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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

WUN FEATHER – Education, training, and long-term sustainable employment opportunities are what we need. But then don't all Canadians need that?

I have had a few Elders ask me to write about how important the Treaties are to my people, and to explain that a very high percentage of us -- if not every Indigenous person who is at one with the earth -- holds the environment very dear to our hearts.

The air, and the soil and the water mean everything to us. We would never do anything to damage the pristine nature of our planet.

During treaty talks, our ancestors made sure that if we were to share the land, our fishing, gathering, trapping, and hunting rights must also be integral within the treaties.

And they are.

That being said, no matter how hard you search for clauses that include welfare in the treaties, you will not find those words.

You might also look to see if you can find anywhere that it is written in the treaties that we Indigenous people cannot utilize technological advancement.

It does not say that we have to use bows and arrows or spears to hunt with. In fact, under the treaties, ammunition is included!

When that was written into the agreement, no one thought we would get boxes of ammunition to use in our sling shots.

If you have read this far, thank you; I have something even more important to say.

At no time during any of the Treaty discussions did anyone ever exclude us Indians from having jobs in the energy sector. In fact, revisions to the treaties include resource development!

I say this because there are some people who think that we should stick to trapping beavers, and hunting for moose as our ancestors did.

But right now, if you were to visit with any Chief and Council, and ask them if they want more traditional land use for their people, or jobs, they would definitely take the work.

Trapping more beavers is not going to solve the drug abuse problems on our reserves. Setting more nets is not going to reduce the crime rates, and picking more berries is not going to help with the socioeconomic issues.

Right now, the leadership on our reserves are faced with housing shortages, and the houses we have are in terrible condition. Fresh drinking water and safe programs for our youth and our Elders take precedence over weaving baskets.

Feel free to ask the leadership if they want three or four families living in one house!

Ask them when was the last time they had enough drinking water for every resident?

And ask them about the unemployment rate on the reserves!

It is mind boggling to say the least.

Don't get me wrong -- any one of us old timers would love to witness more of our youth participating in Cultural and Traditional, activities instead of being addicted to social media, and other meaningless dependencies.

It would be fabulous to have more hunters and gatherers, and more trappers, but those activities are not going to pay the electric bills.

We need the Canadian economy to get back on its feet! We need the energy and resources sector to start back up again, so the people who have training and experience can get back to work!

Getting a check from the government every month is not the way to develop our people. Education, training, and long-term sustainable employment opportunities are what we need.

But then don't all Canadians need that?

Just like we are all bound by the Treaties, we are all in this economic crisis together.

I would suggest that all Canadians who want to go to work each day, to provide for their families, are thinking the same thing right now.

You would be surprised at how many Elders realize that when our people are gainfully employed, a lot of our social and economic issues fade away.


About Wun Feather ...

I am one of the last of my generation to have actually attended residential and Indian day schools. I have lived on and off reserve, and have seen the benefits and the hardships of my people in both situations.

My parents taught me that any time I fell down physically, or emotionally, I just needed to pick myself up, shake myself off, and continue in a forward direction. So, I cannot claim that I did it on my own; I had great Elders.


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