Thursday, January 10, 2013

Idle No More - Meyer

In recent 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.
As a 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.
I believe 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 noncommunication.
The 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.
The 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.  
Dorene Meyer

Publisher at Goldrock Press:



Peter Black said...

Thank you for presenting your experience-informed perspectives, Dorene. Although I'd read your earlier posts on native issues, I read them again and found them helpful.

Dorene Meyer said...

Thanks, Peter. I would encourage all Christians to pray today as the leaders meet in Ottawa.


Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks, Dorene for your comments. I feel so ignorant about the Aboriginal issues and the problems seem so insurmountable, but I believe that you are right. We can make some progress in understanding one another when we are willing to listen and speak to one another. That is the way forward. Thanks for your well articulated thinking.

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