Thunder Woman Speaks: Canada Misunderstands the First Nation Treaty relationship

Justin Trudeau continues to run his campaign on the false promises of repairing the relationship that exists between the original people and the greedy newcomers.

Since the time of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Justin’s father, there has been a concerted policy effort to undermine the sovereignty of the original First Nation people here in this stolen land called Canada.

This policy effort has been the underlying sickness that has infected the colonial mind for 500 years. This policy or thinking has surfaced in legislation and in tests that are applied in the courts where they establishment of land “title” or rights is squarely put on the original people to prove.

There are differences in the two nations that agreed to share this land.

One distinct difference is that there is a belief in the Creator and a way of keeping the history alive in language and ceremony so that the oral traditions form the basis for record keeping and continuity. This unfortunately is not measurable in a whiteman made system where there must be documentation of facts.

Fact: There were no white men or people on Turtle Island 500 plus years ago.

Fact: The original settlers and explorers were part of hierarchical systems that believed in the hierarchy of men.

Fact: There was no initial clash at the initial meeting of two nations because the original people were welcoming, inclusive and helped the settlers survive.

The premise that forms the original treaty basis is simple; there would be a sharing of land and resources with both nations going forward without disturbing the autonomy or sovereignty of the other nation.

The original treaties according to the stories and oral history were that our people would go on with the same lifestyle and control that they exercised since time immemorial. There was no suggestion of subjugation or assimilation.

Unfortunately, this was not what happened for the original people. Upon the signing of treaties 1-11, the British Crown expected that the Canadian crown would deal fairly with the first peoples. From the Royal Proclamation in 1763, there is an understanding that the land “belongs” to the original people who were here when Britain or any other European nations stumbled into the western hemisphere.

Therefore, British law contained in the Royal Proclamation along with the British North America Act remains the foundation for Canada. Canada has been asked to produce a bill of sale to prove “ownership” of this land called Canada at the United Nations level and has failed to do so.

So an international higher than a contractual obligation exists between the Indigenous nations and Canada as the successor state. Canada is the successor state that benefits from the agreement made between Britain and the original nations.

This is why the Treaties remain important for the original people. But the Treaties also formed Canada so Canada has a duty and obligation to uphold the original promises because without the Treaties, they would not exist.

Our own indigenous people have to understand this treaty relationship. The Creator has given us a way of life, our languages, ceremonies, songs and teachings to uphold, as the original people of Turtle Island. The Creator entrusted our people with the safekeeping of the land, the waters and all Creation. We are Treaty people sharing the land, but we are also upholding our original obligations that we have held in our hearts, minds and blood memory.

Therefore within the current structure that exists in Canada today reconciliation must bring together the protection of land with an economic thinking capitalist society that seeks to destroy the land. Is reconciliation possible?

Each political party prepping for the 2019 Canadian election, is speaking about the importance of people. They put human beings ahead of the land, water, environment and climate which is not the way of the original people. The original people believe they are equal to their environment. They acknowledge the Creator, the land, waters, plants and animals because they understand the relationship that exists is one of mutual respect and survival.

Now what current political parties are acknowledging the importance of this relationship? Canada speaks of mutually created policies or legislation but how is this mutual when there is opposition in what the two worldviews value?

Each political party is talking about what they think Canadians want to hear as Indigenous issues. They speak at or about the Indigenous without having had any indigenous instruction in the heart of our own communities, instead listening to those indigenous who are willing to play tokenized Indian and play within the system that undermines who we are as true Indigenous people.

This continues to be the problem. From the European explorers who came and saw an “empty land” with savages without Christianity, how far have we progressed? The non first nations still believe that the Indigenous will truly benefit from becoming “Canadian”; we are referred to as Canada’s indigenous. Can a settler state own a sovereign people?

The settler parties look at colonized boxed thinking in their assessments or promises for the Indigenous people. They talk about statistics and “bettering” the existing Indigenous situation without taking responsibility for the harms.

The settler parties point fingers at one another and play up what they think Indigenous people want to hear and what the non-native people are willing to “accommodate”. How is this a solution?

How many of these political leaders are actively campaigning on indigenous reserves? They are not. And why is this? It is because the Indigenous are an “afterthought” for mainstream Canadians. It is also because the Indigenous should not be participating in the Canadian election, because we are not an ethnic minority or domestic dependent nation.

We are the original nations that always existed on this land. We are the signatory nations that created this country. It is like the voters for a whole province voting for the mayor of a small town. Why go from the higher stance and lessen your position?

For now, watch how the federal election party leaders argue about Indigenous policy. How many of these leaders speak and know the concerns of the grassroots or the spirit and intent of Treaty? Trudeau and his contemporaries continue to plan what the relationship will look like, without ever having had an understanding why this country exists. That is what these leaders should be discussing.

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