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A different perspective on the Kearns’ Machine

When the settlers disembarked from the Mayflower and stumbled ashore in 1620 we gave them the benefit of the doubt that their intentions were basically good. Relying on Onkwehon:we wisdom, these adventurers survived the first few winters due to the generosity of their benevolent native hosts. The sincerity of this settler/host relationship culminated in a series of treaties known as the Covenant Chain (1676) and the Two Row Wampum (1692) asserting the co-equality and autonomy of each party.

When the settlers disembarked from the Mayflower and stumbled ashore in 1620 we gave them the benefit of the doubt that their intentions were basically good. Relying on Onkwehon:we wisdom, these adventurers survived the first few winters due to the generosity of their benevolent native hosts. The sincerity of this settler/host relationship culminated in a series of treaties known as the Covenant Chain (1676) and the Two Row Wampum (1692) asserting the co-equality and autonomy of each party. 

What transpired in the hundreds of years afterwards is nothing less than a living nightmare. The quality of life for the Onkwehon:we (original peoples) declined proportionately to the amount of liberties and opportunities enjoyed by the visitor-settler colonies. The result was bloodshed, wars, famine, disease, poverty, displacement, abuse and racism that devastated tens of millions of indigenous people and the psychological effects still reverberate to this day.

With this perspective one can properly understand the reluctance of native people to once again trust the white man who comes in the name of peace. Oftentimes an affluent and well concerned “Canadian” individual or family arrives on the reserve to help the poor, defeated “Indian brother” with second hand clothes, tins of food, and a good message or two. It has happened to us so much there is even a name for this condition, we call it the “white saviour complex” and it usually ends badly due to ignorance and miscommunication.

When the non-native pastors were removed from office at the Eagle’s Nest church at the old Salvation Army building March 23rd, 2014 it was because they broke the delicate trust that had been placed there by a local family. This kind of trust is precious because of the unlikelihood that it should even exist in the first place. When violated it is almost like a double-offense with the potential for compounded disappointment, pain and heartbreak.

Onkwehon:we people are healing and decolonizing from centuries of upheaval. Part of the problem is that we can’t completely go back to the way we were because we now understand the system of domination we are engaged with. Yet becoming jaded cynics who reject everything offered to us may not be wise either. Perhaps this is at the heart of the Kearns’ Disintegrator issue that is currently facing us at Six Nations.

How many grey haired white men have taken advantage of our unsuspecting elders in the past? How would the Disintegrator be received if it was the brilliant invention of a vibrant young Huron woman from Wendake?

Imagine these words together: Brown skin, flowing black hair, garbage disposal landfill technology. If this theoretical heroine pleaded with the community for grace to properly implement the technology I wonder if ears would be more willing to listen. Of course this is only one facet within a complex socio-political situation so I will digress.

Important concerns have been raised by the community about the quality of Kearns’ disintegrator and it is good for everyone to have a voice and be heard. It is troubling if there is not a proper defense or demonstration of the disposal system and the white man is promptly ejected from the reserve without consideration or consultation. If allowed to build the $6 million dollar machine who knows maybe Kearns’ would break the circle of trust but it seems like some of our community is unwilling to give him that chance.

The ultimate solution of course would mean that Six Nations stops producing garbage and recycled more. In the end we hope that there are ingenious compromises that have not yet been discovered in ways to improve the Kearns’ system in a way that doesn’t put our people at risk and that reduces the toxic effects of the landfill “dump” that is like a pimplely zit on the face of our mother earth. Making a martyr out of a charming Scotsman from Cape Breton doesn’t achieve anything.

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