Thoughts on Qalipu’s Dumpster Fire

cariboo-fire-centre
I got my letter. I’m in the band still and retain my status. I had a lot of feelings about this–a lot of conflicting feelings of relief, sadness, and shame (as I shouldn’t feel that relieved to be validated by the State).
But, can I just say, in brief, that I’m a little unnerved about the rhetoric folks in ‘Newfoundland’ or Taqamkuk. are using about the ongoing, colonial shit-festival that is the Qalipu Mi’kmaq ‘do-over’ ~founding member list~ debacle. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, like, look it up–I don’t have the energy to break this down.
OK, so like, the process has been pretty trash–a number of folks in my family are not being added to the band rolls, while folks like me remain–and we’re all in weird limbo states here and there. But, there are a lot of reasons I’m not OK with things being said by folks in and outside of the newly re-determined castes of who does and doesn’t have Status. So, here we go into my rare dive into band politics.

1.) STOP PLAYING INTO THE INDIAN ACT, FUCK.

Like, if I hear one more person talk about ‘bloodlines’ and stuff, I’m going to go through the roof. A lot of the talk here isn’t about family, about our relations, or our communities–but about blood. You know who injected that into indigenous consciousness–settlers and their Indian Act. While colonial Newfoundland may have gone the assimiliationist route, we on Taqamkuk are now subject to the Canadian flavour of the settler-colonial state that has subjected our mainland relations and allies to centuries of suffering, degradation, and genocide. Every time one of us pens a letter founded on the principles written in the Act, even implicitly, we give power and authority to this structure. We cannot abide by this or stomach such thoughts overriding our own conceptions of our land and our people–our people have much to unpack and much to discard from settler imposition.

2.) EVERYTHING IS BASED ON AN UNACCEPTABLE COMPROMISE OF OUR SOVEREIGNTY–SO DON’T CELEBRATE THAT.

For those of us in the Band and without status regardless, we must acknowledge that the entire process of gaining status was done through a fundamental compromise of our sovereign power–that of giving us our right to our land entirely. This would be laughed at (and surely has been) by those living on unceded territory, on treaty lands, and in the rest of Mi’kma’ki. The band structure–like those elsewhere on our territories–are once again, settler impositions. We must seek out our traditional structures and the wisdom of elders to take us forward, not elected councils and corporate-faced structures. These agreements were all set in place–including the agreement on the band enrollment process–through negotiation between these entities and the State and we bear the price for them.
Further, from this process to the forced disconnection from our role as protectors of the land, the Canadian State laughs as it has accomplished the goals of the successive Dominion and Provincial administrations of the island–it has sown further doubt about Mi’kmaq people on the island. From the days of the blood guilt myth–where we were cast as invaders to our own territories, as marauders and killers of our allies, the Beothuk–the State has done all it can to undermine and rid itself of the sovereign threat to its power over Taqamkuk.
Beyond the band structure, beyond where we live together–on our territories or elsewhere–all Qalipu Mi’kmaq have to come together and fight for our sovereignty with all Mi’kmaq on Taqamkuk and across Mi’kma’ki. Their borders should mean nothing to us–the strongest peoples do not wait for recognition or play with bureaucracy: we assert it and fight.

3.) WHO DECIDES?

The only people who should decide who is part of Qalipu or any of these colonial ‘bands’ are the people themselves through whatever structures remain. We must acknowledge the distrust between ours and other peoples–we are large, highly colonized, and subject to the constant de-legitimization of the State. We have much to do, we of this supposed band, to stand with our allies and relations across the so-called Americas. If we so assert ourselves, we must too commit to making our voices loud and incessant for the rights and sovereignty of peoples all across these lands. We cannot and should not stop; we must do more than provide for ourselves, but take up sincere and real political action. If we take up the traditions and laws of our people truly, we must take up political action–however it best suits you, my friends, but we must. We cannot be part of this Nation without standing with all of our peoples and fighting–as so many battles are coming for our peoples.

4.) CONCLUSION

Look, there is a lot of pain and dissent to come from within the band–but we have much work to do. While the process isn’t great, we can’t fall into either reactionary trope of celebrating without reflection or wading into the language of the Indian Act. We must do more, together. While I live away, I hope to keep involved in these things–with the band and with collectives of our peoples across these lands.
This was a Facebook Status, but, uhh, it ran too long. So it is here. Thanks.
Photo from the Cariboo Fire Centre B.C. Catch the pun? Yeah? No? Come on now.
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