The best interests of Canada and First Nations are served by establishing parallel progress. The Two Row Wampum has laid out the map for how Native people will thrive in their own natural system and how it will create a buffer for the settler governments to protect the environment and the people by being accountable beyond the constructs of their own Western governance style.
Linking loss of sovereignty to voting in Canadian elections is not advocating for a return to a state of nature by the people original to Turtle Island, it is actually a call to strengthen the social contract.
Both settler and indigenous peoples need to consider what relationship and political structure most benefits the greatest good of society. The honour of the Crown require Aboriginal influence.
Finding the balance between the history of Western governance and the values of indigenous thinking are the keys that will drive the best possible future forward for the societies at large and in turn the future of all peoples.
Court cases such the Calder case, R v. Sparrow or the Tsilhqot’in ruling; the tearing up of the white paper, the Constitution express, Elijah Harper’s stand against Meech Lake, the Oka Crisis, the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation commission all lead in the same direction: Canada has been progressing but has not yet resolved it’s relationship with the people original to Turtle Island.
How is Canada to best manage that relationship?
Stop encouraging Native people to #CloseTheGap by voting in Canadian elections. Don’t measure Aboriginals by financial standards from an economy that is not based on traditional Native value systems.
Start by looking at the values that are similar in Canadian and indigenous value systems: the importance of women, the advantage to societies members of pooled resources, the efficiency of bringing those with less up to the standard of those with more, the benefit of systems that provide people with what they need but leave enough to sustain their ways into the future, the value of being compassionate on a nation to nation level.
Now look at how the Canadian system is doing at accomplishing those things and consider if there is a deficiency that maybe a greater balance could help correct.
Canada has the respect for it’s own sovereign authority, it’s society at large has adjusted to capitalism well, it is poised for the world changing due to the rise of globalization.
Where are the deficiencies of this society?
There are some key problems:
- The economy is not designed to consider sustainability. Globalization is eliminating Canada’s ability to protect it’s resources. When food supply systems like the largely successful farm marketing boards are “on the table” of free trade negotiation who in society benefits? If food security is for sale, then how long will water, land and the robust environmental quality of Canada be for sale? Capitalism is designed for exponential growth and the planet and it’s finite resources are not.
- Income inequality within the borders claimed by Canada is abhorrent. Flawed system after flawed system has been in place for how Canada relates to the people original to Turtle Island. From clearing the plains, to residential schools, to the White Paper, to the current Children’s Aid crisis, Canadian policy, regardless of intent, has not been successful in solving this problem. The notion of assimilation, either overt like the will of John A MacDonald or subtle like the Children’s Aid crisis that some liken to a modern iteration of the 60’s scoop, cannot be continued. Poverty and growing income inequality are present in Native and non-Native society.
The solution is to go back to a working version of the Two Row Wampum.
Think of the value of what could have been accomplished had Canada decided to re-enforce Aboriginal values in the time of residential school instead of trying to kill the Indian in the child. Instead of banning potlatchs, language and cultural practices, legislators and policy makers of the past could have supported these positive practices and expedited greatness by providing a fair and good quality of life for all people who share this land as their home.
Balance and sustainability have not been increasing and the indicators show that staying the course gives no sign that these will increase.
The environment is reaching critical mass. Social conditions on reserves are on par with the worst parts of the world. The voice and needs of the modern Aboriginal is not being addressed fast enough.
How can these trends that will harm all the occupants of Turtle Island be stemmed?
There has been progress and there is hope in some uniquely Canadian solutions.
If Canadians look at the contribution of the Native people and see how it has enriched their way of life a strong case could by made to increase the power and influence of traditional Aboriginal ways. From the initial hospitality at the time of contact to the modern balance and protection of these lands that Native ways offer, the best interests of all people are served by reviving more Native practices.
It is possible. Canadians in modern history have become the envy of the world in many ways because of unique and strong traditions and values.
When Lester B Pearson created the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the disastrous Suez Canal crisis, when Roméo Dellaire was saving tens of thousands of lives in spite of tragic conditions beyond his control, weren’t these exhibitions of the ingenuity and compassion of Canadian thinking?
When Banting co-discovered Insulin, when universal health care was created as a right for all Canadians, when the space arm was designed and when BlackBerry changed the way we communicate, were these not all signs that Canadians have a unique and special contribution to the progress of the world?
Pierre Trudeau in his early tenure in the office of Prime Minister tried to roll out the assimilation agenda White Paper policy in 1969. This was an attempt to phase out the special status of Aboriginal people by repealing the Indian act and passing responsibility for Aboriginal people down to the provinces. The backlash was immense from leaders with knowledge of Aboriginal issues. The Canadian courts soon found in the Calder ruling of 1973 that they could not show that Aboriginal title to lands had been extinguished. The White Paper would never be implemented.
Over the course of the next decade policy would shift.
By the time of modern Confederation in 1982 the new Constitution affirmed Aboriginal Rights. This is a uniquely Canadian accomplishment.
Native ways have survived and the need for their influence may be most urgently needed right now. Modern market crashes like the 2008 crisis, violent weather changes, strains to food supply all point to a need for stronger systems.
The Canadians fostering the restoration of the Native way and aiding in their growth is an insurance for the future generations and would be a key historical decision.
The Canadian way running in parallel with the Aboriginal way allows for the most practical contingencies in a world that is ever-changing.
The social and economic rift between the Canadian and the people original to the land is currently great. The determination of the Canadian and the resiliency of the Ukwehu·wé is also great.
The greatest path forward is that Native determination continues assisted back to parallel strength and status by Canadian allies. This could be a friendship that could be an epic turning point in history.
Honour the Two Row and respect Indigenous determination.
Maintain the honour of the crown by helping Native societies on a nation to nation level. Don’t ask the resilient people original to Turtle Island to become Canadians and close the gap by voting. Support the distinctive reclamation of traditional First Nations ways with the greatest spirit and vigour of a great Canadian and that investment may pay infinite dividends.