Censorship, Canadian Style

Roland Chrisjohn, Ph. D. rchrisjo at SPAMStThomasU.ca
Thu Mar 8 05:41:37 MST 2001

At 10:07 PM 3/7/01 -0700, Brian James wrote:
>One of the most deplorable examples of a "liberal" response to
>consequences of past genocidal policies is in the tragedy of gas
>sniffing Innu children in the coastal community of Davis Inlet, Labrador
>(so shamelessly exploited in the media for its shock value.)
>The basic problem arises from past policies seeking to divest the Innu
>of their traditional hunting and fishing territories by forcing them to
>settle on a tiny island, with no cultural or historical significance to
>them, in a town which was literally built overnight by the Government.
>Drop a prefab shanty town into the frozen subarctic, tell the people
>they can no longer live by the traditional ways but must get jobs like
>regular Canadians (what jobs? where?), and watch the rot set in. The
>Innu don't even qualify under the Canadian Indian Act for what miserable
>benefits that might bring. They joined Canada along with
>Newfoundland/Labrador in 1949, long after the Indian Act was instituted,
>and continue having to rely on welfare from the Nfld Govt. When the
>inevitible catastrophe was exposed in the media in the early 90s,
>through shocking images of young children sniffing gas and talking
>casually about suicide, the country was scandalised and governments had
>to act. The new plan? Move the entire community into a *new* cluster of
>prefab bungaloes, only this time a little nicer and farther down the
>The Innu of Labrador have been forced into a deadly form of economic and
>cultural limbo, and the Liberal governments' only solution is to apply
>the same medicine all over again. More anaesthetic before the lethal
>injection kicks in.
>Oh yes, and the gas "addicted" children have been taken into detox and
>therapy by an army of social workers (many against their will and the
>wills of their parents), to be returned later to the brave new
>*sedentary* subarctic happytown that will be created for them.
>Conservative writers just carp about the waste of tax payers' dollars on
>the Innu, not understanding, as good liberal governments do, that bad
>native programs are just a tiny investment compared to the wealth that
>can be taken from their land.
>Brian James

      Bang on.  What the media fails to acknowledge in falling over
themselves to talk about the "therapeutic efforts" in Sheshatshiu and Davis
Inlet is that this has all happened many times before, and that the last
highly-hyped intervention (in 1993, using "traditional Indian therapists"
(NOT!)) left the six "cured" kids back on gasoline in 3 months, with at
least one of them committing suicide.

      This is a big theme, one that Jim Craven and I have taken on as a
long-term project (once Jim has a bit more time after the upcoming Tribunal
and my teaching duties relax some).  The misunderstanding of the material
basis of the misery of indigenous peoples means (1) we will be "treated"
and "cured" by irrelevant, even injurious methods, and (2) more 'Skins will

Roland Chrisjohn

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