How low do we need to go? That is the question that runs through my mind. I read an article today posted by TD bank on how the head chief of Ontario rubbed noses with them on a few events. Our head chief rubbing noses and making deals with the biggest corporation on our lands, they said. I see the sales of our lands being sold for what could be considered trinkets and the only ones profiting are those who are making the deals. They sold Toronto, for pennies to the dollar, and yet the ones that sold it were not the sole owners of it and yet our head chiefs and council said nothing and let it happen. Why? What did they get out of it? I hear our leaders demanding education for our nation and yet those same corporations discriminate against our people and either doesn’t hire them or they remain at the bottom of the business world. How many of our people are high up in any job descriptions? What good is an education if we can’t get a good job from it? I remember applying for the city of Toronto for a job, on the resume it said check the box if you are First Nations, I did, and three people I know who were not native got the job. Funny thing though, I had a college education, the three who got the job, didn’t even have grade 12. The lesson I learned, never check the box that says “Are you First Nations”, you will never get hired. Take a good look in the city sometime, see how many of our people you will find in poverty, a large percent that leave the reserve, face it all the time, it is a fact, not a fiction. If we try to build an economy for ourselves, does not the government interfere and demand half the revenue from it, isn’t that extortion? Take a look at Casino Rama and see what happen to that, and who now owns it, we don’t. Of all the reserves who put money into that casino in the beginning, who won out? Why can’t we build our own economies, we are a nation, are we not, or do they actually own us like they pretend they do and make the rules? It seems no matter what, they tell us what we can and can’t do it seems to me.
We fight to prevent paying one tax, when this is our lands, our resources and yet we pay when we cannot afford too. I saw a government official in a store recently, demanding the cashier to take the taxes off because he was an official of parliament, yet these same people demand we pay our share. Where is our share of the taxes of our lands they stand on, or the resources they steal from us?
Over time we have watched our people die, our children tortured and murdered, our women raped, killed or gone missing, and it still goes on. If we try to stand up, they cut off funding and watch our people starve and get sick. We have seen the crimes committed by both government and the churches that were too heinous to speak of. They poison our waters and pollute our air on purpose, do not think otherwise. They steal our lands by fooling the “elected” chiefs to signing things they have no clue what they are signing, just so they can continue to receive funding. In my life time, I have heard the fears of being cut off funding, I have seen them put up barricades around our lands cutting off our traditional hunting grounds and have seen them with their fishing trawlers catching all the fish from our lakes in front of our reserves. I remember when the waters were tainted and our people were getting sick and seen for myself, them taking away our children. If we are not in their classes in University, they teach those students why natives are not allowed to prosper in their economy.
I remember the stories when I was young, on how proud and brave we once were. Stories not told from our schools we went to, like they teach their own, but the stories from our grandfathers and elders who could still remember them. No, the only stories we were taught were how we were salvages and they came and saved us from ourselves. Times changed though, because I remember nothing but the alcohol and screwed up minds from our nation, full of sorrow and sad stories caused by residential schools, discrimination and death, lots of deaths.
When I say, “How low do we need to go?” I mean, how long do we need to be afraid to stand up? We live in poverty, we are discriminated against every where we turn, and we lose more of what is ours each day. We are losing ourselves. Brian Mulroney said it himself, “we have stolen native land”. We are being assimilated as we speak, slowly but surely it is happening. When they have what they want, then we will be left to either assimilate, or die of starvation, plain and simple. Our leaders walk around with suits, so they can act like them, maybe because they want to be like them, something they will never be because once the government gets everything, our so called leaders will be out the door. We have watched our nation fall, and still we cannot unify to stand back up. A new law they passed alllows them the right to steal our reserves now, do we let it happen just like that? We watch as others starve and get sick, thrown in jail, or just simply go missing, and yet we still do not act as one. We have left our traditional ways, our traditional leadership and councils fall to be replaced by something the government told us we had to do or else. Those are the words they used “or else”, and we let them order us around like their pets, their slaves. Did we lose a war to them? No we did not, so why are we losing everything that is ours, including our identities, our nation? Do you remember the commercial where you see a native man with a tear in his eye and then the camera showing the land he was looking at, covered in trash. How many tears can you see now on mine and many others when we see towns and corporations surrounding our reserves causing them to shrink in size, leaving nothing but poverty and death in our communities? How low do we let them make us feel before we act for ourselves?
Take a look at our leaders now, how much of ourselves are we losing with them in charge of our fates. Most of them hold meetings behind closed doors, no transparency to our people, and no accountability to our communities. They sign off land that is not their right to do so. I, myself, come from Manitoulin Island, if you look at it on a satellite map, you will see a big hole on the one side of the Island close to my reserve, seriously. Land the government took to give to farmers and promised to give back when it was no longer farmed, now its being dug up for its rich resources, leaving nothing behind but destruction, a big hole in the ground, seen even by satelite. Animals disappearing, habitats gone, forests destroyed. Last time I heard traditional leaders speaking on something like this, they were jailed; all of them, and our so called elected leaders stood by and said nothing to back them up. I have even seen those who wanted to stay traditional when it comes to leading their communities being rejected by our so called leaders, now, is that right? When I speak, I speak with truth and honesty, the chief on my reserve compared me with “those who play for the Special Olympics, even though they win, we are both still retarded.” This from an elected chief, insulting special children, and worse of all, he is still a chief. Do you think a traditional Hereditary Chief would say words such as that?
Now ask yourself the same question “How low do we need to go?” Ask other natives as well. How long will it take to see what is really going on here and how long do we need to let it keep going for? How long does it take for us to react and unify, to stand together, return to our traditional leadership, our elders and our traditional councils and rebuild our nation to be who we were suppose to be. A proud nation, a strong nation, an independent nation, where it is our land we stand upon. Independently, we have to fight in their courts, stacked against us, we will always lose. Together as a nation, the fight goes to higher court, International courts, and there, we are the owners of our lands as far as we can see, and many other nations will agree, that the Corporation of Canada, owns nothing really at all, and that includes the phony land claim settlements they have been doing with fraudulent chiefs. If we let it be, and do nothing, our children will suffer and lose the right to call themselves natives because by that time, we will be called “Canadians”. Its happening now believe me, last time I went to court, the judge told me straight to my face “ there is no First Nations rights, you are Canadian”. Live to see a change, bring back the pride in being a native, a warrior that’s in all of us, man, woman and child. A nation that has risen like the Phoenix from the ashes to rise again that believes in themselves and each other. That’s my nation, and together we can make it happen if we believe, and trust me, many of us do believe, there is no if. The Royal Proclamation is the only valid treaty that exists legally, everything else is done under the pretense of fraud committed by the government of Canada. They have no jurisdiction to the land or to our nation, once they are challenged, they will lose. Why do you think they have kept us down this long and hidden the truth? Why do you think they never wanted us to have a self government in the first place, they have to much too lose, that’s why.
Our land. Our rights. Our nation. Our government. It’s time. United Aborignial Council of the Americas – UACA
by David Cada
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