Much information is flying around the community at the moment and as usual there is a fair share of misinformation. Misdirection, misinformation, inaccuracy and ignorance are all tools of parties who seek to divide the people and divert attention from the issues at hand. Case in point, the Harper Government presented Bill C-10 before the Christmas holiday season and managed to push through two readings of the Bill without any public consultation or awareness. The Government was able to accomplish this feat because the attention of the majority was focused on the coming festivities and the New Year.
People need to understand why Bill C-10 is so harmful and why being ignorant of the Bill is dangerous. Families who have finally attained a level of comfort and security will once again be thrown into abject poverty. So whether you support smoking or not, the broader scope of the issue is the foundation of Onhkwehonh:we independence.
The implementation of Bill-C10 will directly affect hundreds upon hundreds of families on the territories. The Bill focuses on shutting down independent manufacturers and smoke shops. An overwhelming number of Onhkwehonh:we are employed in the “tobacco” trade and have been able to live a life above the poverty level as a result. Another benefit of the ‘trade’ is the relative freedom the Onhkwehonh:we have achieved by not having to depend on the Canadian welfare system. The government wishes to undermine the footing we have created for what reason? Are we to return the Indigenous communities to inflated suicide rates, unemployment, and despondence?
The obvious answers to the above stated questions can be found in the self interests of the Government. When the Government can illegally legislate itself upon our territories and we do and say nothing we will have nothing left. An absence of response will be all the reply the Government will need to continue raping and stealing from us. Hydro-fracking will flourish, the tar sands will expand, more women will be abducted, raped and murdered, alcoholism will soar, the list is extensive. The Harper Government will then point to the invalidity of our treaty rights because we did not stand and say or do something when we had the opportunity.
The attack on our tobacco trade is a sword aimed at piercing the heart of the Onhkewhonh:we communities. Misdirecting the focus of the issues at hand will result in misery and suffering for many in this community. We have every right to live lives that are based on basic human comforts such as feeding our children, buying warm winter jackets for our children and ensuring our elderly are fed and clothed. Is it any coincidence that tobacco, our sacred plant, has also been the emancipator of our people? Let’s be united and let’s be informed.