Tobique is my community and I maintain that this community does not get the same respect as white communities get during an election process. I believe that the Telegraph Journal took a lot of liberty when it covered the problems that Tobique has undergone in recent times. One has to wonder why this was done in the middle of an election in our community. I can’t imagine this happening to a white election process. If a national newspaper such as the Globe and Mail took the liberty to dig up everything negative about the leader of the opposition or the way Canada, under Prime Minister Harper, is managed and decided to run a series right up to the day before the election this would be seen as interference in an election and would not be tolerated. It appears that because this is a native community it is considered to be different and therefore can be treated without the same respect.
Only Indian communities are subjected to these actions. Different rules apply and prejudice is tolerated by those in power over us. History bears this out. As far as I can see the Telegraph Journal did not bother to investigate the root of the problem which goes back to the day Canada decided to make the Indian Act a law which applies only to us. There is no Japanese Act or Italian Act in Canada.
The only reason there is an Indian Act in place in this country is to justify the takeover of our homelands. These homelands cover every inch of Canada. All lands were used by one Indian Nation or another but there had to be a “legal” way to take over the land and its resources, hence the implementation of the Indian Act.
Europeans who came here and those in Europe had already decided that we were less than human so when the Indian Act was debated in Canada’s House of Parliament there was no objection to its implementation. In fact the first Indian Agent said there would be no Indians left in fifty years. This statement is recorded in the Hansard. There has been a lack of respect for us from the beginning and today’s attitude towards aboriginals in general is rooted in what was done in the past by the Government of Canada and its representative, the Department of Indian Affairs.
We have always been seen by the dominant society as easy targets and those who own newspapers are aware of this. It appears they will resort to anything to sell newspapers because they know they can do so with impunity. As far as the reservation is concerned we have, since the beginning of the Indian Act, been under-funded, or no funds were provided at all, as in the case of my childhood, whereas white communities have been funded by the province since they joined the union. In other words, because of the theft of our land and resources white communities have benefited while we were only provided “relief”.
My suggestion to the Telegraph Journal is to do a series on how the Province of N.B. has prospered thanks to the takeover of resources connected to N.B. Power and the money the dam on our land has brought in since the 1950’s. I would also encourage the Telegraph to hire Indian people as journalists if they are at all interested in fair and balanced reporting.
My last point is that the lack of or underfunding in aboriginal communities has its roots in systemic racism within the Canadian system. This was the beginning of the problem yet we are being blamed for the failures of the Government of Canada and its agent, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
If we refuse to see the source of the problem, how can it be set right?