With indigenous protests, demonstrations and blockades erupting across Canada recently, many might be wondering what's the deal? Canada endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2010. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo a year ago in a Crown First Nations Summit. What more do the Indians and Inuit want?
As it turns out, a lot. While Atleo and lesser rank chiefs like Theresa Spence dramatize the ongoing injustice of the Canadian state through oratory and hunger strikes, Ottawa moves relentlessly forward with its colonial economic development plans calculated to strategically deprive the First Nations of their human rights enshrined in UNDRIP, and to tactically extinguish their treaty rights codified in the Canadian Constitution. Given this context, the call by Spence for a meeting with Harper is rhetorical; that meeting already took place, and the answer was a callous betrayal.
As indigenous scholars know, this conflict between First Nations and colonialism didn't begin in 2012, but rather has a long detailed history of treaties with Holland, France, England, and the successor state of Canada. In this video interview, Mohawk scholar Russell Diabo recounts that 300-year history with the clarity and insight we need to comprehend what is at stake in the current conflict. More importantly, Diabo elucidates a path through the current conundrum to end the colonial indigenous relationship, and to move Canada toward a more generous, harmonious future.