Thursday, 21 February 2013

Native Capability

I spent last Saturday sitting in the audience for the Liberal Leadership Convention in Mississauga (don't worry, this isn't about to become a political post), and Native affairs were discussed quite a bit. Hearing the candidates talk about how we should proceed with First Nations communities made me aware of something that I'd been kind of ignoring in our class discussions and in our blog posts.

Most of us know very little about Native life and reserves and so forth, which is expected. This course and this play is kind of like a first look. As such, there are going to be a lot of inaccuracies in our perceptions of issues, ect. I don't claim to know everything about this topic (not by a long shot), but I really must put one common misconception to rest.

Native Americans know what's up. Yes, there is a large problem with education, and there are a lot of very segregated communities, but they're still an intelligent people. Like in every society, there are less capable leaders and people who don't understand the politics around them, but that's life. Many reserves find themselves in difficult situations because up until all too recently, the government of Canada was implementing systematically racist policy, because Natives were seen as a weird burden on society. This agenda was no secret, either.

Coming out of this adversity, it's really no wonder a lot of the communities have problems, but it in no way means that the people are incapable of functioning in modern society.

I see a lot of people writing and saying things along the lines of "Our government needs to sit down with Natives and teach them how to handle money" or "Natives need to be taught how to handle their reserves." Let's just get one thing straight - there are many capable and excellent Native leaders. They understand politics in Canada and better understand how to treat their people than other politicians and law-makers (I won't get into any specifics unless someone would like me to). The problem is our current government rarely sits down to discuss this with them properly, and thusly the way they're supplied isn't always how they need (again, I can go into a bit of detail if requested).

So how should you be phrasing these suggestions (because I believe we're generally on track with our line of thought)? "Our government needs to sit down and discuss with Natives how they need to be funded and get a clear view of what the money should be for" or "the government needs to get an understanding of what problems are on reserves and work with First Nations to find solutions."

I think if we really look at a lot of the problems, the trouble lies in the ambiguity and miscommunication. There is a lack of information on spending on reserves and a lack of information on how the government is funding them.

We have more similarities than differences.

1 comment:

  1. Bonnie, I agree that there are many capable Native leaders and that the government doesn't need to sit down and "teach" them. What needs to be done is meaningful and respectful conversations between the federal government and Native leaders that result in tangible progress, and not just lip service.