October 22, 2008

SN Politicans as Actors....Or Are They Directors?

The Squamish Nation is governed by 16 elected council on 4 year terms, along with a one elected band manager. The idea, or so I'm told, is that the band manager is like an office manager but for all the departments. The Squamish Nation has around 11 or so "departments". This covers area's like education, health, family services, recreation, land use and development, fisheries, and a few others. Within those departments are sections covering subjects like culture, language, youth, elders, and so on. The 16 elected council members decide and vote on the direction the Squamish Nation goes in designing policy and over-all vision in which way the nation can decide things.

Within the band council, they follow a strict Robert's Rule of Order governance structure. For those who don't know Robert and his Rules for Order, I'll explain a bit. It was constructed out of US military and in a time where there was little in organizing people or organization in ways on how to make decision. It was consider a far leap forward because nothing like this existed in Western society for a way to govern groups. It follows voting procedures like majority rule, and, like most European structures, is adversarial. If a majority controls the group, everyone else must abide and thus power balances can easily be developed and remain for long periods of time.

In most cases it's akin to power use in "oppressive" ways. Paulo Freire said "The oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors" have become oppressors from being the oppressed. I believe the SN throws a bit of the language in there but that seems really redundant to use our language in something so in contrast to the values of the culture that language comes from. In a very sad way, the SN has become quite tactless in their abuse of our culture.

What I have now learned from having a mother on council for nearly 3 years is that not one single person in the whole Squamish Nation, include the 70 or 80 people who ran in the last election has absolutely no idea how the Squamish Nation Chief & Council operates. Let me reiterate and be clear about this.

The governing procedures in the way the SN Band Council makes decision, designs policy, conducts business, manages the Squamish Nation 500 employee's, 70 million dollar budget, and 3500 members, is not known by anyone, except, the ones who have been in council.

Take a moment to think about what that means.

Seriously, take a moment.

For me, that's quite sinister idea for any nation. When the people don't know how their government runs, who's really running the show? The people or the ones who's setting the rules for the show. Who's the actors and the directors in this wonderful play called politics. I get the feeling the Squamish Nation likes to treat the people like objects.

In High School we spent a considerable amount of time in Social Studies and History class learning about how Canadian governance systems work. From municipal, to provincial, to federal, to things like the justice system and economic systems. Yet we don't know anything about our own nation. That's a startling scary fact when considering those in power can create or manipulate the rule-book in their favor. Maybe the script for this political play was actual written by someone else, and not even one our own people with a few revisions by some corrupt politicians.

All I'm saying is, we know nothing about how our nation is run, and the day after someone get elected in, they are at a loss on how to accomplish anything in their time there. It's a backwards system for decision making on issues that are really important and effect many people, many sacred things, and our the future. As it’s become apparent lately, the SN Band Council wants to by-pass the people, "Consult" us like how government or corporations "consult" the band council, and leave all the powerful decisions to them. We're not involved in the decision making all at. I would call it anti-democratic, but I'm not advocating a democratic system either. What it really is,

is anti-indigenous.


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