March 16, 2001

 

We can’t turn back the clock

In reply to D.I. Soloman’s letter (The Ring, Feb. 16) to Dr. Taiaiake Alfred (The Ring, Feb. 2)…

Instead of wanting to turn back the clock to start over (which we can’t), we ought to start talking about self-determination instead. In your search for a common denominator between Canadians and the indigenous peoples within the Canadian state, may I suggest a reading of the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (www.usask.ca/nativelaw/ddir_biblio.html) to help you conceptualize your way out of the “competing sovereignty” box. On second reading, substitute “Canadians” in place of indigenous peoples and see what it feels like.

Unfortunately, Europeans and their descendants insist on seeing the treaty issue as power over a piece of property. All the while, indigenous peoples are still looking to develop a relationship of respectful co-existence with the newcomers and maintain a sacred relationship to the land. And please note that I said relationship, not ownership/sovereignty. To me, there seems to be a slight discrepancy as to the reasons why the parties are at the negotiating table. Perhaps the next generation will have a capacity to see us through this dilemma.

Bruce Leslie, MA candidate
Indigenous governance program


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