Here's the latest from John Bird, Program Coordinator for Aboriginal Justice and Right Relations with the United Church of Canada.
Sent to all on the national Living Into Right Relations email list. Please
circulate widely wherever Sun-owned newspapers are distributed.
Here is a reply by Professor John Milloy of Trent University to
a column on Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence by Peter Worthington that appeared
in The Peterborough Examiner, and I imagine all or most of the Sun Media
Thanks to John Milloy for writing it, and to Jean Koning for
bringing it to our attention.
Aboriginal Justice and Right Relations
3250 Bloor St. W., Suite 300, Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4
or 800-268-3781, Ext. 4045
the Jan. 31, 2013 e-edition of The Peterborough Examiner:
"Spence gets attention but that's all" ( Column, Jan. 28) -
Worthington's column is simply grotesque: from its cruel comment on Bobby Sands
- "it was a self-liquidating problem" - to its abysmal ignorance of the history
and the current state of First Nations affairs.
For example, we have 600
or so chiefs because those chiefs were created by the Indian Act passed by the
government of our founding Prime Minister, Sir John A., and forced on
communities ever after. Yes, those tribes Mr. Worthington denigrates are
nations. The British Imperial government declared that in the Proclamation of
1763, which became part of our new constitution in 1982. Clearly, according to
Mr. Worthington, who as far as I know does not have a law degree, a series of
Supreme Court justices, who have confirmed that idea, have got it wrong.
And, as former Prime Minister Paul Martin pointed out recently, First
Nations asked for help managing their funds and the Kelowna Accord provided for
a special auditor general for First Nations. Prime Minister Harper refused to
help, has refused to make that appointment. Is it not blaming the victim to
complain about Chief Spence's accounting given that fact and the fact that the
Department of Indian Affairs, in providing a third rate education (currently the
subject of an inquiry by the Human Rights Commission in Ottawa) to communities,
has not equipped First Nations governments to cope with such responsibilities.
Finally, may I remind The Examiner and its readers that one of the leading
educational programs the department conducted from 1883 to 1996, in service to
Worthington's much vaunted integration, was residential schools and that their
deplorable legacy of cultural destruction and personal dysfunction caused the
Prime Minister to stand in Parliament and deliver an historic apology, if only
to escape the pain of the financial penalties of thousands of court cases
launched by abused exstudents.
I am not surprised by Mr. Worthington's
baseless opinion; he is who he is. I am disappointed that The Examiner,
published just down the road from Trent's Department of Indigenous Studies,
where the facts of the situation can be had, did not care to ask for a more
informed column. I think that would have served the interests of your readers
more than the ideological diatribe of Mr. Worthington you decided (or were
told?) you had to print.
PROF. JOHN S. MILLOY Department of Canadian
Studies Trent University
P.S. - And while it
irks me to do anything to promote the writings of people for the Sun media
group, here is a url for Peter Worthington's original column:
in case you think it doesn't matter what the Sun publishes, here's what its own
website says about its reach. It's probably a pretty safe bet that Worthington's
column appeared in at least one Sun-Media-owned newspaper near you. No wonder
Canadians are confused about Aboriginal issues:
"Sun Media Corporation, a
subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc., is Canada's largest newspaper publisher,
based on the circulation of paid and free newspapers, publishing over 15.1
million copies each week.
With 36 paid-circulation daily newspapers and
6 free dailies in 9 of the 10 largest urban markets in Canada, each with its own
dedicated website, and almost 200 community newspapers, shopping guides and
other specialty publications, Sun Media Corporation's English and French
language newspapers and websites make it a leading provider of local news and
Sun Media Corporation includes the activities of Osprey
Media and Canoe.ca, an integrated enterprise offering e-commerce, information
and communication services that operates a network of Internet portals that
attracts over 10.5 million unique visitors per month in Canada, including 5.7
million in Québec."