babble home - news for the rest of us
today's active topics

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » walking the talk   » aboriginal issues and culture   » Fair Country, Telling Truths about Canada

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: Fair Country, Telling Truths about Canada
Babbler # 14991

posted 21 September 2008 06:18 PM      Profile for livewire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Saw this on another babble thread and thought those here might be interested - 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. [email protected]

[ 21 September 2008: Message edited by: livewire ]

From: Name depends on who wins the land claims ;) | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 14991

posted 21 September 2008 08:00 PM      Profile for livewire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
He will also be at the Hamilton Gallery Thursday October 2 8:00
905 527-6610 ex 232

From: Name depends on who wins the land claims ;) | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged
Le Téléspectateur
Babbler # 7126

posted 27 September 2008 04:30 AM      Profile for Le Téléspectateur     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Here's the link

I would be interested in reading Saul's book. A criticism that I have from reading this short synopsis of his ideas is that he seems to think of "the aboriginals", as he calls them, as a monolithic people. The article also give the impression that Saul views settlers as the heirs of Canada's indigenous foundations. He seems to only refer to Indigenous Peoples in the context of residential schools and the need to settle Land Claims while he refers to Greenpeace, Strong and Suzuki as examples of an environmental legacy rooted in indigenism. It would seem that Saul is unaware of contemporary Indigenous thinkers.

From: More here than there | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 14991

posted 28 September 2008 05:38 PM      Profile for livewire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I am making my way through the book right now. From my perspective what I see him talking about is the ideas that the Settler community lays claim to ( two examples being health care and immigration policy ) as being their's actually have roots historically from First Nations. It seems to be a book about how the past has shaped and effected today which is why ( so far in the book ) he does not touch on modern day thinkers.

Within the book it sounds like he is not trying to give First Nations any direction but trying to give direction to settlers about what they should do ( two examples being admitting the residential schools policy was wrong was a positive step and now we need to settle land claims). I kind of like that because it really seems to support the two row - this is our ship this is what we did wrong and have to change.

Also I should point out he is not a native writer he is a philosophical writer so he does sound somewhat ignorant on that side. But to give him credit no where in the book so far does he specifically refer to First Nations being Canadians and it sounds to me that he is mostly musing on how Canada ie a country made up of the settler population has been effected by policies that were already in existence when they came from Europe.

When reading the book I see it as philosophical musing of the settler side. If I read it thinking he was including First Nations within that, yes, I see how people would take great offense. However reading within the paradigm that he is a settler talking to other settlers about how things really aren't what they appear and how we are failing on our side, especially from an author who does not appear to have a lot of experience with First Nations issues it is refreshing.

Back to the book - will see if I change my mind!

edited to add: PS thanks for putting the link I hadn't realized I didn't put it in there!

edited to add: Here is a link to the babble post on the book where other people are discussing this book

edited to change link [URL= ]
[ 28 September 2008: Message edited by: livewire ]

[ 28 September 2008: Message edited by: livewire ]

[ 12 October 2008: Message edited by: livewire ]

From: Name depends on who wins the land claims ;) | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 7518

posted 03 October 2008 12:47 PM      Profile for sknguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks livewire. I suspect that Mr. Saul is simply relating the settler condition and not rationalizing cultural paradoxes. I'm looking forward to reading your impressions further.

Edit: forgot to mention that your linking the wrong book/thread.

[ 03 October 2008: Message edited by: sknguy ]

From: Saskatchewan | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008