Canada, AFN, and the alternative to June 29

Canada, AFN, and the alternative to June 29

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John Ahni Schertow
June 13, 2007

The following is a look at the AFN, their upcoming National Day of Action; Canada and their recent response to it; and finally the People and a recently-planned alternative day of action, For July 1.

Canada’s Reaction to the AFN; some questions

As June 29 approaches, Canada has started moving to quell so-called “native anger.” Recently, Jim Prentice announced a new plan to begin addressing the backlog of more than 800 unresolved land claims, by creating an independent body based on the Indian Claims Commission.

Yesterday, PM Stephen Harper also came forward, announcing a new bill to be co-written with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), more or less for this end. The idea now, Jim Prentice suggests, is to discuss the new plan with native people this summer and then institute it by early next year.

I must say, this all sounds very reasonable and straightforward, like the right thing to do. But knowing Canada pretty well, there are some questions which I think beg to be asked.

The first is, which native people are going to be consulted, and to what extent? Up to now, Canada’s consultation process has been to ust go ahead and do whatever it wants regardless of what anyone says. And it is hardly known for it’s thoroughness when it actually engages the people.

Secondly, regarding the resolution of land claims — is this independent body really going to have authority to make binding decisions, beyond putting names and numbers on cheques? Because whenever there’s any talk from the AFN and the Government about Land Claims; money is invariably mentioned. But sometimes—more often than not I would say— financial restitution is completely inappropriate. That is, not what the people want.

Rather, the resolution sought is for Canada (or a corporation) to just remove itself from the land and leave it alone. Up to now this has been completely unacceptable to Canada… It’s money or nothing; preferably nothing. Is this proposed Commission going to work for the same ends?

Last but not least, about the proposed Independent body itself — is it going to be strictly comprised of Canadians? If so, then how can it be truly independent and unbiased?

This is like asking the Indian Act-created Assembly of First Nations to represent the best interests of Indigenous People on this land. There’s an inherent, irreconcilable conflict of interest there, because the AFN, which is comprised of Band Council members, gets its paychecks from the Federal Government. It’s a Canadian Organization that’s loyal to Canada first and money second. How can they be unbiased and represent the best interests of the people? It just can’t be done.

In the least, half of those in this commission should be chosen by Indigenous People.

The AFN and June 29th

As far as the AFN goes, the conflict of interest I just mentioned is fairly well known. But not so much is the AFN’s role in Canada, as a bridge to ensure Canada’s Aboriginal Policies are employed and maintained.

That is, the problems we must inevitably come to talk about here, are not just how Canada stands in a position of power over indigenous people, doing whatever it wants regardless of what anyone says or needs (and regardless of agreements or rights) — but that goes to such lengths to do so — in the name of advancing Aboriginal Policy (a long-term, National program of Assimilation).

By design and intent, the AFN, originally called the Indian Brotherhood, was first presented as a replacement to the National Indigenous Government body that existed in Canada from approx. 1660 to 1840. Beginning in the 1970’s (later calling itself the Assembly of First Nations, when the term “First Nations” was coined), the AFN is a special interest-based, non-governmental organization who’s mandate is to represent the interests of it’s members (Band Councils).

The AFN has never done anything less. Neither the AFN or Band Councils ensure people’s needs are met; nether defend the land; and neither pursue justice. What they do pursue is money, lots of it…. Money for projects, social programs, and investments they will personally benefit from; Money for business ventures and to pursue more business ventures; and of course more and more money for themselves.. all in exchange for their loyalty to their employer. Always at the expense (socially, economically, culturally, etc.) of the people.

With that in mind, I’m sure you can imagine my astonishment when the the AFN’s so-called Grand Chief Phil Fontaine came forward calling for a day of Action… Especially since the main reason Phil Fontaine won the last election is because AFN members did not like the action-oriented ways of Matthew Coon Come. Phil Fontaine has always been a bureaucrat, and that’s why they chose him. (Indigenous people didn’t elect him to be their representative; they’re not even allowed to vote.)

But in hearing more about the National day of Action, things began to fall into their proper place. Phil Fontaine announced the reason for this day of Action was, to paraphrase, “to pressure the federal government into providing more funding for Native programs and services. Specifically, it is in response to the recent federal budget, which did not allocate enough funding for Native peoples” (source)

Some time after this, as many know by now, Chief Terrance Nelson from Roseau River came forward announcing a blockade for June 29. And after that, a surge of Anarchists stepped forward in support, assigning their own reasons to this day of protest and preparing for acts of solidarity.

There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but it is crucial to remember who’s actually behind this day of Protest. It is the same people who are now sitting beside Canadian Politicians and policy-makers, writing up some new scheme that may or may not change anything, and which will most certainly NOT bring an end to Canada’s all-imposing, colonial-based policies towards indigenous people.

In fact, the only ‘hopeful promise’ here regardless of solidarity acts, railway blockades, and so on — is that in a short while more money will go into the hands of Band Councils. Not to the People, to the Band Councils.

Canada and the AFN Towards Indigenous People

So then, even though most people admit that the AFN does not really represent the people, just like how most Band Councils are not really legitimate, so do a great number assume that Indigenous People are Canadians. Canada’s own ambitious Aboriginal Policy is to accomplish that very end, and Band Councils under the umbrella of the AFN (that Canada holds) is the means to make this colonial dream into a reality. Canada even acts as though it were already true…

In the same article about Stephen Harper announcing the new bill (above), he was quoted as saying “Canada will be a better, stronger, more united country when all its citizens enjoy full equality of opportunity.”

That statement is a complete misconception and it’s truly unfortunate he would say this, because the majority of Canadians are already grossly misinformed about the reality of Indigenous people—whom are for one, not Canadians.

I mean, Canadian Law doesn’t even apply to indigenous people. Nor does Canada’s Bill of Human Rights or the Canadian Human Rights Act. In fact, the only actually-defined right indigenous people have, something pretty new, is the right to not have any rights.

No joke, Canada gave itself the right to extinguish any ‘Aboriginal Rights’ pretty much whenever it feels like it (specifically, as long as there is a “substantial objective”).

How can this be? I mean, if ‘Aboriginal’ People are Canadians, than that means Canadian Law would be applied to them, right? So then how would that be legal?

If Aboriginal People are Canadians, wouldn’t that mean the same law applies to Canadians?

Let’s imagine for a moment that it was. Imagine some Crown corporation wanted to create a new parking lot in downtown Toronto… so some random morning they set out forcing everyone out of the area, only to destroy everything a while later. No notices, no compensation; not even a chance to gather your things. Just “GET LOST.” If Aboriginal Policy was applied to Canadian Citizens, then this could be perfectly legal. And if Aboriginal People are Canadians, then every Canadian citizen should pack up their things and wait at the door for some stranger to come a knockin’.

Actually now that I think about it, there’s a way this could happen to Canadian People right now. Are you familiar with the October Crisis?

I myself learned very little in school, but I remember talking about this at length: It was October 1970 when, after two kidnappings by the FLQ, Pierre Trudeau temporarily invoked the War Measures Act


Aboriginal Policy is essentially the War Measures Act for Indigenous People. Or rather, when the Colony of Canada was first conceived, rigt up to now, Canada has engaged indigenous people as though it were true.

Of course, things are not quite as they once were. Where once the common reality among indigenous people was forced displacement, the theft of all children, the criminalization of traditions, the banishment of self-governance, and laws like the “Sexual Sterilization Act” this gradually transformed into something much, much ‘lighter’.

Today, the heavy hand of the past comes in the form of elegant swifts of pen on paper, as “private home ownership initiatives” and grandiose schemes to buy Sovereignty for minor sums of money and the promise of better days.

Things are also much more complicated. For instance, where once it was all “red and white,” today we find many who’ve come to accept Canadian Ways as their own, and who dream of a time when they can be little more than invisible tax paying Canadians.

But I guess this complication doesn’t matter much, along with the assumptions and misconceptions. Policy is not law after all, and law is not just lines of ink on paper… So then it doesn’t really matter what Canada or the AFN thinks or wants because it’s not reality.

The reality, is that today more and more indigenous people are refusing to tolerate all of this, and are moving forward accordingly. They are everywhere seeking out the ways to implement their own solutions, to restore their own forms of governance, to defend their own lands, to live according to their own Customs and Traditions, and even to set their own terms and conditions on encounters with States and Corporations.

As for the AFN’s upcoming National Day of Action? It is absolutely nowhere to be seen in this. In fact one might even say it’s a very good distraction away from it… Canada, the AFN, and Band Councils stand to lose a great Deal if the People move forward in these regards. Not just all Crown land, not just trillions and trillions of dollars, but power and relevance.

The Real National Day of Action & Resistance July 1st 2007!

While the collaborator chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations plan to march, acquire corporate donations and access government funds on June 29th (, other groups are calling on Indigenous people and their allies to take grassroots ACTION on Canada day – the day that symbolizes epic state atrocities and oppression against Indigenous people, including: genocide, land theft and occupation, brutality, violence and abuse, and mass child apprehension and deaths.

Today, Canada continues its program of assault on Indigenous people. The state imprisonment and death of Elder and Warrior Harriet Nahanee is one of many examples of the state’s vile mistreatment of Indigenous people, in particular those who expose and dissent Canada’s illegal theft and occupation of Indigenous lands. Harriet was a 72-year old Pacheedaht grandmother, married into the Skwxwu7mesh Nation, who was arrested and imprisoned for protecting the Eagle Ridge Bluff site that is slated to be destroyed in the expansion of the Sea-to-Sky Highway for the 2010 Olympics. Despite her frail health, Harriet was sentenced to fourteen days at the Surrey Pretrial center; a men’s prison and notorious hell hole. While in jail, where she was inflicted with abuse, and not given proper medical care in a cell with tens of other inmates subject to racist treatment, Harriet Nahanee contracted pneumonia. After one week of release from custody, she was hospitalized and passed away within a week. Harriet represents hundreds of other Indigenous people who are criminalized and abused by the Canadian state when they choose to stand up against and not assimilate into Canadian capitalist society.

Harriet was well known for her use of the Royal Proclamation to explain how unceded Indigenous lands are illegally occupied and governed by
the Canadian government. The Canadian and provincial governments continue to attempt to extinguish Aboriginal title and rights (through litigation and the BC treaty process), dispossess Indigenous people from their lands, and destroy traditional territories through mega-development projects.

There are over 500 murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada, yet Canada does not acknowledge this as a ‘Justice file,’ or as the
responsibility of the justice system. Instead, the unjust deaths are treated as ‘cultural,’ and put under a ‘Canadian Heritage file.’ Where do the AFN collaborator chiefs stand on this issue? Where were they at the Pickton trial? Why do they not mention Aboriginal women on their Day of Action?

Today, there has been more Indigenous children in foster and state (MCFD) care today then there ever was in residential school (tens of
thousands of Indigenous people who were forced in residential school are now filing legal cases against the church and state of Canada). This should be alarming as the number of Indigenous people in abusive and assimilating residential schools (which instituted cultural genocide and slave labor) was immense. Children continue to die and be sexually and physically abused in MCFD care today, as well as suffering further isolation from their cultural roots.

Everyday in Canada, hundreds of incidents of police brutality against Indigenous people, namely youth, take place. Police and RCMP in Prince George and other areas have sexually assaulted Indigenous girls, police and RCMP have run Indigenous youth over with their cars in northern communities and other areas, and police and RCMP have murdered many Indigenous people all over Canada (starlight tours, deaths in custody, shooting to death, tazering to death, beating to death, etc.).

Canada remains one of the only countries that does NOT have an independent body to investigate police and RCMP brutality, murders and hate
crimes. Instead they investigate themselves, and as a result many police and RCMP literally get away with murder. When Pivot Legal Society announced the completion of its report, including affidavits documenting police brutality and violence, the police chief (Jamie Graham) just simply “retired.”

Vancouver BC’s hosting of the 2010 Olympics has already aggravated Canada’s abject poverty and homelessness that Indigenous people are
overrepresented with. The estimated number of homeless persons in Canada ranges from 100,000 to 250,000, 25-30% which are Indigenous people. Due to skyrocketing housing prices and a lack of affordable housing and social housing (more focus is made on accommodating hungry visitors (tourists)), the number of homeless people will surely rise during the lead up to the2010 games.

Canada’s Dirty History is Repeating Itself…

JULY 1st, 2007


Refuse to Accept:

*The unjust state death of Elder and Warrior Harriet Nahanee *Over 500
murdered and missing Indigenous women *Theft and occupation of Indigenous
lands *Child apprehension of Indigenous children *Police, state and military
violence and brutality *Abject poverty with thousands Homeless
*Criminalization of dissent

Meet at Grandview Park (at Commercial Drive) at 1pm, March to follow For
more information contact: [send email to via gmail]

Take Action in your own communities!
Let the AFN collaborator chiefs know they don’t represent you!
Let Canada know you reject their program of assault!
Native People rise up and take back the land!

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