There are an endless number of opinions out there about the welfare of the Native peoples and whether or not their concerns are valid. Anyone who has ever become involved in the Native world from more than a peripheral standpoint can tell you without a doubt that the concerns are founded, and in reality, understated and under emphasized. Unfortunately, the misdirection that has been in the foreground concerning the Native question has dominated the thoughts of those in the surrounding communities. Uneducated opinion pieces are published and the blogs and online comments demonstrate openly the racism that boils beneath the surface. What if we were to do the same?
How well would we be tolerated if we showed the same amount of prejudice to the outside world? Would flippancy be an acceptable response to a murdered, missing or raped blonde haired white girl? Would this person be categorized as a sex trade worker from the outset? People quote statistics as if they were justification for the horrific actions occurring against our people. Regrettably the uproar over a missing white girl and an Aboriginal girl are vastly different. There is no uproar over a missing Aboriginal girl. What if our reactions to this type of violence were as indifferent as the comments made by Laureen Harper, the Prime Minister’s wife?
We remember the upheaval that occurred when Walkerton was found to have e-coli in their drinking water. In May of 2000, a public well became contaminated from farm run-off. The Walkerton Public Utilities Commission insisted the water was safe to drink despite being in possession of laboratory tests clearly showing evidence of contamination. In a small community of 5000, 7 died and 2500 became ill. The resultant inquiry quickly changed how the Ministry of Environment handled water quality and the e-coli outbreak was handled with severity and appropriate seriousness.
Now let’s jump ahead a few years and head North to Kashechewan where in 2005/2006 the community suffered two major evacuations of the entire population in one year. The first evacuation was the result of an e-coli outbreak which government officials had flagged for years and taken no action about. A federal standard for safe drinking water on reserves did not even exist at this time. The government’s only response was to issue a boil water advisory in late 2005. In the Walkerton case action was swift and guidelines were put in place to ensure a similar event would not repeat itself. Contrarily, when e-coli was found on a Native reservation the response was to wait the issue out and hope it would go away. What if we were to treat our Non-Native friends with the same manner of ill regard?
Native culture has been persecuted by the government state since those from across the pond arrived on Turtle Island. The natural resources in this part of the world are rich and abundant. We Native people see the richness around us and know to be thankful and respect our environment so that those that follow will also be sustained. A totally different point of view exists within Non-Native culture. Corporate greed supercedes all notions of respecting agreements made and ensuring livable surroundings. We need only turn our eyes and look through the lens of recent history to evidence the above statement. What if we Onhkwehonh:we had treated our Mother Earth with the same contempt?