Straight Talk
JOHN ROBSON - Donít brush off Grand Chief Derek Nepinak

Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY

JOHN ROBSON | QMI AGENCY

Theresa Spence hunger strike, Idle No More movement and associated demonstrations have revealed a worryingly deep streak of utopian militancy among Canadian aboriginals. Their cosmic demands and ominous rhetoric are both driven by ideas that must be digested sympathetically then rejected with courteously absolute firmness.

On Thursday Derek Nepinak, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, warned "The Idle No More movement has the people, it has the people and the numbers that can bring the Canadian economy to its knees... We have the warriors that are standing up now that are willing to go that far. So we're not here to make requests. We're here to demand attention and to demand an end to 140 years of colonial rule."

It's tempting to brush it off. But Nepinak is not an idiot. An outstanding student and athlete in his youth, he got the Pine Creek First Nation out of a deep financial hole before his peers chose him for higher office. He speaks for far too many aboriginals. And his threat to cripple Canada's economy is far from idle.

Here I strongly recommend retired colonel Doug Bland's Uprising (which my wife and I helped edit), a scarily plausible novel about a militant aboriginal attack on Canada's transportation and energy infrastructure. Cooler heads must prevail, because anything resembling Doug's scenario would be a disaster for all Canadians, aboriginal and otherwise. But Nepinak's logic points that way.

Especially given his demand for "an end to 140 years of colonial rule."

It sounds ludicrously vague. But as so often, people's words reflect their thinking. And the reason so many aboriginals have been demanding the governor general attend their meeting with Stephen Harper is not that they misunderstand the role of the Crown within Canada.

It's that, in Theresa Spence's words, "It was the Crown that we made the treaty with, not Prime Minister. They're the keepers."

When aboriginal leaders describe their relationship to Canada as "nation to nation" they mean it literally. They believe their ancestors signed treaties with the British Crown to live peacefully side by side with what later became the nation of Canada but separately from it.

They believe "Canada" has violated those treaties not in technical ways like underfunding schools but by invading them.

And they think the Queen of England can, and can be persuaded to, order the Canadian government to back off and leave them alone on much of what we think of as "Canada".

Ever since the settlement of Canada by Europeans became an overwhelming reality for aboriginals this dream, their "Next year in Jerusalem", has been repeated around campfires and kitchen stoves. Huge numbers of them really believe it.

It's tempting to ask where such people think residents of, say, Attawapiskat will get food, clothing or fuel if they "bring the Canadian economy to its knees."

But we're liable to get back the fantasy of living like the ancestors: Nepinak's own online biography characteristically includes that as a child "Derek observed his great grandparents living the ways of his people; hunting, fishing, gardening, smoking fish, tanning moose hides and other traditional activities."

As if you could feed and clothe some 300,000 aboriginals now living on reserves with flint arrows and hand-plaited nets.

But this is a side issue.

The key point is that the British Crown will not order the white man to go away, taking every other non-aboriginal race with him, and if it did we wouldn't go. There is no need to be rude. But we must be absolutely clear about it because, for far too many Canadian aboriginals, it is not just a practical program.

It is the only practical program, and may be pursued in defiance of the white man's colonial laws.

Sun News Videos

Mink farming

Nova Scotia produces half of Canada's mink fur.


Feminist 'consent underwear' spark debate

Do consent underwear just change the conversation from 'rape culture' to 'slut culture'?


Afghanistan's upcoming election

With an election rapidly approaching, change is on its way to Afghanistan. Good or bad, the world is watching.

Ezra Levantís The Source is the most provocative and thought-changing multimedia show in Canada.

This show is 100% focused on the political battles taking place across Canada, in the United States...even around the world.

Michael Coren brings you strong, balanced opinions to challenge conventional thinking.

Byline brings you the stories you wonít hear anywhere else while exploring points of view that are all too often ignored.