Friday, May 17, 2013

Aboriginal Canadians Matter

Today news of the death of former Manitoba Liberal MP and New Democrat MLA and current Aboriginal Ojibwa-Cree leader Elijah Harper, known for effectively screeching the Meech Lake Accord by standing up to this in his provincial legislature during a mid June 1990 session, defiantly saying no to it, while peacefully holding an eagle feather in his right hand, protesting a federal top down constitutional amendment package that neither consulted, notified nor informed the aboriginal community in Canada. I remember feeling shades of historical joy, like those I get when I think about the various times and trials of Louis Riel, who too was pillared by the federal Conservative government of the day in the same province he unofficially founded and was father to. Harper argued if five demands were enough for Québec, why had not Tory Prime Minister Brian Mulroney asked the Canadian aboriginal community if they had even one, for a deal that would affect their lives just as much as those Québécois polled and perhaps more so.

This incremental action is now more relevant than ever before, especially in light of the complete inaction the current federal government has had on the Indian Affairs and Northern Development file which has led to aboriginal protests such as Idle No More across the nation, which continues to show how Ottawa has moved no further toward understanding the problems that belie the situation nor any more progress on solving them in our time.

The reason Riel, Harper and other aboriginal Canadian leaders continue to matter, gain major attention and make Canadians look is because, whether you are or not aboriginal yourself, all Canadians belong within the same individual and collective spirit as Canada. What happens to all those aboriginal Canadians and the Canadian aboriginal community as a whole is a reflection of how the federal, provincial and municipal governments of all stripes treat all Canadians, which is why if they can not be trusted in treating Canadians that were here first well, how would one expect then to treat all immigrants and newcomers thereafter any better? Aboriginal Canadians do indeed matter, as do all other Canadians equally and under the law, so is this not the right time for our governments to finally agree that truly they do!