Justin Trudeau meets with leaders of the Assembly of First Nations in 2019.
Justin Trudeau meets with leaders of the Assembly of First Nations in 2019. Credit: Justin Trudeau / Twitter

We are in a climate crisis. Many First Nations are without access to clean drinking water and the continued development of industries harms the watersheds or environment that First Nations rely on for their existence.

The system of Whiteman-made-patriarchy is a carry-over from European governments, thought and history. It has festered here on Turtle Island impacting the land, waters and the original people of the land.

First Nations were pushed onto tiny parcels of land following the treaty-making process in the west because land had to be cleared for the settlers coming with their “progress.” What has this progress brought to the once powerful and sustainable Turtle Island otherwise known as North America?

Droughts, fires, pollution, desecration of waterways and the annihilation of whole species of plants or animals is somehow being defined as “progress.” First Nations steward the land. First Nations are the original environmentalists and climate knowledge keepers who watch the land, waters and climate to ensure that all life is in balance. First Nations have held this balance in their living approaches and in their governance systems where all people have a voice, including the voice or power of the matriarchs, the grandmothers.

How can this approach or voice be restored by the current federal government with a minority party under Justin Trudeau? Trudeau himself said in 2015 there was no more relationship more important than the relationship between Canada and the First Nations. This was political Liberal grandstanding marketed to give a voice to the underrepresented Indigenous voices.

Once elected, Trudeau showcased his top Indian, Jodi Wilson Raybould, but sadly, the much-heralded reconciliation of nations fell short when Wilson Raybould was removed from the Liberal stronghold. Trudeau also made sporadic announcements like his planned recognition framework of rights which was met was as much opposition as his father’s epic 1969 White Paper policy failure.

Each major political party has been in a power position at the federal or at least provincial level without a substantive understanding of the First Nation peoples.

Canada and the settler occupants have a distorted view of First Nations, cling to historical stereotypes or fabricate consent with specific groups or voices that repeat what they are paid to repeat from their respective parties.

Prior to the election campaign and since this past election, past representatives including former Prime Ministers are still in denial over the atrocities faced by the First Nations at the hands of Canada.

On Sunday October 24, 2021, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien stated that as the Minister of Indian Affairs he had never heard of residential school abuses. Chrétien was too busy as the Minister of Indian Affairs trying to eliminate the “special status” of Indians with the introduction of the White Paper policy.

Chrétien does not seem to remember that his introduction of the 1969 White Paper policy into the House of Commons spurred the Indian or First Nations to write their own Red Paper policy which countered Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Jean Chrétien’s white supremist position.

Chrétien is comfortable in his denial, citing that he and his wife even “adopted” an Indigenous child because they “cared” about the plight of the Indigenous in Canada.

As a First Nation person, I have to think of this and wonder why did Chrétien feel it was a good thing for an Inuk child to be adopted and taken outside his home community? This is where the answer lies. Chrétien and countless other mainstream politicians believe in the white patriarchal system that has decimated the original people of this country.

Canadians do not understand what is really happening at the grassroots level for the First Nations across this land. Canadians only receive sporadic updates or announcements made by the minister of crown relations and the minister of Indigenous programs and services followed by hype, pomp and usually tears – on Trudeau’s part.

Information is only received by Canadians when there is a dispute or incident like Wet’suewet’en, the Mi’kmaq fishery dispute or with ongoing Mohawk blockades. Then, some slanted or distorted information begins to circulate with non-First Nations weighing in on what is really happening. Is this useful?

Canada knows it is responsible for the murder and mayhem that plagues Indian country. Canada knew about the abuses in residential school and did nothing. Canada has a long history of being complicit in the eradication of the First Peoples of this land.

What is frightening for Canada is that its violent history is now becoming known at the global level. More frightening for the First Nations is that this violence continues. There is systemic violence in Canada’s legislative, administrative and judicial treatment of First Nation peoples. The racist undertones in the longstanding Indian Act point to a legislation designed to control First Nation lives from birth to death.

But don’t let Trudeau fool you. Canada is parcelling out the Indian Act into a series of legislations including Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous Languages as well as the projected plan for UNDRIP.

Trudeau will continue his genocidal legacy by allowing Ministers Dumb and Dumber, Bennett and Miller to stay on and complete their work in terminating the special status or rights of the First Nation peoples. Just as Justin Trudeau managed to forget the first annual day for Truth and Reconciliation by surfing in Tofino, his next years in office will be marked by “talk about reconciliation” but actions of Wreckonciliation.

So, First Nations are moving forward if you consider that the way forward is over a buffalo jump to end of all the protections gained by our ancestors. Trudeau and his political PR people are trying to spin genocide as a small inconvenience. If Canadians want the truth, they will have to understand that the way forward for First Nations people must come from the actual voices of all the First Nation people. We are still waiting to talk.

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Rachel Snow

Rachel Ann Snow is Iyahe Nakoda, the daughter of late Reverend Dr. Chief John Snow. She holds a juris doctor from the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan and is an outspoken educator, speaker, writer...