May 29, 2008

Politically Idle: Working Who's Agenda Phil?

Today is May 29th, 2008.  11 months ago, on June 29th, the AFN launched their "National Day of Action".  This year, it's the "National Day of Action Against Aboriginal Poverty".  A day launched to "to reach out to Canadians, to invite Canadians to join with us on this very special day for our people."   They present something to encourage the government to listen to the plight of Aboriginal peoples.

Largely they will go unnoticed.  Last years went unnoticed except for the actual action with railway blockages in Ontario, but otherwise just small protests in this city or that.

The Assembly of First Nations, a Conservative-government funded organization, was created out of political organizers fighting for many things for indigenous peoples across Canada.  But under the leadership of Phil Fontane, it's gone now to obscurity to disgrace.  The AFN claims to represent the interests of First Nations, but every year they have their annual meetings and it's all "First Nations" meeting.  That is what it is.  A organizations for "First Nations".  But have our political leaders been co-opted and beaten to come down to a government fund agency.  There is little aspect of anything respectable or trust worthy of the AFN now, and it's Grand Chief Phil Fontane.
I've said it before: Phil Fontane is a tool.  He really hasn't done anything for indigenous people and he doesn't seem he has a plan what so ever.  The election in 2009 should be interesting, but only in a way that watching seaguls fights over scraps down the river.  Oh wait, that's not that interesting.  But ultimately, the AFN will be here again to fight for these million dollars, or that million dollars.

His latest mission has been this "fighting against Aboriginal poverty".  He joined up with MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY to accomplish these tasks.  While I think most agree that poverty in our communities is a massive barrier and problem, his plans for defeating it or overcoming it are quite weak and also rooted in colonial idea's of "economic independence".  With the massive PR-push for the DIA's "Economic Development" initiative from the late 90's to now, many first nations are becoming corporations in the hopes that by creating capitalists jobs, economic opportunities, and financial wealth, somehow the real issues will be fixed.  Never mind the terrible political structures of most First Nations, the intergenerational trauma and legacy of residential school, and of course the land issue, making money is the real game, and only game, to fix these problems of poverty.

In a fantasy world, the AFN is connected to indigenous people. It works from the bottom up, organizing and listening to what is happening on the ground. It’s paying attention, and coordinating accordingly. No, that’s just a fantasy. The reality is the AFN is becoming more and more disconnected from the people.  In their last assembly in Halifax, they had a daylong golf tournament before the actual conference took place.  The boys wanted to go out and play golf.  He comes to the media now, calling for a "Day of Action", looking for grassroots support.  The AFN has no real connection to any of the actual problems taking place.  While glaring problems are arising now across this country, they and Phil have little to say or do about it.

Phil comes to the stand, looks at the podium, to the camera, to the audience, asking frailly for a National Day of Action.  Perhaps we will wait next year and find him again standing in the same sport asking for the same thing.  No sustained action on anyone’s part, just pathetic attempts at whining.

So on this May 29th of 2008, I do not participate in a day of action I can only call stupid, I read some literature, write articles, and look to plan events in my community.
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." said author George Orwell.


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