Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Massive developments at Caledonia and Ipperwash

[Back from a very long hiatus, with none of my already fickle readership intact. Doesn't mean I can't talk to myself]

I'm compelled to post today because I want to emphasize that this is a big news day in the world of Aboriginal politics. First, the federal government announces a settlement offer with Six Nations. $125 million to lay to rest 4 of the 27 outstanding land claims, and end the reclamation at Caledonia. By my estimation, the specific claims targeted amount to approximately 39 000 acres. (I may be off here - I only know what I've read in the paper at this point, and the last claim identified in the Star could be one of a number of claims.)

Six Nations will probably not accept the offer. The protest has been about land and not money from the very beginning. Also, the land claim most pertinent to Caledonia is inexplicably left out. However, this is a hugely important development because of this simple admission on the part of federal negotiator Ron Doering:

"Canada has done an assessment and feels there was a breach of some lawful obligation."

The statement stands in stark contrast to previous federal positions:

“[Caledonia] isn’t a land claims matter. The actual root of the problem is not a land claim," for instance.


"Our position is that we have no outstanding responsibilities to Six Nations."

So what has changed? The 'assessment' is now complete? Well - it's pretty unlikely that the federal government knows anything now that it didn't know last February when the occupation began. These claims were researched for decades, and presented to the federal government between 1984 and 1992.

Instead, the feds have finally come to appreciate Six Nations resolve. They have grudgingly accepted that no other solution is forthcoming.

Imagine how much anguish - on the part of both Natives and non-Natives - would've been saved if the federal goverment had simply acted on what it knew was true, legal and just in the beginning.

I wish to make one more small point. All you conservative types who have argued so heartily with me over the last long months about how Six Nations land claims are bogus, make-believe, irresponsible: the actor you were trying to protect has capitulated. There's no debate left. You were wrong. Just wrong.

Meanwhile, in Forest, the long-awaited Ipperwash Report is released. Chief Justice Linden concludes that ex-Premier Harris did indeed dabble in racism. Absorb that, Ontario - especially in light of the current PC leader's shocking position on Caledonia. I think the strongest aspect of the report is that it recognizes that this really was never a policing issue.

I ought conclude with this important, nearly historic passage from the Report's Executive Summary:

"Building a better relationship with Aboriginal peoples requires that governments and citizens recognize that treaties with Aboriginal peoples are the foundation that allowed non-Aboriginal people to settle in Ontario and enjoy its bounty... These treaties are not, as some people believe, relics of the distant past. They are living agreements, and the understandings on which they are based continue to have the full force of law in Canada today." (emphasis added)


Anonymous Zac said...

In regards to Caledonia, I await the Conservative trolls to emerge from under their bridges and reap scorn on their beloved government for "givin' in to the injins".

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard this conversation:

Diane Finley (to Jim Prentice): I think we have waited long enough. I think it is time to send the troops into Caledonia.

5:54 PM  

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