John Ralston Saul: New relationship with First Nations


Last updated 12/10/2015 at 11:25am

John Ralston Saul

WINNIPEG, MB-Following Canada's recent federal election, there are signs that things are beginning to change in the relationship between First Nations and the federal government. No one seems to recognize that more so than distinguished author and advocate for Aboriginal rights John Ralston Saul.

Recently Saul gave an interview to the Winnipeg Free Press to talk about "how Indigenous people are rebuilding their communities and how that process will influence Canada."

Reporter Alexandra Paul asked Ralston Saul if Canadians would see the 2015 election as a turning point [in relations with the federal government].

Saul responded that it could be "if (the Liberals) do what they say they're going to do. Seventy percent of Canadians voted for parties with serious Aboriginal policies, and that's something."

The author went on to state that this is the first time "an incoming prime minister, on the night of the election, specifically referred to policies on Aboriginal people. This could be a real turning point...I don't think we have the numbers, but it seems quite a lot of Aboriginal people voted, and they probably did swing quite a few ridings [districts].

Considered by some to be a valuable ally, Saul says "I'm happy to do what I can because I believe in the cause."

He went on to tell Paul, "One of the things non-Aboriginal Canadians learned from Aboriginal people over the last 400 years is you don't have to be one thing. That's a European idea. There's multiple personalities, multiple loyalties. You can be a Winnipegger, a Manitoban, a westerner.

The Free Press asked: "You mean like some people are peacemakers, some are warriors, that relationships define the context?"

Saul responded, "Yes, you can be many things. It's entirely possible to have a treaty relationship, nation to nation and you take that hat off for a moment and put another hat on, and say I'm also a tax-paying Canadian and I have the right to vote...I can use every power that's available to me and I don't have to give up anything."

"I think Canadians somehow now know that something, from them, has to be done," stated Saul. "They have to make a very important gesture which will be a whole new way of handling things, a change in behavior. They're just not quite there, in terms of 'What is the language?' What they have to say."


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