Indigenous Funds Are Not ‘Federal Funds’ – A Quick Educational Reality Check

There are a host of historical reasons the Indigenous remain at arm’s length in relationship to Canada. The stories shared daily about the inequities are solidly documented. One of the most offensive statements the Indigenous hear repeatedly is, “the Indigenous are financed with ‘federal funds'”.

Those funds have always belonged to the Indigenous; they are not Canadian largesse. Treaties were begun in the 1700s & the 1763 Royal Proclamation acknowledged the land and resources meant for the Indigenous, along with the order to leave us ‘unmolested’.

It’s not a conspiracy theory when we say it’s critical that an audit needs to be done on the federal ministry, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (CIRNA/INAC). There are decades of explanation owed to the Indigenous nations. No one seems to know a full and detailed account of the funding set aside for the Indigenous since the original trust funds were set up in the east. CIRNA/INAC – which is so closely tied to the resources extraction industry that from 1936-1950 the Ministry of Mines and Resources ran the lives of the Indigenous. Even, and perhaps more oddly, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration had a crack at that, (1950-1965)

It explains a lot in many respects, but especially in the current sense of ownership and entitlement of the resource extractions industries. They’ve had the inside track on everything regarding the Indigenous since the beginning of Canada & we should all be very suspicious about how that dept. has been run – particularly against the Indigenous.

We also know Canada has used the Indigenous funds for its own economic stimulus efforts and infrastructure such as ‘loans’ – never repaid to Six Nations to build Upper Canada College, McMaster University, Osgoode Law School, and McGill University.

These details have been coming to light more and more and it’s important not only for Canadians to understand what their foundation is built upon, but to reverse the decades of harm caused by the caustic denigration built into the Canadian education on the history of the Indigenous. These views remain taught today, particularly by various right-wing policy influences like the insidious Fraser Institute and its asinine teachings and public announcements, still readily accepted by much of the Canadian public.

There are reasons why over 50% of First Nations children remain living in poverty; why a basic right like clean water is denied in several Indigenous communities; why nations refuse to grant permission to resource extraction corporations intent on building through them, and rounds of further issues too numerous to cite in one essay. These issues were begun and have been maintained only by Canadian policy.

These details continue to come to light and they must. We will not stop turning these rocks over. We simply can’t; there is no healing without truth. There is no reconciliation without acknowledgement of all, followed by the necessary reparations. Ignorance has cost far too much, on both sides of the treaties.

RL

https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/…/1370355181092/1370355203645…

https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/…/disc…/aboriginal-heritage/first-nations/indian-affairs-annual-reports/Pages/introduction.aspx#b

‘Alternative’ Metis Nation Alert; Frauds exposed from the west to the east

Updated October 26, 2018:  News reports on fraudulent ‘status’ cards and police investigations, and APTN interview with professor researching the ‘eastern Metis’ groups.

This is not new news, it has been reported in previous years, but it doesn’t seem to quell the ongoing efforts of those who would take advantage of a history not well known nor those who would reward them in the name of ‘reconciliation’ or any other feel-good motivation.

Although I’m aware of several well-known & award winning Canadians who have been exposed as having usurped Indigenous identity on which to build a career, i.e. Joseph Boyden, I’ve just learned of another, the Order of Canada and several other prestigious awards recipient, David Bouchard.

Bouchard, who claims Metis ancestry, was exposed for using the officially recognized Metis (Michif) Nation for his own background and gain, after it was discovered he didn’t meet the required ancestral lineage. He responded by creating ‘alternative metis’ groups, which appear to be based in some idea of a pan-Indigenous society. Let’s make it clear, Indigenous nations are nations as much as any other in the world.

Bouchard originally participated in the 2002 creation of the official BC Metis Nation arm of the recognized Metis Nation, but his application and involvement was rescinded when he failed the organization’s own requirement of meeting a current line of five direct generations to the prairie Michif people, history, culture, etc.

His ancestry was related to one Algonquin woman ancestor born in 1621. In 2008, he added to his lineage, a Chippewa grandfather and a grandmother from the middle-U.S. nation, the Osage,  circa 1800s. The details to these were provided in 2013 by a U.S. genealogist who declared Bouchard a Metis. Unfortunately that’s not how citizenship inclusion works. The research declared Bouchard as having mixed ancestry, but that research must then be taken to the Canadian situated and recognized Metis Nation for verification and then it is they who grant inclusion into the nation. It is understood that an updated application was not submitted to the Metis Nation.

Although Bouchard’s level of involvement in the 2011 creation of the alternative group, the “BC Metis Federation” is unclear, he went on to create his own alternative national group, the Metis Federation of Canada in 2013, with Karole Dumont as first registrar and Sebastien Malette as “legal advisor”.  Neither of these groups require lineage linked to the Michif history.

One does not simply proclaim oneself to be Metis any more than one may proclaim to be Scottish or a Canadian. There are parameters to be met and a connection to any long-lost or Indigenous ancestor is not one of them. Nor does claiming ancestors prior to the ethnogenesis of the Metis Nation make anyone Metis. How is it people don’t recognize there were no Metis until then? They ignore the fact the Michif don’t call their own originating ancestors, Metis. They are recorded as they were, by their original nationhood.

The level to which these people have done damage to the reputation of the recognized Metis Nation and to the people who they sign onto their organizations with the same level of ancestral connections – which is to say non-existent to barely, has many in the Indigenous communities stating these kind of mis-representations could be considered  fraudulent.

They harm the recognized Indigenous peoples by mis-representing history, snatching opportunities in employment, awards, grants, scholarships and any other avenue meant to lend a hand up to the marginalized, and they mislead thousands of people into unwittingly believing they too belong to a community.

They go further though. They have members who seek out and harass anyone who speaks out about them by swarming on social media, contacting employers to claim all sort of reverse harassment, to threatening lawsuits.

The Metis Nation is an established nation with history of verifiable detail for centuries. For example, as a member of this nation, I could only state on my application my “Metis” – my Michif ancestry, not my Cree, Haudenosaunee, or any other Indigenous nation to which I’m related.

The details of these organizations are publicly available, as are the officially recognized Metis Nation on their own and the Government of Canada’s websites, yet award, grant or bursary organizations, employers, and especially the Canadian media have not thought to act on determining who is officially recognized, as they hand out opportunities meant for the Indigenous. The unfortunate result are long waiting lists for recognized nation members often held back for years, if not entirely rejected.

There is no pan-Indigenous society or ‘nation’ that one with any hint of Indigenous ancestry can run to for representation. Any who claim this are frauds. If one feels they belong to an Indigenous nation, then seek out the particular nation you believe you’re connected to.

For those who falsely claim Indigeneity, you are doing so at the cost of opportunity for my child, myself or  my relations, although I suspect you already know that. I can only say – shame on you. May you face the price for impinging on the last bastion of our sovereignty – our identity.

A visual on who may qualify as a Metis Nation citizen

BC Metis Nation order to rescind membership: David Bouchard MNBC membership application rescinded

November 2018 Metis National Council & Manitoba Metis Nation release statements in protection of Metis Nation sovereignty and definition.

Headline to Headline; Let’s Play

Big day in Canadian news today and this makes it a good day to play, which headline is real?

“City of Victoria To Remove Statue of Depraved, Racist Drunk and Canada’s 1st Prime Minister”

or

“Sports Officials Unable to Find Non-Indigenous Team Names, Despite Entire Universe”

If you said neither, you’d be wrong. Well, almost wrong. Headline one is all truth, but only part of it was actually published. You can probably guess they didn’t print the “Racist” part or the “depraved” and “drunk” parts either. However, Victoria, BC did elect to take down the statue of John A. MacDonald, with the city’s Mayor explaining, ‘Indigenous people do not need to walk past this painful reminder of colonial violence each time they enter the doors of their municipal government.’  See the story details behind this move at “RECONCILIATION AND REMOVAL OF JOHN A. MACDONALD STATUE FROM STEPS OF CITY HALL“.

Of course, reaction to this event is fairly predictable. Outrage about ‘erasing history’ and insult to Canadian history, which might have deserved a hint of sympathy if actual history hadn’t of course, already been erased and ignored. Particularly the parts about the brutal terrorism and murder committed by MacDonald in the name of cleansing the “Indian problem” from the landscapes of their home in favour of European settlers looking to escape the tyranny of their own homeland.

The United Nations have a name for these acts that many Canadians are unable to accept for the black mark that it is, because it firmly rests upon their ancestors. It’s genocide, and just that one word alone is enough to cause shudders of distaste from the capital city that’s removing the statue, to the cliff edges of Newfoundland. If pushed, these people will make some allowance instead, for the term: Cultural Genocide.

In the end, as far as the descendants of ongoing traumas are concerned, the Indigenous Peoples, semantics do little for the scars of the policies then or the ones still being created in the name of “Reconciliation” today. That there are some Canadians who recognize their own real history and want to begin anew in how to present it and make amends, I raise my glass and hands to them.

No one, in the name of decency, wants to venerate genocidal sociopaths. The real history is that it took that kind of person to build Canada’s foundation. If Canada wants to change its historical record to the decency it claims world over, recognizing this is a start. Desires to instead teach Canada’s history from a realistic place in a real effort to uplift the marginalized and defeat repeating history, are the real heroics of this story.

The second headline is from one of my favorite Indigenous satire news magazines ever, Walking Eagle News!  Read Tim Fontaine’s take here, on our ongoing efforts to inform North America that it’s long past the due date to retire the remaining team names, logos, & mascots depicting caricatures and stereotypes of the Indigenous/Native Americans.

This work began in the 1950s, but it has only been since the advent of social media that we’ve been able to make a dent in the social consciences of both Canada and the U.S. I encourage you to read more in detail at the Change The Mascot organizationThe American Psychology Association has published several reports on how these images perpetuate harm to both Indigenous people and the communities that surround them.

To anyone who recognized both headlines are the truth, you win. Spread the word.

RL

 

Because He Was Brown

Like most Indigenous paying attention to Canada’s recent handling of two murder cases – 22 yr. old Colten Boushie, shot while he was asleep in the front seat of a vehicle and Tina Fontaine, 15 yr. old, 72 lbs, killed and thrown into a river – I held both expectations of hope for justice and resignation that the likelihood was slim.

Canada’s record of injustice for the Indigenous speaks for itself in a long line of documented reports. Then, in this era of “Truth & Reconciliation”, Canada lived up to its ability to crush that hope & affirm our worst expectations. Both murderers were fully acquitted, helped by incredible systemic failures and incredulous inept investigation and court service.

We were further leveled with the announcement on March 7th, that the expected call for an appeal in Colten’s case was flatly rejected. The Saskatchewan Attorney General sat in front of news cameras and gave his clipped announcement that their legal system worked as intended; they could find no wrong with the way their system was employed and then he bolted from the table. This was despite weeks of lawyers across Canada detailing the reasons why there was a miscarriage of justice that merited an appeal.

My heart aches for Colten’s mother, for Tina’s family. There’s no level of sympathy I can offer that will do justice to what they deserve. My head aches for all their loved ones struggling to grasp all the realities those verdicts delivered to them.

I can’t work my way through the pain in my heart when I go over in my mind the last week of Tina’s life and the last senseless moments of Colten’s, and that their families will live with this forever.

I struggle with them & I empathize, but even in that I know I’m two layers insulated from their pain. I’m devastated and ashamed in the knowledge that I can take relief too, even within these hideous, tragic events. My fears of losing my boy are eased from their reality because of one huge fact and that is, he looks white.

It’s horrifying to know that this is an actual life-saving truth in Canada. I won’t have to worry about some racist reflex that’ll see my boy shot in the back of the head; then abandoned while the killer sits in his kitchen having a coffee, just waiting for clean-up on aisle: driveway, as did Colten’s murderer.

I can feel this fury, but I won’t have to absorb the darts shot directly into the heart that only their babies have heard on the inside. I won’t have to feel the cuts of gleeful cretins rejoicing in the system that allows one of their own to get away with murder.

…because the victim lacked regard as a valued human being – because he was brown.

I can cry deeply in empathy, but I won’t have the agony of knowing my son would still be with me if only he wasn’t brown, or brown & drinking, or brown & screwing up in the same way white boys have for centuries…

I’ve always worried about my child’s safety. I’ll always pray for his journey to be in ease and peace, but I get to know, in this insidious, despicable way, that the only reason he’ll be that much safer is because his draw in the DNA colour lottery came out white.

I can’t change a thing for Colten’s mom. But I will stand with her, and with every brown mother that has had to feel the pain of that senseless, useless, unnecessary terror that is real for her babies, and used as an excuse for execution by white people.

I will remind any & all the (former) Prime Minister Paul Martins who phone me to lecture that Canadians are not racist, that they’re being willfully blind. I will never stop letting white people know this is their work to undo. I will never stop fighting for justice & defying inequities. And neither will my son. Neither should you.

Heather is one of the finest people one could ever hope to meet. She doesn’t deserve this fear. None of us do.

RL

I Looked For You

 

 

I wondered and waited for you…

I wondered who would show up, I wondered who would stand.

I wondered if my words or calls for help would bring you to us. I worried my anguished voice would just fall flat.

I looked for you; I searched through the faces to see if there was someone, that one unexpected person to stand with me because they see and despise the injustices too.

I looked for someone to say, I heard you.

I looked for you to hold my hand while I cried about our babies being shot or strangled, then tossed away like litter.

I willed you to come to my side while we spoke about the broken promises and horrors that are inflicted on all my relations because we refuse to die off for the convenience of Canadian business moguls.

I silently begged you to show up for every possible reason I could think of, but mostly… mostly because you wanted to stand for and do, what’s right.

I waited for you to come to me to say you are part of our community and we are part of yours.

I watched for you to speak up and say, this isn’t my Canada. We will change a country that would treat anyone this way because we cannot, we will not, call a country that treats people like this, good enough.

I watched and waited and wondered about you.

…I looked for you…

RL

We Didn’t Become Who We Were Supposed To Be

There’s a call-out right now from the Province of Alberta to Indigenous people who were apprehended by Child Family Services (CFS) during the “60’s Scoop” specified as: “a period of time when an unknown number of Indigenous children were taken from their parents and communities by child intervention services and placed with mostly non-Indigenous families.” The time period is the 1950’s to the early 1990s, but let’s be clear, this counts to even today.

I answered the call and submitted replies to four questions on the online form for those unable to attend six meetings set in Alberta from January 1 to March 1, 2018.

They want to hear, (anonymously if preferred) how you & yours were impacted by your removal; what a meaningful [official] apology looks like; how you feel about apologies; and what you hope will come out of an [official] apology.

Who knows what differences will come from this; there’s been so little change in decades of official government reports on the consequences of colonialism. We’ve yet to see appreciable differences in Child Family Services across Canada, nor in any other Indigenous issue of equity.

I know the opportunity to get on record may not change much, but I fervently hope those of us who get to hear each other’s stories will feel enough understanding to fill a bit of that hole in our hearts. I hope that our combined voices will keep rising until no one can conveniently ignore us again.

I’m sharing part of my replies to Alberta and the Canadian Government as a part of those hopes.  I don’t expect my answers will be much different from others, but this is the point. Our stories began and end in the same ways…

My family lost everything in connection to our relatives. We lost who we were supposed to be. We lost any Cree or Michif language we had, we lost contact with all our relations, we lost our sense of selves & in some cases, permanently.

Because we were six kids in my family, we lost contact with each other when we were split into different homes. In the long run, we irretrievably lost our relationships to each other.

In one round of apprehension, five of us were put together in one home, but it was to be a brief arrangement. One day I was told I would be moving within days and over a 24 hour period, I was made to choose which single sister I could take with me. All four of them stared at me and begged me to choose them. I tell people it was then I knew what it felt like to feel your soul crack. I was twelve yrs old.

Abuses were common in some of those homes. It ranged from the psychological, i.e.  being told our mother was a drunken Indian whore or some variation to physical hitting. We were also warned, without explanation, that it was likely we’d never see our own mother again.

There was not a single time in all those years that anyone thought to ask us how we were feeling. There was no one who would explain what was happening or why. We were picked up and forced into the back of a car and simply driven away with the explanation that it was time to go away for a while. Not even the good homes, where the people were decent and lovely, thought to ask.  No one, it seems was aware of the need, never mind the how, to rout and heal the damages of apprehension & abuses already ingrained.

I ran away from my last foster home when I was 14 yrs. I ran to my mother who was even less prepared for me than before. She’d been broken down to survival level so many times by then, she’d retreated into full-blown alcoholism.

Her life as a single mother escaping from abuse with her babies had been turned into a hell of oppressive orders and judgement by and from the government ostensibly ‘helping’ her. They had a lot of orders for how she was to conduct herself, but not how to protect herself.  She was to blame if her abusive ex-husband found her.  She was to blame if the kitchen sink had dishes in it when a social worker dropped by and claimed neglect. She was to blame for not holding it all together while enduring such enormous psychological threat every minute of her life.  Any infraction would cost her the custody of her children and then did.

My mother managed to turn her life around with a strength of herculean effort and success and decades later she still doesn’t have the family relationships she dreams of, craves and aches for. She doesn’t seem to fully understand that her family brokenness is beyond even her own apologies to fix.

Meaningful apologies? We’ve seen apology after apology for the barbaric practices toward the Indigenous for years, but there is at most a small shuffle in government procedures, mainly re-naming current processes.

Meaningful is the government instituting the recommendations made by Indigenous people. It means replacing “foster care” with more in-home family restoration/counselling services.  Fund those programs directly within communities to restore in-home family & relationship skills, cultural understandings and history. Restore what is being stolen for 150 yrs so far. We see the billions spent on the CFS industry across Canada. We know how much can be replaced back into our communities – where it has always belonged.

I hope all the families who’ve been so torn apart and hurt, so damaged – will find a place to earn some peace.  I hope the reparations of a genuine apology and its processes will provide all the means necessary to get to that place of peace. I hope that we all get something that allows us to pass on good health: mentally, emotionally, and physically to our families for now and all the coming generations.

I hope Canada will finally learn of its every dirty detail of governance hidden under the red and white sleeves of pride and keep teaching about all the wrongs of it.

Never do these things again to Indigenous families, or any families.

That is what a meaningful apology looks like.

RL

Sixties Scoop apology engagement. For survivors of the Sixties Scoop to inform a meaningful apology from the government.  Be forewarned, once you submit your thoughts, you will not be able to enter the site again for any amendments.
ps://www.alberta.ca/sixties-scoop-apology-engagement.aspx  – online submissions
RE: Alberta 60s Scoop class action lawsuit, by Koskie Minsky LLP | Barristers & Solicitors or others. This lawsuit applies only to Status FirstNations  & Inuit .
Non-Status First Nations &  Metis can offer their story for the apology