Sunday, August 8, 2010

Double standards - enough is enough

I’ve been pondering this topic for the last few days ever since I saw some pictures on the Global TV newscast the other night. It concerns our aboriginal people.

The pictures I saw on Global were of another dispute at the Oka reserve. The issues are complex and I happen to believe that the developer was at fault, trying to score some sort of deal with the provincial and/or federal governments.

It was the reaction of the aboriginal people that gives me pause. Everything is so quickly elevated to the “fight” stage with a bunch of thugs standing around with their faces hidden by bandanas threatening all sort of things. It reminds me of the thugs who dressed in black and hid their faces during the recent G20 meetings in Toronto. We called them anarchists and criminals and yet we call the aboriginals in Oka “warriors”. I can’t see the difference. A thug by any other name is a thug. They should all be in jail.  Men don't cover their faces when their intentions are honourable.

Fast forward to Chapel Island, Nova Scotia. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs has upheld the election of a convicted sex offender as chief of a Nova Scotia First Nation reserve. The decision negates a vote by five of six Chapel Island band councillors, who passed a resolution last Tuesday aimed at keeping Wilbert Marshall from assuming office after he was elected to the post in July.

Would a convicted sex offender be allowed to serve as Mayor of St. John’s. Would he or she be able to draw a public salary? Would there be a huge outcry against something like that?

Unquestionably there are some honourable chiefs among the hundreds who govern reserves in Canada but my experience has been that many of them pull in huge salaries, employ mostly their own family members while others on the reserves live in decrepit housing and attract the sympathetic attention of TV stars like Mike Holmes.

We treat the aboriginals in this country different than we treat other Canadian citizens as if we’re in some kind of perpetual atonement for the sins of our ancestors. Enough is enough.

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