Before the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was presented to Canada, a lineup of leaders, ministers and officials were smudged by a white haired native elder. Justin Trudeau, the latest Prime Minister of Canada knew exactly what to do.
Although they may not have understood the ceremony, thousands of Canadians watched their leader appropriately wash the cleansing smoke over his ears, mouth and heart. It was a refreshing and hopeful moment in Canadian history.
Maybe the years of darkness are behind us.
Justin is under scrutiny. He is being watched closely by the critical and cynical Onkwehonwe and Anishinabek elders and activists who have heard good promises spoken before. These are the ones who say that Canada is a corporate colony ruled by the Queen’s Privy Council. Canada’s website says they are a Constitutional Monarchy.
How much can Justin really do? Does he have the autonomy and authority to go against the wishes of the Governor General or the Queen? What is the Queen’s official response to the results of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? It would seem that she is content with letting her Prime Minions handle the public relations and clean up the mess her empire has made.
Rumour has it that the PM will address the results of the TRC report with Pope Francis, the head of the Vatican City State. He said that he cannot “order” the Pope to apologize for the Catholic Churches part in cultural genocide against indigenous people but said he will raise the issue when the two meet.
AFN Leader Perry Bellegarde pointed out that the Catholic Church is the last church remaining who hasn’t formally apologized for their part in this international crime.
Whether or not Justin would put his neck on the Queen’s chopping block to request her apology, at least we are having these discussions. Canada’s ex-Prime Minister chose to welcome Chinese Pandas to the country rather than meet a Cree delegation who overcame a 1600km trek by foot from Hudson Bay to Parliament in Ottawa. At least Justin seems to be taking the original nations seriously – except if it has anything to do with oil pipelines, ahem.
Either way there is a noticeable shift in the winds. The political and social climate in Canada may be a little less hostile towards indigenous people. The RCMP is admitting to racism in their ranks, the families of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls are finally getting the inquiry they deserve, and all of the other things we’ve been saying the whole time are finally getting traction.
If one of us had been in a coma for a few years and woke up today they would have a hard time believing the generally positive attitudes and good news on television. It’s almost too good to be true!
The only thing that Justin cannot do is give us our sovereignty because we already have it. It exists in the blood of the Onkhwehonwe women who are the rightful title holders of the names and the lands. Now is a good time for Justin to acknowledge the truth and admit that Canada erroneously bought their land from the Hudson Bay Company, November 19, 1869 and having been squatting ever since.
Or maybe that is asking for too much.