Saturday, October 10, 2020

Patriatism, national pride, and pride of place.

Searching YouTube for #LandBack related videos, I was recommended a video by activist Lindsay Shepherd on why she rejects Indigenous Land Acknowledgements. I had been struggling with land acknowledgements, so was curious.

Antiracism and the "settlers" terminology

There was some thinking in the more recent video that sounded familiar from my ongoing antiracism training, as she focused on individuals rather than systems.  As I compared Indigenous Peoples Worldviews vs Western Worldviews, I came to understand the basis of the laws and systems that are built from those world views.

There will always be persons of European descent (such as myself) who will hold world views closer to indigenous North Americans, and people of indigenous descent that hold views closer to European world views.  This is why I don't find it useful to focus on individuals, but on systems which impose world views on societies even where individuals will disagree.

Listening to Lindsay talk about her objection to people calling themselves settlers, even though they were born here, I more clearly realized how I felt. I agree this language goes to the very relationship people have to their homeland, which is exactly why some of us refer to the Canadian government as a settler-state. She will never feel like an uninvited guest in the country she was born into and have a deep attachment to. I don't feel like a guest where I was born, but still recognize that there are considerable legitimacy problems with the current formation of the Government of Canada.

I am Canadian, not British. I don't recognize or have allegiance to any monarch. The current Canadian government still requires that "elected" members of parliament swear an oath to the British hereditary monarch. The same is true for immigrants who are not required to be faithful to Canada or Canada's democracy, but a foreign monarch.

Where I came from

I was born in 1968 in a town called Sudbury, from parents primarily of Irish descent. Human inhabitation of the area I was born began approximately 9,000 years ago. By the time Europeans arrived, this area had been dominated by the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) people for hundreds of years.

In 1850 the Robinson Huron Treaty was signed between the Anishinaabeg and the British Crown. As with other treaties where differing world views meant that the parties were agreeing to quite different things, the British Crown believed the Anishinaabeg were ceding European property-like ownership of the land, while the Anishinaabeg were offering to share (consistent with other peace and friendship treaties).

At the time of the passage by the British parliament of the British North America Act (July 1, 1867, AKA Dominion Day), this was part of Rupert's land, a territory in which a commercial monopoly was operated by the Hudson's Bay Company between 1670 and 1870. The British crown admitted the territory to Canada effective 1870, subject to the making of treaties with existing sovereign indigenous nations.

The specific site was used as a temporary worker' camp in 1883-84 during the construction of the CPR. A railway executive named the community for the birthplace of his wife in Sudbury, Suffolk, England.

While I was born in territory shared at that time by the Anishinaabeg and a British Commonwealth nation, it was the British created Canadian government that issued a birth certificate and other official government documentation.

When Canada finally patriated its constitution from England in 1982 (when I was 14), it included section 35 which stated that "existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed". Canada is still not a republic, the British hereditary monarch is the head of state. Governance is still dominated by British traditions and world views, which includes a disregard for North American traditions and world views.


When I was in my 20's I was asked a few times if I would be willing to serve in the Canadian military.  My answer was that I would not volunteer, and it wouldn't be advisable for the government to conscript me as I would not be able to blindly follow the orders of a government simply because of where I was born.

If a member nation of the Anishinaabeg Nation offered me a birth certificate and other official government documentation, I would also not blindly trust that government. I suspect that since my world views are more North American than British that I would have stronger alignment with the Anishinaabeg Nation.

While I have a pride of place, I do not feel patriotic towards any of the overlapping nations I was born into.

Earning my respect

As I read about the ongoing relations between these treaty partners, it is hard not to believe that the British and later British created Canadian governments have been dishonorable. Even as it relates to the annuities required as part of treaties where I was born, court cases against the Canadian government are ongoing. Of the two, it is the Canadian government that has been less trustworthy, and thus the least deserving of my pride or respect.

I think it is important to remember we are talking only about what governing structure and related world views have legitimacy over this land. Anyone confused that #LandBack means kicking people of European descent off this territory should view Decolonizing and landback: they don't want your pool.

While I don't feel patriotism, I understand the patriotism of those who are fighting against the Canadian Government's ongoing disrespect for treaties and the rule of law. I recognize the Haldimand Treaty of 1784, and thus support 1492 Land Back Lane.


I suspect my respect of the Haldimand Treaty would upset Lindsay Shepherd as she lives in Waterloo and apparently is still a teaching assistant at Wilfred Laurier.  Where she lives and works is within the Haldimand Tract, some of the land which I strongly believe should be put back under the legitimate control of Six Nations (and not control by Indian Act bureaucrats).  I believe the same of where I currently live in Ottawa, as this is Algonquin territory that isn't under any treaty and thus there isn't much legitimacy to the British-created parliament (which is also here) to claim political and legal control over this area.

The boundaries of what is currently called Ontario was drawn up by the British parliament between 1774 and 1912 to favor the British, and I strongly believe should be corrected to properly recognize nations other than the British.

See also:

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