Today I would like to talk about a few things: Graydon Nicholas, a Maliseet from the Tobique reserve who is set to succeed Herménégilde Chiasson as Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick. The second is a bad transition into the sticky topic of Natives and the law.
After visiting Harper’s website I learned that Nicholas was at one time the chair of Native Studies here at St Thomas. He served from 1989 to 1999 as a part-time lecturer. He is noted for being, among other things, the first Aboriginal in Atlantic Canada to earn a law degree (from UNB in 1971).
I think it’s been a slow process, getting Aboriginal figures into mainstream public office. I say mainstream offices because band council positions are only on reserve. A person like Nicholas is obviously qualified for that position – but that makes me wonder if education is the only way for a Native to get ahead?
I’m not sure how easy it is for regular joe-white dudes to get into big public offices, so I won’t tread to far into that topic.
I went to the Harriett Irving Library a couple of years ago and stumbled on a large section of books based on Natives and crime.
How’s that for a segue? Excuse me for being all over the place, but this makes sense in the long run, I promise.
I laughed it off at the time, but it always stuck in my head. I started to wonder if there were any books about Jews and crime, or the Irish and crime. Somehow it didn’t seem fair that there was a section based on us and crime. You may disagree with me, but is it a crime to be left at the bottom of the barrel, left in inadequate housing, with little to no knowledge of our cultures because of racist decisions of past governments?
The past is done – yes, I know that – but past decisions have left us in the current state of being at odds with everything in a white society. The Indian Removal Act of the United States and the assimilation policy of Canada are just two examples of government-approved racism.
We’ll explore these facts further and try to decode why Canada and its laws seem to be at odds with Aboriginals. We’ll also look into sentencing circles and how our culture should deal with our criminals.
As always, please email me at [email protected], with thoughts, questions, comments or complaints (put Native Issues in subject box).