In the decade since I began writing for the Citizen many things have changed. Not always for the better. But even on many issues where debate has not ended, the tone and specifics of 1997 would sound quaint. Except on my very first topic, aboriginal policy, where almost nothing has changed. And that’s a tragedy.
Ten years ago people denied there were health care waiting lists; balancing budgets was controversial; Japan was a rising economic power; terrorism was a minor issue in the post-Soviet era. Our personal lives were different, too. We didn’t have cell phones. And where did this grey hair come from?
Now read this passage from my first Citizen column: “There is no doubt that the economic and social situation of too many of [Canada’s aboriginals] is appalling. Nor is there any doubt that the devastating impact of European technology and Old World diseases on their culture was exacerbated by policies that were usually just as harmful when well-intentioned as when hostile. But there is something of a cargo cult mentality among them, as they wait for their ancestors, or at least the treaties they signed, to bestow perpetual abundance on them. The difference here is that those in the larger society who profess to be their friends encourage this mentality when they ought to be discouraging it.” Is there one word that doesn’t still resonate? Continue Reading →
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