- Category: news
- Created: Friday, 04 October 2013 13:04
- Published: Friday, 04 October 2013 13:04
- Written by Administrator 3
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BY DOUG CUTHAND, THE STARPHOENIX
The Southern Chiefs Organization in Manitoba is in crisis, with Grand Chief Murray Clearsky facing allegations of misspending the organization's funds.
The allegations involve withdrawals of money totalling about $10,000 during August and September. The chiefs met and suspended Clearsky. The case has not been proven, yet Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt took it upon himself to play the role of the great white father and ordered the chiefs to clear up the situation or he would do it for them by calling in the police to investigate wrongdoing.
I hate financial mismanagement and the theft of public funds. We must respect our people and their money, but we have to be given the ability to deal with problems as mature adults. The colonial mindset of the Canadian government exemplified by Valcourt has to change.
The old Reform party and the new Conservatives have jumped on First Nations at every opportunity, reinforcing the myth that aboriginal governments are corrupt and our leaders are not trustworthy. This is designed to weaken our political stance and turn the public against us.
The allegations against the grand chief occurred this summer, and the chiefs reacted quickly. Contrast that to the Senate scandal that continues to reveal more and more misspending in the upper house. Throughout the Senate imbroglio Valcourt has remained silent, and not issued a single statement to condemn the misuse of government funds amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I wonder how Valcourt would react if the chiefs told him to clear up the situation?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper tends to step outside the country to make domestic announcements. When speaking to a group of business leaders in New York about the Keystone XL Pipeline last week, Harper commented that he wouldn't not take "no" for an answer on an American decision to proceed with the construction of the pipeline.
What was that all about? How could Harper have the temerity to think that he could demand the president of the United States approve the pipeline? It isn't in Harper's country, it isn't his pipeline, and it isn't his decision.
It is an indication about just how panicky the government is getting over the potential loss of markets for Alberta's oilsands. The oilsands are landlocked, and an expensive source of bitumen that is increasingly under attack by environmentalists and First Nations groups.
Harper is in no position to force a U.S. decision on XL. I read his comments as a shot across the bow to First Nations and environmental groups in Canada that he is prepared to ignore legal and environmental concerns and push ahead with the Gateway pipeline through British Columbia and any others planned in the near future, such as a pipeline to the East Coast.
His combative stance could result in serious pushback from First Nations groups. The widely held position among B.C. First Nations is that they will not support further pipeline development without a settlement of land claims and a serious approach to their environmental concerns.
The question of First Nations title to B.C. must be addressed, and constitutionally the ball is in the Federal Court on that one. Just simply not accepting no for an answer is not an answer.
Deejay Ian Campeau, a member of the band A Tribe Called Red, has done what Native Americans south of the border have being trying for years. The Congress of American Indians and other groups have been challenging the use of racist names, logos and mascots to promote professional sports teams.
Teams such as the Washington Redskins, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians are among the more blatant offenders. So far submissions from Native American groups have fallen on deaf ears and no changes have been made.
Campbell recently filed a human rights complaint against the Nepean Redskins urging the team to change its racist name and logo. After some controversy the club's board of directors agreed and will change the team's name at the end of the current season.
It seems that First Nations in Canada and Native Americans are the last bastion of institutional racism in sports. "If it were Blackskins or Yellowskins this wouldn't even be a conversation," said Campeau. Somehow, First Nations are not considered a contemporary people but rather a relic from the past, so racist names involving them are not considered offensive in the same manner as others. They simply don't get it in the U.S. President Ronald Reagan's favourite football team was the Washington Redskins, and I don't think it ever occurred to him that the name was a racist slur.
A Tribe Called Red has offered to do a concert to raise funds to help offset the cost of changing the Nepean team's name. Now, there's a real class act.