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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
  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)

Have your say: Reader responses

November 6, 2001

Below are the responses of visitors to the following question:

"Do you think natives should have a special status, or should all Canadians, native or not, have the same rights?"

To contribute your thoughts, please go to the main have your say page.

No, I do not believe that natives should have special rights; special rights are for people who cannot help themselves, such as handicapped people who have physical or psychological disabilities that prevent them from earning a living. I understand that everyone needs a helping hand but such programs should not be targeted to a particular racial or religious group; they should be open to all in need.

Native Canadians deserve a special status above the rest of us. We are immigrants no matter how many years we have lived in this country. Natives have been abused by immigrants since the beginning. I went to an elementary school with natives. They are smart, intelligent, beautiful people. They do not receive enough respect. Their culture and traditions were not taught in my school but I wanted to learn more about them.
J. van Berkel

All Canadians should have the same rights, no special status for any group.
R Salfi

Natives should definitely have a special status. Canada and all countries that have aboriginal people have to take responsibility for past and present injustices.
Elinor Castell

The Indian Act is a statute law that creates more controls over the living conditions on Status Indians, so that the so-called "special status" is practically a Faustian deal. The socio-cultural and political crises that regularly beset aboriginal communities are in no small part aided by the neo-colonial structure of the Indian Act, in which whoever is the Minister of Indian Affairs is our King (assent over by-laws passed by Band Councils and dissolution of Band Councils are two such powers similarly held by the Governor-General over Parliament, except that the Minister actualizes his power not by the consent of the Band's government, but by the recommendations of his Deputy Minister) . In a nutshell, "special status" is so misunderstood that asking "should all Canadians...have the same rights" is inviting the uninformed to denounce the constitutional relationship between First Nations and Canada.
Joel LaBillois

No minority, including natives, should be granted special status. I would like to believe the majority of Canadians are strongly opposed to racism and discrimination. "Special status" in itself is a form of discrimination. Granting of privilege as a result of race is no different than administering punishment as a result of same. I read John Stackhouse's "Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies" with great interest. An extremely sad, troublesome situation however I am lead to believe this same type of story could have been written twenty years ago. When will our Federal Government decide to do something besides "throw money" at this enormous problem? Would it make a difference if this "Harlem" existed within Toronto??
Brent Prior

The special status that they have now has made them dependant on government programs. Phase the special treatments out and you will see them inspired to grow and not just ask for more handouts.

Of course, that is a stupid question Why don't you ask something along the line of; What do we as white folks think of these Indians. Make the question more open rather than a shut case for the whites to say whatever they want to. You know darn well the question is more complex than that. If it was so easy, we as Canadians wouldn't have this issue or problem(s).
Garnet Landon

My name is Mary and I am a Cree Native woman from Northern Manitoba. I have read the articles posted on your website. I do think that Natives should have a special status. We Native people were the first to settle in Canada and I believe this land is rightfully ours. This is only my point of view. In Canada we have so many races, which has created a lot of conflict between one another. I have never once been subject to racism and hope that never happens. All in all, I agree to Native people having a special status because I do think that we deserve it after all that has been done to the Native people in the past and present.

The same rights There will never be equality, or self-sufficiency and mutual respect among all Canadians until equal rights are legislated and promoted. The current registration, reservation, and payment system discourages integration and equality with other Canadians.

North America was stolen from Natives. They were labeled Indians, and mocked and abused. Reserves with drugs and alcohol are a hindrance to them, but integration into society is no easier. Yes, the least that can be done for them is to give them special status.
JoAnne (I am not a Native)

First Nation's rights are constitutionally protected under section 35. This has been the case for several years confirming the status of First nations for over 500 years. Like any culture, the land is an integral part of society. First Nations are no different, they still have their governance, languages, lands and values. It is obvious that First Nations must have special status and the world must start including First Nations as partners in world economy. It is equally important that both the federal and provincial governments must start exercising the constitutional and moral obligations to bring first nations into the 21st century in a manner that will lead to social and economic stability for the survival of First Nations.
Warner Adam, BC

There are many good native journalists.. There is even a "school" for them. Why is it that we see a one-sided attempt at showing the rest of the world your view of "Natives"? Perhaps John Stackhouse's paycheque could have been shared with a "Native Journalist".making this "whatever" a more palitable piece.
Wayne George

For hypothetical purposes, if I went over to England in pursuit of land (vast tracts - the majority of England's landbase), I would expect to abide by the laws/treaties as set out by England in order to acquire that land. If I could not live with the implications of that Treaty I would not agree to it. I would respect the special status and sacrifice England made as the original inhabitant, to accommodate me and any other people I chose to settle on those lands.
D. Kahnapace

Canada as a nation of immigrants has done very well. Not all Canadian residents are immigrants. To be a native person is to be of this land here in Canada. As a Cree I can tell you it feels good. Am I Canadian? I am the ONLY Canadian. When I hear the name Canadian I feel proud because I know my family are real true Canadians. I do not want rights. I do not want anything from Canada. Canada has nothing for me at all that I want. Canada does not have my land. The land belongs to me and my children and their descendants. I claim and hold title to 100% of all land with Canadian borders, there is no such thing as private property in my country because it belongs to me. I do not have to ask Canadians if it is mine because they know it is mine. It is mine because it was given to me. It is not theirs because they took it away. My land was never taken away. My culture was not destroyed. My people were not beaten and robbed of their land. Keep your money and your education. Keep your treaty payments and tax benefits. I want no part of it. Just leave me alone and let me a be a free man on my own land in my own country. Canada.
Kevin Schofield, Ottawa

I believe the "special status" that Natives have today is equivalent to a back handed slap in the face. However, I do believe education, hunting & fishing, some tax exclusions and access to healthcare are a fiduciary right that descendents of the First Nations are entitled to. They are a paltry reimbursement for many forms of sorrows instigated and perpetuated by the patriarchal colonial system and the legacy it begets.
Janice T

I strongly believe that Canadians need to be more educated about other cultures, especially natives. What many do not understand is that natives are not the way they way because they are native. They are this way due to a lack of money and education. Canadians chose to close their eyes and pretend like it is not happening. But what they need to do is open their eyes and see the poverty that surrounds them. Continue writing these stories, I know I will read them.

One only has to visit a construction project or a mine site in Canada's north to realize that many natives already are getting special treatment. They are put into positions well above their level of skill and training, and mistakes are unnoticed or blamed on the non-native co-workers or on the poor training being provided. Some of the best jobs to be created in the next five years in Canada have the first line of the hiring policy saying preference is given to aboriginals. What more special treatment do you need???

Aboriginal people in Canada deserve to have special rights. The elders know why, many of the people who live in the communites know why, and Aboriginal leaders know why. Go speak to them and they will tell you why. In case anyone was wondering. There is a good reason for why Canada has treaties with only this group of people, there is a good reason why the Constitution Act gives special recognition to the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of this group. Actually, we would all know why this is so if our society gave this subject even a little notice.
Chris Angeconeb
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