Treat us right, respect our treaty rights

 

In just a couple of hours, the annual Deer Hunt at Short Hills Provincial Park will begin. This year, like years previous, will be highly controversial. The controversy you ask? The hunt is being held at a provincial park and the only people allowed to hunt are those who are members of the Six Nations community.

Since inception, the hunt has received backlash from animal rights groups, hunters and concerned citizens. These protestors show up by the dozens and make their presence known.

It seems simple enough, right? Well, unfortunately, it’s not. In response to the highly anticipated hunt, Co-Host of One Dish, One Mic and Co-Chair of the Niagara Anti-Racism Coalition Karl Dockstader, has penned a letter that states, “Opposition to the Haudenosaunee Deer Hunt in Shorthillls Park cannot be separated from racism. Opposing the deer hunt by indigenous hunters, whether intended to do so or not, is supporting the worst parts of Canada’s racist legacy and perpetuates policies of assimilation. Antagonizing a group of people because you believe that your group’s views are superior is the very definition of racism.” This letter has stirred up a fair amount of controversy over the implication of the protestors being racist. Protestors refute the claim. Now, if you look at the scenario at face value, I could understand one’s hesitation to use the term. What people fail to acknowledge is that this issue is bigger than just a hunt. There is more to this then the protections of animals, the park and neighbourhoods. While the protestor’s intent might be good, their actions are the same actions of those people who use to protest the very existence of indigenous people.

The history of Indigenous people and the Country of Canada is horrific at best. Legislatively speaking, indigenous people were not considered people under the Indian Act. Indigenous people could not pursue higher education without losing their rights. They couldn’t hire lawyers or vote. Canada has not been kind. Nor has its citizens. While the Indian Act was being developed and policies were implemented, the Canadian government also signed treaties with its Indian Allies (Indian being the preferred noun of the time). The treaties guaranteed certain inalienable rights; the right to hunt on traditional grounds being one of them.

Given that it was the 1800’s you need to understand how important that right was and still is today. Wal-Mart or Costco did not exist nor was there was no corner store. There was only hunting, fishing and farming. Hunting was not done for sport or bragging rights, it was done to survive. First Nations would base their life off of the location of the animals. If they moved, we would follow. Hunting was also more than food too. Every aspect of the animal that was killed was used. The hide was used for clothes and blankets. Bones were utilized for tools and weapons, etc. In the 1800s, a successful hunt meant a successful life.

Decades after Confederation though, pro-enfranchisement policies became the norm. The Government was so hell-bent on solving the Indian problem that their answer was to systematically remove our rights. So when it comes to people protesting the deer hunt, it is reminiscent of those policies. You have to understand that you are protesting more than just the act. You are protesting my very existence. Your Protest, like Karl Dockstader said, “…whether intended to do so or not, is supporting the worst parts of Canada’s racist legacy and perpetuates policies of assimilation.”

While you might not see the correlation between protest and racism, I can assure you that it is there. It is no different from individuals protesting our language or our culture. You cannot separate the hunt from who we are as a people. Hunting is intertwined with our cultural identity. It is intertwined with us.

I am not from Six Nations of the Grand River. That is not my community. I am not afforded the right to hunt in Short Hills Provincial Park, but I still stand in solidarity with my indigenous brothers and sisters. I will attend the counter-protest to ensure that people who view our way of life as inferior do not undermine our inalienable rights.

I would encourage the readers to visit the United Nations declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People‘s website. Article # 2 states:

“Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.”

If you stand in solidarity, I would encourage you to come out in support.

Sincerely,

Sean Vanderklis

Its Never Okay

I’ve wanted to write about the #MeToo campaign for some time now. But for the sake of not stepping on anyone’s feet, I decided to let the dust settle on the interwebs. Now that its been about two weeks, here we go:

For those who aren’t familiar, female survivors of sexual assault and harassment have been urged to use the Hashtag MeToo to inform the world that this problem is bigger than we think. Although the hashtag was coined by a female activist in 2006, Tarana Burke, it really caught the wind when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted it out.

I was shocked at the mount of #MeToo’s I was seeing on my social media platforms. A rough estimate of my network places it at about 70 percent of all of my female friends and followers. But was even more shocking was the response. The more researched I did, the more disgusted I became with society.

I want to make this as clear as possible, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! I am afraid to say it, but in my humblest of opinion, this issue is bigger than any race or religious issue out there. The only constant in societies around the world since evolution, is how men have treated women.

I do not proclaim to be an expert or hold the secret answer to how to effectively change society and society’s views on women. But I have some suggestions:

1) Change starts with us – Gentlemen, we need to do better. We need to be better. It going to be an uphill climb, but the only way to overcome is with that first step. Sexual assault and harassment is NEVER OK. I do not care how much you have had to drink or who you were with or whatever bullshit excuses you can come up with. Harassment and assault is not justifiable. Women are never asking for nor do they ever deserve it.

2)  Forget about what you see in the movies or read in books. Very rarely does Hollywood get it right.

3) In order to effectively  change, we need to redefine what it means to be a man. Do not give into gender stereotypes. DO NOT teach your children about gender stereotypes. Should you be fortunate to have a young daughter, do not teach her that if a man a boy picks on her, he likes her. Should you be fortunate to have a young boy, teach him about respect.

4) This may be the biggest one of all, call it out when you see it. Tell whoever it is who that is doing it, that it is unacceptable. This will be the toughest one of all. You may lose some friends and you might even make some enemies, but the world will be a better place for it

By no means will this put an end to sexual assault and harassment but it is a start and it is my pledge to all women.

To the women who took the time to share #MeToo. I thank you for your bravery, I thank you for your honesty and I believe you.

In Unity,

Sean Vanderklis

Gord’s 100 Year Plan

I’ve always questioned Canada and the values of Canadians.

It was almost exactly a year ago when I caught a glimpse of the high bar of what I thought Canadians could be though. Given the greatest spotlight he could ever have, Gord Downie chose to tell one of the most important stories in the history of his country. He told the story of Chanie Wenjack and released the “Secret Path” exactly one year ago.

“Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable,” said Downie on the website for this important story.

Now a year later the news that he has passed on has been shared by his family.

I believe that we came from the cosmos as a people, and that the stars are our celestial ancestors. I think we are made of star stuff. It’s something I thought about on the day that the Assembly of First Nations gave Gord Downie an Indigenous name: “Wicapi Omani” which is Lakota for “He Walks Among the Stars”. I wondered if the Lakota people shared the connection to our greater galactic selves and if his name was a link to the idea that we need to reach for the stars when setting our own aspirational standards.

In the summer of 2016 the Tragically Hip ended a nation changing run as the band of Canada. Given the attention of the nation, the Prime Minister, and people everywhere Gord Downie used the platform to talk about the issue at the heart of what Canada is or isn’t. He talked about relations with First Nations people and demanded a different result.

“It’s going to take us 100 years to figure out what the hell went on up there,” said Gord Downie that final night of the Tragically Hip’s final concert ever referring to the suicide and water crises in Northern and remote First Nations communities, “but it isn’t cool and everybody knows that. It’s really, really bad, but we’re going to figure it out, you’re going to figure it out.”

He was talking to the Prime Minister, but I think in his patriotism he was talking to the people of Canada who he thought the PM embodied.

“You’re going to figure it out.”

Learn about the dark ongoing legacy of Canada. Be aware but don’t be idle. Be emboldened to be the kind of Canadian the Hip’s frontman was. If you think that being Canadian is being like Gord Downie then set your goals as high as the cosmos and honour his legacy by being great.

A Canada full of Canadians like that is a place that everybody on this part of the continent could value.

The Forgotten Majority

Unions, OPSEU, the CEC, Deadlines, and of course… The Strike. If you’re a follower of the news, these are headlines and key phrases that you’ve probably noticed in the paper and on social media over the past couple of weeks. Notice anything missing? Anything at all? Well let me help you out, It’s called the students. My description when talking about them is the Forgotten Majority.

So let me break it down for you;

OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employee Union) and  the CEC (College Employer Council) were in negotiations. OPSEU proposed a new agreement, the CEC declined and blah blah blah. Now before you start sending in your hate about my anti-union views, there is no need. I AM PRO UNION.

My issue lies with the lack of consultation and consideration for the forgotten majority, the students. People often forget that there is an unwilling participant in this battle. As a result, the students and their education are the casualty.

While this labour dispute will eventually end and both sides will declare victory, I can’t help but feel for my fellow cohorts. When will the administration and the faculty consider our needs? As it currently stands they are looking out for their own interest. But have we forgotten that if there is no student then there is no need for them?

This is call out to all of my fellow students, now is the time to have your voices heard. Now is the time to do something. This is a battle that we didn’t choose, but if we must fight, fight we will.

I would implore all students, regardless of the institution, to have your voices heard. If there is a petition going around, sign it. If writing is your passion, write it. If your’re one to brave the cold, go to the picket line and remind the faculty of their obligation to us, then make your way in and let the administration know too.

It is time to redesign the Collective Bargaining process. We need to be inclusive of all of the parties involved, both willing and unwilling.

Sean Vanderklis
Student Number – Irrelevant

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One Dish, One Mic is designed to be an interactive Podcast. Hosts Karl Dockstader and Sean Vanderklis provide critical analysis from an urban indigenous perspective on any and all issues.