The United Nations has issued a report on the state of indigenous affairs in Canada, telling the government that it really needs to shape up. We’re all shocked really. Really shocked.
James Anaya, an indigenous affairs scholar once kind of nominated for a Nobel Prize, was appointed by the UN to investigate and evaluate the status of Canada’s relationship with indigenous communities. While we’re quite sure there are issues, there may be some other, more urgent issues the UN may want to focus resources on. This may be a stretch, but there are some places with pretty messed up relationships with their citizens. Starts with I, ends in ran. Rhymes with Byria.
Anyways, the report is out and we are now, definitively, terrible human beings. For a developed country, Anaya basically says we’re pretty pathetic. The key to the report is that our resource development projects are not only evil, but they are also destroying our relationships with indigenous communities. Anaya’s suggestion: we should ditch all of our industrial projects in order to be able to hold hands with the small (but admittedly important) portion of the population. He clearly did his research though, he claims Canada is not meeting a Supreme Court mandate to better consult indigenous populations. He may actually be right on that one, though the Supreme Court is feeling a tad marginalized and busy these days.
The report points to Enbridge, Site C and more. So here’s the solution according to the UN: ditch industry, lower your GDP growth, make Canadians slightly poorer and then throw an aboriginal themed gala. Everything will be totally fine. We’ll stop condemning you for human rights abuses and go back to dealing with Kim Jong Un’s hair.
Seriously though, the UN, the supposed bastion of inter-governmentalism and ideas of global growth, is asking one of its once highest contributing members to stop making money and supplying foreign friends with energy. That just doesn’t sound like an intelligent use of time guys.
Not that this is all the UN being dumb. The Conservative government has also managed to burn all of its bridges, which makes it hard for anyone to play nice. Harper goes to New York during the opening of General Assembly sessions and decides he’s too cool to attend. Canada spurns the UN pretty regularly these days, so we shouldn’t be surprised that UN reports decide to condemn Canada. It’s simple high school social logic: if you’re mean to me, I will ignore all my real problems and focus on spreading mean rumors about you. The government also hasn’t made dealing with indigenous communities easy. Instead of consulting them on resource development projects, making them feel important and then overruling them, the government is just ignoring them from the start. That’s not only bad policy, it’s bad social strategy. At least pretend to be nice so they get less angry when you go through with pipelines.
The moral of the story is that this report condemns Canada for poor relationships with indigenous communities, but real international resources will be expended on more important, real human rights abuses. At the same time, maybe this high school social circus will graduate and go to college, so instead of finger pointing we’ll all get drunk together and talk through our problems. Or something like that.