Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Red Revolution's Wars of Influence & the Required Ultimate Sacrifice of Chief Spence

In any revolution which involves the emancipation of peoples, there are a number of required stages needed to complete a successful revolution. The Red Revolution in Canada is the most interesting case because it will be the first time Indigenous peoples in a minority situation have the potential to force a level of reckoning with the dominant settler population. The Red Revolution really started in 1969, but it has been a long unfolding revolution that has been unable to find full resolution. There have been many episodes in this War of Influence, but we have not had much drastic movement in a number of years. Canada it seems has been stuck in the stage of negotiation since 1969, after the issue of the infamous White Paper. It is a revolution in stasis where only the basic needs for negotiation have been meet without any real attempts to find long term solutions to issues facing Indigenous peoples in Canada. Various programs may have been put into place, but many of these programs have not erased the long standing issues surrounding what sociologist Michael Mascarenhas terms 'White Privilege.'

In 1969 Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien attempted to eliminate the concept of treaty rights and Indigenous peoples by off loading the Indian problem onto provincial governments and assimilating all Indians into the body politic. After the debacle of 1969 and the Liberal Government's retreat in the face of mounting Indigenous opposition, the Canadian government felt that they would no longer use the shock and awe method, but a progressive method in order to bring Indigenous peoples into greater integration in the Canadian state. They also set about to negotiate this incremental change while still maintaining the overall system.

The current Conservative Government's attempts to introduce slow change has hit a major road block because they have attempted too much change in too short a time period. They have a made a strategic error, but they have done so in a modern communications age. which may prove fatal. They failed to learn from the past and have potentially galvanised a generation. Their attempts to create incremental change as outlined in a parliamentary private members bill by Conservative Saskatchewan MP Rob Clarke  ignores the needs of agency of the very young Indigenous population in Canada. Rob Clarke who interestingly enough is also Cree is seen by many to be a Judas. It is the young educated urban and reserve Aboriginal youth who truly believe that together they can change Canada to become a more equal and respectful nation. The incremental change was not sufficiently incremental and became a shock and awe method imposed upon Parliament and First Nations in Omnibus bills.  

Revolution Needs Violence Real or Symbolic

There is a problem with any revolution though, it can only succeed through the use of violence. Because Canada has reached a certain level of development as a liberal democracy there is no need to pose bombs, or use weapons, but only to use the ultimate modern democratic nuclear weapon, the moral weapon. Two circumstances have come together to push the uncompleted Red Revolution to a finish; the twitter #idlenomore movement of the youth and the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence. I am not sure Chief Spence realised that these two elements for  successful revolution would come together like they have. It is undeniable you need a cause, a movement, a people, a martyr and real or symbolic violence. Theresa Spence the chief who been on a hunger strike has become for all intense purposes the future potential martyr symbol of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

What is Idle No More

The Idle No More movement for myself is about equal opportunity to education, to jobs, to making a living, to supporting a family; it is about culture and regaining stolen languages; it is about our children who continue to be taken by child and family services and made wards of the state; it is about resources and the equitable sharing of resources; it is a belief that self-Indigenous government was not ceded or given up, that Indigenous peoples have a HUMAN RIGHT to decide upon their own affairs; it is a belief that Canada, our country, our Native land does not need to have winners or losers, but that we all can share equally in what this country can offer and that we can respectfully live together a create a nation which does not live with an apartheid system of structural violence, but is a true liberal democracy which respects difference, encourages difference and different ways of viewing the world. It is in essence a dream I hold for all our children.

Ultimate Sacrifice Required of Chief Spence

As in any war or revolution people must die or be hurt. The only real question one need ask is how long it takes until one becomes willing to sit down and truly negotiate and to find a solution? No Canadians will actually die in this revolution, though many Aboriginal peoples would say Indigenous people are dying literally and figuratively on reserves and in cities in poverty and neglect. Canadian democracy will be tested, this has become the moment of truth for our nation. Where do we stand as a people, the Canadian people?

For the success of the Red Revolution, Chief Spence must make the ultimate sacrifice for the Indigenous population in Canada. If Chief Spence gives up or does not increase her demands to include the  500 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommendations of 1996, the current movement of social media and flash mobs will become passé. She must become that beacon that will demonstrate the structural violence that too often exists within society, yet goes unrecognised by too many Canadians. If we hope to find a solution to this 'Indian Problem' we need moral violence that will test the moral compass of Canada and all Canadians.

I Dream that all Canadian people truly believe in the words of our Constitution and all Canadians can live together in respect.


Ouellette, Robert-Falcon. (Director) (2012, Dec 28). At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research. The Red Revolution's Wars of Influence & the Required Ultimate Sacrifice of Chief Spence. [Blog]. Retrieved from  
Ouellette, Robert-Falcon, dir. "The Red Revolution's Wars of Influence & the Required Ultimate Sacrifice of Chief Spence." At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research.. N.p., 03 2013. web. 12 03 2013. < ›


  1. After hearing so much about the White Paper and Red Paper during class time, I was happy to see a blog post about it on At the Edge of Canada. I can see why there has been much debate over the issues presented in the paper, and much of these issues arose from how the paper was explained. Or rather, not explained at all, but rambled on about for such a long time that no one really understood it’s implications until it was long done and spoken for.

    I appreciated the various photographs of Ghandi and his wisdom. It reminded me that there will be disagreements in society, but there need not be violence, as we learned in class. This also reminded me of the brutal scene experienced by one of the Residential Schools’ students, where he was forced to eat his own vomit*. These kinds of things should not be happening, and not just the extremely violent cases, but even the smaller acts of racism towards any group. I believe it is possible for teachers to instill value between all people within their classrooms, so that their students might one day bring that positivity into the rest of the world.

    I would have to agree with âpihtawikosisân and what she says in her blog about The White Paper: “It causes grim looks, because it was grim business. Couched in terms of ‘equality’ and ‘dignity’, it proposed to pave over the colonial history of Canada and pretend none of it happened, or mattered.”** She also has a persuasive argument about a current First Nations Property Ownership Act proposal, and how it is not much different that the White Paper from 1969, dubbing the new proposal: “The White Paper Lite”.**

    How can Canada come to agreements on these issues? Certainly sweeping them under the rug and restating the same business over again and presenting it as new is not going to work. So, what will? It seems like the road ahead of us is much longer than it needs to be.

    *Truth and Indignation: Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools”.