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Colonial arrogance

Your Dec. 28 editorial Fasting solves little was the most irresponsible piece of writing I have seen in this paper in a very long time. It completely ignored the primary issues being raised by Idle No More and instead resorted to colonial arrogance, wilful blindness and victim-blaming, most aptly illustrated by this demand: "aboriginals ought to explain why some of them continue to live on remote, inaccessible reserves." Hello?

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A number of bills have recently been introduced in Ottawa that directly impact First Nations. No meaningful consultation has taken place in spite of numerous court rulings that have stated it's a constitutional requirement.

Yes, negotiation is a two-way street. What Idle No More is pointing out is that one side is refusing to negotiate and it's not who the authors of this editorial would have us believe it is.




What is missed here is the fundamental spiritual teaching from the Creator that we are to be the caretakers of the land and everything that lives on it.

Protecting and respecting the land is essentially a commandment. So, naturally, when so many other things have been taken away, First Nations are going to keep the land since it is a tangible asset left from those treaty arrangements made so many years ago.

Is it a coincidence our major urban centres are not situated in present-day reserves, but nonetheless exist and thrive within traditional territories of First Nations?

Yes, a majority of First Nations communities lack economic development. That's the way they were set up -- to discourage Indian people from living on reserve and force them to urban centres and be assimilated. That way, over time, there would be intermarriages and eventually no more full-blood status Indians to maintain the fiduciary obligations of the treaty relationship.




Theresa Spence does not deserve sympathy. The majority of her reserve lives in squalor and despair. Her childish and dubious act of a hunger strike is political posturing and is an attempt to draw attention away from the real issue of incompetence or worse.

Each year, Attawapiskat receives $17.6 million. There are approximately 1,550 residents living on the reserve. If properly disbursed, a family of two adults and three children would represent $133,333 of available funds per year.

Since when is $17.6 million per annum not sufficient for this community?

To date there is no school. There is no housing to speak of and no infrastructure. But the reserve does have a Zamboni.




Re: MP: Chief's hunger strike entering deadly stage (Dec. 28). As someone who has voluntarily fasted for over two weeks, and knowing people who have fasted for 40 days on just water and juice, I think it is irresponsible to describe Theresa Spence's fast as entering the deadly stage, unless she has diabetes or some other sickness.

I know from experience that after the first two or three days when a person does feel somewhat weak, you begin to feel a new strength. And your hunger totally goes away after another few days. The average adult can easily go for three weeks and up to 40 days without any negative side-effects from not eating, especially if they are drinking juice.



Appreciating FYI

I've already offered my congratulations for your 140th birthday, and my special story about my experience with the Winnipeg Free Press is online.

Today I just want to express my appreciation for the Free Press and tell you how much we enjoy reading it. My husband and I especially appreciate the Saturday FYI section and the many varied subjects it covers.

We particularly appreciate your series Our City Our World, focusing on the many ethnic backgrounds of our citizens. The subject has been covered so extensively and well. It was so interesting and informative that I am keeping some for my records.

Thank you, too, for the Faith page with its many informative and inspirational articles. We appreciate them. I would also like to commend Colleen Simard for her columns. Her writing is refreshingly positive, no matter what aspect of her aboriginal roots she covers. She always focuses on the bright side, with wise counsel for possible improvement in attitudes and actions and for personal development.



First indigenous moderator

Thank you for such an interesting and positive Dec. 29 section on the influence and history of First Nations people in our province.

As with any of these cultural-history stories, people miss seeing someone they believe should have been listed as an influential person. I missed the Rev. Stan McKay.

An ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, McKay served as moderator from 1992 to 1994, the first indigenous person to lead a mainline denomination in Canada.

He has been director of the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre in Beausejour, director of spiritual care at Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, and First Nations advisor on education, health and development in Manitoba.

He is known widely as a wise teacher and elder, striving to educate Canadians about the consequences of colonialism in Canada, and especially the policy of assimilation and residential schools, and to bring about healing to the deep harm caused to indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians alike.




Re: Faces of the aboriginal community (Dec. 29). I, as do others, believe that my father was overlooked.

Neil Gaudry was the Liberal MLA for St. Boniface from 1988 to 1999. He was a proud Métis man who never forgot his roots. He was a definite leader in his own right, from his active community involvement to his life in politics.

There is no doubt he believed in a better tomorrow. Among his many noteworthy accomplishments, he sought to have Louis Riel recognized as a Father of Confederation. He advocated for numerous Métis and francophone causes during his term in office. Last, but certainly not least, he made himself available to address the concerns of his constituents.

He was a hard-working, extraordinary man. It would be a shame if his legacy was not recognized accordingly, not only among aboriginals, but among Manitobans in general.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 3, 2013 A14

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