Canada's Racist Colonial Heritage

Land Back march in Toronto, October 9, 2020 stands with Six Nations of the Grand River 1492 Land Back Lane occupation. (N.G. Farreal)

Simultaneously with the attacks in Nova Scotia, a judge in Ontario has issued an order for land defenders of the Six Nations of the Grand River to vacate 1492 Land Back Lane on Six Nations' land near Caledonia or face arrest. The Ontario Provincial Police appear to be mobilizing for greater violence against the Indigenous land defenders.

All these problems are rooted in the racist colonial heritage of what is called Canada. When the news broke of the violence in Nova Scotia, I immediately thought of undercover police agents up to dirty tricks, as is usually the case. Whenever workers face insecurity of a livelihood and their future, state agents come along to blame the national minorities, the Indigenous peoples, and immigrants for their problems. In this way, the governments, corporations and rich oligarchs, those who actually have power and set the direction of the economy, try to avoid accountability and a new direction. Even worse, the Government and the police power, either local or RCMP, or the military, are called upon to enforce a racist "peace" and set things straight as if they are disinterested parties.

Cree Chief Mistahi Maskwa (Big Bear)

We are not blind to the reality that the original mission of the RCMP was to suppress the Indigenous peoples of the Prairies. See the photo [on the left] of the great Prairie Cree Chief Mistahi Maskwa (Big Bear) being humiliated in chains in jail just prior to his death in 1888. His "crime" was that of leading the resistance of his people against the attacks of the racist colonial Canadian state.

The oceans and fishing industry has been exploited and wrecked for decades by big private corporate interests with the help of governments at all levels that provide the legal green light. The life of a fisher is precarious, "seasonal," and the industry has gone from smaller boats to mostly big commercial fishing in a few generations with the inshore fishery constantly threatened with destruction by the offshore giants. People's lives have been turned upside down as in Newfoundland with the destruction of the cod fishery. Within this turmoil people are scrambling to survive and looking for solutions.

A part of looking for solutions is investigating who is to blame for the problems and what social force and consciousness will provide a path forward and to bring the New into being. The ruling elite do everything in their power to block working people from seeing that they are the solution through finding and forging a new pro-social direction for the economy and country. A most common method to thwart the ambition of the people to find solutions that serve their common interests is to divide the people and pit them against each other instead of against the ruling elite and their colonial state and police powers.

The fact that Indigenous fishing makes up a small fraction of the lobster catch is a dead giveaway that foul play is at work, meaning a deliberate fostering of hatred and tension towards the Indigenous peoples by those in power. Federal Minister of Fisheries Bernadette Jordan fanned the flames in the usual thinly veiled Liberal way, basically saying the First Nations are poaching lobster. Jordan, who is also the MP for a rural fishing community in Nova Scotia, said conservation "underpins everything we do," adding that the lobster stocks in Nova Scotia remain healthy. In this detached way, the Liberals intend to hide behind environmentalism as a means to justify the denial of the hereditary rights of the Indigenous peoples. "We will never move forward with a plan that threatens the health of the species," Jordan said. She did not answer directly when asked if the treaty right to fish for a livelihood extended to fishing outside the state-regulated lobster season.

When the current attacks on Indigenous fishers erupted in September, Jordan made it clear that Ottawa was opposed to any fishing outside the regulated season. As for the definition of what constitutes treaty and hereditary rights and even the colonial court's ruling of the right to a "moderate livelihood" for Indigenous fishers, Jordan said that issue must be determined by negotiations with each First Nation. She said a blanket definition was not an option. Right, tie every First Nation up in legal knots, spending time and resources on lawyers and legal fees arguing in the colonial courts, while in practice unleashing racist violence and denying Indigenous peoples their hereditary and treaty rights.

Hiding behind the usual Liberal verbiage instead of speaking plainly of what is going through her mind Jordan said, "It's a very complex issue and it varies between communities. We can't tell First Nations what a moderate livelihood is."

You can't tell First Nations how to live?!! Your racist colonial state has never once stopped for one second telling Indigenous peoples how to live. If they don't follow your dictate and rules, they're thrown in jail or killed!

Can you imagine! Blaming the Indigenous peoples for destruction of the environment and overfishing! Of all things! Who are Liberals and the courts to tell the First Nations what kind of a livelihood they can have!? Is it "moderate," "medium," perhaps a percentage of the total fisheries? Should we give it a dollar value as imperialists do for everything? Have you told the billionaire owner of Clearwater Seafoods that he should expropriate only a "moderate" amount of the value his fishers and other workers produce? The rich oligarchs like the Irving and McCain family empires scowl at any regulation or control of their "right" to make maximum profit from their operations.

What a joke these Liberal government agents are, but also a bunch of patronizing colonial racists who are always plotting behind the backs of the people. Do we need yet another inquiry to investigate the recent violence against Indigenous peoples in BC, Ontario, Quebec and indeed across the country to prove what the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls discovered? You Liberals have yet to even address the findings in any of the state inquiries such as the McDonald Commission on RCMP wrongdoings.

The Trudeau government and the Harper government before it have not acted to end the violence against Indigenous peoples. In this case in Nova Scotia, RCMP officers stood by, watched and videotaped the violence against the Sipekne'katik First Nation. It leads me to believe the RCMP is ready to intervene should Mi'kmaq resistance escalate and by intervening escalate the violence as they have done elsewhere, as in Caledonia. This year too we saw RCMP violently arresting Wet'suwet'en land defenders on their traditional territory in BC.

The Canadian people have a long and proud history of defending themselves against state-organized violence through organizations such as the East Indian Defence Committee and People's Front. When attacked during the 1980s, the East Indians led by Comrade Hardial Bains first and foremost defended themselves based on maximum political mobilization of the people to uphold the rights of all. They activated the human factor/social consciousness to defend the rights of all because that is where our security lies, certainly not in the racist colonial state and its police powers.

Canada -- Hands Off the Mi'kmaq Nation!
Defend the Hereditary and Treaty Rights of the Indigenous Peoples
Against the Racist Violence of the Colonial State and Its Police Powers!
Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 40 - October 24, 2020

Article Link:
Canada's Racist Colonial Heritage - Letter to the Editor


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