15. THE TREATIES: FAIRLY MADE AND HONOURABLY IMPLEMENTED

The question of the relations of the Dominion of Canada to the Indians of the North-West is one of great practical importance. The work, of obtaining their good will, by entering into treaties of alliance with them, has now been completed in all the region from Lake Superior to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. As an aid to the other and equally important duty-that of carrying out, in their integrity, the obligations of these treaties, and devising means whereby the Indian population of the Fertile Belt can be rescued from the hard fate that otherwise awaits them, owing to the speedy destruction of the buffalo, hitherto the principal food supply of the Plains Indians, and that they may be induced to become, by the adoption of agricultural and pastoral pursuits, a self-supporting community- I have prepared this collection of treaties made with them…treaties…securing the goodwill of the Indian tribes, and by the helpful hand of the Dominion, opening up to them, a future of promise, based upon the foundations of instruction and the many other advantages of civilized life. – Alexander Morris, Preface to his The Treaties of Canada With the Indians, 1880

A great injustice is being done to Indian people if we tell them that the white man did not keep his promises under the treaties…We must therefore make every effort to re-educate all Canadians to the facts of history. The federal government has kept its promises under the treaties. -Aboriginal AFN founder, activist, writer, lawyer, William Wuttunee, 1971 1

Ordinary Canadians often read and are told that the Indians of Canada are the victims of fraudulently or coercively-induced treaties, which even then were afterwards broken by the Crown,  and that this is a large part of the cause of their present troubles.

But an examination of some of the treaties entered into in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the circumstances around the signing of them shows that generally this is not true.

With respect to the implementation of the treaties, Canada and our provincial governments have more than just honoured them. Over the many years since they were signed they have, even though there are well-recorded and, to me, over-emphasized, exceptions to this, generally followed them to the letter. They have, in addition, in more than reasonable fulfilment of their fiduciary and “Crown honour” obligations, generously granted countless, significant, additional benefits to Indians, over and above the treaties, for which there is no basis whatsoever in the wording of the treaties themselves, and which go far beyond the original intent of them.

The 1969 Trudeau White Paper acknowledged this, saying:

The terms and effects of the treaties between the Indian people and the government are widely misunderstood. A plain reading of the words used in the treaties reveals the limited and minimal promises which were included in them…The significance of the treaties in meeting the economic, educational, health and welfare needs to the Indian people has always been limited and will continue to decline. 2

In this way and others, Canadians, through  our governments, have acted generously and more than honourably in the implementation of the Crowns’ obligations under them.

As evidenced by the websites of Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada Canadian taxpayers provide to Canada’s Indians free medical care, free dental care, massive grants for reserve infrastructure, funding for schools, grants for post-secondary education, special business start-up loan programs, housing assistance grants and loan guarantees, business loan guarantees,  programs for Indian youth and women, employment initiatives, funds for Indian land claims lawsuits against themselves, funds for the bulk of their “consult and accommodate” expenses (see below), funds for the various associations and federations that make up such a large and vocal part of the lobbying sector of the Indian industry, funding urban Friendship Centres, funding television and radio programs for Indians;  even a 33% discount on VIA rail fares when travelling in western Canada.

None of these things are called for by any treaty.

A local, Sudbury-Manitoulin area example of this generosity on the part of non-Indian Canadians is the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre, a new hotel recently built in Little Current (the first new hotel built there in over a hundred years) by a group of Manitoulin Island Indian bands. All the money to build this beautiful facility originated from the Canadian taxpayer or from institutional loans, (as of 2015 there were over $7,000,000  in mortgages registered against the property), all ultimately financially guaranteed by the Canadian taxpayer.

These programs and initiatives constitute only a few examples of the very honourable way the dealings of non-Indian Canadians, through their governments,  have gone, and continue to go, way beyond the letter, spirit and original intent of the old treaties.

In fact, so relatively generous and in good faith have our Crowns and the Canadian people been in relation to honouring  the treaties and in fulfilling the “honour of the Crown” towards Indians, that the possession of official, legally-recognized Indian status in Canada, rather than being seen as something undesirable- something representing some  denigrated or hard-done-by status- has, due to the material advantages attached to it, become something to be prized and sought after!

Newfoundland and Canada recently created a rather fictitious, non-land based “First Nation” in Newfoundland, complete with Indian Act status, for the descendants of Micmacs who once inhabited the island. They expected about 10,000 people to apply for Indian status. They got over 100,000 applicants, the majority of whom had either no Indian ancestry whatsoever or no ties to any Indian community or lifestyle, and no Indian “sensibility”.

Clearly these 100,000 people considered an Indian status card as something devoutly to  be wished for, something of great economic value in today’s modern Canada.

The same thing will happen with the August, 2019 implementation of the federal Liberal government’s Bill S-3, which  restores Indian status to all live former “Indian” women who had lost their status as the result of marrying a non-Indian, and will grant Indian status to the descendants of those women- children,  grandchildren, great grandchildren. Hundreds of thousands of hitherto relatively content non-Indians will rush to claim their unexpected genetic lottery win by applying for status cards, and thereby becoming, literally overnight, instant Indians. And all at the further expense of the Canadian taxpayer. As the National Post reported:

Once the new rules are extended back to the 1800’s, the budget watchdog estimates that 670,000 people will be eligible to claim status, though just 270,000 are expected to apply. According to the report, the government will ultimately pay an additional $407 million annually in health care and other benefits for new status Indians. 3

So prized is the Indian status card, or, more to the point, so prized are the rights, entitlements, and expectations that it confers and symbolizes, that no mildly self-interested, dependency-mindset, Canadian person with the slightest trace- be it DNA, “self-identifying”, “sharing a native hereditary base” or otherwise- of aboriginality, (is that a word?- it is now),  in his or her  background would want to leave home without it.

Well  in addition to the above Indian status, modern add-ons, there are now 600,000 more such expectant, Indian-want-to-be’s- no, Indian-Canadians– all brought into a somewhat vaguely-defined legal existence by our very compassionate, highly “native” blood-conscious,  Supreme Court of Canada, which institution, in this area of Canadian life, never fails to err on the side of the diminishment of Crown sovereignty, the erosion of our tax and revenue base, and of the expansion of financial obligations owed by non-Indian Canadians to Indian Canadians. (see for example, The Haida Nation Case and Dancing With Danegeld, below.)

In Daniels vs. Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development, (“Daniels“), 4the Supreme Court rather briefly and breezily, on somewhat flimsy legal and historical grounds, declared that Canada’s 400,000 Metis and 200,000 non-status Indians are now all “Indians” under federal jurisdiction- and thus are potential beneficiaries of the fiduciary obligation Canada owes to “Indians”- and thus are all entitled to legitimately demand all the same rights and entitlements from the Canadian taxpayer that status Indians now possess. (There were about 700,000 status Indians in Canada before these 2016 and 2019 revolutionary expansions of the category.)

The Court reasoned that because Metis and non-status Indians “have been deprived of significant funding for their affairs”, and “have no one to hold accountable for an inadequate status quo,” that that is a reason, in and of itself, why they should be declared to be “Indians”, seeming to ignore or forget the fact that all non-Indian Canadians are so “deprived”, and that all  Canadians, Indian and non-Indian in fact have their elected representatives to be held accountable for whatever they perceive to be their “inadequate status quo.” They’re not “deprived” any more than any other Canadians. They’re simply equal under the law– a state that our Supreme Court, in this area of Canadian life, does not seem to feel is a  worthy or acceptable default position, or a situation to aspire to or work towards.

The Court made no effort to define what a Metis or non-status Indian is. “There is no consensus on who is considered a Metis or a non-status Indian, nor need there be… This is “a fact-driven question to be decided on a case-by -case basis in the future” (!) (Italics and exclamation point added.) By its decision in Daniels the Court has potentially almost doubled the potential financial burden on Canadian taxpayers for the consequences of this decision, and yet it made zero effort to define these newly-entitled racial categories of Canadians. This  constitutes failing in  their fundamental duty to properly define and explain this new law to Canadians.

The Court relied on past- often distant past- random British and Canadian government administrative acts and statements, all having to do with, on compassionate and common sense grounds, with no intention to be legally bound, including Metis and non-status Indians in the provision of certain benefits provided to status Indians, as present grounds for now deeming them to actually be legal “Indians.” This is  financially burdening present-day Canadians for the voluntary, generous intentions and good deeds of our forefathers.

The “expert” evidence the Court relied on is mainly that of modern, Indian industry, orthodoxy-bound academics, mainly ignored, overly-political and self-interested Indian industry-dominated Royal Commission reports, including the biased and lightweight Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. ( For why I say this, see Setting Indians Free From Their Past, below.)

The Court even cited as an historical “expert” Thomas King and his book, The Inconvenient Indian, choosing to ignore Mr. King’s statement at the  beginning of his comic book rendition of Canadian history that “…I prefer fiction. I distrust the way facts tend to thrust themselves on me. I’d rather make up my own world.” (italics added- and, see my discussion of this book in The Essential Humanity of the Migrators to Canada, above.)

It would appear that, in this area of Canadian life, so too, to an alarming degree, would the Supreme Court rather make up their own world.

The Court made or adopted numerous “unargued persuasion” assertions, that fall below the high standards normally expected of the highest court in the land.

Examples:

-“The threat that (the Metis) posed to Canada’s expansion was real.” (Really? A couple of minor, military skirmishes, and Metis opposition was all over.)

-Canada could not have opened up the prairies to agriculture and settlement “without Metis intercession and legal presence.” (No details provided, and simply not true in any event.)

-If a person possesses “sufficient racial and social characteristics to be considered a “native person”, that individual will be regarded as an “Indian”. (Considered by whom?- What might those “racial and social characteristics” be? No details provided.)

-“There is no doubt that the Metis are a distinct people, ” who are “widely recognized as a culturally distinct Aboriginal people living in culturally distinct communities. (Really? In 2016?  “Widely recognized”? By whom? Where’s the evidence? What is one such “culturally distinct community”?)

Parliament might just as well, on all matters Indian, just pack up and go home, and leave this entire subject matter to the judicial fiats of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Daniels decision highlights one of the great contradictions of our age. The author of the decision, Justice Rosie Abella, is a Holocaust descendant.5 That event was a horrific but logical end-result of the irrational, perverse and racist blood/race myths that permeated Europe at the time, epitomized by the Nuremberg Laws- by the pernicious notion that, depending on your “race”- your “bloodstock”-your “innate personality” was given at birth, and not acquired by merit or life circumstances! How could Justice Abella not see this?6

Similarly, but with the best of intentions, Daniels defines legal rights based on considerations of “mixed ancestry” and “Native hereditary basis”- racist race terms! There’s even an uncritical reference to “Indian blood”, as if it were a biological fact, when in fact it is scientifically “nonsensical“. (See The Myth of Race and Racial Differences, Chapter 43, below).

Here is the great Israeli intellect and humanist Amoz Oz, from his book Dear Zealots-Letters From a Divided Land,  (above), an argument and plea for principled and practical reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians in Israel, on what he regards as the “monstrous concept” of “Jewish blood” being proffered by right wing Jewish orthodox fanatics…”a central concept in the Nuremberg laws…”:

“Jewish blood” does not appear anywhere in Jewish sources. Not once. We do not have Jewish blood as a concept. In the Bible there is “clean blood.” There is “the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.” There is “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” Later, we have the saying “Your blood is no redder,” meaning, no redder than anyone else’s blood, for we were all created in the image of God.”

If there is no Jewish blood, why would Justice Abella so foolishly posit the concept of “Indian blood”?

“Metis” Professor Chris Anderson, agreeing,  wrote of the “deeply racist logic” of Daniels7

We justly decry the white racist, Ku Klux Klan-type assertion that possessing “white blood” makes a person somehow superior to or uniquely different in some positive way from others of different (impliedly inferior) “blood.” When Stephen Douglass, the 19th century, American Black racial equality-activist died, referring to his mixed race ancestry, the New York Times suggested that Douglass’s “white blood” accounted for his “superior intelligence.” 8

Had Justice Abella been around at that time and read that, she would have been greatly and properly offended.

Yet the notion that this brilliant, well-meaning jurist inadvertently propagated in the Daniels decision-that there is such a thing as “Indian blood” and that this “blood” could account for innate, collective personality characteristics embedded at and by the accident of birth, deserving of special, different treatment by the law many years later- is the same racist idea in reverse, and is equally and fundamentally, repellent.

The inadvertently “racist” Daniels decision, and similar recent Supreme Court decisions granting Canada’s Indians new, special rights and entitlements based solely on their so-called distinct blood and race, (see extensively below), ironically and inexplicably, given the brilliance and great humanity of their authors, like Justice Abella, are all antithetical to the lessons of the Holocaust!

(How can these fine, highly educated people be so oblivious to the underlying, racist reality of what they are doing?)

As stated, the effect of this ruling is to potentially almost double the financial (now about $7,000,000,000 per year) and other costs- including the negative social and moral costs- inherent in the perpetuation of the wretched (for the vast majority of non-elite Indians) status quo in this area of Canadian life.

Ordinary Metis-Canadians who foolishly buy into this Trojan Horse ruling and get themselves registered on some future race-Registry, no doubt based on ingeniously complex, genealogical race-parsing and “community acceptance”,  this race-Registry presumably to be constructed at great expense to the Canadian taxpayer, will only see themselves regress from a state of self-supporting independence to a culture and state of dependency and economic stagnation. And, as is usual, only their elites will benefit.

And benefit they will. Much Canadian taxpayer-funded travel, food and accommodation for these elites to come! Because in June of 2019 the ever-Panglossian Trudeau government, which never misses a chance to further divide Canadians on the basis of “race” and blood, said  it had signed “self government agreements with three provincial branches of the “Metis Nation” in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan. These agreements were stated to be “an upfront recognition of the Metis right to self-government, (totally financed by Canadian taxpayers), with further agreements on specific areas of jurisdiction to follow”, such as “child care, language and administration of justice”.9

These agreements are really only virtue-signaling “agreements to agree”, and as such are legally meaningless and unenforceable. But how foolish, divisive and harmful to national unity they are!

Professor Tom Flanagan (above) wrote of this dangerous and unhealthy tendency, for the seemingly best of motives, of “defining groups of people in racial terms and putting them under the paternalistic control of the state”, as follows:10

The rationale…is that Metis have missed out on the benefits that First Nations receive as aboriginal peoples. Ironically, however, the Metis are better off than First Nations precisely because they have always been independent and self-supporting, the “free people”, as they have often called themselves. It is no accident that Metis do better than First Nations on every indicator that Statistics Canada measures, including employment, income, housing and education.

…Individual prosperity comes from developing human capital and participating in the economy, not from building government-funded organizations that tend to separate people from other people. Ethnic groups such as the Chinese, Japanese and Jews have achieved prosperity in Canada despite enduring periods of discrimination. (In this regard, see Setting Indians Free From Their Past, c. 40, below- author.) Would they have done better, or even as well, if their efforts had been devoted to getting their names on a registry to receive compensation for wrongs done to their ancestors? (italics added)

The Mexican equivalent of Metis and non-status Indians (as stated, no definition given by the Supreme Court for either, the Court preferring to let these petty details, for all 600,000 people, be worked out on a “case by case” (!) basis), are the “mestizaje”- mixed blood Mexicans. They have no, and aspire to no, special legal, racial status. They’re just “ordinary” Mexicans. If anything, they are exalted as representing the positive, future-oriented, creative intermingling of the indigenous and European “races” and cultures that make up the rich and colourful Mexican social fabric- Octavio Paz’ “creative participation”- neither the indigenous side nor the European side being regarded as superior to the other.

Not so in rather grim, Nuremberg laws-like, racially-parsing Canada.

Here, Metis and non-status Indians, instead of being regarded as paragons of diversity and racially indifferent living- as the ultimate, positive, personifications of the human benefits and blessings of egalitarian, assimilationist living- of the Nelson Mandela ideal- and thus as an inspiring moral example to us all, (what could be more creatively assimilative and integrationist than the child of a racially mixed union?)-are racially pigeon-holed as  “Indian” sub-categories of sorts,  whose non-Indian side is completely (and rather insultingly) downplayed or ignored.

On the other hand, their Indian side is emphasized, even made to appear to be their sole, defining, almost homogeneous racial characteristic,  celebrated, and said, (never demonstrated), to be culturally distinct.

An example of this is Jody Wilson-Raybould, “the first indigenous person to serve as federal justice minister”.11 Not quite. She’s of mixed racial heritage. Her father was Indian and her mother a white school teacher. Her husband is a white physician. She was born and raised in Vancouver. She epitomizes the richness and success of the integrationist, assimilationist model! But it’s au courant (and was personally and politically advantageous for her) to be wholly defined as “indigenous”.

It’s puzzling.

Our elites are using the positive phenomenon of racial intermixing as something to further legally divide us along racial lines, instead of something that should unite us in egalitarian fashion!

It’s also ironic.

Many of our elites are now pushing the idea that gender is an elastic, subjective concept.

Why aren’t they applying the same principle to the concept of race, which scientists would argue, makes a lot more sense? (Again, see The Myth of Race and Racial Differences, Chapter 43, below).

Ordinary Canadians don’t buy what the Supreme Court and the rest of our elites are doing- don’t buy this almost-sick obsession with “Indian blood” (an actual phrase from Daniels)- this puffing up the Indian half (or often, the much less than Indian half) and downplaying or outright erasing the non-Indian part- this fabricating “Metis” into a separate,  homogeneous racial category, when in fact it’s the opposite! When in fact it’s the embodiment of racial diversity- of dual or multiple racial (in the social sense) identities.

Seemingly unlike our Supreme Court, ordinary Canadians know that we’re all “metis”-of mixed blood- human mongrels of one variation or another- and, this creating the opposite of a state of dependency,  we don’t expect special treatment from the government or anyone else because of it.

And, even more importantly, we also know that being of mixed or indeterminate “blood”- being a “mongrel”- being biracial or multi-racial- is better and healthier, individually and for society, than being of a homogeneous racial group. We know that being “mixed” in this way:

…makes it harder to fall back on the tribal identities that have guided (disastrously) so much of human history, and that are now resurgent. Your background pushes you to construct a worldview that transcends the tribal…You’re also accustomed to the idea of having several selves, and of trying to forge them into something whole, this task of self-creation (being) a defining experience of modernity.

Focusing on our multiple social identities imparts mental flexibility…and forces one to think more deeply about the world. It’s linked to economic prosperity and creativity.

…The difficulty of diversity is like the power of exercise, where you push yourself to grow your muscles. 12

The Supreme Court, with Daniels, takes all these wonderful, positive things, and demeans and negatives them. It’s shameful.

And finally, with respect to the treaties, allegedly “broken” or otherwise allegedly somehow suspect or improper, one can reasonably argue that it is Canada’s Indians, (now, thanks to Daniels, a legal, race-based category of Canadians almost doubled in size overnight), that are now departing from the letter and intent of them.

Now, to the bafflement and frustration of ordinary Canadians, Indians are making increasingly strident, excessive, unreasonable, unaffordable and never-ending demands on non-Indian Canadians- demands unsupported by historical behaviour or precedent or any reasonable reading of the treaties, even taking a contextual approach to them- demands based on a stale and outdated interpretation of the Crown honour principle- and demands made on the basis of an outdated, backward and quasi-racist view of Canadian social and political life.

An examination of the circumstances surrounding the making of several of these treaties fully supports this contention, and further supports the contention that the treaties were not the product of fraud or coercion.

  1. Ruffled Feathers, above
  2. Quoted in Harold Cardinal’s The Unjust Society, Douglas & McIntyre (2013) Ltd, first published in 1969 as a “stinging rebuttal” (from the jacket cover) to the Trudeau White Paper. The Unjust Societyis a foundational Ur-document of the Indian rights movement in Canada. Mr. Cardinal disagreed with the White Paper on the morality and appropriateness of interpreting the treaties literally. According to him, “…the treaties, if properly interpreted and implemented, would satisfy the needs of the Indians in all social and economic areas.” (italics added) In other words “ignore the plain wording of them and interpret them in the ways we want.” To a large degree the Indians have got their way in this regard. See c. 16, The Robinson-Huron Treaties, and c. 23, The Haida Nation Case, amongst other case discussions.
  3. Maura Forrest, National Post, December 22, 2017
  4. 2016 SCC 12
  5. Sean Fine, Supreme Justice- Rosalie Abella travels to Poland, The Globe and Mail, July 30, 2016
  6. Phrase “innate personality” and idea from Hannah Arendt’s brilliant meditation on the origins of anti-Semitism, The Origins of Totalitarianism, cited above.
  7. Chris Anderson, The Supreme Court Ruling on Metis- A Roadmap to Nowhere, The Globe and Mail, April 14, 2016. “Metis” is how the essential status quo-supporting Globe described him, as if, even partlydue to the fact that he was of the  “Metis” “race”, then that, by virtue of this bogus “innateness” factor,  would somehow add to the  veracity, weight or authority of what he was writing. Again, another unconscious, racist assumption!
  8. The Confounding Truth About Frederick Douglass, by Randall Kennedy, The Atlantic Magazine, December 2018.
  9. Maura Forrest, National Post, June 28th, 2019
  10. Why the Isaac report on Metis goes in the wrong direction, The Globe and Mail, August 8, 2016
  11. Brian Hutchinson, Born and raised for the job of justice minister, National Post, November 6th, 2015
  12. From Moises Velasquez-Manoff, What Biracial People Know, The New York Times, March 4, 2017

By: Peter Best