2015-07-05

A couple things wrong with "standard thinking" about the TRC

I have a big post in progress about the singular disaster and ball of deceit which is the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission", hopefully you'll be seeing it soon [he's not kidding about the size either, I'm projecting a hernia -ed]. Meanwhile, I figured I'd post a couple comments on this ridiculous post by a Red Indian activist.

But for whatever reason, her WordPress settings are complete garbage and won't let any posts go through.

So you know me, I soldier on. Here's the original comment by John Bastable:
My awareness and understanding has increased significantly over the past few months, partly from social media interaction and partly from the TRC report. What I’ve learned is that the various indigenous nations that comprise “First Nations” were intended to have a partnership at the “national” level with Canada (“Settlers”). And that we need to turn to the “Treaties” and certainly not the Indian ACT.

The residential school horror-show was/is but one chapter in a long history of Canada reneging on the deal. While we did not have direct participation in the actions of our predecessors, we are direct beneficiaries. As the “Settler Nation”, we need not feel guilt; we do need to accept/embrace the truth of the past, and go forward in the spirit of reconciliation and partnership with our partner-nation.

And reflecting on past “land dispute’ incidents, I recall being conflicted – e.g. Caledonia, Ipperwash (Dudley George), Oka – probably because I did not have the information/knowledge that I now have. I’m not conflicted anymore; too bad they didn’t teach this stuff to me in school (1962-1975).

More recently, I listened to Pam Palmeter explain that the FNs represent the last line of defense (my words) for all of us in terms of protection of natural resources, as their rights are bound by treaty, not by Canadian law. Which makes Bill C51 even more ominous.

Not sure if I’ve framed this entirely correctly; still learning after all these years.
Ohh, "still learning", hitting all the Social Justice Warrior buzzwords. Good show, John, but I can do better. Here's my reply:
What are you talking about "reneging on the deal"? The Residential School program was intended to fulfill the deal: a modern education (functionally fairly similar to the British boarding school system, frankly). If you don't believe me, notice that the Canadian taxpayer is being asked to "live up to treaty obligations" by providing an ever-more-expensive modern education system (regardless, of course, with anything in the actual treaties, but that's par for the course).

If anything, the extra costs of the TRC and the apologies and the settlements and what-not mean that "we" the "Settler Nation" (hereafter called "the Nation") aren't "beneficiaries" of anything. The beneficiaries, both in terms of the education provided at the time (and the healthcare provided concurrently, a fact the TRC conveniently tried to turn onto its head), are entirely with the "First Nations" (hereafter called "not a Nation"). Considering that the treaty obligations have so one-sidedly been lived up to (Oka, Caledonia, etc. are explicit violations of the treaties by the not a Nations, and frankly Canada should revoke them on that basis alone), I don't see why we should be agonizing over "the benefits" even before you factor in that Palmeter is completely out to lunch about the resources. There's no sense "protecting" them as idyllic items to merely fawn over: they are used in the service of bettering the lives of Canadians regardless of what year their ancestors first set food on the soul (if they even did!) That process has been going on with a fair bit of success over the past couple-three centuries, and indeed emulating that success was exactly what the Residential Schools were intended to perform (which, on balance, they likely did as decent a job as they could be expected to).

Now there was a mostly reasoned post by Watachie...
I will read the summary, I will listen to all opinions and then I’ll make my own judgement. One thing I will not do, is to be made to feel guilty by a past over which I had no control. Regards funding to First Nations, as a taxpayer I am prepared to see my government allocate resources that are fair and reasonable. I am not prepared to do so however, without signed agreements, plans, oversight etc. by both my government and First Nation representatives. It’s good that you say it’s not just about the money. I agree with you there’s much more.
And btw, I and many of my friends, family, associates etc. will never agree to more funding for the CBC. That’s simply a non-starter and should be dropped as a condition immediately. I wish you all the success in the world and since my tax dollars are involved, I will be following the discussions carefully. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.
Not bad, not bad. I liked the bit about the CBC. Zed didn't though, and replied with this:
Funny thing, that: I and many of my friends, family, associates, etc. will absolutely agree to more funding for the CBC. My tax dollars are involved too, Watachie, and unless you’re somehow suggesting that your tax dollars somehow trump others’ tax dollars, I think it would be more productive to present a more reasoned approach to decision-making.

We’re all tax payers – even the five-year-old kid who buys a pack of gum at the corner store.

You say it’s not just about the money, but then you fall back on the old “my tax dollars” rhetoric. Can’t have it both ways. Seriously, forget the money (for the record, we’re a rich country – and we seem to have lots of money to throw around on things like gazebos and fake lakes and ad campaigns and perpetual appeals of court rulings). If this whole situation could be solved by throwing money at it, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now. In fact, it’s largely money that’s to blame for the problem in the first place. Money and greed.

Now it’s time for a different approach. Getting defensive isn’t going to solve anything. The first step is acknowledgement, no matter how painful that is. Other nations have had to take ownership of their ugly histories too. It can be done, and we’ll all be the better for it.
Of course, I couldn't let that stand:
If you want the CBC to have more money, you can always write them a cheque. Then you don't have to waste Watachie's! And maybe, just maybe, the "money and greed" that has caused corrupt Band leadership to milk their citizenry dry can be finally eliminated?

Of course, that same argument can also save tax dollars from being wasted on the other TRC recommendations, none of which is worth enacting. Why? Because our "ugly history" isn't that ugly, and the TRC responses are far more ugly and far more destructive than a couple of nuns with sharp wits and sharper rulers could ever be.