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How Our Ways Define Us

Today on Twitter a #Settler living in BC on Stz'uminus First NationTerritory mentioned to me an article on #CBC entitled "Book about Gerald #Stanley case upsets Colten Boushie's family due to lack of consultation". After reading the article and reflecting on the information provided my take is this: This situation is a perfect example of how our #WAYS define us and why as #Treaty People we have failed to move forward, grow and flow. The historical situation for the past century and a half in which the Canadian government and its agencies and #MEDIA controlled the information Settlers could access about First Peoples deprived us of any knowing of the WAYS of First Peoples at every level--- but specifically with respect to consent. The concept of #consent in First Peoples culture is essential to how their knowledge is shared and the transferred. They have a different FLOW when it comes to how information is shared to the #Collective. It involves #ceremony and #traditions.

The issue with this book lies in the fact that the author did not consult the #Boushie family before writing the #book. 'It was a deliberate decision not to contact any of the participants in the #trial process,' the author says. The author Kent #Roach a University of #Toronto #law #professor, said "he published the book with an #academic publisher with the intent of using it for #educational purposes in the #classroom. He spent eight months parsing trial transcripts and putting them into the wider #context of Indigenous people's #history — particularly in the #legal world — and the #social context of the province, he said. He previously told CBC what qualifies as #justice under Canadian law often doesn't provide a #sense of justice for Indigenous people."

Colten's family is objecting to the book based on the author's methodology - he failed to consent them first. Further, they are upset that the "first book about the #case (has been) released "by a #nonIndigenous author."

Harkening back to the 2 Row Wumpum Treaty in which we were asked to learn about each others Laws, Customs and Ways two things jump out at me:

1. The "non-indigenous author" is a lawyer. He has a professional #methodology or way of compiling information. To be sure his process, his way, is #Eurocentric but it is #professional . For some reason he felt compelled to do the #work required to write and publish this book. Kudos to him.

2. A critique from an Indigenous writer reads: "I can't help but feel that the #way that we #process pain and the way that we process our #histories are very different than the way that #settlers and #academics and #scholars and even lawyers would process it." Yes, at this point in colonial history, that much is obvious. Indeed, the author took a leap from the #personal to the #political in writing this book. But he is a lawyer. That is his work. I have not read the book but would argue that this is exactly why we were told by Treaty Chiefs to study and learn about each others Laws, Customs and Ways. Further, the title of the book sets up the 2 row split beautifully:

"Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case"

states that the Author makes it clear that “the Canadian justice #system fails and #discriminates against #Indigenous people in multiple ways.” Further he "finishes the book with a call for #judicial and #legislative reforms to help Canada “do #better”: changing the process of #jury #selection, #designing juries to specifically include indigenous people, and altering #selfdefense laws (including informing jurors about the role #racial #prejudice plays in #defense #killings, as is done in California), among other #reforms."

So here we have it. This article shows, once again, that Treaty People are so afar apart in our understanding of one another, due to the #design of the Apartheid system that instead of seeing this book as a positive move in awakening Canadians to the abject failure of our justice system the author is criticized for not asking permission to write the book in the first place. Personally, I think it is time for a sharing circle in which all parties, sit in a tipi, around a fire, holding the feather of truth and share in order to reach a consensus as to what this book means in a big picture context and for the long term #relations between First Peoples and Settlers.

As I was reminded by an Indigenous woman just the other day on twitter, Canadians were called upon only 4 short years ago by the principles of #Truth & #Reconciliation to do better She said to me: "Check out the TRC’s 10 Principles for Reconciliation: 6. All Canadians, as Treaty peoples, share responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships. So we come to the table to do the work, the other side has work to do as well... "

Perhaps this lawyer saw this book as his contribution to the work that must be done on the Settler side. After all, he is addressing some key LAWS of the Settler Colonial legal System and is not hiding the WAY that he obtained that information. The fact that he is not familiar with the ways that First People grieve and how they require consent to share personal stories simply means that there is more work to be done! Onward.

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1 Comment

ann rogers
ann rogers
Mar 15, 2019

I am testing the comments function, but also reeling from your very succinct take on the article and the implications. As academics, we're like magpies, we grab what we need to do the job at hand, always under pressure and aware of our ready-to-be-bored audience. I was putting together a lecture/powerpoint that discussed the Cindy #Gladue case earlier this week, when I (in my usual distracted way) found myself reading a tweet about thinking twice about using images of #MMIW. Guilty! After about 10 seconds of reflection it was clear that my powerpoint didn't need any gratuitous imagery. Better to use the time and space to connect with the class on a personal level. Through the heart.

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