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Robinson, Eric and Henry Bird Quinney.

Winnipeg, Queenston House, c1985. 168pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-920273-00-9. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Cornelia Fuykschot

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

Two Cree Chieftains, moved by the most recent development in the relationship between Canada and the Indian Nations, have briefly reviewed the history of this unhappy relationship in order to instruct their own people. We, the general Canadian readership, can listen in.

"In the past smallpox-infested blankets were sometimes sent which killed large numbers of our people. This was intentional genocide.

Then came the missionaries, who told our people not to pray to the Spirit of the trees, but to china statues, and who forbade our children in their schools to speak their own language. This was cultural genocide.

Now Canada has a new constitution, which directs the Indians to make agreements with the provincial governments, instead of with the federal government. This is constitutional genocide.

We are not Canadians, we are citizens of Indian Nations, whose nationhood was recognized by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Nor are we First Nations like the Inuit and the Métis, who never made a treaty. Those of our people who were blinded by the quarter of a million dollars that the Canadian government offered to pay if they would attend a conference with the provinces and forgo the right to seek international attention for the constitutional genocide in Canada were wrong. They have not kept faith with the teachings of our forefathers, nor do they represent us, because they have not consulted with the people and the Elders.

We must not allow Canada to continue to lead us on the path to death. We, as First Nations, have the right to self-determination. We must resist pressure to assimilate. Canada is not only taking away our rights but also our lands. Our treaties have been violated. We have agreed to share the land, but only as deep as the plow cuts, six inches. Mineral resources are ours. We must determine our own future, for the sake of those that come after us, our children and children's children."

This, in essence, is the message the two Cree Chiefs are sending their people, This cri de coeur should be available first of all to all schools where there are children of Indian descent, adopted or otherwise, but it should also be available to the general school population. If Canada is to retain its good reputation internationally, it would do well to heed the message of this modest paperback.

Cornelia Fuykschot, Gananoque S.S., Gananoque, Ont.
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