Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Were Adam and Eve voted off the Island?

My self-directed anti-racism training brought me first to studying racism itself (a system, distinct from individual prejudices), to Indigenous studies, to worldviews, and then to religion. I have been struggling with my own relationship with religion since I left Christianity in my late teens.

 

The Abrahamic Origin Story

In Trans-Indigeneity, and a loss or lack of Indigeneity I referenced where/who I was from, and that the Indigenous worldviews of my peoples were long ago replaced by Abrahamic worldviews. In Is religious freedom camouflaging ongoing colonialism and empire building  I discuss how Abrahamic religions all share core worldviews, even if the various splinter groups disagree on specific details. (Christianity split from Judaism, Protestants split from Catholicism, Islam split from Christianity/Judaism, etc).

The book of Genesis writes down the Abrahamic origin story, and from this we can see the core Abrahamic worldviews.  Much of what people think of as western worldviews, including the notion that humans are separable from non-humans (animals, plants, land -- the environment, the planet, mother earth), the patriarchy, and related worldviews can be seen.


Many people globally are trying to do harm reduction in relation to these worldviews, whether that be issues relating to gender discrimination (cisnormativity, heteronormativity, patriarchy), climate change (and related environmental destruction by humans), or colonialism (and the inevitable genocide that colonialism leads to).

It has been my observation that most are uncomfortable discussing any of these issues in the context of religion, as specific interpretations of "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" suggest that questioning the impact of specific thoughts deemed religious is somehow a violation of religious rights.


While titled "The house modernity built", I believe that this is the house that Abrahamic worldviews built.

 


I grew up reading the Christian bible, and heard all the stories. As a quick introduction here is a short summary of the first few chapters 

  • In Genesis 1 the teaching is that humans were created in their god's image, binary male and female, and that they are to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
  • In Genesis 2 the teaching is about the importance of Adam, and Eve as the first humans, and how their god planted a Garden of Eden for Adam, and created Eve to be his helper.
  • In Genesis 3 the teaching is about Adam and Eve being kicked out of the Garden of Eden because of what Eve (the woman) had done.  The pain of childbearing, and the idea that women should be treated by men as property are ongoing punishment for her wrongdoing.


Alternate origin stories

The author of the paper that inspired the blog article discussing my lack of Indigeneity was a guest lecturer last evening. His words offered more food to some thinking I've been having for some time.

What if Adam and Eve were just two people who didn't fit in because of their personal beliefs, and were "voted off the island" (banishment) and sent to live somewhere else?  Adam and Eve (well, most likely just Adam given their beliefs) then spun a story that became the origin story for the peoples of Judea. Those stories became the origin story for all the Abrahamic religions which continue to use conversion and colonialism to spread throughout the globe and replace other origin stories with their own.


In No Island is an Island, Vicente M Diaz included a figure describing the geographic reach of the outrigger canoe technology of his people, describing the distances that they could travel.

 


 

It is suggested that the Abrahamic teachings were first written into the Hebrew Bible in a period starting at about 1200 BCE, so within the 4 thousand years where there has been evidence of travel via the outrigger canoe.

For those people who don't love maps as much as I do, the top-left hand corner is where Judea would have been (now disputed territories between Abrahamic peoples), and the top-right hand corner is the left-foot and part of the tail of Turtle Island, the western part of an area currently called Mexico.

Columbus might have commanded one of the first ships to travel to Turtle Island carrying people with Abrahamic worldviews, and thus people disconnected from place and the peoples of that place. It is totally inconceivable to me that this voyage was the first time Indigenous peoples traveled between Eurasia and Turtle Island.

History of navigation


If seafaring navigation is of interest, as is often the case, wikipedia provides a good jumping-off point to read more. It's important to recognize that all humans have biases, and thus what is written on Wikipedia, as with all human writing, is not "objective".


Is it just me, or does that image make you think of a whale, much like Turtle Island looks like a turtle.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Trans-Indigeneity, and a loss or lack of Indigeneity

As part of NS 115 we were asked to read a paper titled "Oceania in the Plains: The Politics and Analytics of TransIndigenous Resurgence in Chuukese Voyaging of Dakota Lands, Waters, and Skies in Mini Sota Makhoche.” by Vicente M. Diaz.

This was another article that got me thinking not only about the concept of Trans-Indigeneity, which I had never thought to think about before, but also more about who I am and where people like me fit in the larger relational story.


The article discussed two Indigenous peoples who have culture and ways of thinking that can be seen with their connection to canoes. Quoting from the article:

In this article I want to tell a political and cultural story about the effort of one group of displaced Micronesians, from the island of Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia, to practice traditional outrigger canoe culture and traditional navigation using stars, waves, and clouds, and sea creatures, but in waters and lands—rivers, lakes, and skyways—of the northeastern plains world of the Dakota Makhóčhe of present-day Minnesota and North Dakota.

 

The canoe aspect of the article brought my mind into my own happy place as I pictured the smaller canoes on freshwater and the larger outrigger canoes on oceans. To say I am a fan of canoes would be an understatement, and I am on the water in a canoe any possible chance I get.

I am not indigenous to these lands, and because of ongoing colonialism have never had the opportunity to be naturalized to this homeland. I may wish this to change, but know that Canada stands in the way of that possibility.

 

I was born on lands of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (Ojibway), and in 1987 moved to Algonquin territory. Since learning about this homeland in recent years, I have paid specific attention to the Anishinaabe, Cree and Haudenosaunee peoples. I recognize that there are far more peoples on Turtle Island, but these are the peoples of the part of Turtle Island which I feel connected to as my homeland.

The canoe is not a technology of my people, as where I come from had a very different connection to place.

 

Where and who am I from?

I was born into Canada, a system of ongoing European colonialism.  I believed all the myths about Canada that the government told me to. (See: White people don't pay taxes, get land and her resources for free)

While I was told I was of Irish descent on both sides of my family (with some French far in my grandmother's ancestry), this was filtered through the Canadian Multiculturalism lens.

Ireland's available history has been largely created by external influences.

If you draw a circle around the Mediterranean Sea you will see the center of empire building in the Eurasian continent.  Even if we start with the Roman Empire we see conquest outward and northward.  While Ireland was never officially conquered by the Roman Empire, that didn't matter as they were still converted to the Roman religion of Christianity, and thus adopted those foreign worldviews and origin stories.

While those with Abrahamic views try to convince us to separate conquest carried out by "countries" from religion, the reality has been that conquest and conversion has been core to the goals of the largest Abrahamic religions (Is religious freedom camouflaging ongoing colonialism and empire building?).  It has only been by recognizing that some spirituality includes non-interference, while others include conversion and conquest, did I recognize the relationship between religion and politics for specific religions.

The connection between colonialism, conquest, and religion can be seen in Africa where the north was most impacted by Islam while the south by Christianity. Through global conquest Abrahamic religions currently represent 54% of the global population, no religion at 15%, Hindus at 15%, and Buddhist at 7% (See: World Population by Religion)

The meaning of the term "Hindu" has changed over time, at one point referring to any non-Turkic/non-Muslim resident of the Indian subcontinent, with Hinduism reaching back far enough to be considered the Indigenous spirituality. The Buddhism split from Hinduism in the 6th century B.C.E is really what created Hinduism as a separate concept, and the subcontinent has been under threat from and occupation by Abrhamic religions for quite some time (Islamic Mughal Empire, followed by Christian British Empire. India has been officially independent since 1947, governing themselves using a British parliamentary system with ongoing British and Anglo-American influence).


In more recent times, Ireland was under British occupation starting in 1169, with British colonialism starting with its closest neighbors. The last Roman Emperor died in 1453 (Christian battles with Islamic Ottoman empire), and the papal bulls from the Bishop of Rome launching subject of Christian European Monarchs out to conquer and convert other lands were in 1493.


I have been to the places in India where my wife's Hindu parents were born. She knows where she is from, while my ancestors have been on this continent for long enough to no longer have a connection to Ireland. Ireland has been under occupation long enough to have forgotten any of its pre-colonial, pre-Abrahamic indigeneity.

We were both born on and lived on Turtle Island all our lives without ever having been naturalized.

Technoscience

Part of what I like about this class is that the discussion of technology is not limited to human manipulations of nature. What is often called social sciences are understood as a technology.


The technology of the peoples I come from should be obvious from the above description: with all this empire building and war, weaponry and defense will obviously have been a focus. The disconnection from land and the concept of sustainability lead to unrestricted advances in manufacturing -- while depleting the environment. Abrahamic religions taught people (as I was in my youth) in Genesis 1:28 to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

It should be no surprise that when Europeans started trade with Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island that manufactured goods such as guns, metal cooking utensils and cloth would be what Europeans were offering.

Europe has a history with ships as well, but war was as much a part of the use of ships as trade. The connection to water is going to be very different than the two Indigenous peoples in the article.


While the largest wars on Turtle Island were between Europeans (sometimes with Indigenous allies), Turtle Island also saw war prior to European contact. This is obvious to me because you don't have a "Great Law of Peace" (Mohawk: Kaianere'kó:wa), the oral constitution of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, unless there was previously war.

While scholars debate whether the first five nations (Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca) came together in 1192 or 1451, there seems to be consensus that the sixth nation (the Tuscarora) joined in 1722.  This technology, a participatory democracy, is the oldest participatory democracy on earth. This advanced technology of peace is not unique, as this style of technology is deployed in many treaties between peoples including the Two Row Wampum (Gä•sweñta’) and One Dish One Spoon.

While Europeans may not have advanced social sciences enough yet to properly harness these technologies, the technologies nonetheless exist.

 

Who am I?

I don't know.

My personal ancestry tells me about why I look the way I do (skin colour, shape of eyes and face, etc), and growing up in colonial Canada what worldviews were  imposed on me. I am aware of the privileges I have been granted.

That doesn't tell me who I am or how (or if) I have any legitimate relation with this homeland.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

I support several NDP candidates and members of parliaments, but not the party.

I will be attending the online event to acclaim Leah Gazan as the Winnipeg Centre NDP candidate for the next federal election. Since I am yet again offering support for a member of parliament who is in the NDP caucus, I felt it worth discussing my current thoughts  on the NDP.

 

Who I've met...


When I first became political in the 1990's I was partisan, and an active volunteer for the Green Party of Ontario and Canada. I had no interest in meeting or talking with politicians, because -- well -- they all needed to go because they were all bad (and none of them were Green, so that went without saying).

I ended up meeting Hon. Mauril Bélanger because of a mutual friend, not because he was a politician. In 1997 when I moved to the Ottawa South, I wrote him a letter and we started to engage in conversations.  In 1998 I joined the federal Progressive Conservative party to vote for David Orchard.

And thus began my transition from being focused on political parties to noticing that the individual people matter far more than the colour of the team jersey they happen to be wearing.


Wearing the NDP team jersey,  I met Hon. Bill Blaikie in 2002, Brian Masse in 2004, Charlie Angus in 2005 (and many times since), Judy Wasylycia-Leis in 2005, Peggy Nash (few moments at 2006 all candidates debate), Peter Stoffer (over the phone) in 2007, and Kennedy Stewart in 2012.
 

This year I've had a few virtual conversations with past MP Romeo Saganash and current MP Leah Gazan.  I look forward to a post-COVID time when sitting down and meeting in person becomes a reality.


What about the NDP bothers me...

In the before-times, prior to 2020, I had concerns that I couldn't articulate well. The biggest change for me personally in 2020 wasn't COVID-19 but my self-initiated anti-racism training.

I offered some thoughts on the NDP during the 2019 election.

This included a video that talked about the thing that has pushed me away from the NDP the most over the past 30 years, and that is the number of times that someone judged me for as being a "them" rather than part of an "us" because I saw specific issues from a different vantage point. The notion that there is a single objective "truth" about being a good person, and everything else is just wrong (and those people are bad), was thrown at me quite regularly.

I've learned some interesting things about objectivity during my anti-racism training.

Labour movement

In my younger years I was concerned with two areas of policy: technology law, and environmentalism.  In both of these areas I constantly came up against a specific barrier.  What about jobs?

I was constantly told my anti-car and anti-Big Tech (Apple, Microsoft -- this is long before the new players existed) was anti-job and anti-union. While I always recognized that an environmentally sustainable and technologically decentralized economy would actually generate more and better jobs, I took all of this as evidence of why I must strongly be anti-union.

I see unions as a response to Big Employer, and my solution to that problem has been to decentralize.  It continues to feel nonsensical to me that many of the "only buy from union shops" rhetoric, especially in technology, ends up promoting Big Employer to the detriment of their employees.

During my decade involved in Copyright policy there were many organizations that called themselves "unions" (Writers Union, Professional Writers Association, etc) who were fighting in strong support of the very "technological protection measures" which has created new and given more power to the Big Tech companies that have finally shown up on the radar of politicians.  We had been trying to warn them starting back in the 1990's, and these "unions" fought vigorously to ensure that Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft would have as much control over our lives as they do today.


I continue to be proud that I have avoided ever having a union job my entire career. I have been offered jobs at union shops a few times in the last 30 years, but I turned them down and did different works.

Worldviews embedded in environmental policy

This is part of the "what about jobs" question, which I always felt was a distraction given I felt funding retraining was a trivially obvious answer.

With my anti-racism training, I've asked a different question: eco-capitalism, eco-socialism, and decolonization?

Built into western worldviews, which were built upon Abrahamic religious law, is the notion that Human beings are most important (or only) thing in the world. The idea that while nature is not dependent on us, but we are on nature, never occurs to people who ask "what about jobs". To me we must have a good relation with "Mother Nature" first, and that it is everything else that is up for debate.

I've had many friends that are devoted NDP supporters over the years, and I pretty much tune out of the conversation when the "what about jobs" conversation is brought up during a conversation about our relationship with Mother Nature.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

This is the policy area where I've regularly been declared bad person.
 
I don't believe you deserve to drive a car or have cheap energy simply because you are poor. This is a systemic problem, given poverty is a policy choice that governments make.  Suggesting that we must subsidize pollution as a matter of "equity" turned me off from left-wing thinking very early in the 1990's.

I don't believe that we should continue to or increase subsidies to global energy in order that what Europe called "third world" countries can become as "prosperous" as self-numbered First World countries.  I've always questioned the legitimacy of this alleged prosperity, which appears to have largely been extracted through borrowing from the future and stealing from other lands.  I've noticed this rhetoric being used in Climate Change debates by the energy sector, and I've watched far too many on the left allowing their ideology to push them into contortions. 



It wasn't until recently that I have started to form a way to articulate my problem with Canadian style "Diversity and Inclusion".  My first attempt was in: European multiculturalism vs Indigenization as Inclusion, Reconcilliation and Decolonization.

I currently see Canadian style multiculturalism, introduced by P.E. Trudeau, as part of the ongoing erasure of Indigenous peoples.  Culture is defined very narrowly (clothing, fashion, music, dance, and food), while everything else is part of the systems of Canada (government, law, etc).

Canada has two official languages, both foreign. Canada seeks to fund policies to "protect" both English and French which are already protected in England and France, even though there are many domestic languages that need support. I consider the "Official Languages Act" to be part of colonialism and Indigenous erasure, not something progressives should be supporting.

Canada is not a democracy, but a British subsidiary.  Canada is part of a larger system with thousands of years of foreign history, including the adoption of  Christian law.

Within this specific context, diversity and inclusion become successful tools of assimilation into the foreign British (or otherwise European) systems.



In Canada's left the Canadian version of multiculturalism (indigenous erasure) has been extended to multi-religion. This has become a critical problem for the last two NDP leaders who campaigned against Quebec laicity, and thus all the NDP nominated candidates in Quebec.

Many Canadians are focused on the skin colour of the majority of muslims, and consider their opposition to laicity as a form of "I'm not racist".  My focus is on trying to get the Christian cross out of Canadian governments which many consider to be the primary symbol of genocide against Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island.  I've wanted Christianity and all other formal (and now I understand foreign) religions out of government for a long time, and the more I learn about Canada the stronger I feel about that.

In all my years of meeting election candidates and elected members of parliament, by far the most social conservative I met was Monia Mazigh, who the federal NDP nominated as candidate for the 2004 federal election. So many ideas that should offend any remotely socially liberal person are given a free pass as long as they are wrapped in the excuse of religion (especially Abrahamic religions, given Canada was created as a Christian country).


I'm not suggesting that something called "Equity, Diversity & Inclusion" can't be a goal within a different system, but that as they are articulated in Canada they are seriously problematic.


Why Leah Gazan?

I've been watching her speeches in the house, and many other interviews.  While she will sometimes speak to the language that NDP supporters will want to hear, she hasn't yet used the types of language that turns me off.  I don't know much about the Lakota people, but the little I know suggests worldviews that avoid the problems I've had with the Canadian left.

She is also very passionate, and I've not yet seen signs that she is bowing to pressure to conform to the current executive of the NDP.  If anything, the fact that people are calling her the Canadian AOC, and suggesting she might become a future leader of the party, suggests some very interesting possibilities.


Why I like what I hear from Leah is only based on my success criteria.  Yours may be different, and even if you disagree with me doesn't mean you'll disagree with Leah.  It is possible for one person to be complex and thoughtful enough to be able to help move politics forward in a way that people who have very different political views can still agree with.





Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Provoking Bad Canadian Citizenship: Is Canada a democracy?

One of the articles assigned for NS 115 students this week is an essay by Jessica Kolopenuk titled Provoking Bad Biocitizenship. (https://doi.org/10.1002/hast.1152)

I do not have a background in biology or the medical sciences: that is the domain of my wife who teaches high-school biology to possible future doctors and scientists.

I have spent decades involved in democratic reform, starting from the 1990's. I am inspired by the essay to think about how I might slide it into a domain that I am more actively engaged in.

What is Democracy?

Everyone thinks they know it when they see it, but lets copy a dictionary definition to have a common start.

a : government by the people especially : rule of the majority

b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

Provocation 1: Canadian Confederation was not an example of a democracy

Prior to contact, Indigenous governance wasn't patriarchal. It wasn't narrowly about equality, but special roles granted to various genders. The genders were not binary or defined only by biology.

In most nations or tribes, land was the responsibility of women.   This caused no end of confusion to the patriarchal subjects of Christian Monarchs from Europe who thought of women more as property, and never who they should be negotiating with for use of land.

After disenfranchising Indigenous peoples and not giving any women a vote, a small group of white males in a set of minority white regions decided they wanted their colonies to be united in a federation.

They asked the foreign country that they were actually citizens of to pass a law to make these colonies into a federation. The British North America Act was passed on July 1, 1867.  Canadians celebrate the anniversary of the passage of this act of British Parliament yearly, often believing this is the anniversary of the date a democratic country was "created".

Given there were already established nations on Turtle Island, Canada was never an example of nation building, but of nation replacing.



This act created a subsidiary of the British government, incorporating all the laws and systems that were built up over thousand of years of British history. While this minority-controlled confederation was created in 1867, the systems which it imported represent thousands of years of foreign history.

Until the Statute of Westminster 1931 was passed in the UK parliament, Canada was only considered a colony of the British empire and thus had no foreign policy.

Until the Canada Act 1982 was passed in the UK parliament, every law passed by the UK parliament was automatically part of Canadian law. This was clearly not an example of a democracy given the citizens in the UK (with more than  twice the population of Canada in 1982) each had as much control over the laws and systems that governed Canadians as Canadian citizens did.

 

Part of the myth of Canada is that it has always been here, has always existed in this form, and will always be here. I read George Orwell's book 1984 in 1984, and when thinking about this myth of Canada I always think of the line:
 

The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.


I was born in 1968. There are many other people alive today that were born before the British subsidiary government of Canada was solely responsible for passing its own laws. It was only after 1982 that Canada was finally potentially eligible for being considered a democracy, and I'm not convinced the changes made to this point are sufficient.

 

Whether Canada is less than 3 times my age, 37 years older, 14 years younger, or not yet independently born depends entirely on what you think is required for a country to be considered separate from the foreign nation that created and maintained it through Acts passed by that foreign nation's parliament.


Newfoundland and Labrador weren't part of Canada when my parents were born (in what is then and currently called Ontario). Take note of the separate references to Newfoundland in the Statute of Westminster 1931.

Note: Since the 1980's Canada has been returning to its European monarchist roots, allowing power to flow to a few individuals. See: Lets work to fix parliamentary flaws which block holding a Premier or Prime Minister accountable.

Provocation 2: Biased immigration policy and genocide are more offensive versions of gerrymandering

I am not going to describe here how many Canadian Government policies, not limited to the Indian Act and residential schools, represent a genocide against Indigenous peoples. Please do a bit of homework if this is news to you. The TRC final report and the Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls offer a good start.

 

There have also been hundreds of policies which represented "Affirmative Action for Whites" and encouragement for foreign settlers, not limited to the Canadian Homestead Act which gave "free" land (stolen from Indigenous peoples) to males who would "cultivate" the land and build a permanent dwelling.  This form of government incentivized squatting was then used by the Canadian government to justify forced relocation of Indigenous populations and claims of land cession under clearly White Supremacist policies.

Canada "purchased" Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), even though HBC didn't have legitimate title to any land on Turtle Island. What HBC had was a charter from the British Crown granting them a monopoly over trade between Indigenous nations and Europeans in a specific region, without that pesky possibility of competition. It was named by the British as "Rupert's Land" after Prince Rupert, the first governor of HBC appointed by King Charles II.

Indigenous individuals who swore allegiance to the British crown could become Canadian citizens and be stripped of their Indian status and face full assimilation into the foreign Canadian system. (Official "Kill the Indian, Save the Man" policy).

Over time these combined policies ensured that foreign peoples who were loyal to the British subsidiary greatly outnumbered the Indigenous population.

  • Newfoundland and Labrador join Canada in 1949.
  • Innuit gained the right to vote in 1950.
  • Status Indians gain the federal vote in 1960.

Voter suppression, genocide, and biased immigration policy represent the worst possible forms of gerrymandering, not democracy.

Pretending that this is all in the past and suggesting that votes should now be counted "equally" is only an excuse to inherit benefit from genocide and voter suppression.  The foreign systems that Canada represent were never democratically decided upon, and should never be treated as if they were. The notion that people should inherit benefits, but never obligations, is a very narrow and problematic western worldview.


Provocation 3: If Canada was never intended to be a democracy, pro-democracy advocacy should be seeking to replace the systems called Canada

The claim that democracy (some comically even claim "civilization") was brought to Turtle Island, and that we need to take inspiration from Europe for any democratic systems, is part of the colonial propaganda.  It is a White Supremacist belief that I simply do not subscribe to.


The Europeans who traveled to Turtle Island to set up and join European colonies were subjects of Christian European Monarchs. These European nations were not democracies until quite recently, depending on whether you believe monarchies (constitutional or literal) can ever truly be considered democracies.

While something like the European Union didn't form until 1993 and with Brexit didn't survive a full 30 years before losing a member, the participatory democratic Haudenosaunee Confederacy became 6 nations in 1722, and was a confederacy of 5 nations possibly since 1142.

I believe the British call this era the High Middle Ages, no longer being a province of the Roman Empire, but not remotely close to having a democracy.

If what we want is healthy democratic systems, we should start from Indigenous Turtle Island nations which have far more experience than Europeans. The goal should be, piece by piece, to replace the systems of Canada with something built upon domestic Indigenous Turtle Island worldviews and experience.



I know that this change will not happen overnight, and it might not be completed in my lifetime, but this is the direction I will be facing.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy example


I regularly write about how Canada sent in the RCMP to depose the democratic Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and impose a "band council" that is only responsible to the Canadian Crown. The confederacy continued to operate in secret, but has made its continued presence known more recently. (See also: The Meaning of Elections for Six Nations by Alicia Elliott )


Let me be clear: Not only do I not believe Canada is legitimately thought of as a  democracy, but I recognize that Canada has send in the RCMP to forcibly depose centuries old democratic governments. The RCMP was formally called the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP), and was modeled after the Royal Irish Constabulary which the British used to enforce colonial rule against Ireland. (Listen to more via the Secret Life of Canada)

A first step towards responsible democratic government on this northern part of Turtle Island is for Canada to fully respect the confederacy as the only democratic government that represents the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in nation-to-nation dealings. Canada must also fold the Six Nations "band council" to avoid further confusion that it can represent the nation (especially in anything dealing with land).

After recognizing democracy, Canada should move quickly toward compliance with the Haldimand Proclamation, return misappropriated trust funds, etc.

 

I use the Six Nations of the Grand River as an example because it is the largest First Nations reserve in Canada by population (See Google map), and it badly needs room to expand in order to not force their population into more risky assimilation scenarios within Canada.

While Canada doesn't recognize the democratic confederacy government, it remains intact and ready to take over full governance. The land situation is also more clear given the proclamation, and all that it requires is for Canada to become the least bit an honorable law abiding nation.  The history of misappropriation of funds and land by the Canadian government is also better documented.  Journalists being arrested by the OPP for daring to report on Six Nations land defenders at "1492 Land Back Lane" trying to stop unlawful settler development on land the confederacy has title to is also well documented.

The Six Nations land defenders at "1492 Land Back Lane" must be properly recognized as pro-democracy Freedom Fighters against a repressive regime, not as protesters in what some consider a democracy.  I know it is uncomfortable for Canadians to use terms like this, as well as genocide, in the context of Canada -- but this is the truth of this system.

The process which lead to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) also started in 1923 when Deskaheh, Chief of the Iroquois League, representing the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, leaves Canada to go on a mission to Geneva (Switzerland). The need for this declaration itself provides proof of the ongoing human rights violations committed by Canada.


What is wrong with what Canada is currently doing, and what to do next, is far more cut-and-dry with Six Nations of the Grand River. Things get more complex in other parts of Turtle Island, with areas such as Quebec and British Columbia having no treaties and thus no claimed legitimacy for foreign settlements and their British created provincial governments to exist at all.


I discuss some more of the "What's Next" in: Evening with Desmond Cole. Time to put "Canada" to rest?



BTW: Coming into compliance with the Haldimand Proclamation doesn't mean settlers/squatters will be booted out of their homes.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Michael Chong's biased motion: It's about Genocide of Indigenous Peoples, not "Religious Minorities in China"

I have written about UNDRIP and Uyghurs and China vs Hong Kong, Canada vs Haudenosaunee Confederacy., and how I consider the narrow focus on China to be misplaced whether we are talking about Hong Kong or the Uyghurs.


Michael Chong recently tabled a motion which he called "Religious Minorities in China" that I want to write about.  I first want to document some of the biases that caused me to initially form the opposite opinion to Michael Chong.

Michael Chong's biases

I have been following Michael Chong's political interventions since I met him in the context of his Conservative Party leadership campaign. I really liked what I heard so I re-joined the Conservative party (sorta - I had been a member of the Progressive Conservative party) and voted for him as #1 on my ballot.

I have noticed a growing focus on China in his interventions in the house, growing to the point where he seems to talk about China more than he talks about Canada.

While there are other sources, a little bit from his biography from Wikipedia helps to understand the bias.

  • His father was born in British occupied Hong Kong, and immigrated to the British created Dominion of Canada in 1952.
  • He attended Trinity College, a college founded by a Bishop, which kept a strong Anglican alignment after UofT severed its ties with the Church of England. He later served on the board of the Corporation of Trinity College.
  • He was a founding member of The Dominion Institute

 

This hints at explaining his bias towards the British Empire, and the British occupation of Hong Kong (which finally ended in 1997) as well as the ongoing occupation of Turtle Island.


The Dominion Institute merged with the Historica Foundation of Canada to become Historica Canada.  As part of my Countering Stereotypes of Indigenous Peoples course we have been assigned to review some of Historica Canada's Heritage Minutes (see my comments), to recognize the pro-European anti-Indigenous biases embedded in them.

These Heritage Minutes regularly get the history wrong, and are misleading at best.



For the European genocide during the second world war, the symbol that most represented it was the swastika. Prior to the Nazi misappropriation of this symbol it was primarily used in India by Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.


For the Turtle Island genocide, which has been ongoing for hundreds of years, the symbol that most represents it is the Christian cross.  The Roman Empire promoted Christianity within the empire, and later the Bishop of Rome (also known as the Pope) created the Doctrine of Discovery though papal bull which authorized and encouraged subjects of Christian Monarchs to travel and steal lands and resources, and to subjugate (enslave, kidnap, convert, eradicate, etc) populations which were not already subjects of Christian Monarchs.

Canada, through institutions like the Dominion Institute and many more, has been promoting a specific biased version of Canada's history which seeks to continue to promote the genocidal values of Christian European empire building.



The three largest Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have been at war with each other since each splinter group was formed from the others. After the second world war, Christianity started to work together with Judaism given it was complicity by Christians that allowed that genocide to be carried out as easily as it was.

In recent decades, following the religion focused fallout of September 11, 2001,  Christianity and Judaism has been offering similar with supporting Islam in specifically narrow circumstances.


It should not be surprising from all of this that Michael Chong's motion will be anti-China and pro-Islam/Abrahamic, and ignore any other aspects of this genocide.

 

My biases

I don't see Capitalism and Communism as all that different since they are based on the same world views, and differ only on who should gain the spoils from excessive exploitation of non-humans (land, animals, etc). I have been more concerned with socialism and communism as I worried that they might accelerate environmental decline as a matter of "equity". I have had that feeling for a long time, but was only able to articulate it recently.

The fact that China is currently Communist is not of great concern to me.  I also ignore (reject, oppose, etc) racist beliefs which suggest that non-Europeans are somehow automatically inferior to Europeans.

I am very concerned about religious empire building, with the largest empires being built by Abrahamic religions (primarily Christianity and Islam).

Due to this bias I incorrectly saw this as Abrahamic empire building against regions that were part of China, with Abrahamic empire building also being part of British colonialism against China.

 

Religion is a distraction in this case

I discuss in "Is religious freedom camouflaging ongoing colonialism and empire building", religion is regularly a distraction from understanding what is actually happening in a region.

I wrote earlier:

The Uyghurs are an indigenous peoples that have a history in that region dating back thousands of years. They call the region East Turkestan (or Uyghurstan), and reject the name Xinjiang (Sinkiang, meaning "New Frontier" in Mandarin Chinese). Many converted to Islam in the 10'th century, but that doesn't take away from their status as Indigenous peoples, and should not misdirect the focus of discussion toward religion.


Fixing the biases in Michael Chong's motion


Michael Chong motion, as tabled on February 18, 2021, reads as follows:

 

That,

(a) in the opinion of the House, the People's Republic of China has engaged in actions consistent with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 260, commonly known as the "Genocide Convention", including detention camps and measures intended to prevent births as it pertains to Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims; and
 

(b) given that (i) where possible, it has been the policy of the Government of Canada to act in concert with its allies when it comes to the recognition of a genocide, (ii) there is a bipartisan consensus in the United States where it has been the position of two consecutive administrations that Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims are being subjected to a genocide by the Government of the People's Republic of China, the House, therefore, recognize that a genocide is currently being carried out by the People's Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims and call on the government to officially adopt this position.



This motion contains Michael Chong's personal biases against China, and for the British Empire and Abrahamic religions.

  • Narrow focus on China
  • Narrow focus on Canada's historical allies (other CANZUS members, plus parent of Britain), with special prominence given to the United States
  • Narrow focus on Muslims


If I were to amend the motion to remove those biases, one possibility becomes:

 

That,

(a) in the opinion of the House, several member states of the United Nations are engaged in actions consistent with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 260, commonly known as the "Genocide Convention"; and
 

(b) given that where possible, it has been the policy of the Government of Canada to act in concert with the United Nations when it comes to the recognition of a genocide, the House, therefore, recognize that a genocide is currently being carried out by several member states against Indigenous peoples in regions these states claim as their jurisdiction, and call on the government to officially adopt this position.


This more generalized motion would focus on the actual problem, which is genocide against Indigenous peoples, and not try to carve out one specific country that is carrying out genocide, or specific methods used in genocide.

It is important to avoid any straw man fallacy by thinking that removing the focus on China means that anyone is excusing China, but recognizing that China is not remotely alone in what it is doing and that the focus must be on genocide.

Canada can't work with only with allies on this anti-genocide policy, as those closest allies have been engaged in genocide of Indigenous peoples for far longer than the very recent focus on China. Genocide can't be allowed to be normalized by having one group of nations committing genocide against Indigenous peoples to point fingers at another nation committing genocide against Indigenous peoples.


 

Without this amendment it is clear that Michael Chong, and fellow Conservative caucus members supporting it, as well as Bloc caucus members, are not interested in stopping genocide.  They are only interested in embarrassing China, but in the process they may end up further normalizing genocide against Indigenous peoples.

It is important to recognize that efficiency has never been part of the UN definition of genocide, so genocide does not have to be an "event" that starts and stops in a short time.  Recognizing that efficiency is not part of the definition, it is obvious that CANZUS (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and United States) are guilty (with long established documented evidence) of genocide against Indigenous peoples.  CANZUS states are clearly guilty, while China is at this point is merely accused of genocide against the Indigenous peoples of Uyghurstan.


We must become committed to stopping genocide, and that must include the UN member states that have been carrying out a "cold genocide" for longer than they have been members of the United Nations.

 

The Olympics

Mr. Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ) asked to add an amendment:

 

“call upon the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Olympic Games if the Chinese government continues this genocide.”

 

The Olympics has had an interesting history with host countries committing genocide. The first televised Olympics was hosted in 1936 by Nazi Germany, with Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler offering an extravagant spectacle televised globally.

The Third Reich alluded to the Nazis' belief that Nazi Germany was the successor to the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and German Empire (1871–1918).

 

Nazi Germany must be recognized in that larger historical context of colonialism and empire building. We must abandon claims that this was some sort of one-off part of Europe's distant problematic history, as well as cease any narrow focus on a single individual who was a charismatic leader of a political party.

What happened with Nazi Germany was empire building, which inevitably leads to genocide. This has quite clearly been the case with other European empires, including the British Empire.


A more generic version of this amendment would be:


"call upon the International Olympic Committee to never again host the Olympic Games in a nation that is currently engaged in genocide."

 

This would ensure that China, as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and United States, could not host the Olympics until they ceased their genocide. We should be willing to use any tool we have to stop genocide, and embarrassing countries by disallowing them to host the Olympics is yet another tool in the International toolbox.


Friday, February 19, 2021

Evening with Desmond Cole. Time to put "Canada" to rest?

Last evening I watched An Evening with Desmond Cole, hosted by the Canadian Museum of History. I read "The Skin We're In", and watched different interviews.

This one was particularly inspiring.

This will partly be because Desmond Cole has been on a tour of this highly successful book, and with each presentation he will be getting interesting questions to think about himself.

The questions given him by Adrian Harewood and some of the students watching were not easy ones. Adrian challenged Desmond with far more than a discussion of his book.


The two most interesting answers for me were about Canada, and about the chapter on Canadian colonialism.

 

Do you love Canada?

 

Using a quote from James Baldwin, Adrian asked Desmond about whether he loved Canada. I don't have the quote handy, but this quote conveys the theme:

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” - James Baldwin

 

Desmond discussed how Canada is only an idea, and as an idea it is a bad one.

Using a short-form of Canada's actual history, he discussed how this foreign set of White Supremacist systems have no reason to be here, and that these systems are what he is trying to dismantle in his anti-racism work. He loves the people who are here, but he does not love the systems of Canada and is looking forward to the day when these systems are replaced.

 

I was blown away that he was willing to give this answer, and to share it with a wide audience. I have been thinking the same way since I recently started to understand what Canada is, but I often worry that I am far too radical in what I'm thinking.

It may seem like an odd thing to say, especially as a white male, but I've loved my anti-racism training. I wrote in the context of eco-capitalism, eco-socialism and decolonization how I was stuck inside a bubble of a "western worldview", and could not figure out ways to solve problems inside that bubble. I feel like, throughout my life, I've been building up volumes of knowledge and experiences, and anti-racism allows me to go through everything and dot-my-I's , and cross-my-T's to finally have everything make sense.

I have been pessimistic about the future of this planet for a few decades, and this last year has brought me a fair distance out of that depressed feeling.  The concepts behind anti-racism open up so many possibilities I had been unable to imagine.



Canada was not created by the people of this homeland, but by the British North America Act 1867 passed by the British parliament. This foreign system was thousands of years old at Canada's creation, given it is a subsidiary of the British system that incorporated all of that foreign history.  Until the Canada Act 1982 was passed in the UK parliament, every law passed in the UK was automatically part of Canadian law. It is a matter of legitimate debate whether it is myth or fact that Canada is a separate country from the UK, but I believe that we should move past that to questioning the very existence of this foreign system on this homeland.

I don't believe Canada is legitimately thought of as a democracy, but instead the result of a genocidal version of gerrymandering. With centuries of affirmative action for Whites/Europeans, it will take considerable effort to bring actual democracy to the lands alleged to be part of Canada.  As one part of the process, I believe we need to replace the current Senate with an Indigenous Council.


I strongly agree we should be moving forward with discussing how to transition away from Canada, and not thinking of the foreign systems of Canada as an idea worth saving.

the unsettling


One of the students asked why Desmond chose to include a discussion of Indigenous peoples in the July chapter, which was based on the 150'th anniversary of the passage of the BNA Act (Well, others call it Dominion Day or Canada Day).

I had already watched an interview which Desmond did of Skyler Williams from 1492 Land Back Lane.








Desmond discussed how understanding what is being done to Black people worldwide is very tied to the colonialism project, and thus the struggles for freedom from White Supremacist systems are the same.


What's next?

Desmond discussed how opponents of change often want a complete answer to what a replacement would be before being willing to discuss.  The reality is that this will be a longer project that cannot happen overnight, whether we are talking about (police) abolition, or decolonization.


My own thinking is to have an eye on the direction, even if I can't think of the details.

As an example, I keep a map of Canada from 1870, post BNA Act 1867, in mind for shorter-term work. I think about the changes which Canada has unilaterally made in its short time.  I think about the recent Nunavut land claim that eventually allowed the formation of Nunavut from an area that Canada has been calling the Northwest Territories.

I suspect that most Canadians would be surprised to know that Nunavut and the Northwest Territories (NWT) already use a much stronger form of democracy than the rest of Canada.

 

I believe we need to be continuing this process, allowing stronger democratic territories to form based on Indigenous traditional lands and worldviews, starting from the areas which Canada has been calling the Northwest Territories.  These lands are not where the bulk of the settlers are located, although if you only consider the volume of rhetoric from the politicians in Alberta and Saskatchewan you might believe otherwise. Alberta and Saskatchewan were split from NWT in 1905, and hopefully will be folded before there is a 150'th anniversary of that split.

This is going to take time, but this suggests a direction.  There are things which can be done in the shorter term.

 
Desmond mentioned the Haldimand Proclamation.

It seems obvious to me that Canada must be forced to fully honour the
Haldimand Proclamation, and fully recognize the centuries old democratic government of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations of the Grand River.  This is a far superior form of democracy than Canada uses, and it is an ongoing embarrassment that Canada sent in the RCMP to depose that government.

This should be a nation-to-nation relationship, directly between Six Nations and the Canadian federal government, without any involvement whatsoever with the Ontario division of Canada.  The Indian Act band council bureaucracy (what Canada's propaganda calls the "elected" council), which is responsible to the Canadian Crown and not citizens, should be immediately folded.

The Haudenosaunee government should never be thought of as below a municipality, as it actually exists above Canada as being a nation with far more legitimate claim to that area of land than Canada has.

My hope is that the self-determination aspects of UNDRIP will help force Canada to recognize Indigenous governments, and to fold the human rights violating band councils where Indigenous governments already exist.


Please watch


The good news is that if you didn't watch last night, the plan is to make it available later. I highly recommend anyone thinking about systemic change to watch this interview.




Thursday, February 18, 2021

UNDRIP and Uyghurs, Genocide by Canada and China

I find discussions on these issues from many Canadians, including in the federal parliament, to be -- well -- irrational, and full of "I know you are, but what am I" type childish behavior.

I've already written China vs Hong Kong, Canada vs Haudenosaunee Confederacy, but the focus of certain politicians is now directed at the Indigenous Uyghurs rather than post-British-occupation Hong Kong.


The Uyghurs are an indigenous peoples that have a history in that region dating back thousands of years. They call the region East Turkestan (or Uyghurstan), and reject the name Xinjiang (Sinkiang, meaning "New Frontier" in Mandarin Chinese). Many converted to Islam in the 10'th century, but that doesn't take away from their status as Indigenous peoples, and should not misdirect the focus of discussion toward religion.

Even the type of name imposed by China should sound extremely familiar to Canadians, given we have a province called "New Found Land" on one coast, and another called "British Columbia" on the other.

If you take a closer look at what China is accused of, it should sound extremely familiar.  The re-education camps are the same as the industrial/residential/boarding schools used in the United States and Canada. Canada and the USA also used forced labour (both of Indigenous peoples as well as peoples kidnapped from other lands), and included women being forcibly sterilized.

In fact, I have yet to hear an accusation of China with relation to their "New Frontier" where there isn't large volumes of evidence of Canada doing the same thing or worse over a very long period (some dating from before Canada was "created" by an White Supremacist act of the British parliament).

Contrary to popular myth, the colonial and genocidal policies by Canada against Indigenous peoples is ongoing.






Do I believe that China is guilty of genocide?  I don't know that for certain, as there has only been recent attention to the ongoing tension between the Chinese government and East Turkestan.  If China did want to carry out a genocide under the radar of the global community, it would make sense that they would be trying to use the United States and Canada as the model.

 

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

While CANZUS (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and United States) are the most offending foreign/foreigner created countries, UNDRIP is not uniquely targeted at them. I consider UNDRIP to be the eventual recognition that the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights was never universal, and was drafted at a time when Indigenous populations (nations, etc) globally weren't given an international voice.


Those who want to give support to the Ughurs need to recognize that the louder representatives of CANZUS countries are, the more obvious their hypocrisy will become, and the less ability to help any of the Indigenous populations whose basic rights are being attacked.



I've found it particularly interesting to watch yesterday as several Conservative caucus members claimed to be incensed by China, and then this quickly followed by various Conservative caucus members being critical of UNDRIP. They are likely so disconnected from what is happening on Turtle Island and other parts of the world that they don't recognize how silly they look.

 

Mr. Garnett Genuis even asked, "Very specifically, what plans does it have to ensure that Canadian pension investment dollars are never again complicit in acts of genocide?", which is impossible given it is a Canadian pension and Canada is engaged in acts of genocide.


They likely incorrectly see this as being about Abrahamic religions (Largest 3 being Judaism, Christianity and Islam), or something to do with Communism.  It is invalid to believe that colonialism and Indigenous genocide is limited to Communist governments, given the largest offenders claim to be Capitalist. The Conservatives were using standard White Supremacist assimilation language, not recognizing that what Indigenous peoples want is not to "fully participate in Canada's economy", but to have Canada stop blocking them from having their own governance and their own economy.

If Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island don't want to "fully participate in Canada's economy", and don't even believe Canada has legitimate exclusivity over this region, are there people in parliament who still believe they should be sent to re-education camps?


 

I understand wanting to help the Indigenous Ughurs, but the way Canadians do that isn't to ignore or erase the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. We need to move forward as quickly as we can to help protect the rights of all Indigenous peoples globally, and that starts on this homeland.  Canadians don't have a legitimate voice condemning China until after we have made huge progress dealing with our own ongoing violations of human rights.


Let's make new friends


While not discussed within conversations around UNDRIP, I believe it is time for Canada to make new friends.

As an example, we are in a so-called "intelligence alliance" called the Five Eyes (FVEY).  This is made up of CANZUS members plus the country that the CANZUS members were derived from, Brittan (now called the "United Kingdom" after more local colonialism efforts).

This is not the gang to be hanging out with if we want to become a better country.  I consider the FVEY to be the axis of white supremacy.

We need Northern Turtle Island Defense, but we need to start to recognize that who we need to be defended from is the USA and other countries with a history of colonialism.  It seems obvious to me that as Canada becomes less of a human rights abuser that this will offend the USA as it will call attention to their ongoing human rights abuses.  We need to have better ties with other nations who can come to our aid if/when the United States threatens yet again to expand northward.

It should without saying that Canada needs to honour the treaties signed with their allies, including the Six Nations Of The Grand River, who were our allies the last time the USA tried to expand northward. Canada sent in the RCMP to depose their centuries old democracy and install a bureaucracy responsible to the Canadian crown.  This needs to be reversed, and the sooner the better.

It is embarrassing how Canada has been more worried about how it looks within a White Supremacy gang than how it actually looks to other nations.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

White people don't pay taxes, get land and her resources for free

As part of the NS 161 course, we have been assigned chapters from âpihtawikosisân (Chelsea Vowel)'s book INDIGENOUS WRITES: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada

Last week's lecture included an interview that Tasha Hubbard (one of our professors) did of Chelsea Vowel, where they discussed how the book came out of some of the work she was doing on her blog creating "Indigenous Issues" Primers., as well as on her twitter and other social media.

They discussed how, if she was going to do this all over again, she would have avoided the use of the term "Indigenous Issues" as they are really Canadian issues. These primers discuss things all Canadians are involved in, and it is not narrowly about some subset of the population on this land.

I've heard it said in another way, which is that there never was an "Indian problem", only a "settler-colonial problem".

Repeating my confession

I haven't read every single stereotype and false notion discussed in the book yet, but in the past I've believed pretty much everything I've read debunked so far.  I bought the marketing (AKA: propaganda) of Canada, from my birth in 1968 (on land covered by Robinson Huron Treaty) up until embarrassingly recent times.

I really was a good little white soldier, loyal to the empire and never thought to question the Imperial cause (Um...  Wait... isn't that the definition of a Stormtrooper from Star Wars? I'll eventually get caught up on my studies and be able to listen to MÉTIS IN SPACE!).


However...

It is actually worse than that.

When I came across ideas which I now recognize as common to many Indigenous Nations since time immemorial, I assumed the idea was new and came from the white guy (usually male, but not always) that I heard it from.

In the early 1990's I was actively volunteering for the Peace and Environment Resource Center. In this environment talking about the environment, I met Mike Nickerson and learned about his Sustainability project / 7th Generation Initiative.

The idea strongly resonated with me -- I had a feeling about wanting to learn from many generations and use that to plan for at least 7 generations into the future.  I never thought of land or her resources as something we inherit from our parents, but that we borrow from the future.

However... As much as I've believed this, I also believed all of what Canada told me about Indigenous peoples.  It never occurred to me that not only was this not a European (or descendants) idea, but that it has been (for instance) an ancient Haudenosaunee philosophy.


Chapter 13, also in a blog article, discuses "The myth of progress".  This includes the myth of Canada progressing beyond defective settler-colonialism ideas, as well as the myths of the superiority of European contributions.

I fully believed the "indigenous savages" myth, so it never occurred to me that these "new" ideas I was hearing from White people were only new to White people. That in fact some of these were ancient ideas which the less civilized Europeans tried to eradicate as part of their settler-colonialism project.

 

Am I obsessed about "Indigenous" studies?

My wife thinks I'm obsessed with my Indigenous studies: I'm taking two university courses, reading many books. listening to several podcasts and radio shows, and get my news and listening to concerts and watching movies from APTN Lumi. I talk way to much, and am way too excited, about what I'm learning (a common non-neurotypical trait). Sometimes she just wants to take a rest from everything.

While the courses I'm taking are from the Faculty of Native Studies, I think of this as Canadian Studies. While I am also learning about the peoples of the land I was born and live on, I am primarily learning about the foreign European derived systems that we have been indoctrinated to believe legitimately governs over this land. I have been learning what this foreign system has been doing to the Indigenous peoples of this land.

I've lived here for nearly 53 years, have an Ontario birth certificate and Canadian passport, and I'm only being introduced now. I think it is reasonable that I be a little bit excited (and several other emotions, sometimes all at once) about this.


The more I learn in my Canadian Studies courses, the more I realize how many of the ideas I've personally believed the majority of my life aren't Canadian (or White, European, Abrahamic, etc).  Canada as a foreign system stands in the way of ideas that existed pre-colonial, and I have now come to hope to become dominant ideas again post-colonial.

Free land, resources, and no taxes for Whites

Since the 1990's I've believed our value systems were backwards. I have naively, as part of my learned racism, thought these values were near universal of humans.  We put a value (and price) on human labour, manipulations of nature by humans, and other human activities. We don't value and thus give away pretty much anything that is non-human for free.

 

Land, and all the resources that come from the land, are largely transferred with tiny one time fees (if at all) as an ideologically constructed form of "property" (exclusivity without responsibility). This hasn't made sense to me since I was a teen in the 1980's, as I always thought of land and her resources as something that we are borrowing from future generations.  I believed any form of exclusivity should be regulated by responsibility toward the future.

I found it interesting to read the “Free Housing for Indians” myth (chapter 16), given the land that a house sits on has far more intrinsic value than the house and yet Whites built entire economic systems based on "Free/cheap land for Whites". During the so-called "nation building" phase (more honestly, a nation replacing phase), White settlers were given free land as long as they "improved" it by chopping down trees and other such things using unsustainable management practices. And then this gifted land was "inherited" by or "sold" to other settlers as time went on.


 

One of the many reasons that left-leaning economic policy has never resonated with me is because of the narrow focus on the "ability to pay" when talking about taxation.

In the early 1990's I was primarily involved in municipal politics, and part of my shift to provincial politics was because of the Mike Harris years in Ontario.  I considered the concept of "Market Value assessment" for municipal taxes to be entirely backwards.  I believed municipal taxes should be assessed based on how much it cost to provide municipal services, how the use of land integrated with public values (walkability, protection of greenspace and prime farmland, etc), proximity to employment & enjoyment, and other such criteria.

While this policy change was brought in by a Progressive Conservative government the political-left hated with a passion, any conversations about moving away from this system for municipal taxes is aggressively opposed by the economic left. The political-left see it as a way to have municipal taxes be indirectly tied to "ability to pay" (if you can afford to live in an expensive home, you should pay more), and the political-right in Ontario see it as a way to favor  their voting base (suburbs and rural end up subsidized by higher taxes in urban centers).


It is, however, consistent with western worldviews to only consider humans, human labour, and other human activity as having value.  The cost of paving over prime farmland and forests to make "faster roads" and bigger houses in Ontario isn't seen as a massive loss, but as somehow being "progress".

I remember traveling to Toronto from Sudbury in my youth looking at the soil (amazing for growing) around what was being called the Holland Marsh that was being dug up to build a bigger highway 400. Human settlements and inefficient individualized transportation systems should be kept away from this area, not building close or on top of it.

Personally I consider it a telling aspect of "our" current society that fiscally and environmentally costly roads are paid for by taxes and considered "free" by everyone, yet high-speed digital communications within municipalities which have a many orders of magnitude lower cost and greater value in modern society are considered legitimate to be managed as a private sector service.

I've been asking for a very long time why road users aren't charged more taxes for their use of roads. But as typical in this White society, everybody doesn't get charged taxes for things which White worldviews believe shouldn't be taxed.


When it comes to resource extraction, the subsidies should be obvious.  The tiny royalties that are being charged are largely kept in specific provinces, even though the costs of this extraction (including but not limited to Climate Change) is expected to be paid for by everyone (on Turtle Island and globally).  While the most extractive provinces claim that they are the driver of the economy, they are in fact the driver of debt because the economic system doesn't account for the actual costs because it is giving away land and resources practically free.  Again, free stuff and no taxes for Whites.

I find the "Indigenous peoples don't pay taxes" (chapter 15) particularly nonsensical given the entire debate around the carbon tax is a form of "White people don't pay taxes".  It is built on this worldview where the actual costs of resource extraction should be subsidized off of taxes on labour, rather than resource extraction paying its own costs as well as a significant percentage of government services.

We should be seeking to phase out personal income taxes entirely, raising that money from resource extraction and human exclusive land use rents (IE: You pay yearly rents to municipalities and/or First Nations for exclusive access, not a one time fee and then perpetual exclusivity for free).

Income that is at or below a "moderate livelihood" should be tax free and paperwork free, and taxes on income should only apply to immoderate livelihoods.

 

The concept of a "moderate livelihood" is important to me. I believe land and other exclusivity-without-responsibility individual "wealth" is borrowed from future generations. I don't believe it should be inherited individually from ancestors.  I believe that an amount of wealth up to 5 times a yearly "moderate livelihood" should be able to be transferred based on the wishes of an individual, but anything beyond that should be returned to the community upon an individual's death.

I've been an opponent of the GST since it was introduced.  While I believe goods should be taxed, to ensure payment is made for everything from extraction to safe disposal, I have never believed that services or labour should be taxed at all.

If anything, we should be subsidizing specific type of labour such as repair by taxing manufacturing/importing higher.  We should be instigating a "right to repair" law that goes far beyond outlawing the use of "technical protection measures" to lock down electronics (including farm equipment), but a positive right that requires manufacturers to make repairs easy as a condition for certification to be sold.   (IE: I have a few WaterPic electric toothbrushes where the manufacturer deliberately made it harder to change batteries -- you need a soldering iron to do so. Manufacturers shouldn't be allowed to do that).

The focus on humans has made it impossible for the systems of Canada and other Western worldview countries to think in sustainable terms.  They want the things which actually have a cost to be free and untaxed, and instead want government funding to come from the things which should instead be free.


But, this isn't about Whites, as everyone pays the same way?

I've had several versions of this conversation already, and my anti-racism training only started last year.  I am barely beginning to imagine how exhausting it has been their entire lives for BIPOC.


While it is true that people largely pay the same taxes no matter what their skin colour, what does and doesn't get taxed, and what you do and don't have to pay for, is entirely based on European/White worldviews.  Essentially, you can have whatever skin colour you want, but you must still live in a European (British) society that exists outside of Europe.

I consider it offensive that European systems of government impose themselves on peoples outside of Europe, which is the only place they legitimately exist.

The article First Nations farming in the Prairies (chapter 23) was informative in touching on how offensive the colonial government of Canada is in imposing its foreign ideologies. After forcibly migrating Indigenous populations to areas not suited to farming, and not delivering farm implements promised as part of international treaties, the Indigenous farmers were still successful. (Quoting from an academic article reference from the blog article):

During the early 1880s … many First Nations farmers were successful in competing in the farming economy along with the non-aboriginal farmers.  Utilizing newly developed dry land farming techniques and acting as a collective, many First Nations won local prizes and awards for their crops
 
So what happened?
 
Settlers complained about the competition, and the colonial government stepped in by weaponizing European individualism.  They knew that if Indigenous peoples were no longer allowed to act as a collective, or produce food for market, or even be allowed to leave reserves without permission, they could no longer pose a competitive threat to under-productive (lets just call them lazy, shiftless, untied and unfamiliar with the land, and less skilled) White settlers.


There you go, putting FNMI up on some sort of pedestal?


I understand why that might be a first reaction, and a few of my friends have made this comment in recent months.


If I lived in a settler municipality operating under an Anishinabek National government (given which parts of Turtle Island I've lived on during my life), there is no way for me to guess what I would be asked to pay for or how I would be taxed.

I don't often agree with the decisions made by my existing municipal, provincial or federal governments. I do not expect I would agree with every decision made by a municipal, National/Confederacy, or Turtle Island League of Nations(1) government built upon Indigenous laws and worldviews.

I am confident in believing that since the worldviews of most peoples, governments and Nations indigenous to this homeland are closer to my own, that it would be able to do far better than these European derived governments and other systems have been capable of.

I have no idea how governance would work.  Pre-contact, Nations set up treaties between each other to share.  Since European worldviews have been proven over centuries to be incompatible with sharing, I don't believe that model will work with the European settlers that are here. I don't think setting up White reserves would be a useful long-term solution, although something like that might be appropriate as a transitional measure.

I don't believe I should be given a vote in that decision, but my guess is that in the longer term something similar to an immigration process will be needed.  Foreigners who are able to adopt into Indigenous worldviews could be welcomed, and other people allowed to temporarily visit (refugees/etc) but otherwise expected to return to their homeland if they aren't interested in adopting the laws, systems and worldviews Indigenous to this land.

In decolonizing and landback: they don't want your pool, I referenced how there is no serious interest expressed in sending settlers back to their homelands.
 
I do, however, expect that there will be a (hopefully small) subset of people currently residing on this homeland that will never be willing to come into better relations with these lands and its peoples.

Honestly, if you really feel you must live under a European government, there are several in Europe to choose from.



(1) I suspect there will be a need to coordinate at a union of confederacies level, even if only for this northern part of Turtle Island, such as for trade and defense.  Coordinating defense will be important given there are always going to be foreign nations that are going to want to steal the wealth.