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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
Stories
Introduction
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)

 

First step: End the segregation

Story by John Stackhouse. Photos by Louie Palu.
The Globe and Mail, December 15, 2001

Part 6 of 6: 'This is our land'


Conclusion So, for all that needs to be done in terms of settling land claims, overhauling the reserve system and funding a better age of human development, a growing number of natives are taking matters into their own hands. These are the people who are comfortable in both cultures, never feeling like one was out to destroy the other, never sensing that one had cheated or the other had lost.

For this new generation, the talk is no longer of assimilation. It is about integration, in which each part contributes to the whole.

Increasingly, natives like George Leach are taking the best of both worlds, and enriching both with their work. One by one, they are dismantling the hidden apartheid.

Out on Queen Street, with his earring and long hair, Leach blends into the hip crowd, even as he looks down the crowded sidewalk and says, only half-joking, "This is our land."

He likes the fact that he has both starred in aboriginal productions and won a non-aboriginal part in the TV show Nikita. He has no intention of spending his life as typecast, in public or private. And he has very little interest in harping on the past. "It's good to say, `Hey we're here. We're in the now,' " he says of his ambitions. " `Don't try to keep us in buckskins on the backs of horses.' "

That's why he called his first CD, released last year, Just Where I'm At. It could be the title for a new aboriginal policy.

After the CD came out, Leach went home to Lillooet for a few months, and made sure he played at both the white bar and the native community centre. He always does, figuring that's the only way his music can reach both communities.

But when he got to the sold-out Friendship Centre, and took the stage, he noticed something he had rarely seen before in his hometown, or anywhere else in Canada. The audience was half-native and half-white, and Leach could not have been more comfortable. "Yes, I'm an aboriginal," he says, "but I'm also a human being."

THIS STORY AT A GLANCE (Parts 1 to 6):


Photo Essay
Two worlds


1. Building bridges between Canada's cultures
'You don't want to be looked at as a professional Indian. At the same time, you don't want to assimilate'

2. Overhauling the reserve system
'There is a valuable lesson to be learned here from overseas development'

3. 'Yet divided we remain'
By almost any measure, natives live in a different world

4. 'Racism is racism'
George Leach lets the comments roll off his back

5. 'Assimilation is not something to fear'
Churches, school systems, and Olympic hockey teams as signs of ownership, not insecurity

6. 'This is our land'
Taking matters into their own hands



 
 

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photo essays
Two worlds - photo essay


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The current question:
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