Jan 10 2013
While the saga of who will attend tomorrow’s meeting between Harper government representatives and First Nations leaders continues, we can be certain that justice will be absent.
For obvious reasons, there will be no justice for the Inuit, as they will not be represented. Nor will there be any justice for the Métis and non-status Indians, who this week won a court battle to have the federal government recognize its obligations toward them, because they aren’t at the table either.
And despite having representatives in the room, there will be no justice for First Nations, nor for Canada.
Socrates, according to Plato, argued that the idea of justice could not be reduced merely to that which is to the advantage of the stronger. With possibly one brief exception, no federal government in this country’s history has accepted the idea that justice was any less than whatever it could get away with when it comes to Indigenous peoples. The current Government of Canada is no exception. It does what it can get away with doing and having done that, it tries for more. That is why we’re in this mess.
Since before confederation, Canada has pursued a single policy objective vis à vis Indigenous peoples; make them go away by making them like everyone else. The titles of early legislation made this obvious, such as An Act to encourage the gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in this Province, and to amend the Laws respecting Indians. Bureaucrats like Duncan Campbell Scott also were clear about it, famously admitting that, “Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department.” And while they would avoid these exact words, what member of today’s cabinet would disagree with the sentiment that, “The happiest future for the Indian race is absorption into the general population, and this is the object and policy of our government”?
Read the full story here.