Thursday, 18 October 2012

Gerorge Erasmus, Greatest Canadian Speech, Bringing Canadians Together

This is an example of the fiery speeches that former Grand Chief George Erasmus was well known for and perhaps one of the greatest speeches in Canadian history. This is the 20th anniversary of when Erasmus spoke to a group of prominent Canadians during a panel called “Bringing Canadians Together” during the 125 anniversary celebrations of the founding of Canada held in 1992. During the speech he discusses South Africa and Apartheid. This speech is what inspired me as a 17 year old to travel to South Africa and observe the first free elections in that country. I had the chance to see Nelson Mandela and feel the hope of the Indigenous peoples of that country in their demands for FREEDOM. 
Listen to how he builds the rhythmic cadence as the speech continues, reaching multiple climaxes. Hearing the speech gives me chills down my spine.

Georges Henry Erasmus (born August 8, 1948, in Rae Edzo, Northwest Territories) is a strong Canadian aboriginal politician. Erasmus was born in a Dene community of the Northwest Territories to a family of 12 children. He attended high school in Yellowknife. He became president of the Dene Nation in 1974 and while president fought against the proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. It was his involvement in Indigenous politics of this period which allowed his rise to prominence. He was the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 1985 to 1991. Erasmus was national chief of the Assembly of First Nations during the Oka Crisis. After serving two terms as national chief he co-chaired the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. If you compare these speeches from the current speeches given by the current AFN Grand Chief you will see major differences in style. Is this method of confrontation the best means to obtain the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada? Are the people of Canada prepared to hear Erasmus and the words he has to say? Would you ever give a speech like this today or have current leaders moved to more professional negotiated discussions over resources and social services? 

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