Monday, September 28, 2009

UN Declaration

Hi all:

I have just released a new column for the Frontier Centre about why I do not support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
To to be honest, my biggest complaint about the UN Declaration it is an easy diversion from important work that needs to be accomplished at home. During the negotiations over this document, indigenous leaders from all over Canada (and elsewhere) were taken away from Canada, shuttled around on flights and put in expensive hotels, to negotiated for a non-binding legal document that already overlaps with so many court judgments pertaining to Aboriginals in Canada already.
I also strongly oppose it because it provides, once again, illegitimate moral cover, for leaders to avoid band accountability issues in Canada.
This is all besides the legal and constitutional issues that the document presents.
Canada has constitutional protection for First Nations, thank you very much, they do not need a one-size-fits-all approach from Geneva, Switzerland or New York City.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Some good news in Indian Country.
Apparently, AFN national chief Shawn Atleo has stated that he will push for First Nation economic self-sufficiency, as he recognizes that political independence and economic independence are inescapably linked.
This is from a recent news story in the Globe and Mail.
This is encouraging news and I wish the best to Atleo in his plans to work towards FN self-sufficiency.
It's funny how I was called a right wing crank on APTN for suggesting this by First Nation journalist and co-panelist Trevor Greyeyes.
I have said that PM Stephen Harper could truly be a transformational leader in this area as Trudeau was with the Charter if he took this issue as his own and expended political capital.
The debate over ending the Indian Act and freeing up First Nation business activity should start now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The need for polling in First Nations

In my job as a policy analyst with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, I help distribute and conduct analysis on surveys for our Aboriginal Governance Index. We ask questions about all areas of band governance, economic development and service delivery. One thing we are looking into is gauging opinions on abstract questions. One area I want to explore are notions of individual rights and opinions about the limits on government. We could even ask band members how they feel about how regional grand chiefs or even the national chief of the AFN is selected.
One thing that has always bothered me are grand statements made by indigenous leaders and academics about how different First Nations are from everyone else. We need culture-specific programming for everything. Aboriginal philosophers assert that there is an "Aboriginal way of knowing" or Aboriginal epistemologies (study of knowledge).
I don't doubt that First Nations have different opinions and values than perhaps other Canadians. They have a different understanding of Canadian history; there is no doubt.
However, I am not as convinced that their commitment to individual rights, their basic beliefs about government, are as different as they are made out to be. I believe First Nations would also show support for individual property rights on-reserve, if given the opportunity to voice their opinions.
This is why I believe there need to be more polls done of on-reserve First Nation populations to discover these things. Let's settle some of these issues of whether Natives have different values once and for all.