‘Deconstructing The Aboriginal Industry’

“The ‘Aboriginal Industry’ favours Segregation over Integration…”

“The generally dysfunctional character of aboriginal community leadership and administration remains deeply entrenched because of the influence of an industry of lawyers, consultants and other professionals that benefit from the status quo of native dependency.

“These opportunists encourage a culture of opposition – to virtually any government attempt to improve aboriginal conditions – on the basis of entitlement for past injustices.

“They then, through their advocacy “research”, construct apologetics that justify aboriginal isolation and marginalization.” ERBLDeconstructingTheAboriginalIndustry800x800

‘Canada spends billions on its native people, yet many aboriginals remain plagued by poverty, addiction and other social ills. Meanwhile, a handful of lawyers, Band leaders and chiefs prosper, argue the authors of a controversial book’:

“One of the most pressing problems in Canada today is the terrible social conditions that exist in many aboriginal communities. It is well known that the rates of poverty, substance abuse and violence are much higher for the native population, and that health and educational levels remain far below the national average. Even more disturbing is the fact that the alarming statistics persist despite billions of dollars being spent on programs and services to alleviate these Third World conditions. Why has so much government funding had so little impact?

“Fifteen years ago {1994}, we decided to try to provide some answers to these perplexing questions. The result is “Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation”, a book that combines our own experiences with 10 years of additional research to investigate all aspects of aboriginal policy. It shows that the reason for the massive policy failure is that current initiatives are being formulated and implemented by a self-serving “industry” that works behind the scenes in aboriginal organizations.

“LEGAL FIRMS MASTERMINDING THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS SETTLEMENT and ANTHROPOLOGISTS DIRECTING “TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE” STUDIES, for example, HAVE RECEIVED HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS over the years. Some in this group of non-aboriginal lawyers and consultants have little incentive to solve aboriginal problems because they thrive on the continuation of aboriginal dependency and social dysfunction. The reality of the aboriginal industry is that grievances result in the dispersal of government funds, and so its members benefit from perpetuating, rather than alleviating, aboriginal deprivation.

“The aboriginal industry maintains this state of affairs, in part, by advocating cultural traditionalism in the native population. NO RATIONAL PERSON BELIEVES THAT MODERN PROBLEMS CAN BE SOLVED BY REVERTING TO THE WAYS OF OUR ANCESTORS, AS IS ASSUMED IN ABORIGINAL POLICY DEVELOPMENT. This does not mean that we are prevented from appreciating historical accomplishments, only that we are not obligated to accept all past beliefs and practices under the guise of “preserving our culture.” Valuing the plays of Shakespeare, for example, does not mean that we have to embrace the ‘Divine Right of Kings’, blood-letting or burning witches at the stake.

“Aboriginal cultural features, however, are perceived as inexorable. It is assumed, for example, that since aboriginal peoples were once hunters and gatherers, they should continue to hunt and trap and gather berries so as to preserve their “spiritual relationship” to the land. Aboriginal languages that are spoken by only a few hundred people should be taught in the elementary grades, we are told, so that aboriginal “worldviews” can continue to find expression.

“This is not to deny that aboriginal people, like all Canadians, should have the right to pursue the beliefs and cultural practices that give them satisfaction; it is only to stress that this is a choice for individuals to make. THE IDEA THAT ABORIGINAL PEOPLES ARE NATURAL HUNTERS, OR THAT THEY HAVE A PREDETERMINED SPIRITUALITY, IS ACTUALLY A FORM OF RACIAL STEREOTYPING that constrains future possibilities. Aboriginal people, like all other Canadians, can think for themselves.

“Unproductive economic practices, tribal forms of political organization, superstitious “healing” initiatives, pre-literate languages and unscientific forms of “knowledge” are also encouraged because of THE CONDESCENDING ASSUMPTION that this will raise aboriginal self-esteem and give native people the confidence to participate in modern society. But such initiatives will not provide aboriginal people with the skills, knowledge and discipline needed to participate in a wide range of socially necessary occupations. 'First Nations' Pedagogy“Native studies” programs in Canadian universities, for example, teach that the myth that aboriginal peoples were placed in North America/Turtle Island by “the Creator” is just as valid as scientific theories about human migrations out of Africa. But if aboriginal people are not encouraged to approach this myth critically, as occurs with respect to, say, Christian myths such as ‘Genesis’, how will aboriginal people become contributors to the fields of Archaeology, Palæontology and Biology? The blanket promotion of aboriginal “worldviews” and “ways of life”, therefore, can rationalize aboriginal isolation.

“Recognizing the need for aboriginal people to participate in Canadian society, instead of being warehoused on unviable reserves, does not constitute a proposal for “assimilation”. Rather, it is a plea for integration, whereby many aspects of aboriginal culture – humour, artistic sensibilities, non-coercive {and ineffective} forms of child rearing and so on – will become part of the wider culture. At the same time, however, integration recognizes that certain aspects of aboriginal culture are inhibiting aboriginal survival today, and these characteristics, as well as unviable aboriginal reserves and remote communities, should be allowed to gradually “wither away”, according to the decline in their expedience.

“THE ABORIGINAL INDUSTRY, however, FAVOURS SEGREGATION OVER INTEGRATION. In order to prevent the recognition of this socially destructive policy direction, the aboriginal industry has developed some very effective tactics over the last 40 years. IT VICIOUSLY ATTACKS THE CREDIBILITY OF OPPONENTS, ARGUING THAT CRITICISM OF ABORIGINAL POLICY IS TO DENIGRATE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE THEMSELVES. “RACIST,” “COLONIALIST,” and “RIGHT-WING” are the most common insults hurled at those who dare to question the viability and effectiveness of land claims and self-government initiatives.

“Recently, organizations, like the ‘Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs’, have even argued that critics like us are guilty of “inciting hate”, and some members of the ‘Canadian Political Science Association’ have asked if we should be charged under the ‘Criminal Code’. As a result of these tactics, most people who are uncomfortable with the obviously unworkable and irrational character of aboriginal policy are discouraged from raising their concerns publicly. ERBLTheCaseForNativeAssimilation600x600“Because the negotiation of land claims and self-government agreements occurs behind closed doors or in remote areas of Canada, most people are unaware of the machinations driving current aboriginal policy initiatives. They assume that because a number of aboriginal leaders are supportive of the existing policy direction, this must be what most aboriginal people “want”. These leaders have been corrupted by the financial rewards offered by the aboriginal industry, and therefore are completely unrepresentative of the interests of “their people”. In fact, these leaders remain in positions of power because of native segregation and marginalization.

“Many native leaders are anxious to build an “economic base” in their unviable communities because the aboriginal industry ensures that the leadership will profit from these initiatives. Native leaders obtain a range of benefits, from “honoraria” to sinecures as members on the boards of the organizations that are set up to administer the transfers of funds and provision of services. The aboriginal industry also needs the leadership to legitimate its proposals and ensure that community members are brought on side. The latter acquiesce under the misguided assumption that they will benefit.

“The fundamental needs of ‘indigenous people’ are common to everyone in the modern period: education, health care and housing. Provision of these services should be considered an obligation of the state and delivered with the consideration of the specific needs of aboriginal people. Although this proposal for reasserting government control over the delivery of programs and services to the native population will be interpreted by some as “colonialism”, no advocate for social justice is opposed to publicly-funded education or health care for other Canadian citizens. In fact, the opposition is to offloading and contracting out – a circumstance that comes very close to what is actually occurring in aboriginal communities, with the resulting poor quality of care and low educational standards.

“It is necessary for THE CURRENT FORMS OF CULTURAL INDOCTRINATION THAT PASS FOR EDUCATION IN NATIVE COMMUNITIES to be replaced by programs designed to address the failure of the system to provide education at the level enjoyed by all other Canadians. This has occurred, for instance, at the Grandview/Uuquinak’uuh Elementary School in East Vancouver, where dramatic improvements in educational achievement have been made, not by instituting “culturally sensitive” programs, but through a focus on literacy, academics and objective assessments. Health care should also be provided at the high scientific standard received by the non-native population.

“While housing in Canada is generated in the private sector according to profit motivation, native community housing is government funded. However, the delivery is through housing boards which have, as their primary function, native board control.

“This means that traditional customs determine distribution of housing and leadership administers building contracts. The result is that relatives and favoured friends are allocated houses before those in direct need, and building contracts are awarded to NATIVE SHADOW COMPANIES that profit by sub-contracting to outside construction firms. These firms are then held up as examples of “successful” aboriginal businesses.

“Exposing these deplorable circumstances in “Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry” has resulted in a polarized reaction. Some have heralded it as a courageous and truthful book, while others have either misrepresented its contents or attacked us personally.

“Although responding to the personal attacks has been an emotional strain, and the “hate crime” allegation is disconcerting, we have come to realize that this is an inevitable process that we have to go through in order for real debate to take place about aboriginal policy in this country. INTIMIDATION AND SMEAR TACTICS MAY HAVE WORKED IN THE PAST, but they are beginning to wear thin. Now that it has been exposed that the Emperor has no clothes, his nudity cannot be denied indefinitely.”

–Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard, “Exposing the aboriginal industry”
Toronto Star, April 25, 2009 {CAPS added}

(“Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation” is published by ‘McGill-Queen’s University Press’. Frances Widdowson is a faculty member at Mount Royal College. Albert Howard has worked as a consultant for government and native groups.)

https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2009/04/25/exposing_the_aboriginal_industry.html

http://www.caledoniawakeupcall.com/updates/090425tostar.htm 

'Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry' (EDIT)‘Amazon’ Reviews:
“These authors have taken a taboo subject that plagues my people and brought it to the spotlight. They go to great lengths (at some points somewhat insultingly, but the truth can be that) to make logical conclusions based on fact and research. If I could force Derek Nepinak to read this and justify his criticism of the government without trying to do anything about the local chiefs, I could die a happy man. In my lifetime, I hope to see my great grandchildren wearing suits to work and living comfortably — unless more people in power read this and react accordingly, we will go on living the old life and getting what we have always got. We do not need spiritual healing, we need leadership! This book points out just that.”
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Winnipeg, Canada:
“It is not surprising that this book has engendered such polarized reviews. Those who dismiss the authors, however, have probably never seen the root causes of aboriginal cultural dysfunction as up-close as Widdowson and Howard. Before calling these earnest Left-wingers “racists” or “colonialists”, critics should spend time working with natives to see first-hand how these communities have been betrayed by their leaders and bureaucrats. THE CONTINUING SHIPWRECK OF THE ABORIGINAL RIGHTS INDUSTRY could be solved by paying attention to this book, which I recommend to all Canadians who are baffled as to why the billions spent on the problem have been wasted.”
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Toronto, Ontario:
“Excellent book and analysis… The authors are disrobing a myth created by many in the “industry” and supported, unfortunately, by A NEW FORM OF ANTHROPOLOGY THAT CHOOSES POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OVER SCIENTIFIC STUDY…

“A perusal of the Table of Contents is enough to give you a good idea of what the authors intend to prove. Their premises are well established and, ironically, reinforced by the negative reviews, especially the reactionary charges of racism and colonialism, the usual from politically-correct supporters of the myth and the “industry”.

“Three topics cannot be discussed openly in Canada without reactionary opposition: Aboriginals, Muslims and Health Care. Only in Canada, pity.”
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Prince George, B.C.:
“The authors are bold enough to scrape away the buffalo patties and brilliant enough to discern the texture of reality beneath them. It is long past time someone looked through all the nonsense that has been foisted upon the ‘First Nations’ People themselves as their “culture”, but which in reality never existed as a unified entity the way it is today portrayed. ‘First Nations’ people are being encouraged to create a culture of the past right here and now in the present — ‘a unified Native culture that crosses tribal boundaries without much attention to the very real differences that existed’ (and may still continue to exist amongst the oldest people). Any ‘First Nations’ person should feel a new pre-fabricated cultural tradition is being foisted upon them, in the very same way the Jesuits and Catholics attempted to foist an artificial, pre-fabricated culture upon them in the 19th century.”
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MB, Canada:
“An industry that pays as well as the Aboriginal Industry will not change in our current political climate. Cultural preservation in itself is a good thing but is not the pathway that will lead Natives out of the current social, political and economic problems that they face and have faced and will continue to face without a complete overhaul of methodology. I found the book to be a refreshing bit of straight logic that is far too lacking in today’s PC society. Indeed, the emperor truly has no clothes.”
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Newport, Nova Scotia:
“This book is timely, for someone has finally had the guts to come out and write the truth. Yet, there is more to be said. I waited a long time for this to happen. It is not racist, as some have suggested. Millions of $$$$’s have been spent in Aboriginal Industry and only the consultants etc. have benefitted and they are repeaters from year to year. Where are their completed reports/studies? We never see them in libraries or elsewhere. CIHR {Canadian Institutes of Health Research} and SHRC {Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission}, etc. have issued million-dollar and higher grants to universitites without accountability. Cheers to Widdowson and Howard…”
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Ontario:
“This is an excellent analysis of what is wrong with Indian policy and why, after decades of throwing away billions of dollars to try and improve the lamentable state of our native peoples, there are still horrendous social and economic problems among them. The book is well written and the arguments convincing. The only question is: Are the policy makers listening and do they have the political courage to act? Or are our native peoples condemned to live forever in the deplorable state we find them in today?”
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Manitoba:
“An utterly brilliant book: meticulously researched, eminently reasonable, and, despite what the spokesmen for the aboriginal industry are screaming about it, deeply compassionate about the plight of ‘First Nations’ people. These people need to wake up and realize that the reserve system is the problem, not the solution. Read this book if you are not frightened by inconvenient truths.”

http://www.amazon.ca/Disrobing-Aboriginal-Industry-Indigenous-Preservation/dp/0773534210/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top 

Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard (National Post)
Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard (National Post)

“The generally dysfunctional character of aboriginal community leadership and administration remains deeply entrenched because of the influence of an industry of lawyers, consultants and other professionals that benefit from the status quo of native dependency.

“These opportunists encourage a culture of opposition – to virtually any government attempt to improve aboriginal conditions – on the basis of entitlement for past injustices.

“They then, through their advocacy “research”, construct apologetics that justify aboriginal isolation and marginalization.

“This was recently documented by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, in the case of devolved responsibilities to aboriginal child welfare agencies in British Columbia. Ms. Turpel-Lafond found that $66-million was spent — largely on meetings and consultations — with no improvement in the services provided to vulnerable aboriginal children.

{See: ‘Aboriginal child welfare system is a gravy train with no destination’:
https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/425497187552520/?type=1 }

“With respect to improving accountability in aboriginal communities, the machinations of the Aboriginal Industry can be illustrated by the actions of the ‘Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada’ (AFOA) – an organization formed in 1999 in response to the recommendations of the ‘Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples’ {RCAP}.

“With a board of 11, a staff of nine, and a secretariat of seven, as well as seven boards for its regional chapters, the AFOA’s stated purpose is

“to help aboriginals better manage and govern their communities and organizations through effective financial management”.

“In spite of the fact that the AFOA was created to help aboriginal communities meet their accountability obligations, 15 years and millions of dollars later the association comes out AGAINST THE AUDITS, with the veiled threat that they can “compromise the relationship” between aboriginal peoples and the Crown…
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“Similarly, the government does not provide high quality education, health care and housing to aboriginal communities. It transfers funds to the aboriginal leadership to arrange for these services, and when that money is squandered on sinecures, travel and consultancy fees, the government’s solution is to advertise this malfeasance on its website. This will do nothing to “improve community living conditions” for native people, but will deflect the blame for the continuing policy failure.

“Self-government proponents demand that more responsibilities be given to aboriginal communities because aboriginal “nations” should have control over the programs and services properly provided by provincial and federal levels of government.

“The lack of expertise and capacity in dependent and isolated tribal entities results in very low levels of service provided.

“Millions of dollars are also diverted to the various “experts” that work in aboriginal organizations such as the AFOA, aboriginal child welfare agencies and ‘indigenous’ cultural institutes. Demanding “accountability” and “transparency” that can never be realized in small and poorly-functioning tribal communities is ineffective and hugely wasteful…”

–‘Why aboriginal audits miss the real problem’,
Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard, Toronto Globe and Mail, Apr. 09 2014  {CAPS added}

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/why-aboriginal-audits-miss-the-real-problem/article17892845/ a+group+of+children+moose+Factory(600)COMMENT:
‘The conflict-oriented and inept nature of aboriginal policy in Canada emerged historically out of the constant efforts by governments to offload their responsibility for aboriginal peoples. This began with the residential schools, where responsibility for education was offloaded to the churches.’

“While I sympathize with the intent of this article, I question the historical accuracy of the above statement. People today seem to have no concept of a time when government wasn’t supposed to be your mom, and tell you how to dress and eat. Even in the Sixties, government was largely invisible to most people and they liked it that way. The notion that the federal government had responsibilities for aboriginal education that it “downloaded” to churches, would have struck them as odd. That is what churches were for.

“Similarly, the notion that an indifferent government callously exposed aboriginal kids to child molesters ignores the climate of the times. I know several white women who had suspicious encounters with clergymen in the Fifties and Sixties but had their complaints rejected by their own parents, who refused to believe priests or ministers would act like “that”.

“I was beaten at school by nuns in Hamilton, Ontario, as recently as 1958. It was considered normal and part of their duty.

“My comments are not intended to negate the particular damage that was done to ‘First Nations’, nor to deny the feeling of responsibility to mitigate it now shared by most Canadians. My point is that a distorted account of the past does not help to solve the problems of the present. Our current sense of government responsibility is a relatively-recent development and it is that which birthed the legions of aboriginal advisors and consultants, in a misguided attempt to throw money at problems. Perhaps if we could stop wandering through a cultural fog and worry about what is actually happening to ‘First Nations’ children, our policy path would be clearer. Kids or culture? It’s not hard.”
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‘nor to deny the feeling of responsibility to mitigate it now shared by most Canadians.’

“Oh please, shared by most Canadians? I think not. I suggest that the vast majority of Canadians understand that they had absolutely nothing to do with what happened a hundred years ago, and despite all the white-liberal-guilt being dished out by the media, they feel just fine about themselves and feel not a lick of guilt. You may be the exception, and that’s fine.”
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“The REAL issue is the continued existence of…the false belief that what for the most part are extended family units are somehow equitable with Denmark, or the Netherlands… Bring them into broader Canadian society, for a start. Until then, all this is a waste of time, energy, and money.”
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“To suggest that aboriginal communities cannot fix their own problem(s) because of an “Aboriginal Industry” is, in my opinion, simply wrong… Accurate information on the theft of public money breeds outrage. Outrage breeds change. What is unfortunate is that the government will not force the full disclosure of ‘First Nations’ ‘own source revenues’ to ‘First Nation’ members. The two in combination would be a huge step forward.”
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“The total number of students in Indian residential schools, in all the years from the first ones in the late 1600s to the last few kept open at the behest of the reserves they served, is only around 150,000. Given there’s almost a million Indians extant today, a very small percentage ever saw the inside of one of those schools. That excuse for suboptimal performance is running thin.”
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“A very well-written and courageous article. I will not profess to have enough exposure or expertise to know how to fix the financial problems our native communities are dealing with; however, the status quo of giving the bands huge amounts of money and expecting them to spend it wisely has been a dismal failure.

“The article suggests that the feds be directly accountable for housing and education. I agree. It means they will have to say “no” to natives who say they have a right to self-government. This too would take some courage. We shall see.

“The people with the most to gain are the native population who are being abused by their leaders. The people with the most to lose are the native leaders who are perpetrating the abuse. Sadly, we will hear only from the latter and the mainstream media will likely choose to side with them, and so it will continue.”
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“Isn’t part of the problem the fact that individual natives don’t own property? In essence, they are wards of the state. That doesn’t work well for anyone. Property rights are the foundation of freedom and the ability to make one’s own way in the world.”
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“When will the government and the native leadership recognize what is so readily apparent and end the ‘them and us’, and make everyone equal. Equal in opportunity and responsibility must be the goal; anything less is doomed to failure.”
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“This is all kind of a Catch-22 in a loop, isn’t it? The Indians say they want control of child welfare, education, housing and all the rest, so our government and the taxpayers provide the funding to these communities to do these things for themselves; then, the money gets squandered away, the dismal results get reported and then the demands start rolling in for the government and taxpayers to take direct responsibility again.

“After all that, the demands for the funding to these communities to increase so they can start to control child welfare, education, housing and all the rest start up again, the money gets squandered away…

“Any Indian community getting government funding should have the same laws and set-up as any other municipality in the country.” ERBLHowTheAboriginalIndustryWinsInCourt600x600See also:
‘How The Aboriginal Industry Wins In Court’ {September 16, 2015}: https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/674179372684299/?type=3

‘Supremes Get it Wrong Again’ {November 21, 2015}: https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/pb.332982123470694.-2207520000.1448486333./694964840605752/?type=3

‘A History Lesson for Bob Rae’ {August 26, 2015}: https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/665568370212066/?type=3
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