What's wrong with Brazeau and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples?

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prowsej
What's wrong with Brazeau and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples?

Since he was appointed to the senate I've seen a lot of dismissive criticism of Patrick Brazeau and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. The criticisms that I have seen fall into two categories:

1) His organization claims to represent aboriginals off-reserve but is illegitimate and unaccountable

2) He is cozy with the Conservatives

Neither of these criticisms speak to Brazeau's policy positions, so they don't strike me as being very forceful. What's wrong with the policies Brazeau advocates?

Unionist

Interesting opening post:

1. You say you've never heard any criticism of Brazeau's policy positions.

2. You don't tell us what his policy positions are.

3. You ask us to tell you "what's wrong" with his policies.

I suppose if no one answers, you'll conclude that there's nothing wrong with his policies?

Michelle

I think it's a reasonable question and open-ended enough to give everyone an opportunity to discuss it if they like.  This is the first I've heard about this, having been somewhat news-deprived over the past 10 days or so, and I'd like to learn more about this guy and his organization from an indigenous and progressive activist point of view.

Michelle

P.S. The fact that the National Post has a puff piece on the guy doesn't do much for his credibility in my books.

Unionist

Sure, Michelle. Where to begin?

Patrick Brazeau is an ambitious pal of Harper and his policies. He attacks mainstream Aboriginal organizations. He calls for federal funding of Aboriginals to be frozen until "accountability" can be established - just like any neo-con would do. He condemns the Kelowna Accord because it was going to hand out money without "accountability". He likes Harper's approach better. When the "coalition" was formed this month, he asked so-called "rhetorical" questions, such as:

"Does the formation of a coalition government take away from one's right to vote?"

"Does the fact that the Bloc Quebecois (a separatist party) would hold the balance of power ridicule our parliamentary system and democracy?"

He wants Harper to pass legislation on "accountability", and wants funding to bypass the chiefs and go to the "grassroots" people.

If he didn't self-identify as Aboriginal, he would be condemned as a typical neo-con splitter of Aboriginal peoples and ally of the worst elements in the Harper ranks.

Anyway, why worry about him now? For his loyal services to Stephen Harper, he was named to the Senate last week. I would imagine this means he now has his personal grant and won't be worrying about accountability any longer.

Maysie Maysie's picture

From some quick searching, this is what I've found:

Patrick Brazeau advocates for the dismantling of the reservation system, arguing that over 70% of Aboriginal people live off-reserve. Most federal money goes to reserves under the Indian Act. From the Ottawa Citizen article, he hasn't spent much time with communities on reservations, and is seen as just another top-down bureaucrat/politician. The article mentioned several times how handsome Patrick is, that he's a very media-friendly face to have out there.

I'm not sure what the Congress of Aboriginal People (CAP) is, but I'm no expert on the various bodies that are tasked to represent aboroginal interests.

Quote:
"The reserve system as we know it is broken and needs to be replaced," says Mr. Brazeau as he stops for a minute on the road. "Billions of dollars are poured every year into that system and what do we have to show for it? Reserves that are scandals, that's what."

Mr. Brazeau has been spreading this message since becoming the national chief of CAP. He has written opinion pieces for newspapers, appeared on television and radio shows, travelled the country telling people that if anyone is serious about solving the problems on Canada's reserves they need to "get rid of a lot of chiefs."

That's for starters. You also have to abolish the Indian Act, amalgamate many First-Nations communities, bring back the traditional aboriginal nations, and, oh yes, redirect billions of dollars of federal funding to natives living off reserve.

Under his vision, the 633 native communities in Canada would be reduced to between 60 and 80. The 10 Algonquin reserves in Quebec and Ontario, for example, would become one. Same for the Cree. The Mohawk. And so on.

The article goes on to say this is not a new idea, but my take is that this is an outsider and bureaucratic understanding of the situation. Where would people live? Land is, duh, very important, and the idea of glomming all Cree and all Iroquois and all other nations together strikes me, as an outsider to the community, as a very very bad idea. 

Quote:
Chief Lawrence Joseph of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations wrote [to Jim Prentice, minister of Indian and Northern Affairs] to say he had "grave concerns regarding the structure of CAP, its funding, its electoral process and its influence on national and federal issues."

Angus Toulouse, regional chief of Ontario, wrote to Mr. Brazeau personally, demanding he "cease and desist your irresponsible and unsubstantiated attacks on the legitimately elected First Nation's leadership." Not stopping there -- just warming up in fact -- Mr. Toulouse went on to tell Mr. Brazeau: "Real nation building must be driven by the actual citizens and leadership of those nations, and not ill-defined, non-representative entities trying to curry favour with the government of the day."

 

The Citizen article is here: http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=3f7827a1-d524-4c5... 

The Citizen article made reference to Guillaume Carle, a "foe" of Brazeau's, who heads a rival organization called the Confederation of Aboriginal People.

Quote:
The Confederation ’s mandate is to promote and develop projects that would bring social and economic development to all our Aboriginal communities, training, culture, education and, most important, their ancestral and territorial rights.  We must unite and work together to bring a self-sustaining Government and economy, bringing a better quality of life, proudness and self-estime to all our members.

Furthermore, we believe that it is our responsibility to inform the Government of Canada that there was, for many years, unintentional negligence that was made towards Aboriginal people living off reserve in every ways and on every levels.

We are convinced that the Confederation will be, in a near future, the most important off-reserve Aboriginal organization and Government in Canada. Our structure includes already many communities and territories.

We represent the Aboriginal people at the political level and all other levels allowing our members to grow at the same rate as any other citizen of Canada.

 

Link to their site: http://www.capcpac.ca/ 

There's a lot going on here, and from a simply cursory glance at a few websites, it seems that the Confederation is more grassroots and less involved with making nice to the federal government, but what the hell do I know.

I actually would have appreciated way more info in the OP, including some more links.  

Maysie Maysie's picture

Cross posted with Unionist. Dude's a senator now? Well, that explains it.

Unionist

The courageous actions led by Shawn Brant last year brought out Senator Brazeau's true heartfelt convictions:

Quote:

"In terms of Mr. Brant, we don't know who he represents. He's not an
elected leader," he said. "As far as we're concerned, this individual
does not represent the majority of the people that he claims to speak
on behalf of.

"I believe there has to be the same set of rules for all Canadians,
aboriginal or not
. When people go this far in disrupting the lives of
Canadians, I think that police forces should step in."

[url=">http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2007/06/29/dayaction-congress.html...

I was surprised when Mr. Brazeau was named to the Senate. I had been predicting Deputy Prime Minister.

Unionist

Maysie, by all accounts the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples was a perfectly legitimate organization until Patrick Brazeau set about destroying it and turning it into a puppet for his own personal ambitions and a "divide and rule" tool for government. I have no "links" to prove this, just word of mouth, but maybe others have more information.

Anyway, his public policy positions are painfully well known.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Yeah. Well, that was a quick thread!

Unionist

I'm wondering if prowsej has any follow-up questions?

prowsej

I just realized that I went to high school right next to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples office in Ottawa. I never knew anything about the organization at the time. 

Thanks for the responses; it's especially interesting to hear that Brazeau has really changed the CAP since assuming its helm.  

Propaganda

Ah, yes, the same rules.  Brazeau says he represents non-reserve First Nations and Metis, but has never publicly acknowledged the actual number of people in his organization. Exactly who does Brazeau represent for his $100,000 a year federal salary? Not being an elected leader, to my way of thinking is probably a better representation of the people than being a leader, since most seem to feather their own nest, or the Fed’s nest. The same set of rules for all Canadians, aboriginal or not? He can’t be serious. Shawn Brant was wiretapped, threatened by Fantino, who called in the military, including helicopters. A public outcry ensued when, after a year, the charges against Brant were dismissed. Whites thought he should have gotten 12 years, while child molesters only get 2 years. By the same token, The Landowners Association marched on Queen’s Park a few weeks ago, holding up traffic with not a cop in sight, and certainly no charges were laid. 

Ah, yes, the same rules – equal rights for all.

 

 

 

aka Mycroft

Has Brazeau resigned as CAP's National Chief since being appointed to the Senate? If not then having an active member of the Conservative caucus as its leader makes the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples a partisan organization (as if their endorsement of the Conservative Party in previous elections didn't do that already).

Stargazer

I agree Mycroft. This guy is a dangerous clown and I would love to see him out of the CAP job asap. I don't know much about this congress but it seems very similar to the CMC to me.

prowsej

CMC?

Stargazer

Sorry, got my acronyms mixed up. It's the Muslin Canadian Congress.

Joey Ramone

I had years of involvement with CAP and its Ontario affiliate.  I would say that Brazeau is a very typical CAP "leader".  CAP (formerly the Native Council of Canada) and most of its provincial affiliates have virtually no credibility with the people they claim to represent.  Corruption, of every kind, has been rampant for at least the past 20 years and there is nothing remotely democratic about its' structure based on sham "paper locals" rather than real communities.  While they claim to represent hundreds of thousands of people they will never reveal membership lists,  Within the urban and non-status Aboriginal communities which they claim to represent (because large federal and provincial funding is based on those claims) they are virtually unknown and invisible.  To the extent that they are known they are widely seen as a bad joke.  Think of them as more of a protection racket than a representative political body. 

CAP and its affiliates allow the feds and provinces to ignore the dire needs of urban and rural non-status Aboriginal communities by claiming that they are addressing those needs by pumping money into corrupt, unrepresentative and unaccountable organizations which will do and say virtually anything to keep the gravy flowing.

saga saga's picture

Brazeau promotes return to traditional Indigenous governance, organizing lands and peoples under traditional Nations, traditional Aboriginal rights and peoples.

All of this sounds good ... and then like a true Harper Tory, he denigrates Shawn Brant for defending traditional Mohawk Nation lands from development, and says there should be 'one law' for all Canadians and police intervention.

If anyone can clarify these paradoxes in his supposed beliefs, please help.

And btw ... if he's this far ahead of the game perhaps he knows that he has nothing to lose by advocating 'police intervention' because it can't happen anymore: The Supreme Court just put a ban on that anyway, failing "adequate" consultation and accommodation of Aboriginal Rights by 'the Crown', and 'the Crown' regularly fails.

http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/decisions/2008/july/2008ONCA0534.pdf

[48]
Where a requested injunction is intended to create “a protest-free zone” for contentious private activity that affects asserted aboriginal or treaty rights, the court must be very careful to ensure that, in the context of the dispute before it, the Crown has fully and faithfully discharged its duty to consult with the affected First Nations: see Julia E. Lawn, “The John Doe Injunction in Mass Protest Cases” (1998) 56 U.T. Fac. L. Rev. 101. The court must further be satisfied that every effort has been exhausted to obtain a negotiated or legislated solution to the dispute before it. Good faith on both sides is required in this process: Haida Nation, p. 532.

'Frontenac Ventures' (uranium prospectors) appealed this to the Supreme Court and it was just recently dismissed, so that's the end of it, that's the law: No injunctions against Indigenous people defending their Aboriginal land Rights, until the Crown has accommodated those rights.

 

EG,

http://grannyrantson.blogspot.com/2008/12/update-from-brantford-court-re-six.html

Dec 22 2008 Update from Brantford Court re Six Nations, Aboriginal Rights

The
City of Brantford requested an injunction against Six Nations to
prevent them from blocking construction. The injunction hearing is
being held today and tomorrow.

The Supreme Court, the final
'court of appeal' recently upheld the ruling that the court cannot
grant an injunction until the Crown (Ontario) has fulfilled its duty to
consult and accommodate Aboriginal Rights. The Brantford court is
obligated to follow this ruling:
Update rec'd from a Brantford supporter:

I
was in court today, well actually 20 minutes ago, and the judge made
the city of brantford pay for a certain motion that they bungled,
$1200.00 plus other related costs and gst. They will be in court
tomorrow. On a more interesting note I have been made aware of charges
being laid very soon against, I repeat against, Brantford city
council!!! Lets see how that turns out.

The judge seemed quite
agitated with lawyer Neal Smitherman and was losing patience. They
tried to summons a negotiating employee of Indian Affairs her name is
Murphy but that met with resistance from the judge! No one from the
federal government appeared and the lawyer from the provincial
government said he would not be prepared for tomorrow, but the judge
didn't care and clearly stated that he had 3 to 4 months to prepare so
all parties should show up tomorrow, unless there is 15 to 30
centimeters tomorrow, there will be no adjournment!

...

It
seems to me that the lawyers for the City of Brantford and the Province
of Ontario are unprepared to present their cases. Hmm ... Looks like
more stalling by governments. That's all they can do now is stall, and
they are very good at that, but the court cannot grant the City of
Brantford an injunction.

Yup ... This is huge.

No
injunctions, no arrests, no early morning police raids of occupied
sites ... no development, no mining, no logging, unless the rights of
Aboriginal people are accommodated, to the satisfaction of the court.

On
this latter point, it is interesting to note the precedents in BC. When
the province pulled the typical government move and coerced an
Indigenous community into 'agreeing to agree in the future' while
logging continued, the court did not accept the agreement, and ordered
the province to stop the logging until a proper agreement was in place, accommodating the rights of the Indigenous community on their traditional land.

Given
the current economic circumstances, all three levels of government in
Canada will have to engage in significant and meaningful negotiations,
or all development can be stopped, and no injunction-and-force-of-police can be used against Indigenous Peoples defending their land rights.

The alternative, as pointed out by a Senate report: Negotiation or Confrontation: It's Canada's choice.

http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/Com-e/abor-e/rep-e/rep05dec06-e.pdf

Canada has already gone the route of confrontation, invasion of sovereign Indigenous territories being defended.

Kahnesetake (Oka) 1990
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s55ccwPJgfs

Kahnawake 1990
http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=1coZQ7qKkt4

Six Nations, Caledonia 2006-2007
http://s163.photobucket.com/albums/t298/sireenaonthe6/?action=view&current=NotReady2MakeNice.flv

Video
of the April 20 2006 OPP raid on Kanohstaton, based on Judge Marshall's
injunction, is not posted as matters are 'still before the courts' as
they say. However, the Supreme Court is clear ...


No more injunctions!

And that's worth celebrating.

Hmm ... I wonder if Patrick Brazeau is celebrating that?

UndecidedWink

 

I just don't know.

George Victor

saga:

"The judge seemed quite
agitated with lawyer Neal Smitherman and was losing patience. They
tried to summons a negotiating employee of Indian Affairs her name is
Murphy but that met with resistance from the judge! No one from the
federal government appeared and the lawyer from the provincial
government said he would not be prepared for tomorrow, but the judge
didn't care and clearly stated that he had 3 to 4 months to prepare so
all parties should show up tomorrow, unless there is 15 to 30
centimeters tomorrow, there will be no adjournment!"

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Could we see more on this tomorrow....please!

 

 

saga saga's picture

That was Dec 22, and I'm trying to get an update. It may be adjourned until spring.

Looks like the province and feds both abdicating their responsibility to "consult and accommodate" and arguing about who has to report on it (as usual). However, now the courts are tracking them down and making them report, and that's a definite improvement!

I believe the next day, the feds did agree to send someone (at a later date) to report on their progress in 'consultation and accommodation'.

 Then I think my contact went on 'holidays' lol 

 I'll post it if I find out more, or perhaps someone reading this can fill us in.

Unionist

Why am I not surprised?

[url=[=red]Brazeau">http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/01/07/brazeau-senate.html][b][=... faces allegations of sexual harassment[/color][/url]

Quote:

An aboriginal leader who was recently appointed to the Senate is
facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour toward staff in his
organization.

A sexual harassment complaint against Patrick Brazeau, national
chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, is now before the Human
Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Brazeau is also named in an internal grievance filed last year by a different woman who worked at the CAP office in Ottawa. ...

In an interview with CBC News, Jade Harper recalled how excited she
was when she started working as an events co-ordinator at CAP in 2007.

"I felt like I was able to actually make a difference," said Harper, 25.

That opportunity quickly turned sour, she said.

"Something I noticed in the first couple of weeks was the abuse of
alcohol inside and outside of office, where the executive would come
back drunk in the afternoons," she said.

She said sexual behaviour in the office was a "common occurrence daily" and alleged her boss played a role.

"It was Patrick absolutely, and it was other staff members as well," she said.

However, Brazeau got a vote of confidence from where it counts:

Quote:

Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl wouldn't comment Wednesday on
the allegations, but said Brazeau will be an excellent senator.

"I'm sure he'll do great work," Strahl said. "He's a good man. He
will do the right things as he goes forward, and he'll provide good
leadership both on Quebec issues and aboriginal issues."

And get this - ambition knows no bounds:

Quote:
He is consulting with the Senate ethics officer to see if he can be a senator and keep his position as the CAP's national chief.

Sure, why not double-dip? Both jobs seem to require similar qualifications.

 

 

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

...and such a short time ago I naively looked up info about Patrick, knowing nothing about who he is.

I feel icky. I need to delete my google cache history now. 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Unionist:

Quote:

Sure, why not double-dip? Both jobs seem to require similar qualifications.

This guy is unbelievable. His CAP salary is also paid by taxpayers. 

For some reason, Patrick Brazeau seems tremendously disliked by Aboriginal (FN and Metis, urban and non-urban) people in Manitoba. One person interviewed on local radio today who was involved with CAP said that the organization's policies on sexual harassment were flawed as was the so-called mediation process. He wasn't surprised to see these charges go before the Human Rights Tribunal. I would say his impression of the grand chief was quite the opposite of Chuch Strahl's.

ceti ceti's picture

He sounds like the Mario Dumont of First Nations -- or another neo-con quisling wannabe.

Unionist

Protest the injustice against Patrick Brazeau!!

[url=Brazeau">http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090109.wbrazeau0109... decides not to double-dip - picks Senate (at $130,400 plus expenses) over Aboriginal "leader" (at only $100,170 plus expenses)[/url]

Quote:

Mr. Brazeau's statement made no reference to other
controversies he is facing. A former employee has filed a sexual harassment
complaint against him and the Congress with the Human Rights Tribunal of
Ontario. A second employee alleged that he allowed an atmosphere of sexual
exploitation and heavy drinking at congress headquarters. Some of his own board
members expressed concerns over his suspension of Manitoba delegates who opposed
him days before his November election
to a four-year term as national chief.

That last bit is further to your point, laine.

 ETA: And there's also [url=this">http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090109.wbrazeau09/B... article[/url]:

Quote:

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples suspended its entire Manitoba wing only days
before the provincial president planned to go public with allegations of sexual
harassment against the national chief, the Conservative-appointed Senator
Patrick Brazeau.

Walter Menard said yesterday that he told Mr. Brazeau in
mid-September that he would raise the allegations and reports of heavy drinking
at congress headquarters when the congress held its annual meeting in Ottawa in
November.

All sides agree that the board of directors of the
congress suspended Mr. Menard and the Manitoba wing days before the meeting,
where Mr. Brazeau was re-elected to a four-year term. As a result, no congress
members from Manitoba were allowed to attend the annual general meeting and the
allegations did not become public until they were published in The Globe and
Mail this week.

 

saga saga's picture

Unionist wrote:

Protest the injustice against Patrick Brazeau!!

[url=Brazeau">http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090109.wbrazeau0109... decides not to double-dip - picks Senate (at $130,400 plus expenses) over Aboriginal "leader" (at only $100,170 plus expenses)[/url]

Quote:

Mr. Brazeau's statement made no reference to other
controversies he is facing. A former employee has filed a sexual harassment
complaint against him and the Congress with the Human Rights Tribunal of
Ontario. A second employee alleged that he allowed an atmosphere of sexual
exploitation and heavy drinking at congress headquarters. Some of his own board
members expressed concerns over his suspension of Manitoba delegates who opposed
him days before his November election
to a four-year term as national chief.

That last bit is further to your point, laine.

ETA: And there's also [url=this">http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090109.wbrazeau09/B... article[/url]:

Quote:

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples suspended its entire Manitoba wing only days
before the provincial president planned to go public with allegations of sexual
harassment against the national chief, the Conservative-appointed Senator
Patrick Brazeau.

Walter Menard said yesterday that he told Mr. Brazeau in
mid-September that he would raise the allegations and reports of heavy drinking
at congress headquarters when the congress held its annual meeting in Ottawa in
November.

All sides agree that the board of directors of the
congress suspended Mr. Menard and the Manitoba wing days before the meeting,
where Mr. Brazeau was re-elected to a four-year term. As a result, no congress
members from Manitoba were allowed to attend the annual general meeting and the
allegations did not become public until they were published in The Globe and
Mail this week.

 

Brazeau has made enemies in the Aboriginal 'establishment' of the Band Councils, by calling directly for their demise.

That's one aspect of this. 

 

 

saga saga's picture

Another persepctive, from Mohawk Nation News:

MNN

Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently appointed Patrick Brazeau of the
Congress of Aboriginal People to the Senate of Canada. It follows this
established strategy of tarring the reputation of all indigenous people
by creating the impression that they can’t find any “aboriginal”
representatives who are not degenerates.

 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

That's a good quote saga. Brazeau is a fake and opportunist. When status requirements changed, he took that opportunity to maximize his newly acquired status rights without having ever lived on his FN reserve.

I was under the impression that you had to live on reserve for at least one week a month to keep your status. From all that I read about him, I don't think he ever met that qualification.

Joey Ramone

Whether or not a person has "status" under the apartheid Indian Act has nothing to do whether he or she has ever lived on a reserve, and nothing to do with whether he or she is a First Nations citizen.  

Whether or not Brazeau has Indian Act status has nothing to do with the fact that he is a sell-out who, appropriately, presides over an undemocratic organization full of corruption and stacked with sell-out "leaders".

prowsej

Joey Ramone - how should the Indian act be changed in terms of overhauling the current system which accords status based on blood quantum?

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

prowsej wrote:
Joey Ramone - how should the Indian act be changed in terms of overhauling the current system which accords status based on blood quantum?

 The Act doesn't use blood quantum to determine status.  Until 1985 with the passing of C-31 it basicially used patrilineal(patriarchal) lines to determine status, so if a man married a non-native  non status women their kids had status but if a woman married a non-native non status man she lost her status and their kids considered under the Act to be non-native. 

It can get a bit complicated though because under the current ammended Act there are provisions for individual bands or Nations to have their own membership rules and some do have various blood quantum stipulations because they choose too.   It's actually possible for someone to not have 'status' under the Indian Act but be a member of a band as well as it's possible for someone to have Act status but not qualify under particular band membership rules.  Some band rules are quite different then the Act's inheritance rules. 

 Then of course there are non-status FN's which can actually be entire communities, many of which do have some recognition by the government and some that do not.  

 Blood quantum can be an issue when it comes to things like the Jay Treaty which has to do with cross border agreements about movement as it's possible for someone with status in Canada to not 'qualify' under the blood quantum rules that the US uses to determine status. 

prowsej

Interesting - I had never actually read the section of the Indian Act about the Indian Register that the federal government keeps. It's inscrutable! So, a personal will qualify to be placed on the Indian register as long as at least one of their parents qualified to be on it. That's how I seem to understand it. 

I had also never heard of the Jay Treaty before. Although now that I've read the wikipedia article on it, I'm sure that it would have come up in a history class on the Canada-US border and I've just forgotten about it : )

I've heard a lot of criticism of the Indian Act that seems justified. Some changes (such as removing onerous and unnecessary regulations of businesses on reserve) seem obvious. But in terms of how counts as an "Indian" (or a "Metis", say) it's not obvious to me how that should be reformed. 

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

prowsej wrote:

Interesting - I had never actually read the section of the Indian Act about the Indian Register that the federal government keeps. It's inscrutable! So, a personal will qualify to be placed on the Indian register as long as at least one of their parents qualified to be on it. That's how I seem to understand it.

I had also never heard of the Jay Treaty before. Although now that I've read the wikipedia article on it, I'm sure that it would have come up in a history class on the Canada-US border and I've just forgotten about it : )

I've heard a lot of criticism of the Indian Act that seems justified. Some changes (such as removing onerous and unnecessary regulations of businesses on reserve) seem obvious. But in terms of how counts as an "Indian" (or a "Metis", say) it's not obvious to me how that should be reformed.

 Yes, please don't take my comments as saying that the way it's enacted now is okay or without problems or issues only that it's not based on blood quantum rules.  

 As far as reforms go I don't know either. What I do know is that there are numerous different opinions both native and non-native on what or how it should be reformed everything from tinkering to throwing the whole thing out entirely which brings up more issues and problems.  My advice if your interested is to read as much as possible from every source possible particularly various FN's sources both 'official' and 'unofficial' and better yet actually talk to people.  From my experience you won't likely get one generalized viewpoint which in my opinion goes to the root of what the problem with the Indian Act is. It took a broad group of people who have different histories, different traditions, different laws and stuck them in one big gobulous group in order to control and assimilate and 'make them all the same'.   For instance many nations before contact followed and still follow matrilineal lines to determine what nation and clan they belong too. At the time of registration the Indian Agents came in and falsely labeled people,  mostly kids, as belonging to this Nation or that nation because they went by what the childrens father was and not the mother.  I know several people who for most of their lives thought they were one nation and clan but when they went back and traced their own geneology on their own discovered that no they were actually another nation and clan and that their status card was wrong and that their whole family back several generations has been 'labeled' wrong.   Most of them haven't even bothered to go through rigarole to get that changed. 

prowsej

That's really interesting - people being classified according to their father's instead of mother's nation/clan - and that changing the clan/nation that should have been written on their cards. The story also seems to contain within it an interesting lesson about the fluidity of such allegiances and perhaps about their importance in a modern world as the people involved didn't notice for several generations.

I agree that this is something that's best explored by looking at a diverse range of voices and by speaking with people. Maybe I just haven't been in the right places, but it doesn't seem to me like there is a great positive societal debate about how to reform the Indian act. In discussions that I have encountered words like 'racist' or 'apartheid' are often bandied about - and in many cases they are completely justified - but I do also feel that they can make people defensive and limit people's willingness to engage in a free discussion where ideas are considered. Perhaps the extent to which this issue also seems to require a specific technical knowledge about things like arcane government statutes also limits the number of people who are really engaging with it. At least that's some of how I feel about discussion about this issue. 

Joey Ramone

What Eliza said.  Gabba gabba hey.

I would add only that stuff published by the AFN and CAP and their affiliates on this issue is generally not very reliable.  They both have a vested interested in dividing people into "status" and "non-status", plus various other categories and sub-categories.

Makwa Makwa's picture

laine lowe wrote:

That's a good quote saga. Brazeau is a fake and opportunist. When status requirements changed, he took that opportunity to maximize his newly acquired status rights without having ever lived on his FN reserve.

I was under the impression that you had to live on reserve for at least one week a month to keep your status. From all that I read about him, I don't think he ever met that qualification.

For the record, I want to reiterate the fact that this idea is not factual - due to many historical factors such as CAS involvement, many thousands of Aboriginal people have been forced to live off-reserve. Non-reservation residence in no way reduces the legitimacy of one`s membership in a nation, nor should it.  

prowsej

Though it seems like it might be possible for a band to institute such a requirement (residency on the reserve) in order to be placed on the band list. Though I just glanced at the Indian Act section on band lists and it's really long and so I didn't read more than the first couple pages.

Ruffled_Feathers

I am usually a lurker on this site, but after reading this post and the responses I could not resist registering and adding to the thread.


What is wrong with CAP?

1.       They claim to represent off-reserve Aboriginal people.  In fact they do not.  There is a minimal network behind the organization to fulfill this claim of representivity.  No affiliate in Manitoba, Saskatchewan or the North.  The Ontario and Alberta affiliates are weak.  Otherwise it is a very skimpy network by which to represent interests.

2.       Most off-reserve Aboriginal people have never heard of them.  They are not seen to be a positive force in the communities.  In addition to having weak regional affiliates, the regional or National organizations do not consult with individuals in communities.  It is unclear how they have any mandate to speak on behalf of anyone as they do not ask the community members for direction.

3.       The organization is perceived as being a government puppet.  Most of CAP’s legitimacy comes from supporting government actions.  This started with the First Nations Governance Act.  When every other National Aboriginal Organization was refusing to consult on the proposed legislation because they did not agree with process, CAP took $ and supported the bill.  CAP supported the Conversatives in Harpers first win and received $5 million for initiatives immediately after the new government took office.  I could go on.

4.       CAP deals, as a government puppet, as a wedge against the AFN and other legitimate organizations.  They supported the Human Rights Legislation change, though there was trouble with its contents.  CAP supported restrictive Matrimonial Real Property changes on reserve, despite more reasonable proposals being advocated by NWAC and AFN.  CAP is used to question the legitimacy and accountability of the AFN and First Nation chiefs to ensure less support is provided and provide cover for the government to do nothing.

What is wrong with Brazeau?

1.       Seen as a puppet of Harper. Senate appointment would seem to bear this out.

2.       Has a character flaws.  Recent media attention to drinking and sexual harassment is just the beginning.

The best thing that could have happened for us all is to have this clown out of CAP.  He was harming urban Aboriginal programming broadly.  The real question is, what happens now?  Is his Senate appointment confirmed?  What of the state of CAP.  More importantly, what of urban Aboriginal peoples in communities who require true leadership?

saga saga's picture

N BRIEF
Interim aboriginal leader lauds predecessor Brazeau


The new head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is supporting his
predecessor, Patrick Brazeau, saying Canada's aboriginal community
should be celebrating the appointment of "one of their own" to the
Senate.

Kevin Daniels, who was elected vice-chief of the organization in
November, now replaces Mr. Brazeau on an interim basis. He released the
supportive statement after a meeting in Ottawa with the organization's
board members from Quebec and the Maritimes.

 ">http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090114.NATS14-1/TPSto...

prowsej

Ruffled_Feathers, thanks for registering and for your really substantive and specific response. I just wanted to say that I feel you really contributed to the discussion and I'd love to see more comments from you in the future : )

George Victor

Health Canada is demanding that CAP return some $260,000 after an audit found directors had spent the federal cash without accounting for it.

Health Canada has suspended all funding until the group states how it will repay the money and respond to concerns, dating from an audit in late 2007 aimed at finding what happened to $472,900 given to CAP for spending on aboriginal health in areas like early childhood development and diabetes.

However, concerns in 2007 did not stop the senate appointment a year later.  The Globe and Mail runs a picture with this story today, showing Brazeau applauding an address by Harper at a CAP meeting in Halifax in 2007.

Hopefully, someone will ask Harper about his response to this development. It would be a test of the news agency's politics.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Thanks for registering and posting Ruffled Feathers.

Quote:
The organization is perceived as being a government puppet.  Most of CAP’s legitimacy comes from supporting government actions.  This started with the First Nations Governance Act.  When every other National Aboriginal Organization was refusing to consult on the proposed legislation because they did not agree with process, CAP took $ and supported the bill.  CAP supported the Conversatives in Harpers first win and received $5 million for initiatives immediately after the new government took office.  I could go on.

Please do go on. Brazeau and CAP need to be separated in the minds of Canadians from Aboriginal people. Right now Brazeau is living up to every freaking stereotype out there and it would really be an incredible disservice to give him a seat in the Senate.

George Victor

And today, in a letter to The Globe and Mail, "Senator Patrick Brazeau" brazenly denies culpability.

"I submitted fully to an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment. I stand by the conclusions reached by independent investigators. I was also re-elected with one of the biggest majorities in the organizations's history in November.

"Reporter Bill Curry exaggerates the draft findings of a Health Canada audidt into what heppened to federal cash transferred to the congress.

"How ironic that on the same day, the congress received a letter from the federal Health Minister that notes that the congress, under my leadership, largely dealt with all identified issues as proven through an October, 2008 audit."

How ironic, indeed, that the health minister should send it that day...probably "Xpress Post" and all, damn the expense.

saga saga's picture

NATIVE GROUP AUDIT

PMO stands by Brazeau as choice for Senate

OTTAWA -- The Prime Minister's Office says it was not aware Health Canada auditors raised serious accountability concerns at the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, but is standing by the decision to appoint the group's national chief, Patrick Brazeau, to the Senate.

The support is in contrast to comments from Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who said yesterday there is growing doubt as to whether the former aboriginal leader is Senate material.

"Serious questions have been raised about Mr. Brazeau," Mr. Ignatieff said yesterday during a question-and-answer session with the news media on Parliament Hill. "I think it's fair to say that there's an accumulation of doubt as to whether Mr. Brazeau meets the criteria for a Senate appointment."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's spokesman, Kory Teneycke, said the problems auditors identified began while Mr. Brazeau was vice-chief of the congress, not national chief, and that Mr. Brazeau took steps to address the problems once in charge.

...

The audit, which has yet to be finalized, examined expenses from April 1, 2005, to March 31, 2006. Mr. Brazeau was vice-chief in 2005 and became national chief in February of 2006.

George Victor

Point taken.

Always open to learned  input here in the wilderness of a complex society. 

But Harper must not gain a majority, or all is lost. Really!

saga saga's picture

I'm not a fan of Harper, to put it mildly, nor particularly of Patrick Brazeau. However, I think it is wise for those of us not directly involved to be aware that the AFN and many Band Councils - ie, the 'established' Canadian Aboriginal governance - do not like Brazeau's challenges of their authority, especially his calls to restore traditional Indigenous governance and traditional land rights. Other Indigenous Peoples in Canada do support his agenda.

We can assume there will be attempts to discredit him, and perhaps observers should be willing to take some of it with a grain of salt. 

 I posted the news article because it clarified that the money irregularities preceded Brazeau's presidency.

 The sexual harassment issue  happened, and the outcomes are not public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refuge Refuge's picture

saga wrote:

Brazeau's challenges of their authority, especially his calls to restore traditional Indigenous governance and traditional land rights.

I googled that but couldn't come up with any info, do you have any links which talk about his support of traditional governance? Thanks.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

laine lowe wrote:
Right now Brazeau is living up to every freaking stereotype out there and it would really be an incredible disservice to give him a seat in the Senate.

In what way is Brazeau any different from the other 17 Conservative sycophants appointed by Harper? What makes him less worthy of reward in the service of his corporate masters?

zazzo

Patrick Brazeau has not taken the time to think this through.  His suggestion that there should be less chiefs, and the First Nations be re-nationed into about 70 nations is unclear. What does he mean by the reserve system? Does he mean that the 600+ reserves should no longer exist?  He is a fool if he thinks First Nations would ever give up the small amounts of land they have now.  We are tied to our communities in ways that he obviously does not understand. These pieces of land are also part of the terms of the treaties that we have signed with settler governments, treaties that were signed by the "Crown".

The reserve "system" is not working because we do not have the resources or the authority to make decisions that will be beneficial to our communities. This is what RACP meant when "it recommended
recreating those nations as the foundation of native self-governance, combined with financial control of the resources on their ancestral (read traditional) lands."

I have said elsewhere in these forums, that the price Canada paid for our lands and resources was too low, and the price we paid and (are still paying)was too high.

The federal government and provincial governments would not like to see a nation of first nations united. They like to deal with us on a small band basis, where we do not have to capacity to deal with larger economic, social, and environmental issues.  What would happen if we all decided to work together, and support one another. People like to mention our differences, but I think that our similarities would help to bind us together as a people and make us stronger.

If Patrick Brazueau was a true leader of the off-reserve people, (of which I am one) he would be building bridges, instead of fostering divisions. I could also say the same of the leadership of the AFN.

 

saga saga's picture

Refuge wrote:
saga wrote:

Brazeau's challenges of their authority, especially his calls to restore traditional Indigenous governance and traditional land rights.

I googled that but couldn't come up with any info, do you have any links which talk about his support of traditional governance? Thanks.

I'm not sure if I read it or heard it in conversations, but here's a hint of it:

He suggested that tolerating division amongst Aboriginal groups is not the best way to go. He said he believed Indigenous nations should be reconstituted and all Indigenous people, regardless or residence or status, should be included.

 http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-15682395_ITM

 

Ah ... here!

http://www.mail-archive.com/natnews-north@yahoogroups.com/msg03597.html

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 8:27 PM

'Too many chiefs,' aboriginal leader says
BILL CURRY
OTTAWA - Aboriginal poverty still exists because Canada has "too many chiefs"
championing the existing reserve system, according to Patrick Brazeau, who was
acclaimed national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples this weekend and
won an extra $1.3-million in federal cash.

The reserve system created by the federal Indian Act in the late 1800s harms
native progress -- yet the chiefs of those reserves depend on that structure
for power, said Mr. Brazeau, who represents natives who live off reserves.

Citing the largely ignored Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, released 10
years ago, Mr. Brazeau said Canada's 600-plus reserves are too small to be
economically viable and should be amalgamated into about 70 ethnically based
nations, such as the Algonquin and Cree.

"This 're-nation building' must occur," he said in an interview yesterday. "I
know this may be seen as a little bit forceful on the chiefs, or may sound
anti-chief -- which it is -- but at the same time, it makes sense. We have to
get away from this reserve system."

The royal commission report determined that the reserve system weakens
aboriginal Canadians' ties to their ancestral nations. It recommended
recreating those nations as the foundation of native self-governance, combined
with financial control of the resources on their ancestral lands.

And this CAP position is interesting too, re Canada's failure to vote for the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples:

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-33456770_ITM

"CAP is disappointed that Canada decided to vote against the declaration at the general assembly. The Congress believes this is not 'the Canadian way,' especially in respect of issues dealing with human rights. However, we understand Canada's concerns. These include issues with rights to land and resources; the notion of free, prior and informed consent, in particular, on military activities; third party interests such as private ownership rights; and the fact that the declaration can and will be used in courts by Aboriginal groups from Canada," Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Patrick Brazeau said. "We believe, however, that Canada had other options. By taking such a radical position, Canada voted against the whole declaration ... Canada could have supported the declaration with an explanation of its vote, with reservations, just as other member countries did. Alternatively, Canada could have abstained, with an explanation of its vote.

*****

It appears that the CAP does not slavishly support Harper's decisions.

Canada created and enforced the reserves and elected Band Council system with force of firearms and batons, beating and subduing and 'disappearing' traditional leaders. 'Missionary' doctors assisted by selectively sterilizing traditional leaders and their spouses and children-of-age: People still living recall Elder relatives forced from Council House with RCMP guns to their heads, and many more atrocities designed to break the power of the traditional councils.

Traditional ceremonies, meetings and all gatherings and practices were outlawed, held in secret under very real threat of RCMP invasion. Traditional people were oppressed, imprisoned and sometimes pushed off reserves by the creation of Canada's Aboriginal governance system and its enforcers.

 

It appears to me that, having itself created the 'elected' Band Council system by force, 'Canada' (under Harper) is now trying to undermine its power. That's not entirely unwelcome to some traditional people who never wanted it in the first place. Thus, 'where you live' is not necessarily a good indicator of Aboriginal-ness, in my understanding.

 I'm not espousing one view or the other, just trying to present a more balanced overview, and a sense of some of the politics involved.

One has to admit, I think, that the AFN that has consistently opposed rights of off-reserve people (Band membership and voting rights, for example) cannot now claim to be the only ones to represent their interests.

Far from disappearing, Traditional Councils are experiencing a resurgence, embracing all people of their Nations, not just those under Band Council control living on reserves. Traditional Nation Councils could perhaps provide the necessary 'umbrella' for all, with local administrative councils to administer funds, perhaps?

It recommended recreating those nations as the foundation of native self-governance, combined
with financial control of the resources on their ancestral lands.

"Ancestral lands" means all of it, as it existed at 'contact'. I find this statement from the RCAP a very powerful statement, especially in view of Supreme Court rulings upholding the Duty of the Crown to consult and accommodate Aboriginal rights on all traditional lands:

Haida -- Supreme Court of Canada Decision

http://www.hg.org/articles/article_1386.html

 ...

The Court stated that the duty to consult and accommodate arises where the Crown has knowledge of the potential existence of an Aboriginal right or title, whether or not that right or title has been legally established, and contemplates conduct that may adversely affect it (paragraph 35).

The nature and scope of the duty to consult and accommodate will vary with the circumstances. In general terms, the scope of the duty is proportionate to a preliminary assessment of the strength of the asserted right or title, and the seriousness of the potential impact on it (paragraph 39). This produces a spectrum of consultation. In some cases, mere notice and an opportunity to discuss the proposed decision may be required. In other cases, “deep consultation” may be required where there is a strong claim to the Aboriginal right or title, or where the risk of non compensable damage to the right or title is high (paragraphs 43-44).

Accommodation

Good faith consultation efforts by the Crown and affected Aboriginal groups may, in turn, lead to an obligation to accommodate Aboriginal concerns. Where a strong prima facie case exists and the consequences of a proposed decision would affect it in a significant way, addressing Aboriginal concerns may require “taking steps to avoid irreparable harm or to minimize the effects of infringement, pending final resolution of the underlying claim” (paragraph 47). The accommodation required is a process of “seeking compromise in an attempt to harmonize conflicting interests” (paragraph 49).

 
The RCAP statement is especially powerful  now, since the Supreme Court is now enforcing the Duty to consult and acommodate:

[48]
Where a requested injunction is intended to create “a protest-free zone” for contentious private activity that affects asserted aboriginal or treaty rights, the court must be very careful to ensure that, in the context of the dispute before it, the Crown has fully and faithfully discharged its duty to consult with the affected First Nations: see Julia E. Lawn, “The John Doe Injunction in Mass Protest Cases” (1998) 56 U.T. Fac. L. Rev. 101. The court must further be satisfied that every effort has been exhausted to obtain a negotiated or legislated solution to the dispute before it. Good faith on both sides is required in this process: Haida Nation, p. 532.

 

No injunction, no police intervention where sites are blockaded in assertion of Aboriginal Rights, until the Crown has accommodated Aboriginal Rights.

 Today and tomorrow, Six Nations is in court fighting an injunction by the City of Brantford, the first real test of this 'no injunction' ruling. I hope to go tomorrow so I'll update then.

 

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