Colonialism is a despicable concept. We all know this. By we, I mean more specifically people who have been colonized. Correct me if I am wrong, but I would argue that most of us want colonial policies to cease to exist in this country. Yet what I am seeing is that more and more of us are beginning to think that the way to do this is by working within the colonial system to change it. Change it from the inside out. Why do I think this is evident? Well to start the Liberal party is running twelve Indigenous candidates this coming election. Ovide Mercredi was literally just elected President of the Manitoba New Democrats and The Assembly of First Nations still has some sort of support among the people; although weakened, it still exists. Therefore we cannot deny that many of us seem to think this is the right approach. Well I am here to say that it isn’t. It is counter productive and it further alienates the idea that we can ever have some sort of Indigenous government or governments that would operate under a system of our own.
You may ask, what’s the problem with working within the system to change it? Well to start, this state’s existence is founded on the notion of exploitation of this land. This is how this country came to be. This is why the dominion was created. It’s economic. It’s about money and control. Period, end of discussion. If this were not the case then we would not require nation states. So now, is this compatible with Indigenous views on land. Is it compatible with Indigenous views on governance. No it is not, hence why it has always been against Canada’s interest to give us control over land. Therefore, for those who say I am going to change the system from within — You cannot. The system is in place for a reason, the state exists for a reason. It is not in the state’s interest to give up control of land or resources. It is not in the states interest to have a healthy Indigenous population. A healthy Indigenous population is a population which can challenge the sovereignty of the crown and the state’s control over land. What this all means is that working within the system is futile. For every step forward, the state will have already taken 10 steps away from you. This is not just for politics but for all systems tied into colonial practices and policies. Government, courts, schools and many other institutions, for example. I would argue they cannot be decolonized. They can in a way be Indigenized. In that you can paint parliament red, but at the end of the day it will still be a colonial institution.
With all this being said: the system exists. It is what it is. Many of us, myself included exist within it, learn from it and work with it. However, we have to understand that this does not mean we’re changing anything. It means we’re complacent with the comfort this system has given us. In that I mean, why challenge something that isn’t that bad at the end of the day? Sure we don’t have control over our land, but hey at least I can check Instagram from my new Samsung. Sure we haven’t really asserted our sovereignty, but hey at least we can sit in nice hotels while we meet and talk about potentially asserting ourselves one day. What I am trying to say is the system exists, I am not denying it and I am not denying that many of us enjoy it and benefit from it on some level. That being said let’s stop the charade, the system is going to absorb us way before it’s going to change to accommodate us.
Alright so now I have ranted a lot. You may be asking, “what does this guy want us to do?”. Well I want us to develop and work within our own systems. By systems I mean systems of law, governance, education, healthcare and economics. You may say, “Well the world has changed we have to adapt.”. I agree one hundred percent. There is nothing wrong with adapting to a modern world, a changed world. But we can do that our own way. This does not mean working within a system which is secured by our own demise or replicating those systems within our communities. Rather as individual nations we can create systems of law that are compatible with our world views. We can create police forces that are compatible with our world views. We can create prisons, schools, legislatures and businesses that are compatible with our world views. Yet this requires that those who have the skills and the capacity to lead the way for this actual substantive change, work within their communities at the ground ground level. We don’t need more politicians, we need people who are willing to sit down in their communities and assert their peoples’ sovereignty by asserting their own systems. We don’t have to fight for sovereignty, we already have it. We don’t have to go to court day in and day out. It exists. We just have to assert it by actually creating and implementing these systems in complete separation from the colonial system. Remembering that I said we can’t change the colonial system. Therefore, we have to revitalize and recreate our systems in a way which can run parallel or in complete opposition to those of the current state. Obviously, the better choice would be to run parallel, like the two row relationship was meant to be.
We are not the agitators in this situation. We have sovereignty and we have every right to assert it. It does not make any logical sense for us to sit in their courts and let their judges interpret what our sovereignty means. It does not make any logical sense for us to devote so much time, money and energy fighting to be recognized by a state which will never recognize any challenge to their own supremacy. Even when we win in court, we lose. Every time our rights are acknowledged, there is always a limitation or exception to the ruling. On top of that, we are giving into the idea that our rights are dependent upon the acknowledgement of the state. That is not a nation-to-nation relationship. So let’s stop kidding ourselves. The current way in which we are dealing with the state is not as nations but as subjects. In part due to coercion and force by the state, also in part due to our own desire to remain subjects of this state. Rebuilding requires a lot of work, work that it seems many would rather not do because it’s easier to remain a subject of this state, than to be a nation.
I completely understand the implication of colonialism. How it has in many ways prevented us from doing everything I have spoken about. Yet, myself and my generation have the ability to change things. We have the ability to be different, to break free of the colonial confines of our parents and our grandparents. Let’s do it. Let’s stop using our education to help the state. Bring the lessons we learn back to our communities, to help facilitate the revitalization of our ways. That’s what will change the world in which we live in. That’s what will help our people break free from colonialism.
These are of course just ideas. Meant to inspire and create discussion. My biggest pet peeve is hearing the same thing over and over again with no substantial solutions provided from our leaders. Take this idea. Hate it. Love it. Debate it. But at least discuss it in a way that helps develop new ideas and solutions to our problems instead of just regurgitating common rhetoric.