Are you ready for a fight? [editorial] 2012

Aboriginal people are under siege, and don’t know what is about to hit them. We at Windspeaker want Aboriginal people to be well warned before it’s too late to do anything about it, so let’s lay it out here.

The Harper Conservatives are on the attack to take Aboriginal interests out at the knees and it begins with government’s intention to slash funding to tribal councils and other organizations that work on the behalf of grassroots people.

It may seem a remote thing that these organizations do—some grassroots people may not see their value at all—but this is an attack, nonetheless, on the financial viability of Aboriginal representative organizations and tribal groups and an attack on your voice in the boardroom and across the negotiation table. So do not underestimate the importance of this.

The extreme nature of the cuts has to tell you that they have been made without care or consideration about the impacts these reductions, in some cases nearing 80 per cent, will have on you as you nation build, develop economies, become healthy, employed, protect your children, keep connected, revitalize your languages and culture. They have been made to control your participation, keep you impoverished, limit opposition to development that offends you and endangers your land. They have been made to lay waste to your defences.

Even if you don’t agree with how these organization are structured, whether you feel you get any direct benefit or not, these organizations are necessary to keep this government from rolling over you and the collective rights of your communities. These organizations, more often than not, provide services and programs and are essential to support individual nations toward their goal of self-determination, and in the end that support supports you.

And that’s no small thing. Make those organizations financially vulnerable so they can’t do their work effectively, destabilize them, and the foundational work is done and there is nothing that stands between you and an unrelenting Conservative, neo-colonial agenda that does not have your best interests at its centre despite a fiduciary obligation to do so.

This is a cynical exercise by a bully government to divert the attention of representative organizations to one of survival. If it wasn’t, any cut would have be made in a far more rational way, instead of the scorched earth approach currently being employed by Harper and his hatchet man Minister of Aboriginal Affairs John Duncan.

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