Friday, 11 January 2013

Adult Assembly Required: Idle No More?

Why the "Idle No More" movement is not only making Canadian politics more interesting, but also giving Canadians a chance to take a closer look at their own social groups.


Chief Theresa Spence is a very interesting individual to me, however until recently, I had no idea who she was and her importance to the Aboriginal community within Canada. A problem right off the bat considering that Aboriginal groups do get attention, but seem to not achieve any progress upon doing so. Another problem, the fact that I lumped all Aboriginals into one community, when in fact there are many different groups, who most likely have their own social dynamics that distinguish them. An important point regarding all of this as well, I do not like how we consider Aboriginals as "Indians". Yes, I am of Italian decent,which technically makes me an outsider looking in, but this terminology was used during the time of Christopher Columbus and is as outdated as the Indian Act itself.

What Aboriginals seem to be craving is attention from the government and luckily they have been successful in receiving it. However, what is the "Idle No More" movement and more importantly what direction does it want to head in? Is this an overall socially economic movement? First Nations do receive a lot of money annually, however the way it is distributed can be questioned.

Maybe the movement is in regards to social equality? Well, then Aboriginals should know that they are as equal as any other Canadian from any other social group.

The environment? Alright, then thank you to the Aboriginal groups for giving us a boost as you have many other brothers and sisters who stand beside you in this battle.

The main problem I find is that the media and many leaders are failing to properly outline why they are no longer idle. It seems that aside from Native rights, many minor groups within are throwing in their own issues thus creating a large pool of issues that they want Stephen Harper to review.

Politically, I truly believe that Chief Spence and the movement at large are giving Stephen Harper way to much credit! I mean, How do they expect him to view all of these different issues all packed into one movement and not get a headache over the stress and confusion it would cause him? Going further with this, I understand why recent demands are being given that the Governor General attend the meeting as well, because without him, it is very unlikely that anything of substance will be agreed upon and more importantly processed by the Conservative government.

The most important factor of the Idle No More movement, should be to distinguish not only what the movement hopes to gather from the government, but also what needs to be considered and changed within the Aboriginal community at large. For example, the government may provide social services and financial aid to Aboriginal groups, but this assistance is only as successful as the guidance and organization of the group itself. Why? Well, as many examples in the media would show, many communities and reserves are in serious disrepair. Now, I understand that there are many different people and groups whom rely upon this assistance, but there seems to be an internal problem that is causing a serious rift in the equal distribution of these funds and services.

Stephen Harper can only do so much in the representation and overall assistance of the Native groups in this movement, the rest of the work will be in the hands of the community leaders and chiefs and their commitment to the people who have elected them.

Furthermore, one has to consider that we currently live in 2013 and much has changed over the past few hundred years in our country. Aboriginal groups need to understand that they are considered equal in Canada and should not feel disenfranchised as a result. More importantly, politicians and chiefs should discuss the major issues present on an equal playing field among Canadians, not as if the government is dealing with a foreign entity or country.

Overall, I believe the Idle No More movement is very important and should cause Canadians overall to question how they are represented in this country. Recent legislation has affected many different groups that consist of not only racial, but also economic and social examples of diversity. Whether you are a teacher fighting the Ontario government or an environmentalist fighting development out west, you should know that your cause and fight is not alone, but a piece of a mosaic of social conflict that is currently defining Canadian politics. What happens to one social group within Canada, will always impact and cause derision among the rest, if not because of the rights and laws that protect diversity in this beautiful country, then mainly because of the disenfranchisement it causes all groups.

Best of luck to those speaking with the government and I hope that on behalf of all Canadians, progress can be made to ensure that this country maintains the right direction.

Also, I am very curious as to your thoughts regarding the movement and the response given by the government, please let me know and comment on here, as it is important for non-Aboriginals to input their opinions as well. 

Until Next Time!


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