Monday, 12 December 2011

Honouring Chief Theresa Spence

I have been looking for footage of that moment, when Stephen Harper responded to questions in the House about the state of emergency in Attawapiskat: his body language, how he turned, the words he chose. These are precisely the same moves that so disturbed me during the election, his apparently rather effective divide and conquer strategy: responding to questions about the current outcomes of complex longstanding inequities by unabashedly turning and blaming the victims of those inequities. This time, he made the value-added move of punishing the whistleblowers.

There is a certain sort of Canadian who simply laps this up: feed us racism, guide us with self-serving over-simplification, reality is too complex and it makes our heads hurt. We would much rather eat Stephen Harper's garbage, and drink the poisons he brews, than visit our neighbours, listen to our cousins, learn a bit of history, inform ourselves a bit about the mechanics of state... and thus overcome the systemic ignorance imposed by far too many years of a distorted/distorting vision of O Canada.

"Perhaps you have heard the story of how Rosa Parks helped start the civil rights movement. Well, we are the children who have been riding at the back of the school bus our whole lives. And we don't want to stay there any more." 
 ~ Source:

read more:


While the Prime Minister may be too savvy to attack the schoolchildren directly, knowing his chances of deluding the bleeding hearts of the world and the nation are less likely to gain even a modicum of the groundswell of support he needs to continue his regime, he has no such compunction in relation to their elders, the adults of the Attawapiskat First Nation. Or any other First Nation, for that matter.

Apparently his concern for transparency does not extend to the colonialist structures hamstringing First Nations, and his protective impulse toward whistle-blowers was not intended to succour the women, children, or men of Attawapiskat First Nation. His vision of leadership is not to leave a lasting improvement in the lives of all Canadians, but to continue to repress some communities so that other communities (and multinational corporations) can enjoy their wealth, and the fictions that support those ill-gotten gains. He will not ask all Canadians the real questions: how do we feel about the racist elements of our country? do we want to change? 

Failed colonial policies plague First Nations to this day and are the biggest obstacle to progress, National Chief Shawn Atleo said Tuesday as he called for a "reset" of their relationship with the federal government.

"We must move beyond the Indian Act and we must affirm our Crown-First Nation relationship," he said during a speech on the first day of the Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa. "This 19th-century relic continues to hold us back in delivering better lives for our peoples." 
~   Source: Huffington Post/CBC

As is generally the case, we will have to lead our governments, and not follow them. Not blame one another for the systemic ignorance, but simply continue to communicate the several sides of history and reality to one another, and continue building solidarity and cohesion in spite of Stephen Harper and his spiritual kin. 

context: deflecting censure from FedGov + DeBeers 


dealing with comments about attawapiskat
As the person on the ground, the elected leader, Chief Theresa Spence has come under personal attack by many in the media, and this was, I humbly suggest, Stephen Harper's intent. Effective diversion, creating noise and confusion to dissipate the very direct and palpable truths confronting him, that for whatever reasons, he chooses not to respond to in a human-to-human way.

I further suggest that the leadership that the voices of Attawapiskat First Nation women, children, and men have been providing, whistle-blowers on behalf of the entire country, have the resonance of truth that is both direct and intuitive, and will stand under scrutiny far better than the ill-intended approach of the current Prime Minister.  

1 comment:

chaosity said...

An excellent post, Joanne. I hope you have sent it to the Globe and the rest of the media.