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If you’re the sort of person who insists that Canada’s indigenous people are shirkers, shakedown artists, swindlers and tax cheats who should just let it go and shut up about residential schools, you’ll want to give this column a pass. If you really believe that Canada 150 is no time to notice the cruelty in Canada’s history and the ongoing alienation from the rest of us that so disfigures indigenous communities across the country, there’s no point in trying to convince you otherwise.

Neither is this column intended to badger indigenous people, so many of whom have reasonably come to expect that whenever yet another news media come-from-away is carving out some kind of standpoint on questions that concern them, it’ll just end up another hectoring of the First Nations leadership to play nice and be reasonable. Or, alternatively, and more in keeping with the current fashion, the central roles indigenous people have played in Canadian history will be reduced to bit-part performances by the victims of wicked priests, railroad builders and child welfare agencies.

If you’re the type of person who makes a big show of being angry and miserable owing to the spectacle of everyone getting swept up in what you’ve been calling “a celebration of colonial violence” on this 150th anniversary of Confederation, well, suit yourself. You can carry on claiming the super-cool status of being among an élite cadre of gallant “allies” standing with indigenous people in an imaginary twilight struggle against Canadian white supremacy and its racist, colonial settler state. Bully for you.

But none of that has got anything to do with the “reconciliation” we all claim to be striving for. It’s the opposite. And it’s nothing new. Declarations of allegiance to indigenous people are what underlie what is arguably Canada’s oldest “activist” tradition. The Aborigines […]

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