Friday, June 21, 2024

Solstice, and National Indigenous Peoples Day

Happy solstice --tho' technically it arrived yesterday afternoon, this being a leap year. Enjoy the daylight. 

It is also National Indigenous Day which falls on the solstice every year  And of course it's been National Indigenous History month throughout June.

The Toronto Star has an article this morning entitled "Liberals lose steam on reconciliation."  It might be about how the Star, and indeed the country, have lost steam on reconciliation. As reconciliation priorities, the story lists federal action to end boil-water advisories in reserve communities, and action on missing and murdered women and on residential schools issues. 

Worthwhile goals, sure, but there is no awareness here that reconciliation is about more than such things as local waterworks. As long as the Minister of Indigenous Affairs has to be the waterworks manager for every reserve in the country, and also the director of the local school board, and the manager of the local clinic and.... there is going to be little progress either on these specific concerns or on the larger matter of reconciliation.

Reconciliation has to come from treaty implementation,* and treaty implementation means adequate indigenous self-government and a secure source of revenues (presumably from adequate indigenous ownership and control of land and resources) so that indigenous communities can run their own water systems and school systems and medical services and cultural activities -- as every other community in the country does.  

The story does quote indigenous leaders arguing there has been more progress in the last nine years "than we have ever had in our history." and fear of "going backwards" under a new government. But we have a long way to go -- even to get started, it sometimes seems.


* By treaty implementation, I mean not the "cede, yield, surrender" texts filed in Ottawa, but the treaties as they were actually settled between the parties on the land, as agreements to share the land.  Surely it is one of the great achievements of Canadian historical research in recent decades to have established pretty conclusively the real intent of treaties-as-sharing-agreements when they were being negotiated. But the message has not travelled very far.

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