CONTRIBUTION · 7th January 2013
Anthony Melting Tallow
#IdleNoMore has exploded on the twitterverse, so I thought, as a white guy, I'd write an open letter to anyone interested in #IdleNoMore and my own thoughts.
I am not going to pretend I am an expert on the issues, just someone trying to understand and learn. Less so from the media, than by cultivating relationships with a wide range of indigenous peoples.
My life experiences and a mix of research and discussion have led me to support #IdleNoMore and I expect I will learn a lot more than even I could envision. At least I hope so.
I am not even going to pretend I have some kind of intellectual grasp of the many issues and challenges faced by First Nations in this country. I'm sure I am only scratching the surface, not because I don't want to know, but that the real truth of the history, treaties, abuses, and horrors lived every day by grassroots indigenous people are well hidden beneath centuries of lies and deceit, of deliberate attempts to eliminate the (please I find it disgusting to even repeat these words) "Native Problem", of governments and schools and media feeding the idea that our First Peoples were lazy and stupid and dirty and horrific, animal like beings who need to be exorcised from a civil society.
It's difficult to try to find truth when so many are complicit in covering it up, and turning mainstream public opinion against people who did nothing but to welcome our ancestors and signed what they believed were honest treaties to share their bountiful resources with their new white friends.
They fought and died for us to be here, even before Canada was a nation. All we have done for them is cheated them out of their honest share of the resources of their nation which they have never given up their rights to it, never been defeated in a war, but we have screwed them, when we weren't attempting genocide by subjecting them to gifts of blankets infected with diseases they had no immunity to, we've been using up their resources as if we own them, and this doesn't even begin to address Residential Schools which existed in my lifetime. If you don't know what they are, do a bit of research.
Better yet. Sit down, close your eyes, imagine the police coming and removing your children, taking them away to be beaten, raped, killed, and even tortured to remove their culture. Imagine your children being punished for speaking their own language. Now not even getting into conditions that exist today, has that ever happened to anyone in this country other than indigenous peoples?
Absolutely Not. Attempted Genocide has only been a policy toward First Nations peoples in Canada. Whether you like it or not, if you don't admit that successive governments, in your name, have systematically been trying to eliminate native peoples and assimilate whatever is left, you have not yet faced reality.
I'm unsure exactly where #IdleNoMore got its start. That's not for me to debate.
My understanding is it began as a movement to educate young First Nations people that they need to learn to embrace who they are, and to understand they have inherent treaty rights that it is important to know those rights. I've been told it was started by four ladies in Saskatchewan. I could be totally or partially wrong, I'm unsure, at least I'm trying to learn.
What I am positive of, is that is has become much more, and is growing. I understand Stephen Harper is the final straw that has broken the proverbial camel's back.
It doesn't really matter which Prime Minister it was, this one, the last one, any previous one, our entire history is one of Canadian Government (and the British Crown before that) oppressing indigenous people in ways that, when exposed, should horrify any sane human being.
What I do want to say to the many showing leadership, and to the grassroots everyday person standing up for your rights, I apologize I have never been able to elect a government who would represent my personal wish to be an honest treaty partner with you.
I am horrified at the ugly, racist, misinformed comments being hurled at you. I don't know what I can do, other than provide a voice of support, other than share my words with the world, and be there for you if you need me.
I'm not going to pretend to know your experience. I just want to make clear you know I can share one frustration with you. People we have put our trust in to lead us, have failed miserably. May we find our common goal and may you have unending strength in your struggle.
I am a white man. I am sick of my people getting ahead of everyone else because of a total lack of ethics.
THAT is why I support #IdleNoMore
Dear Mr Tatlow
Comment by fbreker on 11th January 2013
I think the native rights you so loudly proclaim will one day (sooner than later) be a thing of the past. Natives and the rest of us people who call ourselves Canadians, will face a far more onerous foe than an intransigent Canadian government. Look way east - Look way west, you should wake up and connect the dots. A nation divided against itself will fail.
Comment by fbreker on 10th January 2013
Dear White Guy
About all I can say in response to your tome is that we and you and have (at least today) a right to express your opinions. Unfortunately, you cannot say that indigenous ppl in Canada have been subjected to "attempted genocide". This is a very subjective statement and may reflect your opinion, but it has zero basis in fact. You could not prove this assertion in a court of law. I will also never admit that this, or any government has in my name tried to eliminate indigenous people. That sort of blanket white wash statement is simply ludicrous and untrue.
Comment by Shannelle on 8th January 2013
The money on the reserve does not filter through the Chief. Anyone working in an isolated location gets a huge compensation for doing so. So please don't be so taken by Harper's investigation being "leaked".
I knew as did everyone who watched last year, that they placed someone else in there to take over last year, so of course there was an investigation but it is also to cover up Canada's shame.
So what, she has fish broth, I could not do the same for that long. How can you be so quick to diminish someone's actions without first trying to do the same? I never heard she was too weak to meet on the 11th. Bottom line...if it wasn't for her, so many of us would not have sat up and paid attention, if not for her, thousands would not have come together to send a positive message.
Negative ppl will on find negative messages
Not just white men.
Comment by J.Brian Waddington on 8th January 2013
I have very little argument with this piece. But I would say that it is not just white males who get ahead due to lack of ethics.
Greed and corruption knows no colour or race.
Just keep Chief Spence outta this...
Comment by Maggiejo Johnson on 8th January 2013
My advice? Keep Chief Theresa Spence AWAY from the IdleNoMore campaign.
She can go back to her cadillac and $270,000 tax free annual salary while PRETENDING she cares about First Nations dilemma's - faking it all the while in a teepee demanding to speak with Harper for weeks on end.
Hunger strike? My A#*! She has enuf money to fake a hunger strike for YEARS! Let me tell you this. I've had fish broth soup and it's extremely nutritous with all the fish eyeballs and brains and such. OH! And let's not forget she's on medicinal herbed tea as well in her 'hunger strike'. She can drag this fake hunger strike on for YEARS! And when she was repeatedly challenged to explain her tax free over a 1/4 million salary? "No comment, no comment, no comment." Yeah...got it.
Someone explain to me WHY Chief Spence wanted to meet with Harper for several weeks? Of course she was embarassed after being challenged about her outrageous salary and in the end said she was too weak to meet with Harper after all. Hmmm....really? Busted there, heh?
Chief Spence can stay off the apron strings of this IdleNoMore bandwagon in her narcissitic self-serving endeavors...and let the rest of us pull the reins - for the people.
Comment by rez widow on 8th January 2013
if we could get this message across to all...geez that's just my wish for peace...that apology meant nothing at all because i see no changes...that's the sad part...my father was beaten repeatedly for using his language...he didn't live long enuf to hear that apology...am so thankful for that ...he would say the same as i...it's never to late to apologize but it has to come from the heart...and not written down and erased till it sounds sincere...so thank you
To: J. Hunchuk
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 8th January 2013
Comment by kwilhye on 8th January 2013
Thank you "Ltter from a White Guy" very well written, Thank you for your support a courage to write your thoughts.
I've seen it all
Comment by another white guy J. Hunchuk on 8th January 2013
As a child I've watched many movies where natives were captured, enslaved or slaughtered for various industries for our entertainment featuring famous actors such as John Wayne, James Stuart, and many others. The media; always seeming to have demonized our natives to no end, insinuating them to be of great threat, while brainwashing the masses against them all the while making 100's of millions of dollars to their benefactors (the film mo-ghouls).
I will probably be right that not one of those "Dead Indians "received any royalties for the generations of reruns as the white movie stars received, the "Indians" were told that is a cut and we'll contact you for any future acting roles that require authentic natives.
As I grew older I would still enjoy a movie watching “the Wild West”. During those earlier years my Ukrainian father would work away from home so it was hard for him to know what his sons were watching on the TV, or as he would say '”The idiot box and all the American B.S. that was on it.”
He understood then what watching these types of TV shows would create “Deliberate Racism”.
You see in those times we did not have much Canadian content on TV, nor was it regulated. Formative years went without much information to speak of otherwise.
This implanted an attitude, which inadvertently “coloured” a person’s thoughts towards cultures and their truth. Now a day’s perhaps one would consider this ‘cultural profiling’.
During my 59yrs. of living and working with our native people here in Canada, I have personally learned that respect to your fellow human beings had nothing at all to do with how people are portrayed in movies and media. In other words, in the real world, it is about how people respect peoples.
More recently I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Indigenous People of Papua New Guinea (PNG). I helped to train local men to fall and buck trees safely and productively for an LNG Pipeline. These PNG men are very observant and adapt very quickly to learn the skill of falling timber, driving excavators, heavy duty equipment, as well as many other jobs that are created on a project this large. Keep in mind that most of these peoples had no reason to know how to use this equipment...they were living successfully an ancient way of life that has now been drastically interrupted by corporations seeking the wealth and resources of their land, to which the peoples of Papua New Guinea legally own.
The blatant disregard and lack of honest respect towards the peoples of PNG is quite similar to the attitude and behaviour of our Government and officials to the First Nation peoples off Canada. Every day the deliberate arrogant belittlement and ruthless disregard for culture, tribal lands and property are occurring worldwide. This is no different to what is happening here in our Canadian country, except the ability for education is decades away for most of the Papua village people even as they plead for their government to help.
I’ll come back to Canada now with 200 years of lies and deceit focused toward our indigenous is a deflection by our Governments to divide and conquer peoples of this country and the indigenous peoples in believing their propaganda.
We the citizens of this country are all involved and must stand up with our native citizens to protect our environment, resources, as well everyone’s social programs.
I feel like I am living in an alien country under the rule of the “Super Alien”. Remember that the “Super Alien” gathered less the 40% of the votes to win His majority.
This means to me that over 60% of the electorate are progressive thinking people in Canada and a solar system away from this illegal Con- alien government. To think that a few like minded Canadian-Aliens put “The Super-Alien” in power.
Please citizens, pay attention; do not get deflected by something that is so important to all of us.
Comment by Jo-Anne on 7th January 2013
It is refreshing to read of one who takes the time to learn what the real issues are. As an Indigenous woman, it is difficult in this day and age (2013) to continue to witness the ignorance and denial of the true history in our Ancestral Homelands. Yet Canada has been quick to judge other countries of human rights violations and is one of the world's worst violators. The world is watching.
Comment by Shannelle on 7th January 2013
As I started to read your letter, I felt the fear creep up of what was going to be said. The comments and nastiness and I was utterly relieved that instead I read something that to me, makes Idle No More well worth it. Here is one reader, one fellow human willing to step into someone elses shoes, willing to gain a better understanding and willing to nod and acknowledge and as you said, share the frustration, it is someone like you that shares your knowledge and spreads it in a good way.
Thank you Anthony.
And just a quick comment to "Semi-agreement" : Because my Mom went to residential school, I did not grow up with my First Nations Language as my first language as she did, I was not raised to embrace our dancing as a child throughout my life like I should have. My Mom never asked for compensation and when she did get it, she wasn't given what she should have but never bothered to pursue it or fight for it. Most want the acknowledgement for what was done wrong. An apology went along way, but you can't just brush it under the carpet afterwards.
But I admire those who can fight for their loss of culture and language in later generations.
Comment by Someone on 7th January 2013
I agree that those who suffered should be given compensation, but when we come to the new generation they receive the same compensation as the ones who suffered w/ o the struggles that the older generation had to suffer through.I agree that our society towards First Nations needs to change greatly, but so does the First Nations attitude towards compromising with treaties.