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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Living in a state of siege

I had an instructor at Journalism school who told us that it would always be a challenge trying to cover stories in our community because we are living in a constant state of siege. As Native people we are constantly under attack sometimes literally as in cases such as Ipperwash and Oka. Our lands are under attack by government and resource corporations. Our people feel the slap of racism more than any other people. Each and every minute we are under attack by the insidious forces of assimilation. Our people are oppressed in so many ways by poverty and poor health and violence. It is living in a state of siege.
When you are under attack how can you speak out against injustice in your own community. Why would you point out your weaknesses for the enemy to see, why give them more weapons to attack. This is why it is hard for our people to publicly acknowledge that there are huge issues of financial mismanagement and governance in our community. In recent years this has come to forefront of so many attacks against our people in right wing media like The Sun newspapers or organizations such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
When the Attawapiskat situation occured that was the first line of attack from the Harper government, where did all the money go? We have given them tens of millions of dollars, where did it go? I'm not suggesting that this was the case in Attawapiskat, I am merely referring to the climate created by the government's attack. As such it becomes difficult, almost impossible to have an open and constructive debate on this issue. We feel morally obligated to challenge the notion that there is financial mismanagement in our communities. Which is such a strange position to be in. It isn't unusual, in fact it is pretty commonplace. Financial mismanagement is happening at such a large scale it has practically bankrupted countries. Huge corporations in the U.S. have disappeared because of financial mismanagement. Yet because we are living in a state of siege we can't have this discussion in public. IN PUBLIC. Because people talk about it all the time.
The same is true when it comes to issues, such as domestic violence, racism, political corruption and more. We have to tear down this wall and speak and live without the fear of being attacked. All this fear does is keep us down, keep us silent. I am not saying that no one will use our own words to attack us, the world is not like that. What I am saying is that no one else is going to save us, no one else is going to make things better. We cannot be afraid of looking honestly at our own communities and speaking out against the injustices that we see regardless of the intentions of those eyes upon us.