Canada owed its existence to three founding nations -- Britain, France and its First Nations. But he took the argument further than that. What was best about us, Saul wrote, was what we unconsciously inherited from our First Nations. That inheritance has made us a "Metis Nation."

In his latest book, The Comeback,  Saul argues that Canada is in the midst of a Quiet Native Revolution. Lawrence Martin writes:

What’s happening today is comparable to the Quiet Revolution in 1960s Quebec, he says. Our indigenous peoples are about to impose themselves the way Quebec nationalists did then. Few understand this because the focus has disproportionately been on the suffering and the failures – the rapes, the poverty, the residential schools, the Attawapiskats.

There’s a new aboriginal elite. We have Inuit and Cree corporations. Supreme Court victories are giving aboriginals more control over the commodity-rich lands of the North. Climate change is playing to their agenda. The aboriginal population is rapidly increasing, as is aboriginal youth enrolment in universities and colleges. “They are smart, intellectually lean and rightfully angry young people,” he says – their clout was felt with Idle No More and will soon register more tellingly.

Never mind some of the negative stuff in the media, for example, the stories about some delinquent chiefs being overpaid. Indeed, some are, said Mr. Saul, speaking recently to a packed hall of 700 in Ottawa. But, “did anyone bother to compare the percentage of overpaid chiefs with the percentage of overpaid CEOs in the private sector?”

Indeed, Canada's natives people are putting the brakes on runaway corporatism:

Our Western model put few brakes on commercial development. Governments have too often run the Canadian North, where two-thirds of our resource wealth lies, “like slum landlords.” With the native peoples’ legal victories, their philosophy, which sees the human as integral, as opposed to a dominant part of the whole, will take hold.

Certainly, the revolution has been quiet. And the Harper government has done everything in its power to stop it. But, if Saul is right, the First Nations may -- as they have done in the past -- lead us back to our better angels.


8 comments:

Toby said...

Natives live in a fish bowl of sorts and the media goes after the most sensational. The Canadian Taxpayer's Federation is downright racist about finding fault with Band mis-management.

We lived in Northern BC for many years and could see for ourselves. When I first went North any sharpie could scam a Band but no more. The level of confidence has risen.

Corporations have gone into almost every opportunity in BC and built mills, mines, factories, etc. When it came to hiring they avoided the available workers living nearby and hired from union halls in Vancouver or Toronto or New York. Alcan ignored Kitimaat Village across the bay and imported Portuguese peasants from the Azores; a people who had to be trained every bit as much as the Natives in the local village would have needed.

It's no wonder to me at all that some are upset. We are very lucky in Canada that the First Nations people are rather peaceful. Can you imagine if our aboriginals chose to retaliate as Palestinians do?

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Toby. The good news is that, while governments --particularly the Harper government -- are not advocating for Canada's First Nations, the courts are.

mogs moglio said...

I personally laud the first nations and welcome them back to power and will support them over our Nazi/Jew loving federal government? How is that dichotomy possible?

People are blind you can't worship at the wailing wall sit in Knesset one day and then vote for Nazism/Fascism the next...

I think Putin out maneuvered Harper and has more sense in a geo political world...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONfCcOaXV20

Owen Gray said...

Putin remains a big problem, Mogs. He can destabilize all kinds of situations.

And, remember, the Netanyahu government does not speak for all Jews -- although Mr. Harper would like us to believe that it does.

mogs moglio said...

Neither does Harper speak for all Canadians even though he claims so...

Owen Gray said...

Interesting, isn't it, Mogs, that the two governments claim to have much more support than they actually have?

mogs moglio said...

I love the way you call it Owen...

Owen Gray said...

It's Ralston Saul who calls it, Mogs. He truly understands how this country works.