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There is hope for the future of relations between natives and non-natives in Canada. It is embodied in leaders like Glen Nolan, a former Cree chief from Northern Ontario, who is the president of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.
He doesn’t support the Idle No More movement because he says he’s never been idle. “There are too many examples of [native] individuals and communities who have broken away from the notion that government is there to look out for them,” he said.
Attempting to get at the truth involves abandoning stereotypes and clichés. That is hard when the subject matter conforms to easily attached labels, like Theresa Spence, the chief of another Cree community in Attawapiskat, who points the finger of blame at Ottawa with one hand, while extending the other for more handouts.
It is a welcome reminder when more sober voices like Mr. Nolan point out that many First Nations reject dependency on transfers from the federal government.
Mr. Nolan, now an executive with a junior mining company developing nickel and copper in Ontario’s Ring of Fire, said his time as chief of the Missanabie Cree First Nation north of Wawa was characterized by building strong support networks to encourage education, work and business creation.
“Lots of communities no longer see the development of resources as necessarily a bad thing but want it done under their conditions to ensure it benefits the community for generations to come,” he said.
This is the crux of the story that has been obscured by the fish-broth and circuses surrounding Chief Spence — resource revenue sharing.
In the meeting between Stephen Harper and Shawn Atleo this Friday, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations has made clear he wants to talk about “fair, sustainable financial relations and First Nations driven solutions” — code for a more direct share of the resource pie.
Every year, mining companies pay provincial governments $9-billion in royalties, in addition to corporate and payroll taxes. Aboriginal leaders want a share of that pot and, in time, they will likely get what they want.
For the rest of this column, please go to the National Post website: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/01/08/john-ivison-theresa-spences-hunger-strike-obscures-the-key-first-nations-issue-resource-revenue-sharing/