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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: July 06, 2021 09:53PM

Change, especially in the face of inequity, injustice and despair, is all too often excruciatingly glacially slow.

And then it can arrive and seem stunningly sudden.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today named our new Governor General and has made history doing so, selecting the first Indigenous person (but not first woman) ever to hold the position.

The GG is defined as "the federal representative of the Canadian monarch" (Queen Elizabeth II). The job includes the title of Commander-in-Chief, which involves liaising with the Canadian military on behalf of the Queen. Governor General is largely a ceremonial role. However, as one Indigenous spokesperson stated (paraphrase): It will be the first time an Indigenous person will be within the seat of government.


From a CBC article:

"Inuk leader and former ambassador Mary Simon has been chosen as the next governor general — the first Indigenous person ever to be appointed to the role.

"During a news conference across the river from Parliament Hill this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the Queen has accepted his recommendation to appoint Simon — a past president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization — as the 30th governor general.

"I can confidently say that my appointment is a historic and inspirational moment for Canada and an important step forward on the long path towards reconciliation," said Simon from the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.

"Indeed, my appointment comes at an especially reflective and dynamic time in our shared history."

"Simon is an Inuk from Kuujjuaq, a village on the coast of Ungava Bay in northeastern Quebec. She was born to a local Inuk woman and a fur trader father who worked at a Hudson's Bay Company outpost."

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-gg-mary-simon-1.6091376


Niigaan Sinclair is a writer and activist as well as the head of the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. His father is Murray Sinclair, a lawyer, a judge, a former Canadian senator and the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) (2009-2015). The TRC is described as being "a component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools (IRS). The Commission will document the truth of survivors, families, communities and anyone personally affected by the IRS experience."

Niigaan Sinclair was interviewed today about the appointment of Mary Simon. In his remarks he stated firmly that Indigenous Peoples "are not subjects of the Crown" but "equal partners in Confederation". I haven't heard it expressed this way before and it surprised me. (Canadian citizens are considered subjects of the Crown).

Canada's Department of Justice states:

"The Government of Canada is committed to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation for transformative change.

"Indigenous peoples have a special constitutional relationship with the Crown. This relationship, including existing Aboriginal and treaty rights, is recognized and affirmed in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 35 contains a full box of rights, and holds the promise that Indigenous nations will become partners in Confederation on the basis of a fair and just reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the Crown.

"The Government recognizes that Indigenous self-government and laws are critical to Canada’s future, and that Indigenous perspectives and rights must be incorporated in all aspects of this relationship. In doing so, we will continue the process of decolonization and hasten the end of its legacy wherever it remains in our laws and policies."

https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/principles-principes.html

---

Irony then that the Canadian monarch (the British Queen) must approve the appointment - in this case, an Indigenous woman - even if it's only a rubber stamp.

The issues are complex and I'm feeling bad that I haven't looked into them more often and more carefully when it's really a huge big deal in Canada and I've been aware of it all my life. Aware that there's a problem there, not too well informed about the ins and outs of it. That right there is a big part of the problem. It's easy to leave things to government and trust they'll do the right thing, although not always (or even often) realistic.

Multiple discoveries have been made in recent weeks here in Canada of unmarked graves, at least one mass grave and remains of Indigenous children in school grounds (all of whom died at government-mandated residential schools). Too, there is the ongoing crisis of scores of "Murdered and Missing" Indigenous women and girls. You can't even really say "discoveries" because Indigenous Peoples knew where the burial grounds were. They are the ones who finally gave up on waiting for government action and themselves went with ground-penetrating radar to the areas they knew would yield results, and so it was.

Many emotions have been aroused and it's truly a painful chapter in Canadian history. Partly I feel awful for the suffering of the families, then and now, and partly for my relative ignorance about the various issues involved. Too, I don't know of anything I can do to help at all, in any way. Other than learn more about what happened and why and be alert to any chance to be an ally, if wanted.

I have known especially about the lack of clean drinking water on the reserves. It bothers me greatly but I haven't done much to find out why it is so and what can be done to improve that obviously major situation that the rest of Canadians don’t face.

I don't want the sum of my life to be "I could've done more" but in this instance it would be. :(

---

Irony then that the Canadian monarch (the British Queen) must approve the appointment - in this case, an Indigenous woman - even if it's only a rubber stamp, given the comment by Niigaan Sinclair about being equal partners.

The issues are complex and I'm feeling bad that I haven't looked into them more often and more carefully when it's really a huge big deal in Canada and I've been at least vaguely aware of it all my life. Aware that there's a problem there, not too well informed about the ins and outs of it. That right there is a big part of the problem. It's easy to leave things to government and trust they'll do the right thing, although not always (or even often) realistic.

Of course I see parallels between the US and Canada with the issue of how some citizens and the government treat others who are supposedly equal citizens or should be.

In Canada we've had all the recent upheaval and controversy over the search for and discovery of the remains of thousands of Indigenous children at the government-mandated schools, as mentioned above (parents had no choice but to send their kids away to residential school, unless they signed away their treaty rights), the larger picture of ongoing mistreatment/lack of equal treatment of Indigenous Peoples and the disclosures and questions about the involvement of religious institutions in the abundant and abhorrent abuses of Canada's First Peoples. I've vaguely heard about it for most of my life but not with the details that have recently been disclosed. And finally, maybe, this is the straw that broke the camel's back - the images of children's graves (as well as government inaction over the tragedy) and the telling and re-telling of firsthand accounts of abuse at the hands of teachers and officials, many of whom were nuns, priests and members of churches of various denominations. Finally, maybe, those most sorely affected, and those still suffering, and their descendants, are being heard. And this time decisive action will be taken and whatever remediation possible will occur.

Of course, the USA has grappled with similar issues in its own history, the oppression of "the other". The whole world witnessed a recent example in the painful and horrifying spectacle of the death of George Floyd. And there are countless other incidents in both our countries where some of the root causes are similar, although the targets may be different.

For some reason today, as I heard the announcement of the new Governor General, the first Indigenous Person appointed to the role, I heard Sam Cooke in my head: A Change is Gonna Come.

It's taken too long. And been so excruciatingly painful for all too many of our fellow beings. But at last maybe we're on the cusp. There can be no going back.

As a treat if you've read through this whole thing (which I hope is somewhat on topic, if only because a lot of the pain has been inflicted by skewed religious ideas and incompetent, unfit, unkind, if not outright criminal, church representatives, here's the amazing sound of Sam Cooke and his prophetic and most appealing statement: A change is gonna come.

Slow, definitely, but sure...it is to be mightily hoped.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEBlaMOmKV4

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: July 06, 2021 10:03PM

Thanks for that.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: July 06, 2021 10:17PM

Love you dagny

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: July 07, 2021 12:25AM

Funny that I threw in the Ojibwe word meegwetch (thank you) yesterday, that I learned while attending the University of Manitoba, and the university gets mentioned in a post today. Cue spooky music.

I think the Canadian and US treatment of and attitude toward indigenous peoples was pretty similar up through WWII, more or less. By the time I started regularly visiting Manitoba in the 1970s, at least in my experience, the word "Indian" had largely been banished from Canadian English, except to refer to people from India. At first they were referred to as "East Indian", but in recent years, even the "East" part has been dropped.

Indigenous Canadians were referred to as indigenous, native peoples (rarely) or First Nations (my favorite). The Canadian government's treatment of First Nations peoples in the past obviously had some serious dark episodes that they are still dealing with, but I think they have been making a good-faith effort to do better in recent decades.

Yes, Governor General is a largely ceremonial role, but certifying the Electoral Votes is a largely ceremonial role too, and look how that turned out. Ceremonial roles sometimes matter greatly.

Having a First Nations US Secretary of the Interior, and First Nations Governor General in Canada are spectacular developments, IMHO. Both will raise the status and recognition of indigenous peoples of both countries.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/07/2021 12:26AM by Brother Of Jerry.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: July 07, 2021 03:04PM

Brother Of Jerry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Funny that I threw in the Ojibwe word meegwetch
> (thank you) yesterday, that I learned while
> attending the University of Manitoba, and the
> university gets mentioned in a post today. Cue
> spooky music.

Hi BoJ. Yes, I read your mmegwetch blurb yesterday and enjoyed the video. Thanks for that.

Haha re spooky music. Yeah.


> By the time I started regularly visiting Manitoba in the
> 1970s, at least in my experience, the word
> "Indian" had largely been banished from Canadian
> English, except to refer to people from India. At
> first they were referred to as "East Indian", but
> in recent years, even the "East" part has been
> dropped.

I have to concentrate to keep up. Terminology changes, sometimes rapidly. I still slip and say "East Indian". The accepted term now is "South Asian".


> Indigenous Canadians were referred to as
> indigenous, native peoples (rarely) or First
> Nations (my favorite).

"Native Indian" is the term I was first familiar with, and it distinguished "Natives" from "East Indians". I had no clue at first that the terms were considered inaccurate at best, racist at worst. I thought it meant "native" peoples in Canada as opposed to "settlers" or "immigrants" which is the rest of us with European or other roots. Connotation is everything, I came to learn and "native" was considered a slur, which as a kid I never realized.

Yes, I like "First Nations" too. It sounds respectful and inclusive and refers to all the First Nations Peoples. At some recent point (recent at least in my consciousness) we switched to the term "Aboriginal", then in seemingly rapid succession it became "Indigenous", which is where we're at now.

But I heard an Indian Chief the other day refer to "First Nations" so there's more than one way to go. And it's OK to use 'Indian' if it's a person's title or the name of an organization. For example, there's the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. Terry Teegee is "the elected Regional Chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations". I just try to get the names and titles correct and follow suit when I hear how people refer to themselves.


> Having a First Nations US Secretary of the
> Interior, and First Nations Governor General in
> Canada are spectacular developments, IMHO. Both
> will raise the status and recognition of
> indigenous peoples of both countries.

I agree. And it feels good. Make room for those who know the land, the history, the customs, the people, to be involved in government. What a concept.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 07/07/2021 03:06PM by Nightingale.

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: July 07, 2021 02:58AM

Sincere congratulations to Canada (the country), and to all Canadians!

A truly historic achievement for all of our northern neighbors!

We will get there someday, but you will have led the way.

I am very happy for all of you.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: July 07, 2021 03:44AM

+1

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: July 07, 2021 02:38PM

Thank you, Tevai and LW. It's worth looking on the positive side.

But it's embarrassing that it's a matter of note in 2021, to the extent that it made headlines in all media, that a member of Canada's First Nations has been appointed to a major government position.

Especially because, as I only just learned yesterday, First Nations Peoples considered that they were partners in Confederation, not subjects of the British Crown. (I'm not sure if Canadian officials viewed it that way but even if so the FN people have sure not been treated as "equal").

But our Constitution is such that QEII had to approve the appointment of a "partner in Confederation" (although the approval and appointment are both symbolic and required for all such appointments. Ironic though for a FN person).

But when barriers are finally broken the incoming tide is a force to be reckoned with. More firsts will occur, hopefully rapidly, and at some point won't be headline news any more. Or at least not because it's the first woman or the first GG or the first who- or whatever. Maybe even in our lifetimes.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: July 07, 2021 03:14PM

I forgot to mention that many are cynical of the PM's motives. He's not popular in many quarters. I guess that goes without saying in politics.

First, there's the timing. Right when the scandal of the missing Aboriginal children has flared up again (many now found in unmarked graves), the PM makes this choice.

But also, it is widely expected that he wants to have a federal election this summer (as he senses that his two rival parties are in a weak position and he could go from ruling as a minority party to becoming a majority).

Under our Constitution, the PM has to get the approval of the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and call an election. Again, it's all symbolic with the GG but it's the legal process too.

So, yeah. There's that.

Still, that doesn't take away from the eminently qualified and deserving Mary Simon.

Just saying though. Politics!

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: July 07, 2021 02:19PM

Niigaan Sinclair, as I said above, stated that Indigenous Peoples are "partners in Confederation". I mentioned that I had never heard that before (or don't remember). Obviously, it's a vitally important concept to those most closely associated with the arrangement.

What's also interesting is how much the USA influenced the manner of the formal birth of our Canadian nation, if only by language choices and the reasons for them.

I meant to include above a definition of Confederation. Here are some excerpts from The Canadian Encyclopedia:

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/confederation-1867#

“Canada wasn’t born out of revolution or a sweeping outburst of nationalism. Instead, it was created in a series of conferences and orderly negotiations, culminating in the terms of Confederation on 1 July 1867. The union of the British North American colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada (what is now Ontario and Québec) was the first step in a slow but steady nation-building exercise that would come to encompass other territories, and eventually fulfill the dream of a country A Mari usque ad Mare — from sea to sea.

“But support for Confederation wasn’t universal. Indigenous people were never asked if they wanted to join, for example, and many others launched staunch opposition before and after 1867. From Indigenous to francophone resistance, opponents of Confederation have shaped the way we think about Canada as much as the Fathers of Confederation.

“The union of British North America was a long-simmering idea. But by the 1860s, it had become a serious question in the Province of Canada. In the Atlantic colonies, however, a great deal of pressure would still be necessary to convert romantic ideas of a single northern nation into political reality.

“The creation of a huge United States army during the American Civil War (1861–65), combined with Britain’s desire to reduce its financial and military obligations to its colonies in North America, boosted fears of American annexation. Canadian expansionism was considered by some as a pre-emptive action to reduce the chances that territories to the west and north of the Canadas would be annexed by the United States.

“Indigenous peoples were not invited to or represented at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences, even though they had established what they believed to be bilateral (nation-to-nation) relationships and commitments with the Crown through historic treaties. Paternalistic views about Indigenous peoples effectively left Canada’s first peoples out of the formal discussions about unifying the nation.

“Having rejected Confederation in 1869, Newfoundland and Labrador finally joined in 1949. In 1999, Nunavut, meaning “our land” in Inuktitut, was carved out of the Northwest Territories as part of the largest Indigenous land claim settlement in Canadian history.

---

As for the title “The Dominion of Canada”, The Canadian Encyclopedia states:

“Dominion of Canada is the country’s formal title, though it is rarely used. It was first applied to Canada at Confederation in 1867. It was also used in the formal titles of other countries in the British Commonwealth. Government institutions in Canada effectively stopped using the word Dominion by the early 1960s.
The last hold-over was the term Dominion Day, which was officially changed to Canada Day in 1982. Today, the word Dominion is seldom used in either private or government circles.

“Dominion comes from the Latin dominus, which means master. The term Dominion — that which is mastered or ruled — was used by the British to describe their colonies or territorial possessions. It was used for centuries before the word was formally applied to the new nation of Canada. For example, Britain’s American colonies were often referred to as the Dominion of New England. Today, the nickname of the State of Virginia remains the “Old Dominion” — a title conferred by King Charles II in the mid-17th century.

“In the conferences and negotiations that brought about Confederation, the Fathers of Confederation wanted to call the new country (which then consisted of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario) the “Kingdom of Canada.” But the British government feared that this imperial-sounding name would offend the Americans. After the stresses of the American Civil War, Britain was anxious not to antagonize the United States and insisted on a different title.

“When the Canadian government patriated its Constitution from Britain in 1982, the word Dominion did not appear anywhere in the new Constitution Act, 1982. It also did not appear in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“…, the old BNA Act (now called the Constitution Act, 1867) remains a part of Canada’s comprehensive Constitution, along with the 1982 statute. As such, Dominion of Canada remains the country’s formal, if seldom used, national title.”

---

In 1982 Dominion Day was changed to Canada Day. The connotation of being a “Dominion” of Britain is not so welcome any more.
We didn’t learn much American history in school and I haven’t read much. The major events, then and now, seem to be common knowledge due to our sharing a continent and in large part to the wide reach and big impact of US media. The US is the giant on the continent. Good thing we’re on friendly terms. Here’s hoping for an indefinite ongoing positive relationship.

What's in a word eh? They matter most crucially to those most affected by them. We can honour people by how we use language.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/07/2021 02:25PM by Nightingale.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: July 07, 2021 02:25PM

The house of Manasseh is going places.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: July 07, 2021 02:40PM


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