"We've been trying to get the Canadian public on side with the issues First Nations, Metis and Inuit people struggle with. We're looking for ideas, because the ones that we have used land claims disputes, blockades and letter writing have had little impact. The Day of Action is looking at a more positive new way of raising the issues. All Canadians are involved with the ongoing land claims disputes, and all Canadians will benefit from the economic growth that will come by resolving them."
SHERRY LEWIS, executive director, Native Women's Association of Canada, Cayuga Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River
Rumour has it the natives will be restless tomorrow (Friday, June 29). Nobody really knows what's going to happen - there could be roads blocked, train routes compromised, taxes hiked way up on native cigarettes, anything at all.
It's not easy being red.
Remember, this October will mark the 510th anniversary of the introduction of illegal immigration to Canada. In that time, First Nations have managed to accrue a substantial list of complaints against those who sign agreements and then fail to deliver. I guess you could call this a form of bureaucratic Indian giving.
Come the Day of Action, expect a plethora of grievances and calls for redress. Here are a few of the lesser-known ones:
WE DEMAND that something be done about the belief that Aboriginal people get everything for free. This might seem to be true if you count the bad water in Kashechewan, illness from black mould in inadequate housing, linguistical genocide, diabetes and rampant sexual abuse. But trust me, we've paid for all this.
WE DEMAND that the feds actually appoint a native person as the minister of Indian Affairs. We humbly ask: isn't the attorney general usually a lawyer? Isn't the minister for the Status of Women usually a woman? Doesn't the minister of Transportation have a driver's licence? Isn't the minister of Defence usually defensive?
WE DEMAND that filmmakers of any nationality be prohibited from using flute music on the soundtrack of any and all documentaries about native people. And no more feathers either. Or dream catchers.
WE DEMAND that white people (more politically correctly known as people of pallor) stop angrily saying, "They shouldn't do that!" in regard to protests and blockades, and instead exchange it for the more understanding "They shouldn't have to do that." It's technically more correct.
WE DEMAND that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada hire a PR firm to launch a campaign informing the public that the majority of native people do indeed pay taxes. Only those who live and work on reserves are exempt - a small percentage of the First Nation population. Trust me. I, my bookkeeper and my accountant have done the research. If you ever hear people saying, "You native people don't pay any taxes," ask where their cottage is, and a land claim form will be issued.
WE DEMAND that Lorne Cardinal get his own spinoff series from Corner Gas.
WE DEMAND there be educational classes for warriors on how to dress for protests and court appearances. They need to learn the true function of camouflage and the simple fact that in a court of law its intended effect is limited due to the lack of substantial vegetation. If you want to disappear into the background in a courthouse, I'm told a suit is far more effective.
WE DEMAND that all commercials for Lakota medicine be pulled. Immediately.
WE DEMAND the Assembly of First Nations explain what it is it actually does - other than call for days of protest.
WE DEMAND that the police of this country stop shooting, assaulting and otherwise abusing the civil rights of native people. It's for law enforcers' own benefit. There are substantially more native people in this country than police, and we have more guns.
WE DEMAND that the federal government apologize to survivors for over half a century of abuse at the hands (and other parts of the body) of residential schools. There are some things children should not learn in school.
WE DEMAND that instead of being forced to mark the passage of time by the dominant culture's BCE (before the common era) and AD (anno domini), we use the more culturally sensitive TI (time immemorial) and PC (post-contact).
Just so you know, none of these demands were authorized by the Assembly of First Nations, Lakota, warriors or Lorne Cardinal.