Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Blame Game: Colonialism, Residential Schools and 1924

The Six Nations Community is facing significant challenges.  Some are quick to blame these ills on others, and events in the past.  Some of the most significant problems are spelled out by Elected Councillor Helen Miller as seen here, in a letter to Turtle Island News, May 25, 2011, p. 6.

She lists the following as issues confronting Six Nations:

1)  A spate of break ins and vandalism at for example the Vets Hall.
2)  The area being a hub for the disposal of stolen cars.
3)  The epidemic of drug use, with Oxycontin being at present perhaps the most problematic.
4)  Babies continue to be born with FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome) to mothers who abuse alcohol.
5)  More and more cigarette shops sprouting up (some of which are fronts for drug deals).
6)  Six Nations members stealing land such as the Glebe Lands in order to for example grow tobacco.
7)  An epidemic of domestic violence and sexual abuse [it should be noted that at least two rapes have been committed at the Douglas Creek Estates property since 2006 - the number likely being much larger].
8)  Deadbeat dads.
9)  Disrespect for elders [despite the ideal].
10)  A high rate of suicide.
11)  Continued bullying at the schools despite a "no - tolerance" rule.
12)  The fighting between the Elected and Hereditary Councils.
13)  Alienation and disinterest of youth.
14)  Groups such as the Men's Fire telling youth that the Provincial laws do not apply to Six Nations, and that the Six Nations Police have no authority, which promotes lawlessness.

Miller emphasises that it is imperative that, we have to stop blaming colonialism, stop blaming residential schools, and stop blaming 1924The latter refers to the year that after years of dealing with a dysfunctional hereditary council, and with a stack of petitions from Six Nations members, the Federal Government via the RCMP locked the Longhouse and the system was changed to an elected council.  It is almost a given that someone from Six Nations will use this as the "classic example" of how the Canadian Federal Government has over stepped its authority to impose their own assimilationist values on aboriginal people (I have heard this time and time and time again).  Finally Councillor Miller wrote that, we all have to take responsibility for what has happened in our communities.

Nothing further really needs to be said about the matter - Councillor Miller has articulated the range of factors facing the Community at this time, and has provided a clear assessment in relation to this subject.  Basically she is saying that instead of playing the "blame game" and pointing the finger at those outside the Community, for perceived wrongs from long ago, it will be more productive to accept that much of what is so troubling must be placed at their own doorstep.  Thus by accepting personal responsibility, the Community will be better prepared to confront the challenges head on to find viable solutions.


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