Standing on the Chains – Once Again

“The more things change – the more they stay the same”

Louis Riel MP Provencher

In August 1869, Canada sent a group of surveyors to the Red River to begin surveying land prior to negotiations to enter into the confederation[1].  To add insult to injury, the surveyors where using a Canadian survey method that did not take into account the river lot system already in place.

Louis Riel and the Metis were not having it! Riel led a small group of people to stop the surveyors. They stood on the surveyors’ chains and did not retreat.  The Canadian survey company retreated and came back in October with an army.

Later, Riel was elected three times as an independent representative of Provencher despite being a fugitive and rebel to Canadians. In January 1874, Riel stole into the House of Commons and signed the register as the elected representative of Provencher.  He was never allowed to take a seat.

Here we are almost 150 years later, and another man is elected and ejected for challenging the deeply entrenched patriarchal and colonial systems.  Jagmeet Singh like Riel has spent his life standing on surveyors’ chains and attempting to open systems to create change, be inclusive and act on social justice. Like Riel he is being denied a voice to speak that truth in the rooms of power.

Jagmeet Singh MP-Burnaby South NDP

Jagmeet Singh kicked out of Parliament on June 17, 2020 for calling out a racist

History has once again repeated itself.  Jagmeet Singh has said that he is “not sorry for fighting systemic racism.”  It is the same racism that was present when Manitoba was brought into confederation under a long gun, despite having a legally representative government in place. 

There has been in my opinion more offensive, hurtful language that is misogynist and character shaming that has not resulted in any kind of censure in the House.

Canada can make a commitment to truly address the privilege of white immunity[2] that is embedded in the very structures, the policies, and practises of its institutions.

Whether its Riel or Jagmeet or the thousands of Missing and Murdered Women, Girls and gender diverse people or Black Lives matter – colonial and patriarchal rule is no longer acceptable.

 Institutions must take steps to immediately reset the course in a significant meaningful way.

Time for meaningful engagement and action – once again you are reminded as the chains of colonialism and patriarchy are being held still once again – 150 years later.


[2] Cabrera, N. (2018). White Guys on Campus: Racism, White Immunity and the myth of “Post-Racial “Higher Education (The American Campus). New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Standing on the Chains – Once Again

Protection, Privacy, Principles

I think that it has been firmly established that that is completely legal to record a conversation, meeting, call without the consent of other parties. Was recording a conversation, when one anticipates harm, a valid reason to not inform the other party?  Was it enough of a reason to toss a senior member of cabinet out of the building? What role did gender and ethnicity play in this drama?  I was once in the position where I was once unknowing recorded in a meeting of several people.  One or more individuals, other than the one surreptiously holding the recording device knew the proceedings were being recorded.

In this case, it was primarily Indigenous women at the table, some represented the community and others including myself represented government.  The bottom line is that we were all trying to put the best interests of the Indigenous community first.  Even so, there seemed to be an effort to lead me and my colleagues into a rabbit hole.  I’m not sure the situation would have happened if it had been white men at the table. I found out later about the recording.  I contacted several different individuals both within the department I worked in and outside the department about my rights.  I clearly felt that consent to record by all parties should have been granted by all parties and that my individual  rights had been violated.recorder Apparently, no crime committed – no consent necessary.  I suppose taking a bird’s eye view, in this day and time of technology, we are always being recorded, whether it be while driving and traffic cams or in casual conversation with friends and finding later advertisements coming up based on your conversations.  Lesson here is assume an audio video capture even if you are sitting on your sofa!


The bigger question is, why did the individual feel the need to record the proceedings?

I can only assume it was a meeting with governments, not with individuals that was the primary reason.

Governments, that we as Indigenous Peoples have been subjected to in maintaining oppressive colonial structures. I believe it was the policies of the system that have continued to marginalize Indigenous people and communities that was the cause of feeling unsafe and a need to protect rights.  On the other hand, meetings are generally recorded, by minutes and or electronically, so it would have been totally acceptable.

jwr-1I won’t even attempt to imagine the requirement to protect herself that Jody Wilson-Raybould felt. Many Indigenous women have felt the same way.  In fact, many believed that they could change they system by being in it, rather that fighting it. For the most part, this has not proven to be the case.  In fact, one Indigenous Women had filed a Human Rights complaint against a federal department.  One of the prevailing attitudes that she was subjected to, was being told by her supervisor that, “we want people that look like you, but think like us”.  And there is not doubt, that this was the attitude that surrounded Jody Wilson-Raybould with in that there was an expectation that she was like us (government).  Governments and certainly the liberal party, did not realize that the Laws of the Big House superseded their own.  Perhaps that is why the prevailing liberal conversation is that “Jody was difficult to work with.” For sure, difficult is what happens when two different systems, two sets of rules are in play.  What did the liberal party expect when they courted Jody to run under their banner? Did they think that as a regional representative of AFN, that she was just an extension of government?

Despite these circumstances that Jody Wilson-Raybould experience at the highest level of colonial government. (and many other Indigenous women in different levels of governments).

She still managed to set the course of the iceberg by ensuring guiding principles be adopted by the federal government. These principles are:

  1. All relations with Indigenous Peoples need to be based on the recognition and implementation of their right to self-determination, including he inherent right of self-government.
  2. Reconciliation is a fundamental purpose of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  3. The hour of the Crown guides the conduct of the Crown in all of its dealings with Indigenous Peoples.
  4. Indigenous self-government is part of Canada’s evolving system of cooperative federalism and distinct orders of government.
  5. Treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements between Indigenous Peoples and the Crown have been and are intended to be acts of reconciliation based on mutual recognition and respect.
  6. Meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples aims to secure their free, prior, and informed consent when Canada propose to take actions which impact them and their rights on the lands, territories and resources.
  7. Respecting and implementing rights is essential that any infringement of section 35 rights must by law meet a high threshold of justification which includes Indigenous perspective and satisfies the Crown’s fiduciary obligations.
  8. Reconciliation and self-government require a renewed fiscal relationship, developed in collaboration with Indigenous nations, that promotes a mutually supportive climate for economic partnership and resource development.
  9. Reconciliation is an ongoing process that occurs in the context of evolving Indigenous-Crown relationships.
  10. A distinctions-based approach is needed to ensure that the unique rights, interests and circumstances of First nations, the Metis Nation and Inuit are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented.


Now the question is, Will the federal government as represented by its department implemented in their daily process and policy application. Will provinces and other governments also adopt and implement.

We don’t need the principles to be an election platform. In the interest of reconciliation this can and should be implemented now.

Protection, Privacy, Principles