by Stewart Steinhauer
All joking about Erections Canada aside, I solemnly swear that the following statement is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. And the Queen.
I mentioned the Queen because it's better to leave no stone unturned, as my stone grandfather who guides me in my work as a stone sculptor always says. After standing staring at this great boulder flung from Europe's shore on the catapult of colonialism, the boulder some call Canada, I've decided it's time to get out my carving tools, and to set to work on trying to make something decent out of it.
How do I shape Canada without desecrating my own nation of birth, the great but unacknowledged Nehiyaw Nation, spreading from Labrador to northern BC?
I was born at Saddle Lake Indian Reserve #125, in 1952. Canada called me a Treaty Indian, then, and as such I was not a citizen of Canada, nor any recognized nation in the world, but, instead, a legally-defined "non-person". In the early 1960s, Canada decided to suddenly name all "Indians" as citizens of Canada. How do "non-persons" become citizens of Canada without application or processing? Romani Gypsies currently applying for Canadian citizenship to escape horrific persecution in Eastern Europe would like to learn the secret to that trick. Instead, Canada sends them back to face genocidal conditions.
Back when "Indians" mysteriously became "Canadians", Canada's Prime Minister, Lester Pearson, signed on to the UN Convention On Genocide, commenting as he did so that legislation such as this could never possibly be needed by a nation like Canada, but that Canada's support for the Convention set a good example for the global community of nations.
I have a Canadian passport, and a Canadian Social Insurance Number, and I receive invitations to vote in Canadian elections, but, if I participate in a Canadian election, will I be committing an act of treason against my true Nehiyaw Nation? After thinking about it, I've decided I would accept dual citizenship, Canadian and Nehiyawak, but only on my terms. Those terms logically include a recognition of the genocide, and the application of effective remedies. Under those conditions, I would participate in a Canadian election.
However, I understand that such an action is not in the offing, whether Canada is dominated by the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party. The only difference I have been able to discern between these two political parties is that one uses lubricant and the other doesn't while they fuck over "Indians". Did I just break the solemn vow made at the very beginning of this article? Broken promises... what can I say? I blame it on forced assimilation. We indigenous Peoples are learning from the Masters.
Today is the Master's voting day. Instead of wandering down to the nearest polling station to commit treason to the Nehiyaw Nation, in a riding the Conservative Party counts as won before any votes are cast, and where the biggest problem is finding a white male resident of the riding who isn't hopelessly brain dead to stand as Conservative Party candidate, I've decided to look to all those Canadians below and to the left, as Delegate Zero, currently "other" campaigning in the upcoming Mexican election, has wisely suggested.
Should I, following the traditions of Ancient Greece, wellspring of Western Civilization, and as so heroically described by Homer, throw myself at your feet and, wrapping my arms around your knees, pleading for mercy? Listen to me now, I beg of you.
Beginning today, which ever day it may be that you stumble across these words, I plead with you to work together to form a national coalition along the lines of the Bolivian Coalition in Defense of Water, Life, and Basic Services. From the Green Party left through the NDP all the way to the Communist Party of Canada, from environmentalists to anarchists to Marxists, to radical lesbian feminists to social activists of all stripes, including the Council of Canadians, and the Sierra Club, regardless of English Canada/French Canada/andalltheotherimmigrantpopulation Canada backgrounds, plus all the other "Others".
Let us turn this coalition into an electoral force, one we know will have to run on limited funds, and in the face of severe opposition launched from the pulpit of mainstream media. Let us use our ingenuity, our creative powers, our ability to laugh and love... okay, that last one's too corny, even for me.
If those of us below and to the left have the smarts to be "below and to the left" in the first place, then we have the smarts to take state power through the electoral process. The time has come to stop talking and to start doing.
James Lovelocke, the scientist who rejuvenated the Ancient Greek term "Gaia" to describe the planet we all live on as a complex whole system, suggesting that we humans could choose to see our planet as a "being", was echoing indigenous Peoples' millennia-old vision of Mother Earth. Recently Lovelocke issued a new statement suggesting that we humans have already gone too far in our destruction of Mother Earth to avert disaster; now our option is to live with the consequences of our actions.
The current form of Canadian state power, whether Liberal or Conservative, is dedicated to maintaining the system that is destroying Mother Earth. We don't need to change parties. We need to change systems. Starting now.
Stewart Steinhauer is an internationally-known stone sculptor who lives on the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, where he was born and raised. He enjoyed success as a market gardener, a furniture builder and a house builder, before he turned to sculpting. He is the author of Voice from the Coffin, about life on the Rez. Visit his website at www.indigenius.biz (below).
URL 1: www.indigenius.biz
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