(Protest sign used during a resent demonstration on Parliament Hill. APTN/File photo)
By Delaney Windigo
APTN National News
SASKATOON–One the eve of Tuesday’s Crown First-Nations Gathering, B.C’s Grand Chief Stewart Phillip warned of a potential youth uprising if talks didn’t go smoothly.
Phillip made those remarks saying the prime minister didn’t provide a clear indication that his government would take the concerns of First Nations leaders seriously.
That rhetoric from Phillip, president of Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, leading up to the historic event got the discussion of possible civil unrest going.
“As offensive as the remark was, I feel obligated to give a voice to the poverty that (represents) the reality of the Aboriginal people in this country,” said Phillip.
Phillip says poverty breeds frustration. One only has to look at the housing crisis on the Attawapiskat First Nation and many other First Nations across the country. However, it was Attawapiskat’s housing crisis that spotlighted Canada’s Third World conditions.
Pictures of dilapidated housing had Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across the country frustrated with the federal government’s lack of a swift response.
Yet, the idea of an “uprising” is nothing new. Former Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine and former Roseau River First Nation chief Terry Nelson both hinted at unrest in the past.
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak recently told APTN National News that “there is room for civil disobedience, when people aren’t being heard, action does have to happen.”
Confrontations have occurred in the past. Like the 1990 Oka crisis and Ipperwash, with the shooting death of Dudley George. Yet, some say these are isolated incidents, usually occurring because of outstanding treaty issues.
Regardless of the fact some people say the risk of a national uprising is low, APTN National News has reported in the past that the RCMP and Aboriginal Affairs regularly monitor potential “protest and occupation” hot spots.
With all of the talk of potential youth unrest, Colby Tootoosis, considers himself a politically conscious youth and he says if youth feel the need to start an uprising, it should start from within.
“It has to start inside, it has to include me being clear, and willing to look inside myself and open into that original compassion that exists within the consciousness of who we are as Indigenous people,” said Tootoosis, “Uprise within your family unit first, uprise within your own community first, then there will be clarity for better direction of what action needs to be taken.”
Tootoosis describes the federal government’s relationship with First Nations as an abusive one.
However, he says some of the unrest felt by youth is directed at their own leadership.
“A lot of the unrest amongst are young people is also geared towards our own leadership and the invitation is (there) for our current leadership to be open (up) to what our young people have to offer,”said Tootoosis. “There is a lot of intelligent young people out there who can see things differently from a more organic perspective than the current state of our current leadership.”
Some have said the recent Crown First Nations Gathering was the first step in improving the nation to nation relationship.
Phillip says this is the opportunity for the federal government to make positive changes. However, at this point, it’s unclear whether First Nations will move towards peaceful diplomacy or civil disobedience.
2 thoughts on “First Nations youth "unrest" aimed at "own" leadership”
I agree that the Federal Government is abusive in its dealings with us, but we must not pretend for a minute that our own Chief and Councils are just as corrupt and also treat our people just as abusively, and it hurts even more when it is coming from our own people, i have some ideas on how to fix some of the problems, but the Chiefs are against that because it will not allow them to fill their own pockets with the money grab they have obviously orchestrated orchestrated, and even though it is in the best interest of our people, it would not be in the best interest of the Chiefs personally…. I think they should get rid of Indian Affairs all together and figure out just how much money is directed to First Nations people throughout Canada and figure out how many First Nations People there are in Canada and cut that exact many checks and divide it up evenly, never mind giving my share to the Chief and Council to spend it for me in my best interest, because that only makes sure it never gets into my hands, and they have no interest in my best interest. As far as Governing, we should go back to the Traditional ways and do it like before with the Chiefs only being spokespersons who only say what the Clan Mothers have asked him to say and the Clan mothers have gotten there feedback from the fire-keepers and faith-keepers who have gotten there urging from the people of the community, if any Chief was a real Chief, they wouldn’t be demanding pay for helping their own people, they would do it because it is there duty and it was handed down throughout generations and it was done hereditary which was our ways, for the people who say well they also need some money to live on to be able to do this job, well they have that money, because we have all gotten an equal check for our equal shares, and have gotten a lot more than we ever got, because we have cut out the middle men, Chief and Council and Indian Affairs salaries. people who think it is not possible, better think again, Canada has us numbered, so they know exactly how many of us there are. Talk about a joke, we are the only people left in this world who are still numbered, that hasn’t happened since the holocaust for pete sakes, but yet it is considered acceptable for it to happen to First Nations People, how would any other race in Canada feel about being assigned a number, it is absolutely despicable and reprehensible, But have the audacity to say they are not racist, either Government is hurting and oppressing our people, the Federal Government and the Indian Act Government, get rid of all of them and just give me my own share, i am intelligent enough to figure out how to survive on it, i don’t need the Indian Act Government telling me whats in my best interest, we need a Traditional Government to handle issues such as Treaties, Resources, and Land Claims or any other issues that need being resolved and holding the Canadian Government to there side of things, but never mind the Indian Act Chief and Councils deciding on how my money is going to be spent, my share needs to come directly to me. What are we, all children? Our biggest oppressor is our own people, the Federal Government doesn’t even need to oppress us anymore, they have the Indian Act Chief and Councils to do it for them. I have lots i can say on these subjects and i plan on doing just so, i have already written one book and am now starting on one solely on these issues of our struggles here in Canada, and it will be a real world look at it, i have touched on it in my first book, but will dedicate the second book solely to this subject….. The First Book is called Abused, Addicted, Incarcerated… the autobiography of an Aboriginal Rebel and my pen name is Chief Poison Feather
“Tootoosis describes the federal government’s relationship with First Nations as an abusive one.”
I agree. Seems to me that Harper would like to “lord it over” the FN people. Well, actually, he likes to lord it over everyone. All he thinks about these days is how much oil money he could be making. Sadly, his greed is showing. He is bought and paid for with oil money. Our government is corrupt. *sigh*
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