Opinion: A new Native insurgency threatens Canada's sovereignty
"Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, on recalling the 1990 national emergency at Oka, Que., carefully warned Canadians that "First Nations are ever-mindful of the potential that these events could be repeated." It would be a grave mistake for Canadian leaders to dismiss his words as mere political rhetoric.

Other aboriginal leaders continue to warn Canadians that unless Canada's relations with its young, fast-growing aboriginal community are not addressed effectively and soon, then a nationwide challenge -- armed or unarmed -- to Canada's sovereignty awaits us. How might such an insurgency unfold and could it succeed?

Theory suggests that where significant grievances affect a large segment of a society these so-called root causes can provide the fuel for a rebellion. Recent research suggests that root causes alone do not sufficiently explain why insurgencies erupt. The better question is: "What makes insurgencies feasible?"

Insurgencies become feasible in circumstances where a high proportion of an aggrieved population is composed of young men (15 to 34 years of age) and a nation's economy depends on exports (meaning more than 20 per cent of GDP) that must travel through a large, rugged, under-populated and difficult-to-defend territory. In these circumstances the "feasibility of an insurgency is almost inevitable." All that is required to set the root-cause fuel ablaze is a serious security incident -- Oka times 10; an overreaction by police as at Burnt Church in 2001; or the arrival in Canada's aboriginal community of a fiery, national leader to rally "the people in a righteous campaign against the oppressor government" -- a reincarnated Louis Riel, perhaps"

Get the Story:
Douglas Bland: Risk of aboriginal insurgency (The Winnipeg Free Press 7/27)