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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Idle No More - Meyer
days, we have heard a lot about the Idle No More movement.
There is a
lot of information out there for people who want to learn more, and I would
invite you to do so.
non-Aboriginal person who has lived in Aboriginal communities and who has also tried
to keep educated about Aboriginal issues, I offer my personal opinion.
that the Idle No More movement is a good thing for two reasons. The first is
that it has united First Nations (and to a lesser extent Metis and Inuit)
people across Canada, giving them a renewed sense of purpose and of hope for
the future. The other good that I see coming out of this is that it is creating
a conversation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people of Canada. True, it
is currently a shouting match, but still it is a conversation. Prior to this,
there seemed to be just about zero amount of interaction between the average “grassroots”
Aboriginal and the average “grassroots” non-Aboriginal Canadian.
What I don’t
like about way things are currently going with this movement is that they are
being joined, and are in danger of being overshadowed, by people whose primary
concern is the environment. This movement is not about the environment; it is
about the concerns of Aboriginal people across Canada. There is a problem and
it is time for everyone to get on board and start talking about it. There has
been this huge fixed wall between the average non-Aboriginal Canadian and the
average Aboriginal Canadian. We (as non-Aboriginals) have occasionally thrown
things over that wall in a non-educated attempt to help. Boxes of books sent to
a community with no attempt to communicate with an actual person in that
community would be an example of that.
What I am
hoping for (and as a Christian, praying for) is that the Idle No More movement
will begin to break down the wall that has been between us. People are people
are people. There is no us and them. We are all human beings – mothers,
fathers, wives and husbands – yes, with some cultural differences which must be
respected but not to the extent that it separates us to the point of
problems that exist are not easily resolved – they are centuries old. No one –
not Chief Spence or Prime Minister Harper – are going to be able to wave a
magic wand and solve all the problems with one meeting or with a hundred.
problems that exist are not getting worse – they are getting much better.
Overall, there are many more Aboriginal people who are living better lives than
there were fifty years ago. There is less prejudice. There are more people achieving
better education. There are, in general, better living conditions. But, we
still have a long, long way to go. Fact: The standard of living for the average
Aboriginal person is much lower than for the average non-Aboriginal. The Solution
to the Problem: not so simple. And trying
to point a finger at any one group or person is not helpful. We all need to
start talking and working together towards a solution. And that really, I believe
is what Idle No More will achieve – a long over-due dialogue between all
Canadians: Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.