Friday, January 4, 2013

Great News -- PM will meet Chief Spence on Jan 11th -- Followed by Facebook Discussion

Slept in this morning. Didn't get those letters written yesterday that I'd said I'd write to the MP's in Ottawa. I'm dragging my feet, but I log onto my computer before going downstairs. I have an email from John Bird. He says that Harper will meet Spence on January 11th and attaches this link to CTV news.

I lean back on my chair, tears filling my eyes. Right on. Right on.

I forward the article on facebook with this note: "My heart is so thankful. This meeting is a new chapter in treaty relations and awareness. Let's all join Chief Spence and Prime Minister Harper at that table in solidarity for the nation to nation work ahead of us."

I go downstairs to make coffee. I do some laundry, Christmas clean up, and a load of dishes.

When I go back upstairs there is rich conversation unfolding beneath my post.

Cindi Roberts Praying for open minds & open hearts!!

Jeremy Frost Sheena I'm curious about your take on Chief Spence's reported misuse of tribal funds. Just last night I was reading an article in the Toronto Sun about her $250,000 income. It seems that many members of the movement are distancing themselves from these traditional tribal authorities. From your perspective what actual representative power does Chief Spence have within the movement? (with corrections) Article here:

Jeremy Frost Just be be clear, I'm trying to understand why some founders of the movement would distance themselves from Chief Spence IF the movement's main concern involves treaty issues. From that perspective it seems Spence would be just as representative as any Aboriginal treaty subject. So why distance yourselves from her? If the movement involves both treaty issues and Aboriginal leadership issues, what actions are being taken within communities to hold people accountable?

Michael Ensley The above "documents" are not based on a forensic audit....which would be the best way to settle this issue..

Jeremy Frost Absolutely.. However, that doesn't change the fact that members of the movement have distanced themselves from Spence.

Michael Ensley The "release" of the documents" fits the hanger strike which the Govt is trying to discredit...I doubt this is accidental just saying..

Michael Ensley the "release" of the documents" fits the hunger strike which the Govt is trying to discredit...I doubt this is accidental just saying..

Jeremy Frost I think overall the question for me is, where do I fit in to all this? In what way and where should my support be placed? There is no question of reservation poverty.. if there are treaties that were made and have not been honoured, the government is not free to ignore these. So how to cut through the mystifying field of propaganda? Is Spence a representative of the movement or not? In what capacity? Why have some founders of the movement distanced themselves from her? Where is tribal authority accountability? What do the grassroots want or is this ambiguous due to the very nature of the organization of the movement? The protests are happening in our backyard and even across the world and yet all of this is far from being very clear!

Michael Ensley The issues are systemic in nature...for sure.

Loreen Husband And because they are systemic in nature, both sides need to be open and transparent in their dealings. BOTH sides also need to decide what their priorities are and speak with a united voice. I am very afraid that whatever transpires next will be fraught with disagreement because of unclear leadership and priority setting. I agree with you Jeremy that there are really 3 fronts happening here - Chief Spence, Idle No More and the national aboriginal leaders. That has been a chronic problem for First Nations ever since the treaties were signed. They have a hard time speaking with one collective voice and therefore it is hard to negotiate our way out of this mess. We need to be astute in all of this, acknowledge that what is in place now is definitely not working and then commit to figuyre out how to make things work better. Agruing intermitably about whose fault it is and where the corruption lies only keeps us making the same mistakes we have always made. Let's get beyond that and move on with finding solutions for everyone.

Michael Ensley The James Bay Treaty signed in 1905...provides for conditions to be met by the Govt...The main condition after reading the above Treaty is the provision for education...equal to the provincial funding...This reminds me of the debate in the USA over civil rights where separate but equal was not done thus leading to the Supreme Court to strike down desegregation Brown Vs Topeka in 1954...The sad result in this case is the funding for schools is just over half of the funding provided by the province..per pupil...not to mention the reserves should be given mineral rights on their own land like our provinces...So, this must be a Nation to Nation meeting with results which upgrade FN ability to provide education(which is a Federal responsibility and not Provincial) and to insure their development of their own natural resources..

Sheena Koops Lots to think about and consider here. Thank you for the rich discussion. First, Jeremy, I've heard the term "politics of distraction" (read a great article from an academic on the Idle No More site which unpacked this for me) and I believe the refusal to take responsibility for unimplemented treaty rights by pointing fingers at real or alleged "corruption" is hillarious, if it weren't so effective. The irony of a government who cannot live up to its own contracts and then point fingers is the real issue of accountability that I want to address.

Sheena Koops I also believe there is a lot of fear talk going on. The "issue" of unimplemented treaty has been going on for generations and many Canadians are just waking up to this fact, while people who have been oppressed by unimplemented treaty have been living with the racism, inequity, poverty, injustice... for generations. So, "mainstream" Canadians who are just waking up (myself included) are afraid because we have sooooo much history to learn and re-learn, we are so mystified because we thought we were pretty nice people, we feel trapped because we didn't know we are part of a system which has oppressed people for generations. Where do we fit in? We need to be quick to listen. We need to be humble as we reeducate ourselves. We need to be patient with our brothers and sisters who haven't woken up yet. We need to be non-indigenous treaty leaders. I'll attach a blog where I outline how to start this journey

Sheena Koops

Jeremy Frost And as one political thinker once said, we need to be brutally critical of not just the government's position, but of the new movement (here the comments were made in regard to the Arab Spring). That is, we must be careful not to attribute some quality to a revolutionary movement which lends to mystification, to mythologizing, or the forces of nostalgia. In the midst of all this are many people I'm sure who simply want to make a principled stand, not on the principle of protest, but that which inspires political action.

Jeremy Frost I'll definitely read your blog. Thanks Sheena.

Sheena Koops Loreen, you are bang on in your analysis, but let's take our fear and pray on it, use our fear as a prayer list and take this to our Creator.

Sheena Koops I'll leave the forensics and in-depth research to great minds like Mr. Ensley (who has already a great handle on our Canadian history which I'm trying to catch up in.) I guess I think our debt to FN folks is so deep, no misued money can compare in any way...

Sherry Mebs So glad Prime Minister Harper is coming to his senses and hopefully will be sensible in his listening and responding.

Sheena Koops Cindi, Jeremy, Loreen, Michael, and Sherry, do you mind if I copy and paste this exchange for my Treaty Walks blog. I think it's rich discussion that may be helpful to others down the road.

Jeremy Frost long live public discourse.. it's fine with me

Sherry Mebs That is fine with me Sheena.

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