Decolonize the New Indian Agent: Bernard Valcourt
Meet the new face of federal power tasked with managing “the Indian Problem”. We couldn’t cover up those eyes…we needed you to see his particular wild, drunken glare of Conservative crazy first.
Valcourt steps into his new role of Aboriginal Affairs minister, filling the disgraced shoes of former AANDC Minister John Duncam, with the appropriate Harper credentials:
Because we all know right wing militants and the Armed Forces are the only way Settler Colonial states know how to deal with Indigenous issues.
Expect even less negotiating and more strong-arm PC tactics to force native complicity and consent.
props to the person referencing barbara kruger for decolonizingmedia
This is a response from someone I know on Facebook to a message he received, the message expressing a point of view I’ve seen far too often & is seemingly prevalent in Canadian culture. The response is in 2 parts and many others responded as well. (Part 2)
[Edit: I added a sourced link to view the original comment & responses on Facebook.]
There’s also a video I’d like you to see:
It’s under four minutes long. I’d like to leave you with that for now, as far as this issue is concerned.
I really hope you’ll take the time to educate yourself about Idle No More. Go down to a rally and hear the drums and prayers for yourself. Maybe even talk to some natives about their concerns. You’ll come away from it feeling changed for the better, I guarantee it.
Now to some of your other viewpoints…
The rest of your messages show a mindset that I can only regard as what the futurist David Houle refers to as “legacy thinking”. That is, being stuck in the attitudes and mindsets of an age whose story has passed. The first decades of a new century bring with them the shedding of the attitudes of the past century. In the case of our present day, that means the shedding of the story of the 20th century, which was the story that endless growth is possible. I’m going to assume you have a basic understanding of our economic system, which means you will understand how the creation of money as debt-bearing loans necessitates the endless conversion of natural, social and spiritual capital into goods and services and ultimately money (otherwise known as growing the GDP). The old paradigm regards this growth as necessary and limitless. As a species we have explored the globe, we know its limits, therefore we know it is finite. How can endless growth continue on a finite planet? You were good at math in high school I recall, so you will know that this is a mathematical impossibility.
In fact, we are now rapidly approaching the limits of our growth on a global scale. This can be seen in the financial struggles going on globally and the desperation of the governments who believe they can solve a problem created by interest bearing debt by creating more interest bearing debt. To any sane and rational outside observer this is clearly madness. The resource extraction that you regard as so necessary only serves to delay the inevitable. You can again see the desperation as we turn to dirtier and harder to extract sources of energy such as the tar sands and fracking; sources of energy which provide diminishing returns on energy expenditure. Again, these mindsets belong to the past and their days are numbered.
As to your fear of other countries coming and taking over our resources. It may yet be a reality that we will see resource conflicts, but it’s important to bear in mind that other countries are experiencing the same struggles as us in terms of hitting the limits of their growth. In fact, Canada lags behind most of the rest of the world in seeking to develop alternatives to our environmentally destructive civilization. Our current government, run as it is by large oil companies (just one example of this can be found here:http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/01/09/pol-oil-gas-industry-letter-to-government-on-environmental-laws.html ), seeks to profit through developing the dirtiest energy source available while suppressing clean energy such as wind. That can be contrasted with countries such as Germany who have massively boosted their production of clean energy sources. Rather than being afraid to the point of making a mad scramble for the last drop of oil, why not invest in the alternatives which already exist?
I digress a little, but the idea that “we have to develop our resources before somebody else comes and takes them from us” is fear-based thinking at its most profound and I don’t really wish to give it any more energy or validity by discussing it further.
You say: “I think you do too many drugs and are a fucking idiot for sympathizing with people who refuse to conform.”. To that I can only respond that I am proud to not only sympathize with people who refuse to conform, I happen to be one of those people too. Conformity to me translates as weak-willed. I don’t want to sink to insults but that sentence I just quoted is one of the most bewilderingly small-minded things I’ve ever received directed at me. I am proud to have my own identity, my own ideas, my own opinions and yes, my own appearance. I will never conform to anyone else’s ideas of who I should be or what I should think because I want a “better job”. The fact that you think it’s normal and even desirable to do so, in search of more money makes me sad. I’m sorry for you man.
In the end, I have to say receiving this message from you has been an interesting ride. I never thought someone I once knew and chose to hang out with would have had his opinions coloured by the mainstream ignorance and racism that so permeates our current dialogue as a nation. I appreciate it because it’s given me some perspective. It’s forced me to analyze my own opinions and ask how strongly I felt about them and what they were grounded in. In doing so, I’ve come out more assured than ever that I’m on the right path. I’m not rich and I don’t desire to be. I’m comfortable and I am rich in other things: I’m rich in human connections and moments that make my life meaningful. Money doesn’t do that. It’s not worth compromising yourself to get. End of story.
When you say you “don’t really give a shit about the environment” it scares the shit out of me. It scares me to think more people feel that way. To quote a more eloquent writer than myself “If you really think the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money.” You think human civilization exists in a vacuum? We depend on the environment for… everything. If you can’t see that, it makes me wonder if my memory of you as being strong in the sciences was incorrect.
“Only after the last tree has been cut down.
Only after the last river has been poisoned.
Only after the last fish has been caught.
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”
That comes from a Cree prophecy, which brings me full circle back to Idle No More.
First Nations people recognize the value of the earth. They see that value is worth more remaining as ‘natural capital’ (as the economists call it) rather than being pillaged and converted into money. This movement is a revolution to support the environment as well as to support basic human rights. Native people also have constitutionally protected treaty rights. They are Canada’s last best hope of protecting our environment from the outdated endless-growth paradigm which is now reaching its limits. You have a choice to be a part of the new paradigm or be left behind on the wrong side of history.
Don’t believe what you hear about Idle No More in the media. To quote Malcolm X: “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” I think you have not been so careful.
I’ll end by leaving you with a further list of resources:
A short documentary shot in Oakland by a friend:
And some articles:
Once again, I hope you take the time to learn more Sean. This movement is in your interests as well.
This is a response from someone I know on Facebook to a message he received, the message expressing a point of view I’ve seen far too often & is seemingly prevalent in Canadian culture. The response is in 2 parts and many others responded as well. (Part 1)
Well friend, it’s taken me a while to respond to this. I have to admit, part of me didn’t want to respond at all. What you’re saying to me in these messages comes from a place of ignorance and I understand that, but it’s still taken me a bit to figure out if it’s worth talking to you about these issues. In the end, your first message seems to me to carry within it a desire to learn more and so I’m going to take the time to provide you with some resources to educate yourself on the history of the relations between Canada and the indigenous peoples within its borders.
I’m not going to preach to you and I’m not going to spoon feed you; if you want to learn the issues at hand you’re going to have to do some reading. When I take the time to examine the current dialogue on Idle No More it’s obvious that most of the discourse comes from a place of fear and ignorance as to the nature of the relationship between Canada and First Nations, with the end result being a stunning amount of racism towards indigenous peoples. You have shown some of that racism in your messages and it’s been difficult for me to hear that from a former friend. That’s why I’m going to give you these resources. I hope that you use them to educate yourself about the history of our nation.
Understanding the current relationship between Canada and First Nations requires understanding a long and tumultuous history. Therefore, the very first resource I will suggest that you read is the Highlights from the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100014597/1100100014637 ). This is a summary of a report commissioned in 1991 to examine the relationship between Canada and First Nations. This is not a biased news source, this is a report of a government commission. Here is a short summary of its findings, though I highly suggest that you read all of the highlights:
“The main policy direction, pursued for more than 150 years, first by colonial then by Canadian governments, has been wrong.
Successive governments have tried - sometimes intentionally, sometimes in ignorance - to absorb Aboriginal people into Canadian society, thus eliminating them as distinct peoples. Policies pursued over the decades have undermined - and almost erased - Aboriginal cultures and identities.
This is assimilation. It is a denial of the principles of peace, harmony and justice for which this country stands - and it has failed. Aboriginal peoples remain proudly different.”
The grievances that are being brought to light by Idle No More are the very grievances that a Canadian Royal Commission composed of both indigenous and non-indigenous members identified as being systemic within the Canadian system. To understand more of the issues, these articles can provide further reading:
That will give you a basic understanding of the history of Canada’s policy towards First Nations. To address one of your points: “if I were to say “stupid drunk natives” then every native seems to get offended online.” Yes, most victims of attempted genocide get a little bit offended when being mocked for social scourges introduced to them by the perpetrators of that genocide. For the record, there are hundreds of individual indigenous nations within Canada. However, the government’s genocidal assimilation policy regarded them all as a singular “Indian problem” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_Campbell_Scott#Indian_Affairs). So I guess there’s something about being a unified target of genocide that builds solidarity among disparate peoples. I wouldn’t know, and neither would you. But many indigenous people do, since the history I’m talking about here continued well into their lifetimes. So please, think before you spout racism like that.
I should tell you that I posted your first message to my timeline. I was so taken aback by it that I wanted some perspective on it. I’d like to show you some of the responses I got from some of my friends who have direct experience with Canada’s racist and destructive policies:
“Holy Fuck. The average native eh? I guess I’m anything but average than, being Haida….i can only speak from a Haida perspective, but as far as I know the differences between native nations are just as diverse as those between countries in Europe. After hundreds of years each of those nations has kept their identity and heritage in tact. Anyway, Pascal…thank you for being you, thank you for sharing and giving information, thank you for your successes and failures, thank you for your thoughts and opinions, and thanks for sharing. It’s exposing the truth, all those inner feelings we have that allow us to really look at them and decide what to keep and what to discard. And evoking a response from someone who has opinions as such can only do more good, it’s really really damn hard to put something forth that isn’t really yours…then try and defend it. It’s really really hard for a lot of people to let go of what they have been told and learned, now imagine what’s its Like for people to let go of who they are or what they experienced? How can you ask someone to give up who they are and just ‘conform’. We’re supposed to be living in the ‘cultural mosaic’ of Canada where we all have identities and work together. I’ll tell you one thing…my native side & my Ukrainian side both think this guy deserves to have this exposed. Better be ready to defend your opinions there buddy, or… Take our own advice and ‘think it over for a week’ and maybe do some research into Canadian history and the history of the First Nations people. There is a reason why our grandparents and some of our parents are referred to as survivors.”
“”stupid drunk natives” is a touchy subject for people who have first nation family members suffering with addictions. The pain from losing one’s cultural identity through genocide, colonization, residential schools etc is passed from generation to generation. Of course people get offended when you strike a wound that is still open. As I am Metis, I have struggled with my beliefs about myself and my family due to comments like this. On my father’s side I have seen the pain passed from my cree grandparents, who were in residential schools, onto their children. On my mother’s side, I have seen my great grandmother cry and sing in some form of co salish tongue, mourning the loss of her old way of life. Most of my family is still numbing pain through addiction, and few have managed to get out of addiction and work through the pain and find balance in life as it is today.