APTN National News
A contentious article written by a former Manitoba judge and published this week in a Thunder Bay paper has angered people across the country because it hits on all the misconceptions Canadians have about Indigenous peoples.
“System that rewards Status Indians is spectacularly unfair,” wrote Brian Giesbrecht in his 500-word article. “A person with Indian Status might never have to pay income tax and can pass this million dollar exemption on to their descendants.”
“This article is so spectacularly ignorant,” said Niigaan Sinclair a professor of Native studies at the University of Manitoba when contacted by APTN National News.
“Indigenous people don’t get free education. It’s that Indigenous peoples have access to education at the post secondary level in relation to an exchange that Canadians of Indigenous peoples have shared through an agreement called the Treaties.
“And the treaties are an agreement in order to share land and benefit each other equally. And so part of that is providing education and health and – and access to land for example and that’s what the treaties were intended to do.”
Giesbrecht is now a fellow at Frontier Centre for Public Policy, often considered a right wing think tank.
In his article, Giesbrecht goes on to assert that Métis and non-status Indians are lining up by the millions to be granted the same benefits – or gravy train as he puts it.
“The system is spectacularly unfair, and things are going to get a whole lot worse as more people are added to the list of the entitled.”
People were also tweeting about Giesbrecht’s article.
“This piece is full of the most ignorant and blatant myths and lies about status Indians,” wrote Chelsea Vowel, a Métis lawyer, writer and educator from Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta.
APTN requested an interview with Brian Giesbrecht, but a spokesperson at the Frontier Centre said he was not available.
The article’s posting in the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal came on an interesting day – World Indigenous Day.
Pattison would not make himself available for an interview but did speak briefly with APTN on the phone.
“It wasn’t a conscious decision to run the piece on the International Day of World Indigenous Peoples,” he wrote.
Thunder Bay is currently struggling with a racism problems with First Nations people.
Its police force is being investigated by both civilian and outside police forces and its chief stepped aside after being charged with obstruction of justice.
The city’s mayor, Keith Hobbs, also had to step down after being charged with extortion.