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Focus first nations dialogue on self-sufficiency‎ – Globe and Mail

by NationTalk on January 25, 2012537 Views

Focus first nations dialogue on self-sufficiency

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

History does repeat itself, it would appear.

Pierre Trudeau had his constitutional conferences that involved aboriginal leaders. Brian Mulroney had his too, plus a big session in British Columbia to launch the B.C. Treaty Commission process, which has been a discouraging flop.

Jean Chrétien often went on about how splendidly he got along with the chiefs, having been Indian Affairs minister early in his career. Paul Martin had his Kelowna Accord. Stephen Harper had his reconciliation/apology statement over residential schools and, Tuesday, a day-long session with the chiefs.

Along the way, the national leadership of the Assembly of First Nations has obviously changed, as have the local chiefs. But the dialogue seldom changes, on either side of the table. Sonorous clichés mix with history lessons about “settlers” and their perfidy, lessons are repeated about the “honour of the Crown” and treaties that are/were not respected. Discreet references are offered about the discouraging economic and social statistics of aboriginal people, complaints are aired about insufficient public funding, occasional threats are made about the potential for violence and then things continue pretty much as before, out there in the real world, far removed from the conferences with their ceremonies and solemnities.

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