White man's burden still very much the policy of federal Liberals

TML DAILY, 18 December 2000, Volume 30 NO. 041

No amount of talk by the Chrétien Liberals can convince Canadians that they are creating conditions for Native People's to enjoy their hereditary rights. Nor are they able to prove that they are capable or even willing to compensate Native People's for the more than centuries of their cultural decimation.

While the media plays its role of sensationalizing the problems facing Innu communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, the government is weeping crocodile tears. As if the racist attacks on fisherman in Burnt Church were not proof enough of the racist policies of the federal Liberals, they are now stepping in to provide funding and treatment as a solution for children who abuse solvents at Davis Inlet. The arrogance of the Liberals is that they recognize no responsibility for the terrible conditions facing Native People's across Canada. Instead, they provide charity to the Native People's at the same time trampling on their hereditary rights.

The problem of solvent abuse in native communities, particularly amongst youth from Sheshashui at Davis Inlet, is a result of the continuing decimation of their culture and way of life and the inability and refusal of the Liberals to provide redress. Chief Simeon Tshakapesh of Davis Inlet and other Innu leaders met with Prime Minister Jean Chrétien at the end of November with Chrétien promising a treatment facility. Still the agenda of Tshakapesh to get full status under the Indian Act which brings with it tax relief, and other benefits was not met.

The Mushuau Innu were nomadic hunters for millenia. The Innu were forced to relocate, taken off their land and faced the racist colonial policies of successive Canadian governments that relegate them as "savages" and "white man's burden."

"The results have been devastating. We are now a community in crisis, fighting for our very survival as a people. The reality is, unless meaningful changes occur, we are facing extinction," Tshakapesh said in a statement after a meeting with federal officials.

It is claimed that federal officials agree that treatment and counselling will not put an end to child solvent abuse, but instead of recognizing that these problems are a result of the anti-social offensive in society, the racist policies of governments and years of oppression, the federal Liberals blame Innu families and people for the problems. They say that the problem with the children is that their families are alcoholics and abusive. Thus, again, they absolve themselves of any responsibility of the crimes committed against the Native Peoples and to guarantee the recognition of their rights.

It is not only urgent but necessary that the Canadian people step up the struggle for the recognition of the hereditary rights of native peoples. Only by smashing the racist, colonial legacy put forth by the Liberals today can redress be found and provided.

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