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Ethnic Cleansing - the Prelude

In the beginning there were guns and germs, then there were residential schools, then the highway of tears and missing women on the downtown east side of Vancouver.  Now there is Attawapiskat, and other under-reported reservations.

For the last hundred and sixty years what we have seen is a spiralling down of living conditions for First Nations' people, mainly as a result of the Indian Act.  Forcibly removing children from their families and placing them in warehouses where they were physically, mentally and sexually abused, then tossed back out having only learned from their 'education' that they are useless savages.

But somewhere between the sixties and nineties Canadians developed a conscience and the information about government policies and living conditions were made available. Looking at how badly our European ancestors behaved made us look more like savages than the ones we labelled. The knowledge of our past treatment of non-whites sent some into complete denial, and racism. 

When the conditions of Attawapiskat were brought to parliament, our Aboriginal Affairs Minister  wasted no time declaring that the government will take control, implying that First Nations people are unfit to govern themselves.

Of course our government doesn't have to fix it, they just have to say they will to the flash and whir of corporate media cameras. And the essential information will be neglected and forgotten by most Canadians. Except bigots who will be preaching punishment. And the desperate people who don't land in Canada's shiny new prisons, will die of self-medicating despair.

Conflict around unsettled treaties leads to frustration, which provides an opportunity for some anonymous donor to provide guns and further inflame passions, lies and blood-shed. And beneath the chaos - an opening for a transnational mining company to make their next move.

European invasions into Africa, Asia, Australia and North America, have been euphemistically termed "Progress". While drugs, alcohol, germs and wars make people homeless, the unnamed organizers are free to extract their oil, gold, diamonds and other resources, so that they can get richer, hire more politicians and more military to begin again somewhere else.

In the transnational economy, we all, or at least ninety nine percent of us, become the unwanted  indigenous savages.  We may watch the erosion of civil society as our governments continue to roll back social services, just as they outlawed First Nations culture,  through the slow and deliberate starvation of our health, education and justice systems.

Soon we may recognize ourselves in Attawapiskat because there are no jobs, no money to fix our houses, poor nutrition, hunger, and no hope.

Ethnic cleansing will be complete when all the nations' people are similarly crippled by a centralization of power whose mission is to plunder the earth more deeply and destructively, then separate themselves from the results of their actions.

This is how power has worked for centuries but we still don't get it.  We enable the abuse of power when we dedicate our lives to the acquisition of it. We circle and protect the worst abusers from the evidence of the suffering they have caused. We protect the power that oppresses us by oppressing those who have less power.  We risk our lives, and the lives of our sons and daughters, to fight the enemies that have been chosen for us.  We punish the scapegoats that are hoisted for our judgement. We keep ourselves busy with the little things while the life of this planet is rendered down further and farther away from our reach, our ability to nurture and sustain it.

But it needn't be this way.  We don't have to worship power.  We could give the world our own by caring, protecting and nourishing what sustains and reveres life.


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