It’s time to replace the Indian Act
Hundreds of thousands First Nations people live in Canada and they deserve better than to be shackled by the failed colonial and paternalistic policies of the Indian Act, which has helped deny them their rights, fair share in resources, and fostered mistrust and created systemic barriers to self-determination and success. First Nations have been adamant that we need to move beyond it, yet the government has so far refused to get the ball rolling.
The Indian Act is more than 136 years old and touches every aspect of life of First Nations. First Nations need the approval of the Minister to pass bylaws. It puts so much red tape around economic development that it often doesn’t happen. The Act is so intrusive on reserve residents’ lives that they cannot even write a will without the minister’s approval.
Yet, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rightly said, the Act has deep roots and cannot simply be abolished. For decades governments of all stripes have allowed this problem to fester.
Now all parties have a chance to take real leadership on the problem. I have a motion before the House of Commons compelling the federal government to work with First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis on a plan to replace the Indian Act with modern agreements based on rights, responsibilities of the Crown, and the original Treaty relationship. With a deadline and a process, we can finally begin to resolve the many long-standing economic and social inequities that plague First Nations communities in Canada.
Yet the Conservatives said they would vote against this progress by opposing the motion. They say they want to change the status quo, but once again, this is just words.
We cannot continue to put this off. Please tell the Conservatives to vote for change.
Liberal Party of Canada
Walking together from residential school legacy
(Re: One man’s residential school journey, Wawatay News Nov. 8)
My name is Ross Muehlfarth. I am of Skoamich ancestory on my mom’s side and of Bella-Bella on my dads side. Am 52 years old who did not attend residential school.
Our leaders always inform the white people who will listen that “Our history is your history.” Our collective relationships are vast and complex. It’s not all negative, from that we can build and grow together. However, a major block to building and growing is the Indian Residential School Legacy that affects us all.
As a white person, you cannot disconnect or distance your-self of the devastating effects it continues to have on one of the four main races of humanity. We are left reeling as a people. The white people are affected as implementers of a hate-full, shameful program that declared war on First Nations children. Native people can see that if this is the way you are with us, then this is the way you are with each other as well. So it’s more like your history is our recent history. So do you really want us to be as mean and cruel as you are as a people? Is this what you mean by assimilation?
Learn about what your predecessors did to us in the name of God and Jesus. Do you really think this is what God and Jesus are all about? This connection is what really astounds us. We can see your hate and prejudices, but to do it in the name of God? Native peoples see God and Jesus as kind and loving beings. We do not believe that they had anything to with what you continue to do in their names.
So from where I stand, by your own definitions; a bigger bunch of savages and heathens I’ve not seen in my life than your predecessors. Hard words, so true; this is our reality. If we have to live with it, then so do you. Native people know who they are, where they are coming from and, where they are going. We have that vision from Creation. Technology is not the only measure of a human being. Faster and easier only disconnects us from each other and mother earth.
We are not the only people who losing their cultures. European culture is so beautiful. Please be more generous with your selves and the world. share your culture in a good way. I mean the arts, music, dance, theater, we are all losing our cultures and thus losing our humanity. We still have time to stand together and walk the path that leads to Creation. This is our vision from Creation, and this where we are going. I personally invite you to join us.
Ross Muehlfarth, submitted online
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