FLAG WON'T FLY OVER CITY HALL
(The Nugget - October 22, 2002)
Despite the assertions made by Coun. Susan Church and Ms. Anita Corriveau during North Bay City Council's recent "flag debate" - are the Anishinabek rightfully treated as a Founding Nation of Canada?
All Canadian students are taught that "Paleo-Indians" immigrated to North America via a Bering Strait land-bridge, despite more and more proof to the contrary. Every student learns that North America was "discovered" by a noble Italian on behalf of the Queen of Spain. In high school, we are all ingrained with the patriotic history of early Canada, including the fur trade, the founding of Quebec, British North America, and eventually Canada by the "Fathers of Confederation". Why isn't Anishinabek history taught in schools?
What is not taught is that the country of Canada was founded on the backs of the Anishinabek, a nation that was already firmly established on Turtle Island thousands of years before Confederation, which occurred a mere 135 years ago.
Does Canadian society know just how much land and resources were stolen from First Nations without treaty? How about the entire province of British Columbia!
For land that was properly ceded by treaty, have those treaty rights been properly implemented by Canada? In Nipissing, we receive $4 in treaty pay every year. There hasn't been a cost of living increase on that amount since 1892.
Why isn't the residential school saga part of Canadian school curriculum? Shouldn't Canadians be proud of their treatment of one of Canada's founding Nations?
The Métis Nation have always defended the honour of Louis Riél, and protested the very public, gross miscarriage of justice that led to his execution. But how many Anishinabek leaders can the average Canadian name? Many of these great Chiefs were murdered in cold blood without any form of trial or justice. Our "Founding Fathers" are dug up, studied, and stored in cardboard boxes at scores of museums around the world.
Soon it will be Remembrance Day, but do Canadians remember that thousands of Native veterans (who did not have to serve), volunteered far above their representative numbers. These brave men and women fought for the freedom of Canadians, despite not being given the right to vote or granted adequate compensation that was given to their non-native comrades. I bet you thought our warriors were only militants, terrorists and scalping savages!
Why is it that only one elementary school in the North Bay-Parry Sound district offers Ojibwe language education? This handful of Anishinabe students receive only 30 minutes of Ojibwe language per week, compared to the mandatory 250 minutes of French language instruction. The Anishinabek language teacher earns a little more than minimum wage. Shouldn't a Founding Nations language be respected and taught to all Canadians? What is your opinion of this, Association Canadienne-Francais de l'Ontario? I'm pleased to know that Coun. Church and Ms. Corriveau feel that the Anishinabeg are a Founding Nation here in Canada. I'm sure we can count on their advocacy in furthering these matters that Canadian society has overlooked. Perhaps someday we'll see a First Nations flag fly over city hall, and perhaps even Parliament Hill, but I won't be holding my breath. I would hope that both are not simply using First Nations as a pawn to further their positions in the flag kafuffle. It simple amazes me just how much grass-roots support First Nations receive when certain points have to be made.
In answering Coun. Peter Handley's rhetorical question: "Are we going to ignore it?" That remains to be seen.
~ Bob Goulais ~