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Daniel Alexandre Portoraro

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Don't Be Fooled By Chief Spence's Circus

Posted: 01/09/2013 5:23 pm

Yan Roberts may very well say that "opinion is an emotion thing only," but thankfully, the majority of us observing the Chief Spence Circus actually give these developments some thought.

Yet when looking to Victoria Island (for that is where eyes are turned to now, not places like Attawapiskat) we apparently "risk the damage of becoming cynical [...] while looking for truths." Well, as difficult as it may be for Roberts to hear, how exactly are we not meant to be cynical when the supposed Martyr in Chief is as much to blame for the deplorable state of Indian reserves as the federal government?

When that Deloitte report was handed down from Harper Heaven on Monday -- you know, the lil' bit of paper that showed 81 per cent of transactions in Attawapiskat lacked proper documentation, and 61 per cent of had no documentation whatsoever -- the only peep to emanate from Spence's new home was "oh, the Conservatives are only trying to discredit us."

Well...yes. And why shouldn't they? The report demonstrates that -- for all the (justified) outrage of these Third World camps in a First World nation -- we ought to blame those who run certain reserves as much as we ought to blame those who run the country.

But of course, a view such as this one is too reasonable to put on a protest sign. Besides, how could anyone say anything bad about the leaders of the First Nations while one of them is bravely starving herself for her people? It seems no one can say anything at all, or even ask anything for that matter.

In the attempt to have an open dialogue regarding the state of the First Nations, Spence saw fit to bar the press from entering her holy shrine. She has guards outside! They stand tall and ask quasi-Sphinx-like questions: "Friend or Foe?" Natives are friends. The media are foes. Those who ask questions, who may be skeptical of she who clamours for better living conditions, but leaves boxes of aid unopened, are "foes." Those Liberals, like #JTru (a "hip" candidate vying for the leadership deserves a "hip" name and a hashtag to boot), for example, who offer non-statements such as "deeply moving," are "friends." The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs -- a gateway to an audience with the PM -- is a "foe."

And as mentioned earlier, all the attention is on that tee-pee. None of it is on the people who are suffering at the hands of the federal government and their now-Holy Chief. In fact, news crews are being told they are not allowed at Attawapiskat whatsoever! All eyes must be focused on the "suffering" Chief who is starving, barely surviving off water, fish broth, and medicinal teas. A Ghandi? Or someone doing a post-Christmas-feast cleanse?

Spence said she wouldn't stop the fast of solid food until she met with Harper. Harper agreed to meet her. She then said she would not eat until something "concrete" was done (a vague notion only Spence can define). But now that the Governor General -- the chap who symbolizes a symbol -- won't be attending the meeting Spence has crossed her arms over her chest and said loudly: "I won't go either." Hey, it's her party, and she can abstain if she wants to.

If Spence's intent were to change things for the better, wouldn't you think that having the man in charge of the country would be, well, enough? No, she wants all the pieces of the pie.

What we have here is a woman who bemoans the impoverished nature of her reserve while she is partly to blame for it; a woman who has the ability to make things better, but won't because not everyone has RSVP'd to her invitation. All the while, she allows those who have suffered, perhaps due to her own incompetence, to continue suffering.

What was once a justified pursuit to better the pitiful lives of the disenfranchised in First Nations communities has become a circus in which there is no possibility of dialogue unless every single demand is met.

These Indian reserves are like Third World nations within a First World country. Some of them, like Attawapiskat, are even run the same way: by leaders who are too caught up in their own media tornados to actually tend to their people and too egotistical to fix things unless everything is just right. Roberts is wrong; Spence is not a symbol to be admired. She oughtn't be a rallying point for this cause. She is but one of the myriad reasons why First Nation communities exist in the sad way that they do, and it's time for her to go.

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