In the orgy of celebration of the War of 1812, the true legacy of Shawnee warrior Tecumseh has been badly (and perhaps, conveniently) miscast. Far from being ignored, he is now being appropriated by white society and cast as a "good Indian" - brave, heroic, co-operative, and at the ready to do the bidding of his British brethren. He is being placed aside Issac Brock, and the Canadian militia as the great defenders of Canada. His historical role has been reduced to Laura Secord with a feather. A more thorough reading of Tecumseh's life and influence tells a very different story.
Many Canadians hold the misconception that First Nations are against any form of development or resource extraction within their traditional territories. But the simple truth of the matter is that First Nations are very cognizant of the bigger picture and forward thinking in terms of sustainable development.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children reported that 50 per cent of First Nations children are living in poverty. I chose to focus instead on what the data didn't capture. I said that I am optimistic, because these changes are taking place. The desire for change is undeniable, and it's happening now.
Statistics Canada has finally released its 2011 pseudo-long form census data. Of the 29 visible minority MPs, half of them are in the NDP. The Conservative Party is a close second, which is a testament to the inroads the party has made to court the so-called "ethnic vote." The Liberal Party, self-styled "inventors" of multiculturalism, is dead last in diversity as the caucus stands today. As the third-place Liberals renew and rebuild, they might be wise to emulate the nation's demographic self-portait.
It is not uncommon for a perfectly well-meaning person to blow off some steam online. And sometimes, spewing inexact information to support one's frustration can occur on the internet. In fact, there is general misunderstanding on the plight of Aboriginals and the "other" official language of Canada. For whatever reason, misconceptions fester with the goading of inadequate school curricula and general lack of knowledge. Like a cancer, these tall tales spread until they are addressed head on.
Fed up with the double standard of aboriginal leaders who want more funds yet seem incompetent and irresponsible in their own management, many Canadian have simply shut down listening to Idle No More. How might we deal with a dismissive reaction all too instinctive to many watching this situation unfold?
There is a small but vocal fringe in the Idle No More movement which advocates for the deportation of said "settlers". This unfortunate sentiment has turned potential friends into foes -- especially in the black community where it's a chilling reminder of the first time Africans were forced to traverse the Middle Passage. The similarities between aboriginals and black Canadians abound: both were oppressed people, both were driven/captured from their homelands by mostly Europeans. Both were dehumanized and denigrated as wild, suspicious and uncivilized.
Canada is guilty of one of the most elemental colonial sins: trying to destroy aboriginal culture and assimilate aboriginal people. That's why Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike matters. This time, our first peoples won't be placated with an apology in parliament, This time, the revolt is for real.
Innoversity is a not-for-profit organization that has spent the past 13 years struggling with some success "to create opportunities for cultural minority, Aboriginal and disabled Canadians to actively engage with, and be reflected within, key social sectors and institutions." That's institution-speak for fighting racism and all the other isms that still stain our society, particularly our media.