A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace


Our Aboriginal people are not doing well. This is fact. Yes, white people came to the New World and after a few failures found a way to stay and develop a society that flourished. They came to a land where tribal warfare was taking place. Much like the tribal warfare that had endured for centuries in Europe where tribes attacking tribes has been the history of history. From Goths and Visigoths, Etruscans, Romans, Mongols, to the Rus’, Picts, Scots, Britons, Angles, Saxons, Franks, Normans, and the Celtic tribes and the Moors. Lots of tribes coming and going. One tribe overrunning another, taking over the land. Leaving an imprint. Some tribes were wiped out. Others intermarried.


And then these “Europeans” looked beyond the ocean and wondered what was out there. Were the Natives in The New World wondering the same thing? Anyway, the Europeans came and found more tribes at war.


Native Americans definitely waged war long before Europeans showed up. Archaeologists have found numerous skeletons with projectile points embedded in them and other marks of violence.


Indians were often cruel to their enemies. Scalping began with the Native peoples. “…words for ceremonial scalping (as well as other forms of dismemberment) existed in many Indian languages prior to the white man's arrival. And there were many strictly Indian wars among cultures such as the Iroquois who fought the Hurons, and the Navahos who colonized the Hopis. The Sioux on the Great Plains ruthlessly put down and subjugated smaller groups who dared oppose their empire building. It was the norm for members of each tribe to consider themselves "the People" and everyone else something less. For example, the Catawbas of South Carolina considered other natives to be "dogs" or "snakes" and white colonists "Nothings." The name "Comanche" comes from a Ute nickname which means "those who are always against us." Apache comes from the Pueblo word for enemy."  (emphasis mine)


Having said that, there is a conspiracy taking place, today. Native people are suffering, so goes the narrative, because the white man came here. It is the conspiracy of “white privilege.” The white people, colonizers; all of them, are responsible for all the ills in the world today.


Had the Europeans not arrived what do you think would be here, today? Do you think there would be tribes of peaceful hunter-gatherers? This need to blame white people is pointless and counterproductive.  Natives were overtaken by white colonizers. And Indigenous people have suffered at the hands of Christians. Equality for all is not yet available. Within the Native communities there are different classes of Indians.“First Nations’ communities run the risk of encountering growing tensions and conflict around these inequalities.”    


Yet, so far the answer to all the problems has been spending enormous amounts of time energy and money on commissions and apologies and reparations, a Trail of Tears, for past actions of non-Natives.


A quick Google search revealed a plethora of payments for commissions and reparations. The Ipperwash inquiry cost $13.3-million. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, published in 1996, cost $60-millionThen we have had the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples,1991-1996 and the British Columbia Missing Women Commission of Inquiry2010-2012 and the RCMP’s 2014 report on missing and murdered aboriginal women. Cost?  Who knows? But did any of that money make life better for anyone?


Now $53.8 million will go into the next National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.  This is after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report (which provided a five-year mandate and a $60-million budget. The mandate was later extended for one additional year). The settlement awarded a “common-experience payment” (CEP) to former students of the schools, regardless of whether they’d suffered physical or sexual abuse.  As of September 2014, “79,272 applications for payments were paid and 23,892 were deemed ineligible. The average payment was $20,452 and total payments were $1.62-billion.”


In addition to the CEP, “former students could seek damages for claims of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse through a system called the Independent Assessment Process.” As of September 2014, “29,384 claims had been resolved (including 4,712 that were not admitted or withdrawn). The average payment was $114,179 and the total amount of payments approved under this process was $2.552-billion.  


The Liberal Government-as they like to be called, has ear-marked another $8.4 billion in new spending over the next five years, with $801 million set to flow in the last year of the five-year period, for aboriginal programming, including funding to address issues including education ($2.6-billion), reserve water and child and family services 


Ottawa has just settled a $33.6-million compensation fund to the Dene people to be invested as a trust and 13,000 acres of land in Little Duck Lake.


According to a 2011 census there are 1.4 million aboriginal people in Canada. We have spent billions of dollars on top of transfers to the various agencies and tribes. Where did it go? How did that much investment leave so little hope behind?


âpihtawikosisân wrote,“This country is woefully ignorant, on a grand scale, and we will never succeed in rebuilding relationships until we address that ignorance.  I can’t stress this enough…without education, there can be no justice.  And until there is justice…there will be no peace.” 


I couldn’t agree more. The ignorance, though, goes in many directions including the knowledge of the real Native Life, not just the Noble Savage epitomized by Rousseau. There is no doubt that the indigenous people in Canada do suffer and have suffered. Education on both sides is necessary. But blaming white people will not lead to justice or peace. It will lead to the waste of more money on commissions meant to blame white people. There comes a time when the blaming has to stop; when the victimhood has to end. Reparations must be put toward the future, not itemizing the pain from the past.


In the Bible, The Israelites were in the Wilderness for forty years after spending 400 enslaved under the Egyptians.  The trip into the Promised Land should not have taken more than a few months. But time was needed to forget the enslavement of the past and fear of the future.  A new generation came into power to lead the people forward with hope. The time has come for new leaders to choose life over wallowing.  To do that requires putting the Trail of Tears into a special place, never to be forgotten, but never allowed to overwhelm the present or darken the future. To do otherwise is an affront to your ancestors who fought, lost and picked themselves to fight again and care for their families with pride.