I am responding to the marvellous article written by Sylvie Paillard (Fixing Past Not A Simple Task, The Daily News, Sept. 26) regarding the plight of First Nations people over the centuries, and some of the negative thinking by non-aboriginal people in this day and age. She made two points that I wish to expand upon.
She replied to those that believe we “conquered” Canada’s original people, therefore, they have no rights whatsoever. May I point out that there are three ways in which to own land — conquest, negotiation (treaty) or purchase.
The Crown chose to parley and consequently negotiated treaty, which included certain rights and privileges both parties were obligated to honour. Historically, the honour part is debatable, but that’s a whole different topic. And that brings me to her second point. She briefly mentioned those folks who believe First Nation people are getting all this “free” stuff, like education, health services, housing, etc.
Well people, that so called free stuff is a part of the obligation signed into treaty. And for those who say that was a long time ago and doesn’t apply to current times, get your head out of the sand. Those treaties are as valid today as when they were first signed.
I am constantly surprised and dismayed by Canadians who believe this was a long time ago and should be forgotten. Not so.
EDITOR’S NOTE: When B.C. joined Canada in 1871, the province did not recognize aboriginal title to the land and as a result, deemed there was no need for treaties. Only a small number of treaties were negotiated with First Nations in B.C. in the mid-1800s, which were later set aside. Source: http://www.treaties.gov.bc.ca/background_history.html