In 1968-1969, Louise Wyatt was my Central Secondary School Grade 12 English teacher. She encouraged me to become a writer, but I did not follow her advice until the mid-1990s. In 1998, I let Miss Wyatt know I was finally getting into my writing and she was glad to hear it.
Peter Sutton worked as an anthropologist and linguist with Australian Aborigines. He grew more and more disillusioned with the situation there and penned the book The Politics of Suffering: Indigenous Australia and the end of the liberal consensus (2009). I see numerous parallels between what he says and the Indigenous situation here in Canada.
Canadian politicians frequently adhere to cultural relativism doctrine which can make the Indigenous situation worse. It is better to follow advice from Indigenous leaders like Calvin Helin, who recommends that welfare dependency be replaced with self-reliance. Helin also contends that Indigenous communities should develop alternative revenue streams so they are not so reliant on government.
An examination of Canadian political science professor Alan Cairns’s thought-provoking book on Aboriginal policy: Citizens Plus (2000). I agree with Cairns that Indigenous people can maintain their rights, and also their Canadian citizenship. However, I think any rights maintained should not harm either Aboriginals or Non-Aboriginals.
The constant blaming of forces like colonization and the residential schools has not always moved the dialogue forward when it comes to ending violence against Aboriginal women. I think a more holistic approach is required that examines all sides of the story, including those factors that might have contributed to Indigenous dysfunction pre-contact.
All cultures evolve and grow over time. Practices that are deemed counterproductive are discarded in favour of more effective ones. Some Aboriginal leaders would be better off concentrating on what will help their people move forward into the 21st century, rather than assuming all cultural practices should be maintained.
Former Ontario premier David Peterson’s handling of the Caledonia, Ontario land claims conflict in 2006 is examined and called into question.