To the Expositor:
There is an addenda to the Serenity Prayer. It goes, “…grant me the courage to change the things I cannot accept.” The addenda appeared in connection with the Idle No More movement several years ago. The movement is still alive and well, but has taken on different manifestations.
There is also another powerful phrase which was spoken after World War II: “never again.” Both of these phrases speak to changing things that are not acceptable, but also to speaking up when one sees things that need change. On local fronts, “never again” can refer to speaking up when injustices are perpetrated on vulnerable people. It’s called bystander intervention. Or, if referring to the Seven Grandfather Teachings, it’s called speaking the truth, exercising honesty and exhibiting courage.
On the international front, changing things that one cannot accept can refer to helping those less fortunate as they leave their home countries in search of better lives. Oh sure, walls can be built to keep the less fortunate out. But walls can be climbed over, burrowed under, busted through, or gone around. Better yet, why not those who can speak up for the less fortunate demand that they be given asylum or refugee status and bring them in to countries which are experiencing labour shortages? Or why not organize ships to bring them up the coasts to the land of eagles? Interesting that the ones squawking the loudest about walls are descendants of refugees to the Americas.
It’s election time at Whitefish River First Nation again. But here’s something to consider. If people say they are self-determining, or they say that they are a ‘First Nation,’ why is it that a First Nation has to have the approval of the federal government before they can “govern” via band councils? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of being self-governing? It’s kind of ridiculous to need the approval of a foreign government before a “nation” can exercise the sovereignty that they say they never gave up via the treaties. There are always democratic solutions. If one does not like the current leadership, vote them out. If they don’t get voted out, then there is always the prospect of organizing another “band” or community, or “nation.”
Here’s another one that kind of boggles the mind. There was much ado recently about a court decision in favour of status Indians of the Robinson-Huron treaty. The issue was a badly outdated annuity payment of $4 per year per Indian in exchange for the vast territory making up the Robinson Huron area and the resources that were extracted therefrom. Of course, the province of Ontario immediately appealed that decision–no surprise there given that Ontario is led by Doug Ford. But here’s what no one clued in to. First of all, Canada consists in 9,985,000 square kilometres of land. When the British treaty commissioners were negotiating with the Indians for the land covered by the Robinson Huron treaty in Northern Ontario, they realized that they could not afford to pay the principal price of the land. So they looked at interest on the principal. The commissioners realized that they could not afford the interest on the principal, either. So someone came up with the brainwave of “let’s only pay the interest on the interest,” in other words, an annuity-in-perpetuity, hence the $4 a year. What the case should have been about was what amount of GDP came out of Robinson Huron treaty lands since 1850, and what amount that would be today with compound annual interest. What the case should have been about is the value of the land taken by a foreign government, and the principal and interest owing to descendants of the Robinson Huron treaty Indians.
Idle No More? We were never idle in the first place–just invisible. Never again? Speak up when something needs talking about. Exercise the courage to help the vulnerable. Never again? Expose the moose in the living room. Mii sa iw.
Marie McGregor Pitawanakwat
Whitefish River First Nation
To the Expositor: