My Little Corner of Canada
A message to the premiers
Congratulations to the premiers for attempting to deal with Canada’s unity problems by putting together the Calgary Declaration. The Declaration certainly has not mobilized Canadians to get behind the effort to recognize Quebec’s “unique” character, but it is better than nothing.
The main problem with the Declaration, as far as aboriginal peoples are concerned, is that it is stuck in 1980’s when provincial and federal leaders first got together with the aboriginal leadership to discuss our place in this country. If one were to examine the proceedings of those premiers and the prime minister at that time, they might as well have been on another planet when it came to understanding what we feel is our proper place in Canada.
Since that time, many people in government and in the general public have learned a good deal about our history and have a much better understanding of our desire to reconcile with the rest of Canadian society. We see the need to deal with the Quebec issue, but we also feel that we should not be relegated to a secondary agenda to be dealt with “later on.” Unlike the separatists, we want to be part of the solution.
It is wrong for the premiers to attempt to exclude us from taking part in decisions about the future of Canada. This is our country and we must insist that the Constitution of Canada recognize our contribution to the character of this country and our right to be involved in guiding it into the future. This is our home and native land and no one has a bigger stake in its future.
As this little corner predicted many years ago, we might end up being the glue which holds the country together. I would suggest to the premiers, that instead of trying to brush us to the sidelines, they invite the aboriginal peoples to be front and centre in the effort to make Canada a good nation.
The attitudes of Peter Lougheed and Brian Peckford towards aboriginal peoples belong in the past. Let them stay there.