Saturday, 14 September 2013

Charting an old path: self-righteous racism

In the past, our ceremonies, sweat lodges, potlatches, dances, songs, religious and spiritual symbols, cultural identities and languages were forbidden through the same kind of colonial policies that now threaten other religious practices.

Indigenous communities of Quebec
First, the PQ seeks to impose a duty of “neutrality and reserve” for those who carry out the actions of the state so they reflect the state’s neutrality and its independence from religion.

“This is a problem for many indigenous peoples in Quebec, since spirituality is inextricably connected to governance,” Flowers said.

Second, the history of Quebec includes suppression of the spiritual expressions of the original inhabitants and owners of this land, he said.

“Now they wish to impose the same restrictions on the settlers,” Flowers said.

Third — and related to the second point, Flowers said — indigenous people are in a special position now to support their friends from Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, and other religions.

“Our experiences of cultural and spiritual oppression will resonate with the oppression of religious minorities,” Flowers said.

“I think this is an opportunity for Inuit leaders in Nunavik to build bridges with different groups in Quebec.”

If the PQ truly wants integration — one of the purported aims of the proposed values charter—  then that would require representatives of the PQ government to speak Inuktitut in Nunavik, Cree in James Bay, and Kanienkeha in Montreal.

“Starting with you, Madame Marois, lead by example, atii,” suggested Flowers.

Image sources:

Top images: Government of Quebec via CBC website for five images, proposed Charter of Values illustrated; for the sixth I used a detail from Piona Keyuakjuk's Rewarded for the Successful Hunt (litho 2011). This artist is of Pangnirtung NU. Art Nunavik has information about a number of Inuit artists of Quebec.

Map: First Nation Information Project, Quebec  The map shows indigenous communities of Quebec.

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