Please note the photo is a First Nations War Veterans Memorial.
Many years ago and soon after I had arrived in Canada I made a stupid and dreadful insult to a good friend. His name was Len and we were setting up the auto centre at the new Kmart store in Charlottetown PEI. One evening we went to the Charlottetown Legion to a fancy dress ball, we were in our regular clothes. During the course of the evening I saw a woman staggering across the dance floor, she was dressed as an Indian girl. I turned to Len and said “I think that squaw has had too much fire water” Len bristled, then said I’m an Indian. Wow, I could not have been more sorry for my stupid remark. I tried to explain to Len that coming from Ireland the only Indians I had seen were chasing stage coaches or wagon trains on the silver screen. I think he forgave me? But this incident did two things, I became aware there was a visible difference between us which up to that moment I had not noticed. But more importantly it made me wonder what had happened to these First Nation Peoples. Having watched hundreds of Westerns were the Cavalry always won, I must have unconsciously thought all the Indians were gone.
Today I have a great admiration for the First Nations People, they were certainly far better stewards of this great land than we have ever been. However what really caused me to write this blog today was because of my dismay with our Government. These people have been shunted into reservations, out of sight, out of mind. They live in abject poverty, raising their children in unheated shacks substituting for homes. They are considered lazy because they can’t find work, what sort of work would they find a reservation? But this year it appears they have had enough and are going to do something about their situation. I hope they succeed and I believe they will. We have seen a year where a Chief went on hunger strike in Ottawa demanding to see PM Harper. She didn’t succeed. We have seen huge marches of First Nation Peoples in cities across the country “The Idle No More Movement”. Yet I question if anyone in the government really gives a damn or are willing to meet and hear their demands. The biggest insult occurred yesterday. A group of young men began a march from James Bay in January planing to walk to Ottawa to present their complaints. A trek across the Canadian wilderness in the dead of winter, a journey of some 1600 miles. Along the way the seven young men gathered many more followers and by the time they reached the Capitol the crowd was huge. But did the Prime Minister think he should meet with these amazing people??No, he had a much more pressing engagement in Toronto. Our caring PM was meeting a plane from China carrying two Panda’s. Now that was really important eh???
If I had walked 1600 miles under such conditions I would have expected Harper to be there to meet with me when I arrived. Is it any wonder this Prime Minister is held with such disdain. Shame on you Steven Harper.
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