Dave Clements' "Nisga'a treaty free vote revives referendum call" (Weekend Edition, Aug. 8) brought out more anti-First Nations pseudo-democrats like Martyn Brown of the special interest Citizens Voice on Native Claims. V. Klemes' "NDP needs primer on democracy," (Weekend Edition letters, Aug. 15) and Clements repeat the fallacy of what the Nisga'a will supposedly obtain.
They will receive less than $160 million, not $200 million for ceding more than 18,000 square kilometres of land on which they will be expected to survive. That is within the Department of Indian Affairs policy of only letting First Nations keep a maximum of eight per cent of their own land.
Each band member will receive about $29,000 or the equivalent of less than three years of white society's poverty level income. They will pay taxes on it and will be expected to do so after it runs out, and still have to provide for themselves. This amount is less than the federal government's guidelines of $35,000 to $40,000 per First Nation member in the negotiating process.
Would Klemes, Brown and his Reformer and Liberal anti-native fellow travellers, including the extractive industry CEOs, be prepared to give up 92 per cent of their property to a foreigner of another skin color for such an attractive amount that would provide such benefits? Their short-term solution is to give the natives more money and less land. Why let the natives have their land to build an economic base for survival when, in the long run, it can be raped and exploited profitably by and for the Euroethnic-centered extractive industries?
As for "democracy", of course, the Lower Mainlanders should have the right to "meddle" in the affairs fo the "people of the north" as Klemes claims, but only as much as they "meddle" in the affairs of the Lower Mainland where power and control are exercised. Whether or not Klemes has noticed, BCers are having a say in the treaties being negotiated. It may not be the kind of involvment he wants. It appears he prefers to ignore historical reality and maintain the imperialist Rudyard Kipling's "White Man's Burden" of Euroethnic superiority and control.
Like Martyn Brown, and other anti-indigenous peoples such as the BC Fisheries Survival Coalition (or Premier Clark's fisheries advisor), they indicate the bigotry, racism and ignorance, no matter how couched, of some BCers as evident in the Reform/Liberal minority report.
Indeed, they are not so pale reflections of the Equal Righters of the 1890s. A referendum? Why not? It will permit BC to demonstrate that it is a preponderantly racist province, like the rest of Canada, in attitude and treatment of the First Nations. As for the NDP, opponents of the Nisga'a treaty should read the two reports, the Nisga'a treaty and accompanying documents to discover what the Nisga'a will receive.
They might discover the NDP is almost as anti-native, but not so blind, as the Reform and Liberals and federal government in their attitudes towards First Nations. But that would eliminate their scapegoats. And scapegoating is integral to corporatist facist practices.
F. J. K. Griezic
Adjunct professor, Canadian history
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs
- taking submissions on the BC Treaty Commission
c/o Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C., Canada, V8V 1X4
Ian Waddell, Chair: Tel (250) 387-2317, Fax (250) 356-7156
Committee Clerk: Tel (250) 356-6318
For more information on the BC Treaty process, see: