What he was talking about when he talked about colonialism (II)

Shawn Atleo isn’t buying the Prime Minister’s Office’s explanation of the Prime Minister’s statement that Canada has “no history of colonialism.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo dismissed the government’s defence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s statement and demanded a meeting to discuss the matter.

“The prime minister must be held to the highest standard, especially when speaking to the international community. There is no room for error. The current line of response from federal officials that the prime minister’s remarks were taken ‘out of context’ is simply not good enough for someone in his position,” said Atleo, in a statement.




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What he was talking about when he talked about colonialism (II)

  1. The National Chief is calling for Harper to resign over this statement, or any error, whatever its magnitude? Is this a standard the Assembly of First Nations really wants to live by?

    • "demanded a meeting"

      Hardly a call for resignation.

      • How is anyone going to believe he's genuinely outraged if his only demand is a meeting. "We'll meet with you, Mr. Harper, and we'll keep meeting with you until we're done". For his sake, we have to assume he's actually demanding Harper's resignation.

  2. Muddy the definition of "colonialism" to include not just full-on overseas conquest and exploitative resource extraction, but modern and immediately pre-modern domestic policies insufficiently respectful to a particular minority, and I doubt there's substantial outrage to be ginned up.

    This isn't to say that residential schools et al. were morally correct or socially beneficial, only that equating them with colonialism of the type most of Europe engaged in from the Renaissance to WWII is silly.

  3. Muddy the definition of "colonialism" to include not just full-on overseas conquest and exploitative resource extraction, but modern and immediately pre-modern domestic policies insufficiently respectful to a particular minority, and I doubt there's substantial outrage to be ginned up.

    This isn't to say that residential schools et al. were morally correct or socially beneficial, only that equating them with colonialism of the type most of Europe engaged in from the Renaissance to WWII is liable to come off as ridiculous hyperbole to those not buying into the victim complex Atleo's selling.

  4. Muddy the definition of "colonialism" to include not just full-on expansionist conquest and exploitative resource extraction, but modern and immediately pre-modern domestic policies insufficiently respectful to a particular minority, and I doubt there's substantial outrage to be ginned up.

    This isn't to say that residential schools et al. were morally correct or socially beneficial, only that equating them with colonialism of the type most of Europe engaged in from the Renaissance to WWII is liable to come off as ridiculous hyperbole to those not buying into the victim complex Atleo's selling.

    • No, the residential schools and other socially systemic racism focused on the First Nations doesn't equate with European colonialism. Unfortunately for them, they were (are) victims of both, so it is kind of a moot distinction don't you think?

      We aren't the perpetrators of past wrongs; just the main beneficiaries.

    • No, the residential schools and other socially systemic racism focused on the First Nations doesn't equate with European colonialism. Unfortunately for them, they were (are) victims of both, so it's a moot distinction don't you think?

      We aren't the perpetrators of past wrongs; just the main beneficiaries.

    • "full-on expansionist conquest and exploitative resource extraction"

      Isn't that exactly what happened? Canada was precisely "colonialism of the type most of Europe engaged in," prior to confederation, and then Canadian government officials just took over from the various prior administrations (HBC, North West Company, etc.) and kept those programs up and running.

      I think you have to "muddy the definition of colonialism" yourself to let Canada of the hook on this one. We're a settler society. Full stop.

      Both sides of my family came here recruited by the government, and they settled free land allocated by the Canadian government that hadn't always been so magically empty. In this, they were just like similar settlers who left Amsterdam for the Cape, Porto for Rio, and Portsmouth for New England. There's no other word for it but colonialism.

      • By your definition then, every place in the world is colonial, except for one little spot in Africa. Or is it Europe now?

      • By your definition then, every place in the world is colonial, except for one little spot in Africa.

        • Your exaggeration – not his.

          • How so? He is equating all settler societies with colonialism. Full stop.

          • How so? perdogperday is equating all settler societies with colonialism. Full stop.

        • Not all settlement would involve colonialism if nobody was there in the first place. But most of the time, then, yes, settlement involves colonialism. (Interestingly, legitimation of colonialism often involved arguing that nobody really was there at the time – see Locke's Second Treatise and his treatment of property). Exceptions there would include some sort of cultural syncretism, or perhaps adopting the cultural practices of the local population, but that's all really rare. Dontcha know but the world's an awful place, and settlement for one often entails the eviction of another.

          I don't see how this undermines my statement – which was simply that it's so goddammed obvious that Canada and the Canadian government have been colonial for long stretches of history. I have yet to see any credible argument from you, AVR, or JulesAime that would disabuse me of this opinion.

  5. Well said. This sort of postmodernist abuse of language is bad enough in the academic world let's keep it out of politics.

    • From a first nation's perspective colonalism and most of its attendant ills is exactly what occurred here. While i understand the objections you are raising, i think it helps to try and look at it through someone elses eyes. This is simply semantics – ones an apple the other's an orange – they're both fruit. I don't mean to imply Harper did this deliberately, but his omission of aboriginals in his "two founding cultures" remarks is decidedly odd. In terms of an error it's a bad one – if it was intentional…well let's not go there…why the hell would he want to open up that can of worms?

      • From a first nation's perspective colonalism and most of its attendant ills is exactly what occurred here.

        And I say they're just plain wrong, at least from the perspective of what Canada actually did to them, and it hardly measures up in scale or depth of atrocity to the worst excesses of, say, Spanish, Dutch or Belgian colonialism. That's my point: it devalues a greater evil to claim that a lesser one is equal.

      • From a first nation's perspective colonalism and most of its attendant ills is exactly what occurred here.

        And I say they're just plain wrong, at least from the perspective of what Canada actually did to them (as opposed to their perceptions thereof), and it hardly measures up in scale or depth of atrocity to the worst excesses of, say, Spanish, Dutch or Belgian colonialism. That's my point: it devalues a greater evil to claim that a lesser one is equal.

      • From a first nation's perspective colonalism and most of its attendant ills is exactly what occurred here.

        And I say they're just plain wrong, at least from the perspective of what Canada actually did to them (as opposed to their perceptions thereof, or conflation of Imperial Britain with its successor states), and it hardly measures up in scale or depth of atrocity to the worst excesses of, say, Spanish, Dutch or Belgian colonialism – the latter all the more appalling for occurring largely within the 20th century, and thus providing a more contemporaneous example of What Colonialism Is. That's my point: it devalues a greater evil to claim that a lesser one is equal, for the sake of a fleeting political gotcha.

        • Greater or lesser evils. A kinder gentler colonialism – yes the Brits can boldly say that wherever they've been on this planet. I'm sure it's a great comfort to native people to be told: " it could have been worse, much worse, you know. Just be grateful you didn't have those Spanish butchers in here." Oddly enough i can even see a glimmer of truth in that statement. If it wasn't colonialism what, pray tell was it?

    • Or put another way;

      "Yes, we raped that woman. She was already raped, so I don't see what the problem is."

  6. Or, put truthfully,

    "No, we didn't rape that woman. She was raped and that's awful, but we didn't do it."

  7. Or, more truthfully, if you insist on the reduction,

    "Yes, we beat that woman, but we didn't rape her. Since there's a pretty big difference between the two, making that clear is important."

  8. Or, more truthfully, if you insist on the reduction,

    "Yes, we beat that woman, but we didn't rape her. Since there's a large difference in degree between the two, making that clear is important."

    • Do you have children?

      If so… if the government forcibly removed them from you, put them into a school where they didn't speak the language, beat them and possibly might have even killed them and buried them in a unmarked grave, would you liken your child's experience to that of a beating or a rape?

  9. This is a hodge podge catch-all of every conservative mis-informed bitch that i've had to put up with my whole adult life. Your equating of mis-treatment of various europeans with the bitter reality of residential schools and forced cultural assimilation is both absurd and insulting.
    " Were the treaties fair? In some ways no, but contemporary aboriginals get riches – without working…"
    You really want to stand by that gross exaggeration, not to mention non-sequitor, do you? Where did you pick up that little gem of an insight? In your local bar?
    Aboriginal rights are entrenched in the charter, where they should be. So that no future politician, fueled by the same mis-informed and ignorant predjudices that you've graced this post with, can ever get his/her hands on again.

    • Constitutional and Charter amendments can be made, by politicians. What are the mis-informed prejudices in hosertohoosier's post? Are you suggesting cultural assimilation hasn't occurred everywhere?

    • Constitutional and Charter amendments can be made, by politicians. What are the mis-informed prejudices in hosertohoosier's post? Are you suggesting cultural assimilation hasn't occurred everywhere? Entrenched segragation may be one of the biggest culprits in the plight of aboriginals in Canada. It is certainly worthy of discussion.

      • Good luck with that – removing entrenched Aboriginal rights from the charter. Aboriginal people have to make their own choice as regards assimilation – are you proposing we try forced assimilation again?If they abandon their traditinal lands they're done as a culture – and they know it. Staying on the reserve is a choice they make – there is no entrenched segragation.

        • " What are the mis-informed prejudices in hosertohoosier's post"?
          "…but contemporary aboriginals get riches – without working"
          " Indeed, reparations rooted in blood make little sense when you know anything about the realities of genetics. People's ethnic identity is usually much more complex than they imagine, and most aboriginals have at least some white ancestors" – H to H should know that genetics are only a small part of one's culture.

          • PS: if you want sources on my money points okay.

            1. The reserve aboriginal population of Canada is 608,000. (http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/Products

            2. The amount of money spent on aboriginals in Canada is 10 billion dollars (http://www.budget.gc.ca/2009/plan/bpc3b-eng.asp#1

            That amounts to 16,447/year, by the way, in direct payments and other benefits. This is for every man women and child, by the way, not per household. By way of comparison, Canada's GDP is about $33,000.

            3. Reserve aboriginals can collect welfare in addition to their federal cheque.

            4. Moreover, reserve natives don't have to pay taxes on their income. $16,000 tax free dollars is more like 19,000. It is an even bigger deal if one has a job. This is not to mention the myriad of other taxes natives don't have to pay – for instance the GST (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/onta

    • 1. Uhh I implicitly agree that Canada is bound by treaties and its constitution. We can change that, but it is difficult.

      2. Residential school was atrocious (it was also the result of a policy – still in place – which treats natives as wards of the state, but that is another story). Yet it is also a non-sequitur. Canada's obligations to natives predate residential schools. Moreover, if you are making a reparations type argument – how long does one pay for misdeeds? Does one continue to pay for misdeeds if the payment itself causes greater harm to natives than non-payment would (as I believe is the case – the more money pumped into Indian Affairs, the worse the squalor we see on reservations)?

  10. So if Canada conquered the first nations, does this not imply that their right of self government (the reason we call them first nations, and why the department of Indian affairs always uses the language of self government/aboriginal sovereignty) is expired? I realize this is both blasphemous and self-hating (I'm descended from one of Gabriel Dumont's siblings), but if aboriginal self-government was eliminated by conquest (instead of being maintained by treaties like the Royal Proclamation), does that mean that the department of Indian Affairs can root out corrupt chiefs? Audit the many bands with serious problems with their books? Implement individual (rather than collective) land ownership on reserves? Renege on the 10 billion a year spent on aboriginals (not to mention that aboriginals on reserves can collect welfare from provincial coffers, while receiving federal money as well)? Force on-reserve aboriginals to pay taxes?

  11. " When you provide people incomes of around 40,000/year (tax free) without working many will choose not to work, go to school, etc"__H/H where on earth do you get this figure from? In my experinece it's simply not true. Unless you're lumping in every govt paid job on reserve – which could well be said of many Canadians anywhere in this country. __I lived on a remote reserve in BC and while i can't speak to conditions elsewhere in the country, i can tell you there were a lot of people who were living on fixed incomes who were poor. __Yes it's true there was nepotism and corrupt leaders who were/are robbing there own people blind – but people who were not working [ lots of unemployed young ] were not living on $40,000/yr handouts.__The community was still food fishing which and trying to revive their culture. Your claim that reserves are poor repositeries of culture makes absolutely no sense at all.[see new comments]

  12. The way I read your comments i believe you have no sense or comprehension of a collective culture. Yes paternalismr has to end. Yes merely throwing money at the problems hasn't worked, and creates a culture of dependancy. But you have to understand the link between culture and the land for these folks – they will die as a culture if they abandon their traditional homes.__ We're still making Chinese and Germans, if they decamp enmasse to the cities [ many do, but there's a lot of back and forth ] their culture will eventually disappear. Anyway – it's their choice, not yours or mine.

    • While it's true the 68 white paper was revolutionary, it seems it was too soon. Anyway Trudeau's views later changed. One of the reasons he supported entrenching rights in the charter was he came to believe that since the politicians had made such a mess of this, maybe it was time for the courts to speak.__It's not a matter of reparations for first nations, it's about economic sovereignty. It's about simple decent equity.

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