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COMMENTARY · 31st May 2013
Barb Higgins
Native Shishalh Elder and Hereditary Chief Xwu'p’a’lich (Barb Higgins) has asked all B.C. Natives to not support a petition to have a combined Victoria Day/ First Nations Day Holiday.


The 80 year old Native Shishalh Elder and Hereditary Chief from the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia has sent a letter to Chiefs, Bands, Tribal Councils and individual Natives throughout B.C. to “not lend any support for the Victoria Day/First Nations Day idea or petition”.

The Native Elder was at first happy with the idea until she read the wording of the petition. The wording, “For centuries, Canadians, the First Nations, the Inuit, and the Metis have had a close affinity with the British Monarchy. Partners in trade, allies in war, friends in peace, and often relatives through marriage and descent – it is from this ancient and honourable relationship that Canada was created.”... especially the words “close affinity with the British Monarch”...

When the Shishalh Elder read those words she thought, “when was that?” And what “affinity” are they talking about?

She wrote in her letter “I’m a university graduate, and I have studied Canadian History 300 and other texts, and I have no knowledge of this colonial affinity with us.”

The Elder pointed out, “In fact we all know that the teaching of Native History in schools is an insulting, and cruel joke.” She stated, “I will not be aligned with a Colonial Queen whose reign was responsible for the theft of all Native Lands and Territories across this country, and I doubt that there is an Indian person living who disagrees with this statement.”

She went on to outline a litany of the many, many attempts by Governments in B.C. and Canada to destroy their culture by passing laws banning their Potlatches and Sundance Ceremonies, and using Residential schools to empty our villages of our children.”

The Elder reminds everyone, “They forced our people into these institutions where priests, nuns, and ministers subjected them to a hundred different ways of stripping their humanity from them.”

“The religious people destroyed their language, their culture and subjected many to severe physical abuse, and these sick-minded guardians who held control over those defenseless children used many of them as sexual objects and all of this damage is still very much with us to this day.”

She mentions the Government legislation banning Natives from fishing even when the Salmon were endless and abundant, while “the Whites own relentless greed and mismanagement has destroyed the Salmon Fishery on the West Coast.”

The 80 year old Elder reminds B.C. Natives that similar action was taken against Natives on the Prairies with “ the deliberate extermination of the great and endless Buffalo herds on the North American Prairies, or the giving away of small pox infested blankets to the Prairie Indians.”... stating, it was a “well-devised plot to bring about the extinction of our race, and force the remaining survivors onto Government reserves.

“They wouldn’t allow Indians to mine gold, and if they did they couldn’t sell it,” said the Shishalh Elder.

She reminded B.C. Natives of the not so distant past that if a white woman married an Indian, then she became an Indian, and if an Indian woman married a white man, she became white. She stated, “No Federal or Provincial Government has ever had the right to say who is an Indian and who isn’t.” describing the situation “ludicrous”.

The Native Elder ends her letter stating she will be writing a very public letter to Elizabeth May, the Leader of the Green Party and Margaret Atwood to point out the gross distortion of the real Native/White history in B.C. and Canada. All of Canadian history is distorted in this way and it has to stop.

Copy of letter

To the Elders, Chiefs & Councils and Individuals of the Sovereign Indian Nations of B.C.
It is with great difficulty that I sit down and write this letter. Why? Because we have a group of people, who believe they have our best interests at heart, proposing a National holiday called Victoria Day/First Nations Day.

At first I thought that would be great - until I read the part about the Indian people of Canada having a ‘close affinity with the British Monarchy’.

“For centuries, Canadians, the First Nations, the Inuit, and the Metis have had a close affinity with the British Monarchy. Partners in trade, allies in war, friends in peace, and often relatives through marriage and descent – it is from this ancient and honourable relationship that Canada was created.”

And I thought – when was that? And what “affinity” are they talking about? I’m a university graduate, and I have studied Canadian History 300 and other texts, and I have no knowledge of this colonial affinity with us.

In fact we all know that the teaching of Native History in schools is an insulting, and cruel joke. I wonder if they are referring to the many times the Native Tribes in eastern Canada were duped and manoeuvred into fighting and dying in the European Colonial Wars . . .and then those that swore they were their allies stole their land and placed them in concentration-camp-like reserves as their reward for their allegiance and diligent service.

Or perhaps this affinity refers to the invaders, in every Province across Canada, using alcohol as a tool, and when the Indian became drunk, they stole their furs from them.

Alcohol was practically unknown to the Indian, so of course he reacted badly to it.
Show me a History book that refers to the deliberate extermination of the great and endless Buffalo herds on the North American Prairies, or the giving away of small pox infested blankets to the Prairie Indians. Today it is obvious that such occurrences were nothing more than deliberate and well-devised plots to bring about the extinction of our race, and force the remaining survivors onto Government reserves.

The Government outlawed our Potlatches and Sundance Ceremonies. Neither would they allow Indians to mine gold, and if they did they couldn’t sell it. My grandfather, Chief Dan Paull, who was one of the few men on the Shishalh Reserve, owned a 30/30 and .22 rifle, and took the gold he had mined and made bullets for his guns – then he went out and shot game animals that willingly gave themselves for the Peoples’ use; and he fed his People.

Perhaps when talking about affinity they are referring to the Residential School System the Canadian Federal Government used as a tool to deliberately destroy our Cultures, and empty our villages of our children.

They forced our people into these institutions, where priests, nuns, and ministers subjected Indian children to a hundred different ways of stripping their humanity from them. While those children were subjected to this alien concentration camp, their parents and grandparents were at home dying of loneliness for their stolen children – unable to do a single thing to help them. They had no weapons to fight this and they hung their heads in shame because they had failed their children.

The religious people destroyed their language, their culture and subjected many to severe physical abuse, and these sick-minded guardians who held control over those defenseless children used many of them as sexual objects, and all of this damage is still very much with us to this day.

Perhaps this affinity took place when the Government deliberately made it illegal for many decades for Indians and their lawyers to even discuss our Land Claims.

And what about the double standard the Federal Government used to divide us? When an Indian man married a non-Indian woman, his new wife received a treaty or registration number. Whereas if an Indian woman married a non–Indian man, she became a white woman.

That statement could be considered humorous if it wasn’t so ludicrous. No Federal or Provincial Government has ever had the right to say who is an Indian and who isn’t.
On the West Coast they banned and destroyed our fish traps that supplied our people with food; they would not allow an Indian to own land or fish commercially for many years... even when Salmon stocks were at their most abundant.

In the past few decades, they have made every effort to stop us from fishing because the Whites own relentless greed and mismanagement has destroyed the Salmon Fishery on the West Coast. Now the Oil and Pipeline companies are biting at the bit to move in where our Salmon once lived and prospered. They have already accomplished this in the East with all of the Offshore drilling platforms off the coast of Newfoundland. And those corporate fish farms are everywhere to replace our once plentiful, natural Salmon. Does anyone smell a rat here?

This is what I believe. It is my culture that makes me who I am, but it is my beliefs that make me Indian.

As you know, the list of subjects I could raise is without end; so I will stop here.

NOW . . . this is what I am requesting you to do.

They have nearly destroyed our Cultures and our belief in our own Sovereign Native rights. But, I for one know that this land is ours. We should not be going to court trying to prove that fact. It is the Colonial government that should be trying to prove that they have a right to sell, trade, and give away our property with something called a fee simple legal term.

I ask that you and all Natives in B.C. to boycott any attempt to officially lump First Nations people in with a holiday which represents the darkest time in Native History in Canada.

I will not be aligned with a Colonial Queen whose reign was responsible for the theft of all Native Lands and Territories across this country, and I doubt that there is an Indian person living who disagrees with this statement.

Please do not lend any support for the Victoria Day/First Nations Day idea or petition. I believe that we shouldn’t settle for anything short of doing away with Victoria Day altogether, and the first of July holiday commemorating Canada’s birthday should be re-named Kanata Day. That – in my estimation- would be everyone in Canada showing affinity with the First Nation or Indian people.

I will be writing a very public letter to the People who started this petition to point out the gross distortion of the real Native/White history in B.C. and Canada. All of Canadian history is distorted in this way and it has t stop.

In Sisterhood,
Xwu’p’a’lich, Barb Higgins
Sir
Comment by Lordogee on 4th June 2013
I believe that it should be called " First Nations and
Victoria Day.
First Nations where hear first and Queen Victoria was
great woman but probably could care less.