Aboriginal rights: A simple matter of rights denied – by Jim Coyle (Toronto Star – October 26, 2014)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

“People went into the Ring of Fire under the old idea that they could get what
they wanted under the old terms. And it turns out that under the new terms it’s
going to be done differently. This is the shifting of power, just as the pipeline
story is the shifting of power. Suddenly, people are realizing that they can’t get
those pipelines without the aboriginals. That’s real power. This is not the same
Canada.” (Public thinker John Ralston Saul)

If the biggest favour one human being can do another is to speak the truth, especially when that truth is uncomfortable to hear, then Canadians probably owe John Ralston Saul a collective nod of thanks.

To this high season of books by and about aboriginal people in Canada, Saul this week adds The Comeback, a celebration of how native people are empowering themselves, a review of how they’ve been (and continue to be) wronged, and a warning that Canada is at an historic moment when this missing piece in nation-building must be addressed.

He does not claim to speak for aboriginal Canadians. More than ever, they do that for themselves, he says. “There’s a critical mass of aboriginal thinkers and leaders and writers who are using the methods which can get to the population at large — very fine novels, very fine essays, very fine public arguments,” he told the Star.

Recent novels by Richard Wagamese (Medicine Walk) and Joseph Boyden (The Orenda), a searing new memoir by Edmund Metatawabin (Up Ghost River) about his experience in residential school in Fort Albany are among those books that support Saul’s contention.

What he can do, he says, is speak to non-aboriginals. What he wishes to tell Canadians is clear:
“What we face is a simple matter of rights — of citizens’ rights that are still being denied to indigenous peoples. It is a matter of rebuilding relationships central to the creation of Canada and, equally important, to its continued existence.”

“Enormous efforts are being made to stop it, to sideline it, or to slow it down,” he says. “It cannot be done.”

Denial and delay will merely create more bitterness and anger. “And once you produce that kind of anger and, forgive the old word, alienation, then things start happening. And you don’t control those sort of things once they start happening.”

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2014/10/26/aboriginal_rights_a_simple_matter_of_rights_denied.html