Transcript: The Agenda at WGSI: Moving Off the Land | Apr 25, 2016

Steve stands in a university auditorium, in front of a panel that reads "W.G.S.I., Waterloo Global Science Initiative." He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and striped blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Indigenous power struggle. Not a magic bullet?"

Steve says JONATHAN KAY, RECENTLY WRITING
IN A PIECE FOR THE
NATIONAL POS
CALLED "MOVE IS THE ONLY HOPE
FOR COMMUNITIES LIKE
ATTAWAPISKAT."
IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING WE'VE
TALKED ABOUT HERE TODAY, HE
WRITES THIS...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Moving is the only hope?" The quote reads "In most communities that have no jobs, people pack up and relocate. Whole regions of Atlantic Canada have fallen prey to this cycle of creative destruction. So has much of Detroit. While this process is sad and disruptive, it pushes families to areas where they can make a living and exist in dignity. But the Indian Act created a system that perversely discourages residents from leaving even the most appallingly impoverished reserves... This paradox lies at the heart of the cruelty we have inflicted on Aboriginal peoples. And it is why places such as Attawapiskat are doomed to exist in a hellish limbo."
Quoted from Jonathan Kay, National Post. April 16, 2016.

Steve says JUDITH, IS HE RIGHT?

Judith says NO.

Steve says TELL ME WHY.

The caption changes to "Judith Sayers. University of Victoria."

Judith is in her fifties, with short brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a printed red and black shirt, and a silver necklace.

She says HE'S NOWHERE CLOSE.
WHAT HE MISSES IS THE POINT OF
OUR CONNECTIVENESS TO OUR LAND.
WE ALL WANT TO LIVE IN OUR HOME
TERRITORIES WHERE WE CAN VISIT
OUR SACRED SITES OR WE CAN
EXERCISE OUR RIGHTS TO TRAP,
FISH, HUNT, GATHER.
WE WANT TO WALK WHERE OUR
ANCESTORS WALKED AND PICK THE
MEDICINES AND TO MANAGE OUR
TERRITORIES, BE STEWARDS OF OUR
TERRITORIES.
YOU CAN'T DO THAT WHEN YOU MOVE
AWAY FROM THE COMMUNITY.
THAT'S CRITICAL.
THE INDIAN ACT IS IRRELEVANT.
BUT WE'VE ALWAYS -- THE
GOVERNMENT HAS ALWAYS TRIED TO
REMOVE US FROM OUR LAND BECAUSE
THAT'S WHERE WE GET OUR STRENGTH
AND OUR POWER AND THAT I THINK
IS WHAT SCARES THEM.

Steve says CHIEF DAY, MANY,
MANY, MANY IRISH PEOPLE LEFT
THEIR HOMELAND BECAUSE OF A
FAMINE AND CAME HERE, AND YOU
HAVE TO SAY THAT THEY'RE ALL
BETTER OFF FOR HAVING DONE SO.
AND SOME PEOPLE WILL WONDER WHY
THAT'S NOT AN EXAMPLE FOR
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN THIS COUNTRY.

The caption changes to "Isadore Day. Chiefs of Ontario."

Isadore is in his late forties, with short gray hair and a soul patch. He's wearing a gray suit and blue shirt.

He says I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF
REASONS WHY.
I THINK THAT'S A GENERAL
EXAMPLE.
HOWEVER, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE
HISTORY OF CANADA, WE HAVE A
SITUATION HERE WHERE THERE'S
UNFINISHED BUSINESS IN TREATIES.
WE WERE NOT A CONQUERED PEOPLE.
WE ENTERED INTO LEGALLY BINDING
AGREEMENTS CALLED TREATIES, AND
I WOULD ACTUALLY ASK THE VIEWERS
TO CONSIDER THIS, THAT WE ARE ON
THE CUSP OF ACTUALLY A NEW
FRONTIER.
WE ARE IN TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGE
IN TERMS OF CLIMATE CHANGE,
WORLD ECONOMY, AND BASICALLY WE
ARE GOING TO SEE A CHANGE THAT
OCCURS WHERE TECHNOLOGY IS GOING
TO BECOME SO MUCH MORE ADVANCED
AND PREVALENT, INNOVATION IS
KEY.
THESE PEOPLE IN THE NORTH DON'T
HAVE TO MOVE.
I BELIEVE YOU CAN CREATE
ECONOMIES IN THE NORTH WITH
TRANSPORTATION NETWORKS THAT ARE
ELECTRIFIED.
YOU GET THE INTERNET INTO THE
NORTH.
YOU CREATE FOOD SECURITY.
EQUALIZATION IN TERMS OF ACCESS
TO WEALTH AND RESOURCE AND NEW
GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS?
I REALLY BELIEVE THAT THE NORTH,
WHERE THESE COMMUNITIES ARE, AND
THE FACT THAT THEY ARE RICH IN
RESOURCES, AS WELL AS HAVING A
CARBON SINK, I BELIEVE THAT THIS
IS A NEW AND POSITIVE CHANGE IN
THE FUTURE.

The caption changes to "Just move?"

Steve says CYNTHIA, CAN YOU
STILL GET YOUR STRENGTH FROM THE
LAND WHEN IT LOOKS LIKE THERE IS
SO MUCH DESPAIR IN THE LAND?

The caption changes to "Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux. @Cynthiawesley"

Cynthia is in her fifties, with wavy gray hair. She's wearing a black blazer and pearl earrings.

She says WELL, I DON'T THINK THERE'S
DESPAIR IN THE LAND.
PEOPLE DO LEAVE THE COMMUNITIES
AND THEY GO BACK AND FORTH ON A
REGULAR BASIS.
I MEAN, OUR PEOPLE ARE HIGHLY
ADAPTABLE.
THEY ADAPT TO ALL OF THE KINDS
OF THINGS THAT ARE AROUND THEM.
THEY MOVE INTO THE CITIES, BACK
TO THE RESERVE.
I LIVE IN THUNDER BAY RIGHT NOW
BUT I HAVE COME FROM THE RESERVE
FOR THE LAST 12, 14 YEARS.
THAT'S NOT THE POINT HERE.
I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT WE
UNDERSTAND THAT.
WHAT WE'RE SEEING IN THE
COMMUNITIES IS SOMETHING THAT
HAS BEEN CREATED BY EXTERNAL
FORCE AND AGENCY, AND WHEN WE
HAVE THE CAPACITY TO DEAL WITH
THAT OURSELVES, IT WORKS.
SO THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE TO DO.
YOU'RE NOT GOING TO DRIVE THOSE
PEOPLE OFF THE LAND.
THAT IS THEIR LAND.
RESOURCE REVENUE SHARING.

Steve says MITCHELL, I I'LL GIVE
YOU THE LAST 30 SECONDS ON THIS.

The caption changes to "Mitchell Diabo. Kasabonika Lake Community Developlemnt Corporation."

Mitchell is in his late forties, with short gray hair shaven at the temples and a trimmed moustache. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit and a blue shirt.

He says THANK YOU.
ALL OF OUR TIME IN OUR
COMMUNITIES HAS BEEN MARKED BY
EXPERIENCES AND PLACES ON THE
LAND.
ALL OF OUR ANCESTORS HAVE
RETURNED BACK TO OUR HOMELAND.
IS THAT THE ONLY SOLUTION THAT
OUR SOCIETY CAN COME UP WITH IS
TO DISPLACE US?
OUR COUNTRY IS ACCEPTING
REFUGEES FROM AROUND THE WORLD,
AND NOW THEY'RE LOOKING TO
DISPLACE US.
WHERE WOULD WE GO?
WHY WOULD WE GO?
IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

Watch: The Agenda at WGSI: Moving Off the Land