'Nation to Nation'? Indigenous people and the Trudeau government

218 posts / 0 new
Last post
epaulo13 epaulo13's picture


Moving beyond the Indian Act?

The federal government recently announced it will split Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada  into two departments: Indigenous Services, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. Trudeau said the move demonstrated “that we are serious about taking the right steps to move beyond the Indian Act.”

But the announcement signals only one thing to me: Our aspirations to decolonize as Indigenous peoples will be met with ongoing federal attempts to recolonize us, all part of the centuries-old Crown goals of “Indian” assimilation and the termination of collective Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Today’s recolonization will likely unfold on two tracks.

First, section 91(24) of the Constitution, which states that the Crown has jurisdiction over “Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians,” will be used to impose national standards on the lives of Aboriginal peoples living on reserve through federal legislation, as has already been done with the First Nations Land Management Act, for example. With these laws, the Crown continues to set the parameters for how First Nations peoples are to live on their land, even once they opt out of the Indian Act.

Second, modern section 35 land claims and self-government agreements will be manipulated to modify, convert and extinguish the inherent sovereignty of First Nations. More self-government agreements will be signed with bands formed under the Indian Act. The political effect will be to convert these bands into a kind of ethnic Indigenous municipality rather than self-determining nations. Outlining a contingent set of rights through these agreements, rather than acknowledging the inherent right to self-determination, will in effect empty section 35 of any real political or economic meaning.

This is what I see Canada becoming without the Indian Act.

This outcome is not fair or just, and I predict the federal approach will lead to more conflict between Indigenous peoples and Canada. Remember that the modern high-profile conflicts between First Nations and Crown governments were led by grassroots Indigenous peoples, and not Indian Act band councils: Oka, Ipperwash, Gustafsen Lake, Burnt Church, Grassy Narrows, Caledonia and Elsipogtog.

The alternative approach to the Trudeau government’s law and policy review for development of new federal legislation would be for Indigenous peoples to select representatives to sit at a First Ministers’ Conference or constitutional conference to discuss implementation of UNDRIP, especially the articles on recognition of Indigenous self-determination and redistribution of stolen Indigenous lands, territories and resources; the agenda must include more than just dependency on federal fiscal transfer payments and federally designed programs and services. The selection of Indigenous representatives should be in accordance with article 18 of UNDRIP:

Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions. [emphasis added]

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Mercenary colonialism: Third-party management

Debt is still a powerful weapon used against First Nations

Despite all the rhetoric, debt is still a powerful weapon used against First Nations.

The 0.2% economy is managed in Ottawa. But when things go wrong on reserves, as Arthur Manuel describes in Unsettling Canada, the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs comes wagging its finger at the chief and council with ominous hints of “irregularities” and the need for “transparency.”

These insinuations are directed with a purpose. Financial corruption exists but is not widespread on reserves. INAC knows this well because band budgets are carefully scrutinized throughout the year and rigorously audited on annual timetables.

Rather, as Manuel writes, the financial problems lie elsewhere, “invariably caused by the system itself, which forces First Nations to try to satisfy the basic needs of their people with a budget that simply cannot cover them.” The “starvation wages” allocated by Ottawa are barely enough to keep people alive without running a deficit.

This is where the trouble begins. Bands need a surplus to pay off debts. But when you borrow against an insolvent future, this leads to deeper debt — which leads straight into the federal Default Prevention and Management Policy and its three-level approach to debt management.....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Warriors Remove Illegal Anti Salmon Spawning Nets (video)

On October 30, Wild Salmon Warriors attended the DFO public consultation on Wild Salmon Policy  

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Indigenous children are crying out for help in Canada. Will you hear them?

In a country as great and strong as Canada, there are some things that just should not be.

Some things that have for far too long gone unspoken in the national social narrative that we have constructed about ourselves.

Canada, a country that takes in the war-torn and weary. A country always willing to lend a hand to its neighbours. A country that embraces and loves those whom other countries have ignored.

We weave this elaborate tale about ourselves, that we are a country of tolerance, of hockey sticks, of Tim Hortons doughnuts and great hope.

How is it then, that this great country has ignored the children living within its very own borders — the children who feel such a loss of belonging to anyone or anything that they can see no future. The children who choose suicide instead.

The youth suicide rates for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children are beyond comprehension, so wildly high it is almost impossible to process. The headlines of children dying by their own hands keep screaming at us from every corner — from Wapekeka to La Ronge, Saskatchewan to Rankin Inlet.


Today and culminating in September, I am going to bring you stories and voices from across many nations that will try to answer that question on the path toward healing.

progressive17 progressive17's picture

I've never experienced much tolerance in Canada. It's your way or the doorway. Left, Right, or Centre. No flexibility. No willingness to consider new options. Just skip over which causes cognitive dissonance. Keep carrying on with rash assumptions and questionable, unproven premises. Always attack, never consider.


Art Manuel Letter to AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde:

"George Manuel warned his successors to be careful not to be trapped in Ottawa. Because at the AFN, you will be paid a good salary and you will be invited to good parties. You will meet many sincere and well meaning and indeed charming people.  They will treat you with genuine even exaggerated respect.

They will offer you some goodies for yourself and for our peoples. And all that they ask in return is that you are 'cooperative' with their administration that rests on the theft and exploitation of the lands of our people and our ancestors. They want you to be reasonable and not ask them to give back what was taken.

But of course if you listen to them, if you are reasonable, you are selling out our peoples because it is our land they have stolen our futures they have blackened. Our children who they are locking up in their jails and driving to suicide in record numbers.

Our land, Perry, is not yours to surrender and it is unconscionable to accept under the table goodies in exchange for our land and our future. And what if you defy them, insist they fully respect international law and recognize our ownership of our lands and our peoples' right to self-determination?

Well, you will see that the funding that you rely on for your six-figure salary and staff and comfortable office and invitations to their parties and trips will dry up so fast it will make your head spin. You know this because it is finally our enemy who funds you and your organization. These are the types of issues the national chief must deal with. You must decide to fight the sharks who stole our land or to swim with them.  For decades now our national leaders have swum with them and often in the end become them.

All of our national leaders in the past 25 years have used the position of national chief as a springboard to personal corporate and Canadian rewards while our people continue to languish in poverty and despair. We are watching you, Perry, and willing to help. If you are passing through Secwepemc territory, please feel free to stop by and share a meal with us. We will feed you and remind you whose interests you are supposed to be serving."


Rev Pesky

How can it be 'nation to nation' when Canada insists on enforcing the settler Charter of Rights on indigenous national territory?:

Marry out, get out policy

Quebec Superior Court has struck down part of a controversial membership law in Kahnawake, Que., saying it violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Justice Thomas Davis determined the rule — which requires residents of the Mohawk reserve to move away if they marry a non-Indigenous person, as well as suspending their other membership entitlements — discriminatory based on social status.

​...In a statement, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) said its legal team is reviewing the judgment, which came down Monday, and will present a report to the chief and council on Thursday.

"Obviously, we maintain the position that matters that are so integral to our identity have no business in outside courts," stated Grand Chief Joe Norton.

...Joe Delaronde, spokesperson for the MCK, said many people in the community are also upset the issue went to an outside court, when they have voiced their opinion "loud and clear" on the policy for almost 40 years.

"No one says you can't marry who you want. All it says is if you do that, you can't live on this territory," he said.

​...In 2010, the band council began sending out eviction letters. Some plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim they were cut off from access to services in Kahnawake because their partner is not Indigenous.

Others say they were the targets of violent protests or shaming on social media, and that mixed-race children were referred to as "half breeds" and were denied funding to go to school.

​...The lead plaintiff in the case is Waneek Horn-Miller, who grew up in Kahnawake.

..."I believe strongly that my community is a place full of loving and caring people, and I don't believe we inherently act this way, I think it's something that's been a learned process, the impacts of colonization."

I guess the question is, should reserves be a  Charter free zone? Is it possible to be a nation without having a right to decide who can become a citizen?


Which UN member states ban mixed-race couples from living there, in 2018? Off the top of my head, I can think of Israel and Saudi Arabia, but I'm sure there are others. Is that the illustrious company Kahnawake wants to be in?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Is it possible to be a nation without having a right to decide who can become a citizen?

I think that's the question to ask. 

Which doesn't imply support for the old law, nor support for a non-Indigenous court striking it down.  But I think it comes down to the rights of a nation.


Perhaps if Canada and Quebec stopped stealing Mohawk lands for condos and golf courses, reducing the rez to an impossibly small size for its residents, this situation would not have developed.

In any case, the Mohawks were and are a sovereign Indigenous nation, and long before the  colonizers came. Even the colonizers' accursed progenitors agreed not to interfere in such matters. Both the Two-Row Wampum and Royal Proclamation are quite clear on the parmountcy of the non-interference principle. Subsequently trashed and repeatedly violated by Canada and Quebec, this international law  still stands.  This is for Mohawks to decide, and only Mohawks, not the  illegitimate and ill-intentioned courts of a usurping settler-state.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Good points, NDPP.

Perhaps not a completely parallel situation but similar. Quebec was very afraid of losing its language and culture (as are many First Nations) and so they introduced Bill 101, which was considered draconian and anti-democratic by many in and outside the province. However, given the invasiveness of US culture and the dominance of English language, they managed to preserve their language use and build a very vibrant and prosperous cultural sector.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quebec was very afraid of losing its language and culture (as are many First Nations) and so they introduced Bill 101, which was considered draconian and anti-democratic by many in and outside the province.

Did the bill also protect any Indigenous languages?  Or just one of the two "Settler" languages?

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I'm talking about the tactic, Magoo. As far as I know there are no provincial, terretorial or federal laws or policies protecting Indigenous languages. And it's a damn shame.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..24 min report

APTN Investigates: Racism in the Ranks

After seeing racist Facebook posts by RCMP members, a former Mohawk police officer is just one voice calling for public accountability on how the RCMP handles misconduct like racism.

“Not having any transparency around these kinds of investigations and issues, it’s problematic,” said Larry Hay.

He’s a private investigator now, but Hay was an RCMP officer for 19 years. He also served as the police chief on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario, which is where he’s from.

“It never comes to the fore,” said Hay. “Indigenous people have a right to know what action is being taken.”

“Any lack of transparency to police discipline matters at the federal level for the RCMP is a function of a cover-up culture,” said prominent human rights lawyer, Julian Falconer.

“At the provincial level, these are public hearings. So there is no actual privacy reason. It’s complete crap.”

Last February, APTN News broke the story of racist social media comments by an RCMP officer who posted that Colten Boushie, the 22-year-old Cree man shot and killed by Gerald Stanley, “got what he deserved.”

APTN Investigates has now discovered dozens of racist comments about Indigenous people in a different, secret Facebook group for RCMP members only.

It’s not a site managed by the RCMP, but it has close to 10,000 members.


"PMJT arriving to sell his false reconciliation legislation to the chiefs and Perry Bellegarde re-election Assembly. Hand-picked Chiefs selected by AFN to ask PMJT softball questions - AKA A Farce: an empty or patently ridiculous act, proceeding or situation."


Looks like Canadian democracy to me...

Rev Pesky

From NDPP:

This is for Mohawks to decide, and only Mohawks, not the  illegitimate and ill-intentioned courts of a usurping settler-state.

So who qualifies as a Mohawk?

Rev Pesky

From epaulo13:

APTN News broke the story of racist social media comments by an RCMP officer who posted that Colten Boushie, the 22-year-old Cree man shot and killed by Gerald Stanley, “got what he deserved.”

I'll just point out that the comment, by itself, is not racist.