Saw this on another babble thread and thought those here might be interested
TheStar.com - Opinion Writer
......In the past, he has lambasted the Canadian bureaucratic/managerial class that, starting in the 1980s, replaced visionary political and economic leaders. Now he has combined that critique with an intriguing hypothesis:
Canada is in trouble because it has been untethered from its aboriginal moorings. It pretends to be what it is not. It is not European or American.
He writes: "In spite of the enormous role played by churches over the centuries, ours is not a civilization that emerged out of the Judeo-Christian line. Nor did we rise out of the opposite, the secular or the laic. The central inspiration of our country is aboriginal ...
"How we imagine ourselves, how we govern, how we live together, how we treat one another when we are not being stupid is deeply aboriginal ...
"We are a Métis civilization. What we are today is inspired as much by four centuries of life with the indigenous civilizations as by four centuries of immigration."
The aboriginals, with their "idea of expandable and inclusive circles of people," welcomed the French settlers. They taught the newcomers how to survive. They encouraged intermarriage, as did Champlain: "Our young men will marry your daughters, and we shall be one people."
But this mutual approach was abandoned by later settlers in favour of land grabs, broken treaty promises and an assault on the aboriginal way of life.
The Orangemen, in particular, importing their extremist Protestantism, applied their "old European prejudices in a new place," and imposed the language of a "monolithic nation-state, with its ideas of racial purity."
The First Nations were to be assimilated. "This was the underlying theory of the residential school system, with its deadly health conditions, the banning of language and culture, the sexual degradation, physical violence and the disruption of families."
All this was an "artificial Europeanization of Canada."
Along the way, Canada's old governing principle of peace, welfare and good government was replaced by the British in the 1860s with peace, order and good government. This, too, changed the nature of Canada. Gone was the sense of societal welfare, of "the public good, the public weal and the welfare of the people."
If we feel adrift today, Saul argues, it is because we refuse to accept who we were and still are.
It is the aboriginal ideas of harmony, balanced relationships, an inclusive circle, and an appropriate equilibrium between peoples and the land that explain Canada's invention of peacekeeping, the pioneering environmental efforts of Greenpeace, Maurice Strong and David Suzuki, and multiculturalism.
Yet "we have trained ourselves not to see the aboriginal nature of Canadian society ... Our single greatest failure has been our inability to normalize – that is, to internalize consciously – the First Nations as the senior founding pillar of our civilization."
If we did, we would, first, "see the native as a normal person in his or her own right," settle land claims and help stabilize aboriginal communities and, second, come to terms with our identity, develop enough self-confidence to eviscerate our "colonial mentality" and "get on with life."
This would also "give us the strength to transform our ruling elites," who remain hobbled by a colonial insecurity, an inferiority complex. They remain fixated with "the Empire" – London-Paris in the old days, Washington today. They believe that Canada is too insignificant a player in the world to decide its own fate. But it is not.
More on Thursday.
Haroon Siddiqui's column appears Thursday and Sunday. firstname.lastname@example.org
[ 21 September 2008: Message edited by: livewire ]