Although the Idle No More movement seems to be idle, it sparked nationwide debate and awareness recently regarding the plight of First Nations citizens as well as the difficulties that governments find themselves in, politically and financially.
A month or so ago the promised conflict resolution rhetoric was forefront but where is it now? Most news stories last about three or so weeks and then it is time to move on to something new. Now that it is no longer in the news, are things back to square one?
Since the onset of the 1876 Indian Act, aboriginals and governments have been shackled into an often-dysfunctional relationship, a relationship of government largesse, administrative abuse and a not-so-benevolent overseer.
For aboriginals, this has resulted in dependency, complacency and confusion.
Both sides are locked into the blame game without coming up with any answers and actions.
On the aboriginal side with so many ‘players in the field’ (over 600 reserves), the Idle No More catalyst into nationwide debates has revealed that not everyone can agree on many of the issues and resolutions except on perhaps two — the Indian Act has to go and economic prosperity for aboriginals would certainly go a long way.
On the government side, certain leaders have voiced similar tones.
The Indian Act has marginalized over half a million Canadians into second-class citizens and will limit the economic growth of Canada. Estimates of $500 billion of future resource-related projects may hang in the balance.
Over the next 10 years, some 400,000 aboriginals will be ready to enter the workplace but today there is no evidence that a meaningful number of them can and will be trained to take advantage of the forecast chronic skills shortage.
To meet that need, there is currently a strong focus to look outside the country, to immigrants for much of that skill set. It would be a shame not to take advantage of this opportunity now to start to undo 137 years of bad history.