Aboriginal activists should remember that the public to whom their appeals for reconciliation are addressed is not a faceless line of abusive residential school staff
It seems the federal Liberals are starting to pay a price for their arrogance. It is a cautionary tale for others including aboriginal militants whose scornful response is helping take the shine off Trudeaupia.
The Liberals were remarkably conceited to suppose their sunny ways and blithe ignorance of reality would, among other things, enable them to solve all problems with the descendants of Canada’s pre-European inhabitants. But the fault is not entirely theirs.
As the National Post noted, Aboriginal Day, a classic from the ministry of symbolism, went sour fast for the Liberals. Including rededication of the old U.S. embassy across from Parliament Hill as some sort of aboriginal space being met with sneers: “Indigenous architects called the building a ‘hand-me-down’ and not ‘culturally appropriate space’” and the chair of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Indigenous Task Force “said Ottawa should pay for the construction of a building that Indigenous architects design.”
You’re welcome. Besides, what would be “culturally appropriate”?
Presumably the idea is not to create a pre-contact structure, a longhouse or teepee without furnace, electricity or running water. These indigenous architects, in a profession unknown before 1534, drive cars, own smartphones, issue press releases and generally live like the rest of us in the full flood of modernity. But that’s not the point.
The point is to bow to whatever demand is made without presuming to analyze its logic. Hence NDP MP Romeo Saganash declaring himself insulted and frustrated not to be permitted to speak only Cree in the House of Commons “because my language has been spoken for 7,000 years.”
This claim is manifestly false. The Cree that Saganash speaks today cannot possibly long predate Latin or Sanskrit. Especially in non-literate societies, language is dynamic and fast-changing and becomes barely recognizable after centuries, let alone millennia. Nor did various First Nations occupy their traditional territory for millennia before white people showed up and got violent.
Another recent victim of political correctness (which is itself a European cultural imposition) was the Governor General, despite his manifest sympathy for aboriginal causes, because he called aboriginals “immigrants.” Some zealots actually seem to deny that humans entered North America across the Bering Strait at all. Others apparently believe they all came across at once, fanned out equitably to places the Creator assigned them, then lived in peace and harmony with one another and nature.
They didn’t. They came in waves and spread out in waves, frequently displacing earlier settlers violently. Where is the “Dorset culture” today? Or the Laurentian-speakers Cartier found at Hochelaga but Champlain did not? An excruciating piece in Canada’s History magazine just claimed that before European contact “Life here in Turtle Island was self-determining – the rivers ran as rivers, the elk roamed as elk, and the many nations of Indigenous peoples charted their own paths to the future…. Everything had the right to life. The deer had an inherent right to life… to live in a healthy home and to raise its children in a kind and loving way. The peoples of this land, too, had the right to life…”
The author admits people killed deer, albeit respectfully. But nowhere does his piece mention war, torture, sex slavery or any of the other all-too-human things ordinary Canadians know happened in this non-Eden despite the exquisite PC grovelling that is instinctive among our political and cultural elites.
In his ill-fated announcement of the new aboriginal cultural centre in the old U.S. embassy, Prime Minister Trudeau said “No relationship is more important to this government than that with the indigenous peoples.” Bosh. The most important relationship for any government is with all the citizens in whose name, for whose benefit and with whose permission it governs.
By the same token, aboriginal activists should try to remember that the Canadian public to whom their appeals for reconciliation and justice are ultimately addressed, often in peremptory language, is not a faceless line of Jeffrey Amherst clones and abusive residential school staff. A great many of us, or our ancestors, came here fleeing oppression and sometimes encountered it on arrival too, and have long tales of historical woe of our own about which nothing can ever be done.
I speak not only of non-white Canadians. What of Canadian descendants of survivors of the Holocaust, Stalinism, the Armenian genocide or even just French religious persecution?
Most Canadians are heartbroken at the difficulties that afflict so many aboriginals today and bitterly regret the history that brought this misery. But most of us had nothing to do with it, have sad stories of our own ancestors, and will tire of every open hand being met with open insult like a “reoccupation” of Parliament Hill to spoil the Canada Day mood, of every concession bringing new demands.
Peddling false history from within the mantle of victimhood is perilously arrogant for those who claim special treatment based on history. So beware.
Hubris does not only bring nemesis to white politicians.