Years ago, I met a woman who had fled death squads roaming Indian villages in northern Nicaragua. Most of her family had been killed in one wave or another of killings by government troops or U.S.-trained and -armed death squads. I was shocked that so few people knew about what was taking place. More shocked that few cared if they did find out. After all, it was all taking place so far away from everyday life for most Canadians.
Certainly there were people who cared. They didn’t have to be Mohawk or any other Indigenous nationality to feel something, to react to the horror inflicted upon the lives of so many other people. But what appalled me was the overall apathy, the willful ignorance, the deliberate covering of eyes and ears to pretend that people much like themselves were committing such brutalities upon other human beings.
Today, I read how Indian Affairs continues to destabilize the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, just north of Maniwaki and about three hours drive north of Ottawa. I’m shocked at the similarity in tactics (short of deadly force) used to keep the people in this small community off-balance. By this, I mean the use of armed force, the toppling of a local leader with a hand-picked puppet, treating the community like a small colony where the inhabitants have no voice over their own affairs.
I am doubly appalled that these tactics have been used time and time again in Canada’s past, and in this community, yet reporters still assume that an Indian Affairs minister can be allowed to abuse such power and get away with it. That disgusts me almost as much as the minister’s abuse of power. So much for the guardians of democracy, or afflicting the comfortable.
Shame on Canada. Shame on Chuck Strahl. Shame on Canadian journalism.