Canada’s Ferguson? Aboriginal uprisings

Posted on August 24, 2014 in Inclusion Debates – Opinion/Columnists
August 24, 2014.   By Anthony Furey, Qmi Agency

Don’t think the riots in Ferguson could never happen here. Sure, Canada doesn’t have the same entrenched black underclass that exists in urban pockets across the United States. But sadly we do have our own form of second-class citizens: the on-reserve Aboriginal population.

People have been predicting some version of an Aboriginal uprising for years. Retired lieutenant-colonel and academic Douglas Bland does so in his book Uprising. And various Aboriginal powers-that-be have alluded to civil disobedience for a while.

Some will argue Idle No More has nothing to do with protests against police killing a young man. However what they have in common is that they’re both catalysts.

Sure, the grannies in Ferguson peacefully marching in daylight want to hold law enforcement to account. But what about the young men from out of town who cover their faces, turn up after the curfew and loot stores? For them, this is simply an opportunity.

Likewise the young Elsipogtog “warriors” who blockaded a highway in New Brunswick last year. Did they genuinely want to discuss the scientific reports on shale gas fracking? Of course not. They were venting.

In 2011 the male unemployment rate for Elsipogtog was a whopping 44.6%. As a whole, New Brunswick’s rate hovers around 10%.

The challenge in both cases is that society fostered a tier of people who don’t have a stake in society. They are not participants in the economic system.

People with jobs to drive to don’t blockade roads. People with their own private property generally don’t loot from and damage other people’s property.

So are we not doing enough to help these communities? Well the evidence suggests almost the opposite.

“What if public-policy makers risk creating more barriers to progress when the goal is the ever-elusive ‘equality as a result?’ At what point does the helping start hurting?” This is from the introduction to Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, the fantastic new book by Jason L. Riley, an editorial board member at the Wall Street Journal.

Riley details how “Social welfare programs that initiated or greatly expanded during the 1960s resulted in the government effectively displacing black fathers as breadwinners, and made work less attractive.”

This leads to the disintegration of the family and paves the way for a generation of idle youth destined to live from hand to mouth.

If you know any young people interested in these issues rush out to buy Riley’s book for them. This is a fact-filled and engaging read that has the power to change the way its readers look at the world.

While American discourse has great black intellects like Riley and Walter Williams arguing for a path out of such plight through shared economic prosperity, Canada has no comparable Aboriginal voices.

Tragically, our Aboriginal community has an endless supply of Al Sharptons, but no Thomas Sowells.

(Of course stellar chiefs do exist, but they’re not leaders on the national stage.)

The last thing Ferguson should spark in America is “a conversation about race,” whatever the hell that even means. Race isn’t the isolated variable. Economics is.

Enabling the anger in these protests is reckless. Instead, redirect it.

A critical mass of unemployed young men with no outlet for their mental and physical energies is a recipe for disaster no matter their ethnicity.

Only more harm can come of this. In 1992 Los Angeles police assaulted one man. But the ensuing riots saw 50 people killed. Half were black, many Hispanic.

You can’t expect middle-class values from people denied middle-class standing. It’s time to get serious about Aboriginal jobs, property rights, voting rights and more.

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One Response to “Canada’s Ferguson? Aboriginal uprisings”

  1. Maria Gunner says:

    I have to agree with the statement “don’t think the riots in Furgeson could never happen here”. I also agree that people do need to get serious about Aboriginal Jobs, rights and land, but not for the reason’s of fear but the good of Canada. It is time for the Government to put a stop to this Capitalist economy, that “keeps the rich rich, and the poor poor” and work towards greater equality. Equality in every sphere of society whether you are Black man from Ferguson, or a Cree woman from Moose Factory. I recently watched a documentary, Poor No More (2013) by Mary Walsh, comparing Canada with Sweden and Ireland by showing the working poor in Canada and how people who work still suffer because of part time/ or casual employment, with no benefits, or unions; however, in Sweden, there is no working poor. Everyone who works makes a decent wage, there is daycare for everyone, all work is unionized, for example McDonalds, and in Ireland University Education is free. People understand that in order for this to be, there needs to pay more taxes, but that’s not a problem for the people. Perhaps, if the Government gave more to everyone in Canada, there would less hostility between races in politics. The scary thing is when people like Tamara Johnson, or Brian Beauchamp run for office in Ontario. In Tamara Johnson’s campaign she sates “Crown lands are public lands. Not native lands” and “Help me stop this doctrine of entitlement.” Brian Beauchamp wrote in a letter to the editor in Timmins Daily Press stating “They live off of the backs of working individuals and they fall into a distinct minority group which the government protects under their discrimination laws”, referring to Aboriginal people of Ontario. He later wrote more bluntly and discretely in the comments of this same article “to deport them, grandparents, parents. . . back to the north where they belong”. This man ran for Council in the town of Timmins. With this, I have to disagree, that maybe not all native people want to “vent”, by road blocking, but vica versa. I feel that there is anger on both side, and that perhaps, the government should invite Native leaders to come to a solution, instead of waiting for the anger to build. I would also like to point out that yes, native people don’t pay taxes on reserve, but they are still of the top 5 people living in poverty in Canada. If the government did want Aboriginal people to pay tax, I believe more thought should be given to the quality of life on reserves.


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