Point:Counter Point – Colonialism

Elsipogtog-Protest-Were-Only-Seeing-Half-the-Story-Over the past few weeks, the situation in New  Brunswick related to the potential fracking and mining for natural gas within First Nations and non First Nations communities. Rex Murphy, who comments for both the CBC and the National Post, came out last week with an editorial condemning the protesters and suggesting that the language they are using, that of colonialism, settlers, and genocides, is not appropriate. Here are his words:

“Then there is also an even more deplorable effort to frame the interactions between Canadians and Canada’s aboriginal peoples as a genocide — an accusation both illiterate and insulting.”

Murphy suggests by the title of his piece that Canada has been generous to First Nations and that this generosity has been rudely dismissed.

Here is a National Post video of the standoff: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/10/19/rex-murphy-a-rude-dismissal-of-canadas-generosity/#ooid=ozNDcwZzqCFNlZj85MaVf4nWFUD93Rch

In response to this, a blogger by the name of Nick Montgomery responded to Mr. Murphy. Montgomery suggest that perhaps the rhetoric of First Nations protest movements in Canada is very relevant and appropriate.

Here is a CBC video of the standoff: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/NB/ID/2413180633/

How are both authors using history to argue their point? What are they missing? Where would you start?

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21 thoughts on “Point:Counter Point – Colonialism

  1. There is no doubt that fracking on Aboriginal peoples land should not be tolerated. Especially since they are already fighting against it, it should not be forced upon them and their land. The Royal Proclamation has power in this situation and it should be respected for the sake of the Aboriginal peoples. That being said, I do not think that violent protesting is the best solution to this dilemma. (The second video is not working for me)

    • Good point Fran, but I believe since they were ignored by the government when using peaceful protest, using violent protests could be one of the best way for the aboriginal people to draw attention to the situation and call out the government. By doing this the press and media get involved informing people around Canada. They are informing the fact that the government is not sticking by the terms of the Royal Proclamation and I believe that in order to get people to listen they have to realize how serious this situation is for the Aboriginal people. The Aboriginals are obviously not just going to stand there and let the government frack on their land.

  2. The government is clearly going against the terms of the Royal Proclamation in its attempt to devastate Indigenous and residential land to acquire oil. The itself document recognizes that land not “ceded to or purchased by [the British] as… reserved to the said Indians” (The English Crown, The Royal Proclamation). Judging but the fact that numerous people are participating in peaceful protests to counter the fracking of their land, clearly, the government has not adequately negotiated with the people; therefore, they have no right in violating this previously established standard as the moment precedent is violated, chaos will ensue.

  3. Both Rex Murphy and Nick Montgomery use history to prove their point. The way they do this is by framing history in different ways, they approach the past from different points of view. This sets an environment in which their argument can occur and be most effective. Rex Murphy approaches his analysis from a Canadian – Aboriginal history that was relatively harmonious. Contrastingly, Montgomery looks at Canadian – Aboriginal history as one of conflict, fighting, oppression and genocide. I believe both authors are missing the nuances of the relationship and thus their view on the shale fracking and the people trying to stake their land claims is for lack of a better word, flawed. In my opinion, the best way to write about this issue is from both perspectives, taking the most “balanced” approach. Looking at history from the most neutral perspective will give one additional insight, but moreover, it will most likely lead to the best analysis of the current problems society is faced with.

  4. I think it is wrong of Rex Murphy to suggest that the historical interactions between Canadians and First Nations people has never resulted, or cannot be compared to genocide, as that is simply not true. As a people, Canada’s Aboriginals have been disenfranchised in our society, and their rights as Canadians have been countlessly overlooked. The fracking situation, as stated in the video, does not only effect the lives of the First Nations, but also of the Acadians, the British and various others. Fracking on their populated land is putting the people’s safety at risk, so I am not surprised at the extremity of the backlash from the Aboriginal communities. However, the violence displayed by the communities was not the best option to attract attention. If anything is to be done, it should be done peacefully, in a civilized manner.

  5. The First Nations always seem to be fighting for their rights that the government denies them of. The government is opposing the Royal Proclamation, by trying to take land from the First Nations to frack oil of their rightful land. Many people are protesting to stop any fracking that could occur on their land, and rightfully so. The government has no right to violate the Royal Proclamation by taking the indigenous peoples land for their own gain. Not being able to make proper negotiations could lead to protests becoming violent and a very messy issue.

  6. “Get the Frack out of our territory” is a term coined by many protesters in New Brunswick in an attempt to oppose drilling in the province. Molotov cocktails have been thrown at police, more than forty people have been arrested, cars have been vandalized, and yet nobody have come to terms in New Brunswick with the escalating protests. The efforts of the Mi’kmaq Nation, have even brought Amnesty International into the mix. Witnesses were telling media that it looked as if people were willing to die, in order to blockade roads and major routes throughout the province. The protests have been one of the most violent is recent years, with rubber bullets being shot, and police trudging along with riot shields. It is interesting to see, how both the Federal and Provincial governments are going to react, as it seems the protesters are not bowing down without a fight. The government will need to make sure that if they choose to frack in the area, that it will truly benefit society in the long run.

  7. I think it’s a good thing that the First Nations people are taking action to prevent the Canadian government from fracking and getting shale gas from their land. The Canadian government has had a history of doing bad things on First Nations land without their permission and I think it’s time that the Canadian government stops doing that. The Canadian government needs to start respecting the First Nations people because they have feelings, like the rest of us. If the land didn’t belong to First Nations people, there could be a chance that the Canadian government wouldn’t take the oil there. However, the Canadian government seems to think that they’re above the First Nations people and can therefore do whatever they want on their land, including steal any valuable gas/oil. The First Nations people have rights too and I think it’s time that their rights get respected too.

  8. Both Rex Murphy and Nick Montgomery use history to argue their point by using it as a platform on which to base their arguments. They both use it as a means to support their argument and determines the way they each approach the issue. I think the suggestion that the interaction between the first Canadians and the First Nations was not genocide, or never even occurred in the first place is completely unfounded. It is evident from historical records and investigation of events in the past that the First Nations people have been taken advantage of and exploited as a culture. These events are some of the reasons the Royal Proclamation of 1763 was founded. The government is clearly going against the rights of the First Nations people granted to them through the Royal Proclamation, as the land they are fracking legally belongs to the Indigenous people. I think it is important to recognize each party’s history and to hold an objective point of view when addressing issues such as this. I personally think the First Nations people have every right to protest the fracking on their land, as long as they do so peacefully and without causing harm.

  9. I believe that the Aboriginal people are justified in protesting against fracking. Because the government plans to exploit their land, they must get consent from the First Nations, as the Royal Proclamation clearly states. There can be serious environmental damage in the process of fracking and it will affect the Aboriginals, so the government cannot simply neglect their rights. Rex Murphy believes that the First Nations are not appreciating the positive things that government has done in the past, but Murphy’s examples of “positive” things happen to be apologies and some attempts to better the living conditions of the First Nations that haven’t worked very well. If the government really is doing everything in their power to help the Aboriginal people, then why do they continue to neglect the Royal Proclamation? Why are Aboriginals still lacking basic clean water in the north and living in reserves? The harsh treatment that the First Nations continue to receive gives them full justification to protest. They have a right to their land, and without negotiation, the government cannot intervene.

    • I like the fact that you mentioned the condition of reserves and the lack of clean water and numerous other issues Aboriginals have continued to struggle with over the last few years. How can Aboriginals possibly be thankful for the generosity of the Canadian Government if they are still in a situation of great distress.

  10. Rex Murphy and Nick Montgomery clearly have very different views of history. While Rex Murphy uses history to point out how far we’ve come since then, Nick Montgomery says that we haven’t come far enough. Rex Murphy seems to believe that the fact that we have apologized for our wrongdoings, that we have made changes to “fix” the past means that the indigenous people should feel grateful towards the Canadian Government. But if we look at history the way Nick Montgomery does, we can see that though they have apologized, the Canadian government continues to mistreat the indigenous people. And because the government is continuing to do so, the indigenous people feel justified in their violent acts against fracking. They believe that the government will not hear them unless they take this sort of violent action because the government has ignored their cries in the past.

  11. The First Nations Peoples are obviously very passionate about their cause. This is obvious by the fact that they are willing to go up against the police, destroying vehicles to the extent that they did and stopping the police. It is clear why they would be so passionate in protesting the fracking, as it would be a huge exploitation of their land. People always have different views on topics like this. Rex Murphy seems to believe that the Aboriginal peoples are not thankful enough for the good things which they have received, such as simple apologies which really fix nothing. On the other hand, Nick Montgomery believes that although we have apologized, we (the Canadian government) are still exploiting the Aboriginal peoples. This constant mistreatment may be part of the reason why the Aboriginal peoples are reacting violently now towards the fracking. They have constantly been mistreated, and now they have a reason to fight against the Canadian government – put in their situation, I believe many people would make the same choice.

  12. History is the epitome of controversy and interpretation. Rex Murphy and Nick Montgomery both demonstrate how history can be both controversial and diverse. Both these men are fairly knowledgeable on the contemporary issues associated with indigenous peoples and thus, are aware of the significant history of Aboriginals in Canada, specifically the Royal Proclamation. Despite the fact both Murphy and Rex are using history to argue their points, their ideologies on the wellbeing of Aboriginals differs drastically. This can be traced down to their different perspectives on the situation at hand. Murphy believes the Aboriginals have been more than fairly compensated and that Canada has been overwhelmingly generous. Clearly Murphy’s idea of generosity is extremely flawed as no matter how much money and apology the Canadian government offers Aboriginals, it will never make up for the mistakes of the past like Residential Schools and the negligence towards honouring land sovereignty. I agree with Montgomery on the basis that Aboriginals should continue protesting. They have been victimized and oppressed for far too long and if Aboriginals continue to fight for what is rightfully theirs publicly and consistently, changes can and will happen.

  13. The government is currently fracking on the Indigenous people’s land. Fracking will devastate the land. The reason behind the fracking is for oil, miners and other economic incentives. The Royal Proclamation should come into play here as we can clearly see that the Government is going against exactly what the Royal Proclamation stands for. In the Royal Proclamation, it clearly states that no one can just take land from the Indigenous people, as the people have to agree first. In New Brunswick, there are currently people protesting which proves that the Government is not listening to the Royal Proclamation. I think that something needs to be done about this, as clearly problems are going too continue unless something is done.

  14. Rex Murphy and Nick Montgomery clearly demonstrate varied perceptions of Canada’s history. While Murphy argues that Canada has been “generous” to Aboriginals and that their actions are incomprehensible, Montgomery seems to connect the dots between history and the issues of today. Aboriginal people’s rights have always been a topic of controversy and Murphy’s claim that they were never a topic of genocide is false. Canada’s “generosity” seems less clear to me than the issues that the First Nations have faced in the past. Murphy is missing the fact that by moving forward with shale fracking is violating the Royal Proclamation. Despite its presence in the constitution, Aboriginal peoples continually struggle to prove their title to the land through disputes between the government.

  15. Oil companies in Canada have to much power over the government and people, and corporate persistence is not surprising in a greed dominated industry. Companies will do anything and everything to profit in any way possible without acknowledgement of the people or their welfare. This carelessness can have devastating consequences, as seen with the BP oil spill. In New Brunswick, it is not only a question of environmental but also constitutional rights, questioning who is really in charge in Canada. Oil is such a highly valuable commodity that governments have been known to push aside the views of the people to benefit economically. This is a major issue in the Canadian democracy, which is intended to support and act on the views of the people. In this case the people of Canada are strongly opposed to the fracking in New Brunswick, so why is it even a question? How can our government be controlled by corporations and not the democratic representatives we elect.

  16. Fracking in Canada is seen by some people as a positive economic boost, but it also has negative outcomes. It is an environmental danger and may disrupt wildlife. Fracking uses up a lot of water and can harm groundwater and local drinking water. Fracking on the First Nations’ land is violating the rights granted to the First Nations under the Royal Proclamation, and that in itself is a good enough reason to protest for. I think the violent protest are a little extreme, but I can see how it has been beneficial for getting the media’s attention and getting the message across.

  17. Although fracking is beneficial in an economic way it has an opposite effect on the land. By fracking on the First Nations land, the government is not following the Royal Proclamation and the agreements that were made. I understand why the First Nations are upset and believe that they have reason to be protesting. I think that the protesting is working to get their voices heard, but I think a less violent way of protest would be better. By protesting violently they are making lots of people mad in the process of being heard.

  18. It is pretty obvious that the government is violating Aboriginal rights once again. This time it is breaking the contracts of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which is to prevent the government from doing exactly this, taking away rightful aboriginal land. Also, as our global climate continues to rise at an alarming rate, fracking in general may be the last thing we should do. It does indeed benefit the Canadian economy in the short term but harming our land even further will damage the Earth permanently along with its wildlife.

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