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