Now that Prime Minister Harper is at least dragging his feet toward a January 11 meeting with aboriginal chiefs, we continue to see government and aboriginal leaders contradict each other about the effectiveness and sincerity of government efforts. The problem is a very complex one. Some of the complications result from imperfections in the performance of the aboriginal chiefs and some from imperfections in the performance of Canadian government chiefs. However, none will be resolved until both sides decide to talk openly and to trust one another. Did I mention that I am an idealist?
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.
Chief Theresa Spence hasn't eaten in over 11 days. The weather has taken a big turn for the worse and her tent home on Victoria Island is far from ideal. This was a serious business and she told me she wasn't backing down. I knew then I was watching the beginning of a revolution. Chief Spence has put her life on the line. This is not a game. This is not a stunt. Every day that Mr. Harper tries to wait out the crisis, the stakes rise higher. Mr. Harper has a very short window to show leadership. He needs to come the table and begin to address the issues that have driven so many First Nation communities into poverty and despair.