China is Manipulating Canada’s First Nations

by September 3, 2010

There is some concern among Tibetan solidarity activists that First Nations in Canada are being used to help China legitimize their ongoing campaign to extinguish the Tibetan People.

According to a recent article on Tibet Truth, "In August 2010 a delegation of Chinese government officials and businessmen representing 'tourist enterprises' from so-called Qinghai Province (actually a region comprised of Tibetan lands known as Amdo and Kham) were part of a trade mission that targeted a group of Canada's native peoples. The delegation visited the Stó:lo Nation in a cynical effort to see how profit could be maximised from exploiting native culture through tourism."

"In a calculated political move", the article explains, "communist China’s regime has often sought to link the issues and challenges experienced by first peoples of North America with Tibetans, using the history of the oppression of native peoples as a rebuke to criticism from the United States over the plight of Tibetans under Chinese occupation."

The irony is almost too much to bare, since there are many similarities between Tibetans and Indigenous Peoples in Canada. For instance, in both cases the original inhabitants' lands were occupied by colonialist powers and the people themselves were/are subjected to a full-spectrum assault that includes: forced sterlization, segregation camps, the prohibition of cultural practices, the banishment of Traditional governments and direct violent confrontation (such as the one that took place one week ago, when the Chinese military opened fire on a crowd of peaceful Tibetan protesters, killing four and wounding at least 30.)

However, there is one telling difference and it turns out to be China's "Golden Truth:" The Tibetan people still want to eject the colonizers from their homeland and reclaim their rightful independence; where Canadian First Nations have largely accepted the colonizer be it as neighbour, employer or business partner.

China would like nothing more than to be viewed like this by the Tibetans. But it would also be ok if they just didn't exist; because then they could take all of Tibet's mineral resources without any resistance (instead of lying that there's no resistance).

The Article concludes, "It is a grave error of judgment and highly troubling in terms of moral principal that some within Canada’s First Nations appear willing to engage in business with communist China’s regime, whose violent oppression and exploitation of Tibetan culture has caused colossal suffering and tragedy. It is to be hoped that wiser counsel will prevail within the leadership of the First Nations and that they can show solidarity with their brothers and sisters inside occupied Tibet whose traditions and freedoms are brutally denied and abused by China."

Incidentally, this isn't the first time a Nation State has tried to win First Nations hearts and minds and for much the same reasons.

In 2006 Canada's largest First Nation lobby group, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), was convinced that it should establish a diplomatic mission in Israel. At the time, the Canadian Jewish Congress had organized an educational mission so an AFN delegation could travel to Israel to learn "how their Israeli counterparts preserve their historic languages and culture," said an AFN press release.

Speaking about the trip, then-National Chief Phil Fontaine commented, “Indigenous people in Canada have much in common with the people of Israel, including a respect of the land and their languages. This mission is an excellent opportunity for us to share our values and our traditional ways of life, in the hope of building greater understanding, awareness and respect for our similarities and differences, both at home and abroad.”

While it was a good opportunity for the delegation to learn about the Jewish People--especially in light of the unfortunate comments of David Ahenakew, another former AFN Chief---for Israel it was a chance "to justify and cover up not only the Israeli atrocities and war crimes committed against the Palestinian people but also Israeli support for racism and oppression against the peoples of Africa, Asia, central and south America," said the Canada Palestine association in a widely endorsed public statement.

The diplomatic mission would have all but sealed the deal. And had it been established, Israel would still be talking about it as "proof" that their actions are justified and that, like Canada's First Nations, they are only trying to defend themselves from Palestinians, otherwise known as "non-Jewish communities" in occupied Palestine.

Given Canada's own ongoing push to assimilate First Nations people--that is, to turn them into ethnic minorities with the exact same rights as any old Canadian--we can be sure that there will be more inversion campaigns like the two mentioned here. Maybe the next one will be to establish an embassy in Colombia or maybe Iraq?

There's really no telling as long we rely on lobby groups, wannabe think tanks, and most of all, anyone connected to the Canadian government. However, If we inform ourselves and turn to those who will tell us the cold hard truth (without any spin or embellishment) we will be greater for it. And then no longer will colonial states like China be able to use as scapegoats to make their crimes look like acts of love and compassion.

  • Thunderbeing
    September 4, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I have personally intervened for the people of Tibet and will continue to do so until our brothers and sisters in Tibet get treated with respect and dignity.Their were many war crimes in Gaza a few years back so much so that i went on a hunger strike for 8 days and 7 nights to end that war,while the whole world came together to end it also.I would of died for the people of Palastine and i will do the same for the people of Tibet.They remind me of us and our plight here on our own land in which we live under occupation on our own lands for over a hundred years.But us as a people have come to terms with our situation,and have chosen to instead of going on the warpath,but to attempt to live side by side and in harmony with the Europians who initinaly invaded our lands.For to choose peace and forgiveness is a powerful thing.I do hope to see our brothers and sisters in Tibet treated with respect and compassion,for the sake of all people of China.As i do for the people in is wise for the leaders of China and Israel to choose peace and understanding over oppression and genoside.For to chose correctly will be the future of each leader and for every nation on the planet. I pray they find the way to live in harmony with each other for that will choose their futures near futures.


  • September 4, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Go back further and check South Africa's apartheid state use of some FNs to legitimate itself, even more cynical to tell Mulroney, "you're doing it, why shouldn't we?" etc.


  • Carey Conway
    September 4, 2010 at 6:40 am

    It is the way of our First Nations People to, initially, accept the stranger, to believe, at the outset, the words of the new-comer,untill they have reason to do otherwise.

    Because this is so, the Vikings were well recived in the 12th century, as was Columbus in the 15th, and both Cartier and Cabot in the 16th century. Open, welcoming, and willing to share not just food, but lessons on survival, crops and the ways of the fish and animals, these FN People, throughout the centuries, and even, today, they continue to be trusting and gracious-to-a-fault ONLY BECAUSE DECEIVERS & EVIL PEOPLE would take advantage of them!

    I have lived on both sides of this ethnic/cultural divide, for I am of 'mixed blood'; I am Metis (Miigmah and Habitant). I have lived in both cultures, negotiated with each, on behalf of the other, married an Anishinaabeqweand, after living and working across Canada, in all four directions, now reside in our home territory.

    Attempts at exploitation or manipulation oif the truth, to serve selfish ends is not unique to our century, but, sadly, continues, even, as we see with this current example, WORLD-WIDE.

    My prayer is that The Great Spirit will open the minds and the hearts of ALL PEOPLE, to be open to, and accepting of, and willing to share with their fellow human beings.

    In peace,

    A-Bear-Walks-With-Him, a.k.a. Carey Conway


  • notmanipulated
    September 13, 2010 at 12:02 am

    this must have been written by a white person. White Canadians trade with China nobody says whites are gullible children, business is business.


  • September 13, 2010 at 7:09 am

    A bit of a delayed response here. Thanks for commenting, everyone.

    Jamie, do you have any more info on that? I know members of the National party gov't came here to study Canada's Aboriginal policy, but I never heard that before.

    Finally, to notmanipulated: So, you're saying that it's ok to trade with China because "white people" are doing it?

    Business isn't business, my friend. We can't just throw out our integrity to make some easy cash. That's why we're saying no to all these mining companies and putting our lives on the line to stop them.

    Because we do have moral integrity, unlike most modern governments who will get into bed with absolutely anyone as long as the pay's good enough.

    The line has to be drawn somewhere.


  • The Wind
    September 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Work with China and establish allies.


  • Thunderbeing
    September 14, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Hey Wind i will only work and ally with China if they start treating our brothers and sisters in Tibet with respect and compassion and dignity.Once they start treating our kin with kindness only then will i myself and allies work with them until such a time we must sit back and watch.


  • Margaret
    September 17, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I'd take you more seriously if you knew the difference between "bear" and "bare". As in "too much to bear . . . " Not Bare.

    Bare means take your clothes off, or uncover.

    Bear means to carry, as in a burden, or difficulties. "I cannot bear the thought of that happening. . . "

    It's also the name of a large four-legged omivore with teeth.


  • notmanipulated
    September 18, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    you are right Ahni and others, I get your point. The problem I see is if we can't build relations with countries that oppress indigenous people and trample human rights, there is no country in the world left. We do need to build these relationships and trade in order to improve our own situations. What is the alternative?

    Also I know the dalai lama has establish diplomatic relationships with the government of my country in the past and hasn't shown any concern for the indigenous people. his priority is his own people and their struggle.

    I like this website a lot btw. It is really interesting and a great resource. :)


    • September 21, 2010 at 10:12 am

      I hear you, notmanipulated. Thankfully though, there are some good countries out there like Venezuela and Bolivia. Venezuela in particular has been doing extraordinary work with Nations in the US, providing oil and even helping to promote green energy programs (like they're doing with Winona LaDuke's reserve.)

      I would also suggest taking a close look EcoVillages and what they're doing... I posted a video about them a couple weeks ago. In a nutshell, they're creating environmentally-friendly, self-sustaining economies for themselves.

      I think there's a great deal of room here for us. And the best part is, because it's all so new, we could become the leaders and innovators which is what we need, just as much as we need to survive culturally.

      Right now, Canada demands that we sit at their table as their subordinates. And they give the companies all the power so they can make all the money while we end up carrying all the burden. And the moment they don't get their way, they try to bankrupt us (like Platinex did to KIFN) and force us to turn to them in desperation.

      If we walk down this path, or any path that we can call our own, then the tables will turn, and I guarantee you that Canada will start begging us to let them sit down with us, at our table as our equals. And then we can tell them NO, lol, because we'll have the power and security to choose who we want to work with.

      Actually, it might be good to hold a conference about all this at some point, to talk about what kind of options there are; and maybe even map out an adaptable long-term economic plan, something that can work for every nation and doesn't involve relying on colonial industry (mining, logging, hydro, coal, nuclear energy, etc.) or any single government. Just each other.

  • September 20, 2010 at 7:56 am

    A note of clarification, Tibettruth does not reserve its concerns for any particular group of peoples or government who may be collaborating with the communist Chinese regime. If you visit the site and search, you will see that the US, European Union, British and other nations have all been exposed and challenged for their betrayal of the Tibetan people, hypocrisies, corrupt mentality and unethical association with communist China's tyrannical regime. We hope that wise counsel shall prevail among our sisters and brothers within First Nations and that solidarity will be expressed with Tibet.


  • Bassam Imam
    September 20, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Tsering Yangchen:

    You are absolutely right! Unfortunately, the all mighty dollar, political and vital interests are more important than human rights, land rights, justice, and doing the right thing for the sake of justice.

    The Tibetan people, like other peoples around the world, have a GOD-given right to all of the rights that humans should have. It will be an incredible day when the people of Tibet are truly free and liberated. I for one will celebrate and be a happier person for it.

    Unfortunately, this kind of injustice can be seen on every continent.

    Tsering, good luck in your campaign against tyranny and injustice.

    Best Regards,

    Bassam Imam
    Montreal, Canada


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