White People, Here’s Your One-Time Canada Day Special: Native People Apologize Back!

Drew Hayden Taylor, Globe and Mail, June 30, 2012

Canada Day has always been a mixed bag for Canada’s native people. It makes us think of many things: patriotism, flags, sunburned cottagers, barbeques and exploding fireworks. That’s the good stuff.

For some, though, it’s a reminder that it was four years ago when Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to the first nations, Inuit and Métis inhabitants of this country for the imposition and effects of the infamous residential-school system.

Since then, much has been said and written about that apology: Did it go far enough? Too little too late? What’s next? That is something I am afraid only educated, wealthy white men in positions of power can decide.

However, some in the native community feel that perhaps we are being a little lax in not issuing an apology of our own.

We are not without some culpability. In the centuries that have passed since that fateful day of contact, we ourselves have been negligent and irresponsible in not acknowledging our liability in many regretful incidents and events in the past.

So in the spirit of cooperation, I would like to offer up these apologies to the people of Canada on behalf of the NAFNIP (native/aboriginal/first nations/indigenous people):

We hereby apologize for being so inconsiderate as to occupy land that, one day, your people would want. Even though we did not have a postal system or an Internet, this was an inexcusable oversight. We hope you are enjoying it.

We apologize for having so many politically correct and incorrect names for you to call us – everything from native to aboriginal to first nations to wagon burner to status-card number 48759375876-1.

In retrospect, to make things easier for you, we should have stayed in India, where we were originally thought to have come from. Unfortunately today it is really hard to get decent palak paneer on the reserve.

We hereby apologize for not understanding the subtle connections between God, children and sexual abuse. Some are still struggling with appreciating this association.

They are forgetting that, early in the Bible, it says, “Let there be white. And it was good.”

We apologize for wanting rights to minerals and other natural resources that exist beneath our feet. When you negotiated for our land, you meant to the Earth’s core.

We did not fully comprehend that when we were put on reserves where our rights to the land only went two or three feet below the surface.

Anything that falls down a sewer grate basically belongs to the Federal Government.

We apologize for being so concerned about the disappearances of so many native women.

We did not realize that the professional attitude of most law-enforcement agencies towards this issue was basically “out of sight, out of mind.” From now on, we’ll report any native women that go missing as white women with dark tans. That should speed up response time.

No need to thank us.

We hereby apologize for straining the Canadian health system due to our propensity towards diseases like diabetes. I know it has been said we put the word “die” in diabetes, but being introduced to all that Kraft Dinner and potato chips was definitely worth giving up the steady diet of salmon and deer.

I am sure the vegetarians are happy.

We apologize for launching so many land claims against the federal and provincial governments. One of our most ancient teachings tells us it is our sacred responsibility to make sure as many lawyers as possible are fed and looked after.

Where would they be without us?

We hereby apologize for wanting autonomy from the Federal bureaucracy of the DIA (Department of Indian Affairs). … Wait a minute, make that DIAND (Department of Indian and Northern Development). … Sorry, but I think it’s now called INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). … No, I have just been informed the Ministry’s official name is now AANDC – short for Aboriginal Affairs Northern Development Canada. … Now I forget what my original point was.

And though it had nothing to do with us, we are sorry for obvious reasons for the unique acronym of a once-testy office known as the Government of Ontario Native Affairs Directorate.

Finally, and perhaps most of all, we apologize for helping Canada/Great Britain win the War of 1812 against the Americans. There are many in the native community who feel Barack Obama would be a far more interesting leader than Mr. Harper.

But in our defence, who could have guessed?

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  • kerrysmith

    The liberals who form the Globe’s audience will absolutely hug themselves with guilt over this one.  Meanwhile, it’s great to see what an Indian satirist can do with concepts of equality, fairness and justice-to-the-‘other’ which exist nowhere in his own culture but were learned from us.

  • When you negotiated for our land, you meant to the Earth’s core.

    Well, duh.

  • Oil Can Harry

    Have there ever been a bigger bunch of whiners and crybabies than this crowd? Even the blacks might not be this pathetic.

     I like when he sobs that too many Injuns eat junk food because Whitey made them give up “salmon and deer”. 

    The real reason they gave up salmon and deer is that they used to have to go fishing and hunting to procure those foods. That would mean actual work; they prefer welfare.  

  • Minorities savor their role as victims.  It’s how they see and define themselves. It allows them the excuse to do nothing to improve their status.

    These people, IF they were remotely capable of such a thing, could create their own paradise on earth (or their reservations) if they made any effort. How is the white man preventing them from carrying on their culture?

    If they believed the ways of their elders were better, they are free to build on those traditions. There is nothing stopping them from carrying on their culture.

    In regards to mineral rights and such, they weren’t effectively using such minerals or profiting from them through trade before the white man came so how does this impact them in preserving and perpetuating their culture?

    Do they want the wealth that the white man has created from the land or do they want to carry on their traditional ways? They seem to be confused as to what they want.

    They seem to want all the advantages of white civilization such as generating wealth from resources but to live a pre-European  way of life.  

  •  Written white history is both a blessing and a curse, something non-literate cultures don’t have to deal with.

    Non-literate cultures are free to embellish and romanticize their past because they don’t have historic documents to back up their claims.

    Whites, on the other hand, have written everything down; the good, the bad, and the politically incorrect. It’s our written history that is now used against us.

    • kerrysmith

       Our written history, and our, ahem, re-written history.

  • .

    DH Taylor would like others to think natives are put upon. But that is only true in the sense that they have to share Canada with others. In all other respects, natives have the same rights as everyone else. In fact, natives actually have more rights and govt set asides than anyone else. Moreover, natives have benefited tremendously from Europeans. They’re life expectancy has doubled from 35 to 70. And they have one of the highest standards of living in the world which is why they no longer have to kill most of their children. Though I suppose its easy for him to overlook those things when his belly is full of Kraft macaroni and cheese.

  • kerrysmith

     I forget which writer it was who wittily said, “I don’t know why he’s angry with me — I haven’t done him any favors”.

  • kerrysmith

     The Canadian–not just Indian–view is that the American troops were turned back at Queenston Heights, preventing the proponents of “manifest destiny” from liberating us against our will from George III.  This ultimately facilitated the emergence of an independent Canada, neither absorbed by the US nor governed as a British colony. So (I love happy endings) Canada and the USA can both legitimately claim to have ‘won’ the war. The Brits didn’t do so well out of it, though.

  • ViktorNN

    This is clearly written to impress Canada’s upper middle class white academics. 

    Like a dancing monkey, Taylor delights his audience’s taste for humiliation and mockery aimed at themselves. It’s an odd masochistic trend among whites in academia, and it has been for quite awhile now. 

  • Ghost Wolf

    Humans tend to overblow their own accomplishments.  Being a bunch of stone-age hunter-gatherers is barely a half-step up from being a wild animal, really.  Yet we somehow draw a big huge line at the “discovery of fire” or some such rot as being a huge gulf in mental abilities between “animal” and “stone-ager”.

    If you want to know what I mean, then see an old sci-fi novel called “Little Fuzzy”  by H. Beam Piper, in which hairy little creatures who used a simple tool to hunt with (as many animals do, including the Woodpecker Finch, and Chimpanzees) but was assumed to be an “animal” worthy of no consideration – simply because they lacked fire and APPEARED to lack language (because their voices were just a bit too high for us to hear properly.)

    The line between “animal” and “stone ager” is very fine, indeed. 

    Having said that, I also maintain that Indians shoot themselves in the foot when they say their ancestors had NO CONCEPT of land ownership.  ORLY?  Well, territorial animals – such as wolves – certainly seem to hold such a concept – they mark the land they claim, and defend it from others of their own kind.  That, to me, indicates a sense of ownership.

    Therefore, we negotiated with the wrong crowd.  Our treaties should have been made WITH THE WOLVES, the TRUE first owners of North America!

  • Ghost Wolf

     Well, they have unlimited hunting rights, apparently – they kill, and kill, and kill wildlife when given the chance.  Look at what happened when Ontario opened up Algonquin Park to them – they left with truckloads full of dead deer, and all the rangers could do was stand by and watch.

    Plus, no one says “BOO” when they SELL this wild booty and call it “subsistence hunting”.  Same thing with their COMMERCIAL salmon fishing, which they get away with calling “subsitence” fishing.

    I don’t agree with this.  They claim they “care about their wild brothers”, but slaughter them on sight.  Hah.