Canada | Opinion

Opinion: New tradition of property rights for the First Nations

"Attawapiskat and its deplorable living standard is not unique amongst our Indian communities. It is a consequence of a race-based, socialist policy found only Indian reservations. What we see today, although not intended, ought to be expected. When people receive handouts to be unproductive and face legal obstacles to improve themselves, Attawapiskat is the result.

The James Bay Indians ceded their land to the Crown under Treaty no. 9. Prior to the treaty, the Attawapiskat Indians were a semi-nomadic people. They travelled with the seasons surviving not only on fish and game, but on trade with various Hudson’s Bay Company’s outposts. They had a culture of self-reliance and responsibility. Unfortunately their culture has been replaced with one of dependence; they’ve grown to embrace the culture of socialism.

Reading the records, the tribes wanted to keep this lifestyle and were fearful of entering into a treaty. “Missabay, the recognized Chief of the band then spoke expressing the fears …. they would be compelled to reside upon the reserves to be set apart for them and would be deprived of their hunting and fishing privileges which they now enjoy.” They believed their culture would remain intact and their fear turned to favour."

Get the Story:
Randy Hillier: Reserving a new tradition (The Toronto Sun 1/20)

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