What Harper’s Removal Could Mean for Indigenous People

What Harper’s Removal Could Mean for Indigenous People

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December 3, 2008

As you may have heard by now, Canada may be going through a bit of a change next week. The Liberals, New Democrats, and Bloc Quebecois have signed an accord to vote down Canada’s minority Conservatives and form a coalition government led by the Liberal Party.

If all goes according to plan, they will hand down a vote of no-confidence on Monday, at which time Governor General Michaelle Jean will decide whether to call a new election or let the Liberals try and govern.

If she chooses the former, the coalition says it will implement a multibillion-dollar plan to stimulate the troubled Canadian economy — their response to the Conservatives utter failure to come up with a plan of their own.

First Nations have also been mentioned as a priority in the coalition’s proposal. “They are on the record as saying they want to see improvements for First Nations on-reserve and urban Aboriginal communities across Canada,” reports Bob Kennedy for Turtle Island News.

“Especially promising, is the idea of bringing back the Kelowna Accord – [which] promised billions of dollars and a plan for a timetable that would improve the standard of living for Aboriginal Canadians.”

Of course, the effective removal of Stephen Harper and the conservative government means far more to Indigenous people than a chance to finally get some “return” (for the trillions of dollars that Canada has stolen over the years). It may also mark a fundamental shift in aboriginal policy.

The way it stands now, Indigenous People are subjected to a revolting and shameful form of paternalism – where they are denied the right of consent, excluded from having a say in matters that effect them, threatened for speaking up for themselves and punished for acting in self-defense.

The shift, at least according to the election promises of the Liberals and New Democrats — is that a new relationship will be formed. In the very least, it must be one where indigenous people are treated as adults — and not as Canadians, but as separate and distinct people with primary rights.

It’s even possible that the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights, which does not contradict the Constitution as the Conservatives proclaimed last year, will finally get ratified.

In all honesty, it’s hard to imagine any of this is possible. All the more reason that it must happen.

But, whether or not it does, indigenous people must continue with their work… creating our own initiatives to resolve the problems in our communities; building our own independent system of production, distribution, and consumption (an economy!); and most of all, by carrying ourselves as truly sovereign Nations. Not as Nation states with the power to crush our friends with impunity – but as self-sustaining communities, like our ancestors did for generations before us.

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