A recent major policy paper produced by the right-wing think-tank the MacDonald-Laurier Institute presents a scary scenario: “the possibility of a disruptive confrontation between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.”
The report is by former military officer and chair of Queen’s University’s Defence Studies program Douglas Bland. Bland is also author of Uprising, a novel about this very kind of confrontation. His new paper is notable in that over 42 long pages the words racism and colonialism never appear. You have to wonder which work is more fictional.
Bland joins right-wing journalists like Christie Blatchford and Barbara Kay in portraying the fight for First Nations sovereignty as a frightening confrontation between "them" and "us." Kay, in her review of Bland’s novel, wrote: “Militant natives have the capacity to foment domestic terrorism of a far more consequential order of magnitude than environmentalists or even Islamic jihadist.” This is the fear mongering and fictionalizing that supports Stephen Harper’s approach to First Nations issues: division, racism and cultural extinction.
But what do indigenous activists actually say?
A call-out has come from Idle No More and Defenders of the Land for a “Sovereignty Summer”. Their press release states: “Idle No More’s founders and its chapters across the country have issued a call to build mounting pressure, including through mass non-violent direct actions to be joined by non-natives, to challenge ‘the Harper government and the corporate agenda.’
“The Harper government’s agenda is clear: to weaken all collective rights and environmental protections, in order to turn Canada into an extraction state that gives corporations unchecked power to destroy our communities and environment for profit.”
They describe Sovereignty Summer as a “campaign of coordinated non-violent direct actions to promote Aboriginal rights and environmental protection in alliance with non-native supporters.”
There is no them versus us in this struggle for sovereignty and justice. This is about protecting the environment, confronting the crimes of colonialism and bringing democratic decision making to our communities and workplaces.
On Friday, June 21 thousands of First Nations people and allies will gather on Parliament Hill for a day of peaceful protest and solidarity against Harper and the corporate agenda he serves. Local events will take place for those who cannot get to Ottawa. Everyone should find ways to join in.
What advances the cause of First Nations will improve the lives of all of us. Thanks to Idle No More and Defenders of the Land for providing a lead in the struggle between the 99% and the 1%–the real us versus them.
If you like this article, register now for Marxism 2013: Revolution In Our Time, a weekend-long conference of ideas to change the world. Sessions include "Indigenous sovereignty, Idle No More and the fight against Harper", "From Red Power to Idle No More" and "Quebec, First Nations and Canadian imperialism."