The Shotgun Blog
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
David Smith is as aboriginal as my Polish grandmother
That's the opinion of the Chief of Kitigan Zibi Band in Maniwaki, Quebec, where Liberal MP David Smith, who is embroiled in the Abotech affair, grew up.
I know because I spoke to Chief Jean-Guy Whiteduck an hour ago.
It's not just the Chief. His receptionist, another person in the band with whom I've had several email exchanges, David Smith's high school teacher -- all agree that David Smith's claim to be an aboriginal is bogus.
On what specifically could David Smith base his claim? It might have something to do with the farm he grew up on, which is part of the band lands. If you grow up on native lands, doesn't that make you a native? Perhaps, but when he grew up, the farm was not part of the band lands. It was an enclave inside the band lands that was not owned by the band. It is actually subject to a land claim fight, but in the 90s (Chief Whiteduck could not be sure of the year), the band simply bought out the owners for expediency.
So technically his home is part of the band lands, but only recently.
Could David Smith have decided to become an aboriginal when his family farm was bought? After that, creating Abotech in his home and engaging in a scheme to land contracts from the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business with the help of Frank Brazeau seems at least to be a feasible story.
One more thing. According to Chief Whiteduck, the family name of Brazeau is common enough in Maniwaki. I haven't figured out if Frank Brazeau, who seems to play a major part as the "inside man", came from this branch of the family. If he did, one wonders just how far back Smith and Brazeau go.
[Extended post at Angry in the Great White North]
Posted by Steve Janke on October 25, 2005 | Permalink
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Angry: Congratulations on bringing home the bacon.
Now if only in Canada we had grand juries that can indict a ham sandwich.
Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-25 3:10:21 PM
Angry, your reporting on this issue has been excellent.
What it highlights, however, is a much larger issue that is rarely discussed in Canada - systematic racism. The amount of time bureaucrats spend determining if an individual is "Indian" enough to get Indian status under the Indian Act is rarely studied. CAnada is the ONLY country on Earth that has government-issued racial status cards.
Many may say that Aboriginal Canadians have it
"easy", by not having to pay taxes and getting so many handouts and access to crown land.
But, Aboriginals have not been done any favours by institutionalized racism. They have been made into eternal welfare dependants who have no say over their own lives. Collectivist band councils have the final say over who lives where on the reserve and who gets which funds. The corruption within band councils has been well-documented. A status on-reserve "Indian" has no property rights, does not own their own home, and cannot effectively function as an individual. All major decisions are literally made by Ottawa. The results are apparent with the sever water problems on a reserve in Northern Ontario.
Until we end this system of racism in Canada, more and more time will be wasted counting drops of blood to determine if someone really is a Canadian Indian.
Posted by: Charlotte | 2005-10-26 1:21:43 PM
You're absolutely right. But, God damn it, they as a community have to look after their own well being. You too seem to have fallen into that trap of absolving all adults outside of the decision-making process on the reserves of responsibility. No no no. Of anybody in Canadian society, it is they who have the responsibility of making their communities as decent as possible.
As adults, like any other society that has existed and proved it's worthiness in the face of the natural societial pressures over the past gazillion years(...THAT'S RIGHT, NATURAL; it not just the white male who've stumbled upon this, it's been going on since we've walked upright), it is their responsibility to preserves their own culture. In the history of cultures, it's rather absurd to have one culture looking after the preservation of another culture. Are your grandchildren going to have an interest in keeping your neighbour's family tree intact? And,if the adults of the native communities of Canada today don't have the wear-with-all to preserve,promote and integrate their culture, like all viable and mature cultures have to do to last long enough to mutate and preserve some semblance of thier former self, well then all the time limited liberal guilt of their minder cultures will fade as fashions and world affairs change and they will arrive at their true equalibrium that they've earned, which unfortunately for them will be up there with some long forgotten bronze-age cultur; an irrelivent footnote in an Chinese history book.
Posted by: Mike Bolger | 2005-10-26 9:09:26 PM
Mike, I haven't fallen into any "trap". I completely agree that "they as a community have to look after their own well-being", but my point was that they should have the right (and the responsibility) to look after their own well-being as an individual.
I never said that it was "white males" who were responsible for Aboriginals' current lack of rights; it is the Government of Canada's fault.
Of course Aboriginal people should be responsible for their own culture, government-funded culture isn't really culture at all.
Regardless of what a bureaucrat says about 'Aboriginal culture's' focus on subsistence living (thus special fishing and hunting rights), government cheques are mailed out to reserves to cover the cost of things like oil, snowmobiles, cable, high-tech healthcare, vaccinations, education, imported food...
And yet, a pipe to carry oil - a resource used in all of the above- through Aboriginal land is passionately opposed on the basis of Aboriginal culture.
There are undoubtedly Aboriginal Canadians who would choose to take a land settlement and make a substitence living off of that land.
However, from my experience, most have embraced the world of capitalist amenities and conveniences and would not willingly give them up. That is why they and their often corrrupt band councillors want more and more taxpayer funding, to fund things which are clearly outside the realm of government & First Nations leader-defined Native Culture.
There is no such thing as purely "Aboriginal culture". There are thousands of decendents of hundreds of tribes scattered across
9,976,140 sq km square km of varied landscape, speaking hundreds of native languages.
Many of them want to live a lifestyle which has the freedom, comfort and opportunity of Western culture.
Posted by: Charlotte | 2005-10-26 10:23:52 PM
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