Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Who is this guy?

I've never read Joseph Quesnel's columns before, but I will from now on.

The individual is the most important moral unit in society and all rights flow from that reality. For First Nations in Canada, this is not the case. To be First Nation is to face definition by ethnic membership from birth, to be placed on a specific territory, to have your economy and livelihood determined by collective fiat and to be denied the right to own and transfer property.

Even leadership excludes individuals. The current chief of the Assembly of First Nations is elected not by band members, but by chiefs.

As a Metis who has lived in mainstream society, I have not experienced this reality, although I have witnessed it.

While aboriginals possess constitutional rights to treaty territories and certain traditional rights, as a society they must deal with changes that place the individual front and centre. More than half of aboriginals now live in cities.

Grand Chief Patrick Brazeau of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples said younger aboriginals are moving away from a "rights-based agenda" focusing on self-government and are embracing bread-and-butter issues like economic improvement for themselves and their families.

Quesnel's thoughts are a real breath of fresh air. Let's face -- there aren't enough free-thinkers on the aboriginal policy scene.

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