We were reading the weekend newspaper and having a good laugh when--bam--- we realized we weren't reading the Saturday Funnies, we were reading a special supplement on Treaties.
How were we to know? They're both equally nonsensical, illogical and downright laughable.
The supplement was called Our Past Our Future and was apparently put out by the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. a "neutral body" with the mandate of encouraging discussion and facilitating public understanding of Treaties. Or, in layman's terms, government propaganda.
Apparently the way to start a discussion about Treaties, given you only have 32 pages to play with, is NOT to print the treaties that apply in Manitoba. That's a real kneeslapper. You might even think that's a deliberate attempt to keep people from reading for themselves what's in the treaties. Isn't that a laugh?
The next step is to rewrite history. That's always fun, isn't it? What if dinosaurs never became extinct and now ruled the world? What if Indians discovered Spain instead of Columbus discovering America? Hee hee, see how much fun it is being silly.
Jamie Wilson, the Commissioner of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, and the man responsible for the supplement, encouraged spitballing from the freelancers who wrote the supplement.
What if the Indian Chiefs in 1871 didn't know what they were doing and signed away all of Manitoba for a fin a head? What if aboriginal people were promised a slice of revenue from oil and gas at a time when oil was smelly stuff that stuck to your horse's feet? What if the Charter of Rights applied to Indian Reserves? Ha ha. Oh, stop...
You can read Wilson's supplement from cover to cover and you won't find out that the Treaty Commissioner in Manitoba took great pains to ensure that the Indian Chiefs understood clearly what the treaties meant. We've written about it in The Black Rod. Look it up.
There was never any intent to share natural resource revenue with aboriginal people.
You would know that if Wilson published the treaties themselves instead of relying on the magic memories of "elders".
Because everyone knows your memory gets sharper the older you get and that you should never trust anything that's written down because its always wrong the longer away from the event you go.
Human rights on reserves? That got the greatest guffaws.
The Chiefs, who were apparently behind the Treaty Relations Commission, fought tooth and nail to keep the Canadian Charter of Rights from being applicable on reserves.
The right to free speech? Ask anyone on a reserve, if you can get them to talk over the fear of retaliation from Chief and council.
Freedom of the Press? Did you see how the thugs around Chief Teresa Spence prevented reporters from asking questions about the huge deficit on her reserve? Did you see the Idle No More drummer drowning out the whistleblower to exposed the salary of an Indian chief that was more than the Prime Minister's?
Not a word in the supplement of any of the systemic violations of basic human rights that Canadians take for granted. Propaganda indeed.
Treaty Commissioner Wilson went so far as manipulating the "Historical Timeline"? That was a neat trick.
He put 1876--- Creation of Indian Act Results in Reserve System---ahead of 1871-1921: Treaties 1 to 11 Negotiated and Made. If he had published Treaties 1 through 3, readers would know that the Crown promised to reserve land for the Indians starting in 1871 and not because of the Indian Act. But why get picky about details when fiction is so much more fun.
There was a story about Idle No More which focussed on Tanya Kappo, a University of Manitoba law graduate. We, too, wrote about Tanya Kappo, and funnily, the information we dug up about her didn't make the Treaty supplement.
Neither did they mention the racist ideology, Whiteness, that underpins the philosophy of the founders of Idle No More.
Whiteness is the study of how white people have structured society to give themselves special privileges at the expense of everyone else and how they, whites, don't even recognize it, because even if they come out in support of non-whites, they're still white and can't help but enjoy it.
The Treaty supplement had a whole page on Treaty Land Entitlement, illustrated with a photo of Chris Henderson, executive director of the Treaty Land Entitlement Committee of Manitoba.
You remember Chris Henderson, don't you? He was Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in 2005 when Matthew Dumas, a doped-up petty criminal, was shot by a police office before he could stab the officer with a screwdriver. Henderson threw the full support of the SCO ("politically, legally and financially") behind a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Winnipeg Police Service by Dumas' sister Jessica Paul.
Yeah, there's a guy you can trust to be an honest broker between aboriginals and the rest of society.
Well, you know what they say... always leave 'em laughing.