Need to look at the bigger picture

Re: Anthony Sowan’s letter (Red Deer Advocate, Jan. 29).

Re: Anthony Sowan’s letter (Red Deer Advocate, Jan. 29).

Where to begin? I won’t comment on Anthony Sowan’s letter point by point. In fact, I will say that he made some good points. However, they are simply one man’s point of view, based upon his personal experiences. The bigger picture is not so black and white.

The fact that I am only one-quarter native and am white for all intents and purposes means that the current negotiations between native Canadians and the federal government will have negligible impact upon my life.

In fact, my knowledge of my native heritage has come as a result of my university education. I, too, had to wonder why, with all of the free services offered to native people, they have not risen to the point of great influence in our society.

The truth is that when the white immigrants were done trying to eradicate or assimilate the native population, misguided efforts to ‘help’ the native people have done more damage than good.

My university degree doesn’t make me a bleeding heart liberal. It does make me want to look at the bigger picture, though. In the very least, it would be a good thing to finally resolve long-standing issues through reasoned discussion and negotiation. Tactics employed by #Idle-No More have so far been lawful and peaceful — unlike say, GreenPeace. So let’s give credit where credit is due.

As far as a future cost to Canadian taxpayers; first off, mishandled and mismanaged funds currently provided have already been wasted. Any further funding will have to have negotiated and agreed upon oversight to accomplished stated goals. This will be an investment in the future and won’t be just another wasted attempt to drag a resistant people into our century. And, as we all know, the government has wasted a hell of a lot more money on less worthy measures.

So, as a white guy not burdened by guilt, what is my angle? Why is this a concern to me and why should it be a concern to anyone reading this? First off, I am a Canadian. Not a hyphenated Canadian. I was born and raised here, and can trace my roots back at a minimum of a century, or perhaps a few thousand years on my mom’s side of the family. What I am seeing now says to me that “Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it.”

The white settlers arrived with beads, blankets and booze, and proceeded to steal the land out from under the native peoples.

What is the modern day equivalent? Could it be government-approved corporate sales and mergers? Selling off stakes in our natural resources? How about a flood of immigrants to fuel an unsustainable economy? We need to find ways to maximize the human capital that is already here.

We also have to ask whether we want our government to sell our resources and our land out from under ourselves in the name of short-term economic gain. Think of the Vancouverite who now calls his hometown ‘Hongcouver.’

We still have a chance to retain ownership of our land and our culture. We all need to be idle no more.

Jeff M. Hanson

Red Deer County