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Looking to the future

There is a future possible for this country. It is a future where First Nations people and settlers from all over the world live together in peace and mutual respect and prosper equally from sustainable, considered ventures.

A future where First Nations peoples' understanding of the Earth goes hand in hand with settler innovation; and the ancient wisdom of the past and the innovations of the present and future can come together to protect the Earth and its creatures, and provide for all the people who live here.

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A future where the inventions of the Europeans do not irresponsibly overwhelm and destroy creation, but preserve harmony and build sustainability; and where the settler government sets aside its drive for dominance and becomes an equal partner with the keepers of the Earth. A future where brotherhood and sisterhood supersede race; and mutual respect, honesty, justice, and the protection of the Earth are more important than the bottom lines of billionaires.

We must not miss the path of brotherhood if we value our future. We must not seek to make First Nations people over in the image of the settlers, lest we risk the loss of what remains of the traditional wisdom and understanding that may well prove to be all that stands between us all and destruction. We need the gifts and visions of all to create a sustainable future.

The path starts with a first step of mutual respect and mutual recognition of equality. Share the land, rebuild the relationship, put aside the egos on both sides and come together as brothers, not adversaries.




Things change. When are "treaty rights" wrong? The U.S. recognized that the "in perpetuity transfer" of Panamanian rights over the Panama Canal to the U.S. was wrong -- and the U.S. surrendered its claims to Panamanian territory.

Ancestry and nationhood are two different things. A tribe of 87 persons, or 100, or 300, does not a nation make. Neither does breeding between two peoples (like Indians from India and Hungarians) make a separate "nation."

As far as taking the land by force is concerned, how many tribes originally took their lands by force themselves? Historically, might made right (worldwide, not just in Canada). What is good in a culture will survive, no matter what you do to eliminate it. And what is not generally useful will perish, no matter what you do to perpetuate it.

Ancestral culture can be, and is being, maintained by Canadians of many different origins, on their own dime. When you can't sustain yourself in an area, you move.

If Manitoba has 10 to 20 per cent of its population recognized as tax-free but tax-supported individuals, the other 80 to 90 per cent will buckle under the financial burden. If average Manitobans see their taxes squandered or inappropriately used by elected or unelected officials, or laws failing to be enforced for special racial groups, they will not be idle either.

It is time for those involved in treaty discussions to ignore the original treaties and do what is right for all Canadians (i.e. equal treatment -- not ancestral or race-based). It is time for our politicians to earn their paycheques.




Outside the real world

There are not many people in the real world who are able to approve any increase in compensation for their employment-related expenses. Why should councillors have the right to increase their own compensation to cover their expenses? Is this not a conflict of interest?

They will say that they will pass on some of this money to community organizations. However, is this not using tax dollars for purposes of improving their chances, over other candidates, at election time? In other words, is this not buying votes?

They should not have the authority to determine and approve additional funds for themselves whenever it is deemed to be politically expedient. Any increases in their compensation should be a recommendation from an independent citizens' committee or as part of their re-election platform.




Fatalities lower elsewhere

Re: Lower speeds on residential streets rejected (Jan. 12). Presumably the ultimate goal of traffic regulation, including speed limits, is to reduce fatalities. If this is the case, we should look to see what works elsewhere.

All western European countries have lower rates of deaths per 100,000 population than Canada, and Manitoba rates worse than the Canadian average.

Sweden and the Netherlands have the lowest and they are about half the rate of Manitoba. I have never driven in those two countries but I have driven quite a lot in Britain, which has a rate about 40 per cent lower than Manitoba.

I do not know why this is, but I have observed several differences. Yield rather than stop signs are used unless the intersection is blind. There is extensive use of traffic circles rather than traffic lights -- often at very complex intersections. Confusion Corner and the Sterling Lyon-Kenaston intersections come to mind. The emphasis is placed upon keeping traffic moving rather than controlling it by frequent stops.

Speed limits seem to be similar or a little higher in urban areas -- certainly none at 40 kilometres per hour. The higher traffic volumes and speeds seem to be offset by a greater degree of focus and consideration on the part of drivers.




Reducing toxic chemicals

Re: Pesticide ban will mean weed takeover: Pallister (Jan 16). From Ontario to Newfoundland and Labrador, millions of Canadians are now protected from exposure to toxic lawn pesticides. This means our most vulnerable populations -- our children -- can safely play in parks, backyards and sports fields. Manitoba's kids deserve that same protection.

The science on the matter is strong and consistent. Pesticide exposure is linked to cancer, neurological illness, respiratory problems, birth defects and more. We also know that provincewide bans work.

In Ontario, concentrations of some of the most ubiquitously used toxic lawn chemicals went down by up to 90 per cent following the ban. And Ontario's parks and lawns are still beautiful. Kudos to Manitoba Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh for standing up for Manitoba's kids. This issue is not a matter of esthetics; it is a matter of protecting public health.


Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment



From the mouth of babes

Reading Don Marks' Jan. 18 column, Indians just got a whole lot harder to identify, I was reminded of the following.

As a volunteer school-tour leader at the Manitoba Museum, I try to be very mindful of individuals' sensitivities as I describe and discuss the programs I deliver.

A few years ago, as I sat cross-legged in the teepee at the museum with a Grade 3 class, one of the students raised his hand and asked if he could "tell me something."

Of course I invited him to do so. His "something" was this:

"You know those First Nations guys you're talking about? Well, they were Indian just like me!"

I thanked him for reminding me of the fact, and have often related this incident to others.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 21, 2013 A11


Updated on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:08 PM CST: adds links

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