A political voice for indigenous Canadians
NationalPost.com – news
Apr. 12, 2011. William Morin, National Post
The First Peoples National Party (FPNP) wishes to bring the value of inclusion to Parliament, by promoting a vision for Canada in which all peoples have a say in our future. The FPNP was formed to provide a voice, particularly for those who currently have no representation in our elitist party system: Indigenous Canadians.
The FPNP is inspired by First Nations history, culture and values, which form the guiding principles of our party. Our primary value is that of sharing. From the beginning -before, during and after contact with Europeans -First Nations have wished to share this country and all that it has to offer. This belief is centuries-old; the “Two Row Wampum” treaty of 1613 represented but one of the many original mutual agreements between First Nations and European peoples. Unfortunately, over time, Canada’s two colonizing cultures have failed to respect the spirit and letter of these pacts; they were not prepared to share this land, and still don’t. Whether or not non-aboriginal Canadians support this indigenous view of our history, or First Nations’ rights, it remains that these rights are mandated by the rule of law. They are enshrined in the Canadian constitution. If we are to respect the rule of law, it follows that those rights must also be upheld.
A country that excludes its indigenous peoples from all levels of government and education exhibits not only a colonial mentality, but commits a slow and steady cultural genocide. This genocide proceeds daily with the complacency or apathy of educators, politicians and average Canadians who witness constant affronts to native culture and way of life, yet do nothing to stop them.
The result has been a systematic forced assimilation of indigenous peoples, and a destruction of their way of life. Today, 50 of the 53 native languages that existed before contact with European cultures are extinct or becoming extinct. Religious ceremonies have been outlawed, and traditions lost, as educators and officials attempted to impose European norms. The residential school system perpetrated the abuse of tens of thousands of indigenous children and tore innumerable communities apart. This spawned a cycle of abuse: Recent statistics reveal that there are more First Nations children in Child Welfare/CAS care today than there were in residential schools. Meanwhile, obesity and diabetes -both linked to poverty and poor nutrition -run rampant in First Nations communities, jeopardizing the health, and life, of indigenous peoples.
Canada should take heed of the warnings of history. What has happened to First Nations peoples may eventually happen to all Canadians, whose industries are being increasingly controlled by foreign-owned companies -as First Nations People were controlled by the Crowns of Europe. Canadians may come to understand what it is like to be a First Nation -and chances are, they won’t like it.
From one generation to another, First Nations people feel betrayed and hurt. They continue to wait for Canada’s colonizing peoples to admit their wrongs, go beyond mere apologies, and honour the treaties as they were written. In Ojibway, there is no word for “sorry,” as it is not something you say, but something you show by your actions -actions we have yet to see.
It may be uncomfortable to speak words like “genocide” or “forced assimilation” or “systemic racism,” but until Canadians acknowledge and address these issues, we cannot work together to resolve them. The FPNP asks for your vote to help us realize a true spirit of sharing in this country, and move forward as a nation to right these historical wrongs.
– William Morin is interim leader of the First Peoples National Party, fpnpoc.ca.
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