For most Native communities today, tobacco is what makes the economy go around. Over the last 30 years the tobacco trade has become the largest employer among Native people in our communities. The proposed Bill C-10 would destroy the economic foundation of our sovereign rights as Native people. The fact is this proposed law is racist, its targeting our people. Profits from the tobacco industry employ thousands of people in hundreds of businesses. Most to be lost due to the fact that the Canadian Government cannot profit from the Native people developing our economy on a marketable commodity not subject to their taxation system. A plant with a long standing cultural and spiritual significance which was domesticated and grown by Native people since time immemorial is providing a way out of underdeveloped economy on reserves. What this proposed law should mean to us is an anti-economy law. Canada’s colonialist dream has blocked all other economic development options for Native people, citing threats to public health, links to terrorists and “underground” criminal activity…claiming full jurisdiction over Native communities and economies. In reality Native people are only seeking a path to economic independence on their own terms, without government assistance. This proposed Bill has made it past its second reading almost under our radar.
In our community the sale of so called “contraband tobacco” provide basic necessaries for families without the need for Government assistance, the local smoke shops provide jobs within the community and assist with special programs and charities. Our businesses provide a place to socialize, to watch the game, to have a cup of coffee and enjoy a cigarette without the worry of breaking a law to Natives and Non-Natives alike. Our businesses also provide outside of the community, to making tax free goods available, to hiring people to advertise, business cards, signs, etc. This reserve’s businesses directly support each other and other Native communities. without the profits of “contraband tobacco” would put a serious strain on our community. With that being said, with this Bill being introduced, the government is trying to take the food right from our tables. This community is full of hard working individuals that spend many long hours serving the public, providing for their families and giving back to their community. If Bill C-10 becomes law this will all soon be a crime.
This isn’t the beginning of Canada’s hidden agenda of colonialism us, its been happening for quite some time. Land, healthcare, education taxation – little by little the Canadian Government is taking from us and violating our treaties, violating our right to be Native. We are not doing enough to stop the inequities, discrimination and the agenda to totally eliminate our integrity and culture. We need to make a stand. I attended a meeting in Six Nations on Feb 22/14 hosted by The Two Row Times, regarding this topic, which was very informative. Many good speakers, lots of community support and outside support. It was really a great a thing to see. Besides myself only one other community member attended. Suggestions of “making their own laws” to present to the government, how can this happen due to the fact most reserves (especially our own) are currently funded by the Federal Government? No matter what, we allow to them to have control, and there are always strings attached. The Association of Iroquois & Allied Indians (AIAI) receives funding on our behalf but yet if you research their website, there is currently no mention of the proposed Bill, are they not the ones that fight for us on a political level? Are they not also our backbone when all else fails?
Ben’s Small Engine