Green Web Bulletin #67A

Unfashionable Ideas -
A Left Biocentric Critique of the Report of the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (A)

                                                                                                             By David Orton

"Purification of the spirit comes through struggle."

"Let us face it, we are all here to stay."

Note: The arguments and analysis in the following bulletin were first given publicly in the form of a talk to a graduate seminar on "Indigenous Peoples and Resource Issues", at the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University, on March 22, 1999. This is Part A of the two-part Bulletin.

Critique Outline

Part A (GW #67A)
A. Introduction
B. Fundamental assumptions and the economic model
   1. Recreating the Land Base at First Contact
   2. Aboriginal Nations and Substantial Differences
   3. Historical Rights and Their Application in Contemporary Society
   4. Aboriginal Social Base Assumptions
   5. Positive Evaluation of the Fur Trade and What This Means
   6. Acceptance for Aboriginals of the Industrial Capitalist Economy

Part B (GW #67B)
C. Ecology, Wilderness, Wildlife and World Views
D. Treaties and Legal Assumptions
E. Research Assumptions and Unasked Questions
F. Conclusion
Appendix: Left Biocentrism Primer and the Deep Ecology Platform

    My talk is called "Unfashionable Ideas: A Left Biocentric Critique of the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples." The two quotations under this title, which I have used, are there to give some sense of my orientation in this critique. The "purification of the spirit" quotation is from the Report. (Vol. 1, p. 649) It symbolizes to me that knowledge and understanding, as well as personal awareness and healing, only come about through struggle and the clash of contending ideas. This struggle often seems to have a personal price.

    The "we are all here to stay" quotation comes from Supreme Court Chief Justice Lamer. It is the concluding sentence from his comments in the Delgamuukw 1997 Decision (p. 116). My use of it is meant as a statement that today, whatever the differences between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, we have to work them out and live together. There are 30 million of us in Canada, from many ethnic and cultural backgrounds, all shaped in some way by an industrial capitalist and consumerist 'culture'. I believe that when one's ancestors arrived in Canada, whether fifty, two hundred or ten thousand years ago, cannot be a determining factor in allocating social justice today to Canadians.

    On December 6, 1998, the radio program "Cross Country Checkup" was heard across Canada. The topic was the recently signed Nisga'a land claims treaty. Chief Joseph Gosnell of the Nisga'a, was one of the four people, plus the moderator, fielding telephone calls in the studio. Gosnell made the comment that most of the recommendations of the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RC), were in the treaty document. The significance of this particular comment by Gosnell for me, is that it illustrates that this report, or at least the 114 pages of recommendations in the report, have entered the consciousness of aboriginal spokespersons and become part of the discussion concerning aboriginal issues in Canada.

    As a side comment about the above radio program, all the participants accepted land "ownership". Gosnell himself made the comment that "We own the land, lock, stock and barrel." Also, during the two-hour program, no ecological interests were spoken of by any of the participants.

    Another example of the significance of the work of the RC and its influence, would be the citations in the important 1997 Delgamuukw Supreme Court Decision, which speaks, for example, of the "useful and informative description of aboriginal oral history" in the RC. (See p. 63 of the Delgamuukw Decision.)

    The mandate for the Royal Commission was given in August 1991, by a federal Conservative government. Four aboriginal and three non-aboriginal commissioners were appointed. The final report was made up of five volumes, with one in two parts. The report is the most comprehensive review ever done in Canada devoted to the aboriginal peoples. It is a massive document and amounts to almost 4,000 pages. The commission received close to 1,000 written submissions, held many public meetings and commissioned more than 350 research  investigations. Newspaper reports said that this Royal Commission cost $58 million, the most expensive in Canadian history.

Background Information
The following are the titles of the different volumes of the Report of the RC and a brief introduction to their contents. Each volume of the Report contains a summary of the recommendations from the volume. The final volume (#5) contains all the recommendations, which need 114 pages to outline.

- Volume 1, "Looking Forward, Looking Back." This covers the mandate of the RC, a demographic profile, a historical view of aboriginal peoples, the Indian Act, residential schools, relocation of aboriginal communities, veterans, and the foundations of a renewed relationship. There are several appendices, which include the terms of reference of the RC, bibliographical notes on the commissioners and the Royal
Proclamation of 1763.
- Volume 2, "Restructuring The Relationship." Part One covers treaties, perspectives on aboriginal governments, lands and resources, and economic development. Part Two covers lands and resources, and economic development.
- Volume 3, "Gathering Strength," covers new directions in social policy, the family, health and healing, housing, education, and arts and heritage.
- Volume 4, "Perspectives And Realities," covers women's perspectives, elders' perspectives, perspectives of youth, Métis perspectives, the North, and urban perspectives.
- Volume 5, "Renewal: A Twenty-Year Commitment," covers the foundations of a renewed relationship, economic disparities, government expenditures and the cost of the status quo, and public education. There are also a number of appendices, including the summary of recommendations, research studies prepared for the commission, ethical guidelines for research, research advisory committee members, commission publications and commission staff and advisers.

    Finally, the RC makes the following immodest claim about its work:

Our proposals will furnish the substance of political relations between Aboriginal people and Canadian society for the next two decades. (Vol. 5, p. 21)

    There is a wealth of information and much to learn from the RC Report. As the RC noted:

According to almost every indicator we have examined, Aboriginal people are suffering rates of illness and social dysfunction that exceed Canadian norms. (Vol. 3, p. 223)
    Documenting this, and exploring how to change this state of affairs, is a major preoccupation of the RC.

    One of a number of powerful stories in the RC is exposing the past, state-church sanctioned, resocializing policies of the underfunded residential schools for aboriginal children, with their racist and cruel assumptions. The intention of the residential schools was "To kill the Indian in the child." (Vol. 1, p. 365) One stunning "fact" from the report, was that in Western Canada, during a 15-year period investigated by a government medical superintendent, 24 per cent of the children were killed by tuberculosis. (Vol. 3, p. 326, footnote 82) It has been estimated that fewer than one in six aboriginal children attended the residential schools. (Vol. 1, p. 389, footnote 15)

    I believe that most non-aboriginal Canadians would agree with the following RC position:

 Aboriginal people are entitled to equal social, educational and health outcomes, to a fair share of the country's assets, and to a much greater share of opportunity than they have had so far. (Vol. 5, p. 55)

Intellectual Disarray
    I believe there is a substantive intellectual disarray among non-aboriginals concerning aboriginal issues. One factor is that generally the Canadian public is not allowed access to the negotiating sessions between governments and aboriginal organizations regarding land claims. There is also a genuine sense of historical guilt, because of the racist and unjust past treatment of aboriginals. This sense of historical guilt comes increasingly into popular consciousness. But, perhaps paradoxically, this consciousness seems one contributing factor in inhibiting critical discourse. Many non-aboriginals in the environmental movement are afraid of giving their views on aboriginal issues because of the fear of being labelled racist or of being personally criticized. Also, some indigenous advocates seem to see themselves as "defenders of the faith" and strongly oppose critical or dissenting views.

    The RC itself acknowledged aboriginal as well as non-aboriginal prejudice:

 Despite an overlay of concern, it does not take much provocation to uncover prejudiced attitudes and deep-seated hostility among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike. (Vol. 5, p. 92)

    Part of changing the intellectual disarray means coming to terms with the historical work of the RC. It also means deciding whether or not the policy proposals contained in the report detailing the aboriginal vision for the future of Canada, should be supported or opposed. This Bulletin will hopefully contribute to a lessening of this intellectual disarray.

Left Biocentrism
    This Green Web Bulletin presents an evaluation and critique of this important Royal Commission document from a left biocentric philosophical perspective. (While a summary of left biocentrism was given in the seminar talk, it will not be repeated here. The Left Biocentric Primer and the Deep Ecology Platform are being included as an Appendix to Part B of this Bulletin, as a summary of the basic philosophical position.) It is important to note that the left biocentric philosophical perspective is quite different from that shown in the existing paradigms of thought used by the RC or seen in Supreme Court Decisions like Delgamuukw. The deep ecology ecocentric philosophy itself, with its two key ideas of moving away in thinking from a human- centered universe to ecocentrism, and of asking deeper questions, first appeared on the ecological stage in the early 70s. Today deep ecology has firm roots in the radical ecological movement and in publications like the Earth First! Journal and Wild Earth.

    The issues which this Bulletin is attempting to address are difficult and complex. This is an area which needs extensive and ongoing, open-minded discussions. It is often not clear what is unfolding in the new social and ecological relationships in Canada, which are the subject of this Bulletin.

    The remainder of this presentation outlines the critique of the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, under various topic headings.


1. Recreating the Land Base at First Contact:
    The RC essentially wants for Canada's aboriginals both the old world as it was at the time of first contact with the colonial powers, and today's world of an expansionary industrial capitalism. We are to go back to control over "traditional territories" for the aboriginal nations within today's Canada:

We believe the primary purpose of claims resolution should be to provide Aboriginal nations with greater access to and control over their traditional territories. (Vol. 2, Part 2, p. 621)

    If we accept, as I do, Africa as the place where humans evolved as a distinct species, and the mainstream Bering Strait theory (a land bridge was exposed during a period of glaciation, on which aboriginal peoples entered the Americas), then, if one goes back far enough, ultimately we are all immigrants.

    I understand Canada as being occupied throughout its land mass by various aboriginal peoples at the time of the first colonial contact by the European powers. (John Cabot laid "claim" to Newfoundland for England in 1497, and prior to Cabot there were Scandinavian contacts.) Thus there was no unoccupied territory. So any set-asides today, such as parks or wildlife areas in southern Canada, or other areas occupied by non-aboriginals, could obviously become open to challenge from the traditional territory assumption. It would be federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada who would provide sufficient lands "to foster Aboriginal economic self-reliance and cultural and political autonomy." (Vol. 5, p. 175)

2. Aboriginal Nations and Substantial Differences:
    The RC proposes regrouping the about 1,000 aboriginal communities in Canada into "nations." They seem to feel there are between 50-80 aboriginal nations in Canada. Such nations would have a population of "several thousand." (Vol. 2, Part 1, pp. 179 and 181) If the proposals of the RC are put into place, aboriginal Canadians would have two citizenships, that of the aboriginal nation and of Canada.

    The RC promotes the view that "There are substantial cultural differences" between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. (See for example, Vol. 1, p. 32 and p. 236) The RC seems to have no model of an inclusive Canada, where aboriginal peoples could maintain their cultures and aboriginal identities within Canadian society. The RC counterposes its own separation model for aboriginal nations, as the alternative to "assimilation" into Canadian society. Past historical examples of extremely negative and racist assimilative policies, e.g. the residential school policies or past "enfranchisement" policies, are used to reinforce the separation model and prevent the discussion of realistic inclusive alternatives.

    Another way cultural differences are accentuated by the RC is by the use of language. The occasional use for example of the term "settler society" in the Report, while having validity historically, if used to describe contemporary Canada, conveys that the "settlers", that is the non-aboriginals, do not really belong. The same connotations are conveyed by the terms "native" and "non-native". Native conveys a Canadian physical location and, again, non-native implies a person is without roots and does not belong.

    The RC asserts that there is a "continuing colonialism" in Canada (Vol. 1, p. 603) and that there is "little political and moral legitimacy" of Canadian governments for aboriginals. (Vol. 2, Part 1, p. 243) Yet the RC has a very mainstream view on the existing political institutions - it of course owes its existence as a RC to these institutions - and has no critique, except insofar as such institutions impact on aboriginals. Left biocentrists do not accept that Canada today is a colonial state - except perhaps as a colonized power, in its economic, cultural and political subservience to the United States - and have a substantial critique of mainstream Canadian political institutions.

    We are told in an astonishing comment, that aboriginals need greater physical space than non-aboriginal Canadians!

Aboriginal peoples require greater physical space than non-Aboriginal people to maintain their cultures and to protect their quiet and symbolic places - places of autonomy where they can reassert authority over their economic, social and political
futures. (Vol.2, Part 2, p. 557)

    The Report promotes differences rather than similarities between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. Ignored or  downplayed are the value-impacts of industrial capitalist consumer culture upon all Canadians, intermarriage between aboriginal and non-aboriginals, and the implications of the social trend that a majority of aboriginals are now living in an urban environment and are separated from a reserve land base, and that this trend continues. The aboriginal population is a young population, with the majority under 25 years of age. (Vol. 4, p. 562) Capitalist 'culture' will obviously impact more on the young.

    Left biocentrists celebrate the different ethnicities and cultures that make up the 30-million Canadian society, as we celebrate and encourage biodiversity in non-human animal and plant life. While we acknowledge some cultural differences, we see more cultural similarities in the overall human population in Canada. Also, for a functioning society, some commonality of shared values is necessary.

3. Historical Rights and Their Application in Contemporary Society:
    The RC asserts that aboriginal Canadians have "rights" that flow from past historical status and that these come to  determinate social and ecological factors today. It
 calls on non-Aboriginal Canadians to recognize that Aboriginal people are the original
 inhabitants and caretakers of this land and have distinctive rights and responsibilities
 that flow from that status. (Vol. 1, p. 678)

    Left biocentrists do not accept this assertion, because if it is accepted, distinctive and different ecological and social/economic rights follow today for aboriginal as opposed to non-aboriginal Canadians. It is moreover extremely difficult to understand or accept what amounts to the "inheritance" of aboriginal rights from the past. Rights ultimately are a social construct which particular human societies have defined. As we all know, such social rights can be accorded by a particular society as they can also be taken away, depending on the priorities of the society. In Canada, notwithstanding Supreme Court rulings or treaty or land claims settlements, two sets of rights - depending on whether or not one is an aboriginal or non-aboriginal Canadian - will not result in a socially just society and will ultimately not be acceptable to the non-aboriginal society. This could potentially be very socially divisive.

    The assertion of "caretakership" in the above quotation, elevates humans to a higher status than other animals, plants and the Earth itself. It is an anthropocentric assumption that aboriginal humans have been placed on the Earth by the Creator (each aboriginal nation has a different Creation story or mythology), to look after it.

    However, within a context of the destructiveness of industrial capitalism towards the natural world, stewardship or caretakership must be evaluated progressively by left biocentrists. Thus Nature is utilized by humans, yet humans have the responsibility to look after the natural world for the generations yet unborn. Such a position, while ultimately human-centered, has a lot of affinity with deep ecology and calls into question the blanket negative reductionism accorded "anthropocentrism" as an analytical category within deep ecology. Within an ultimate anthropocentric philosophical perspective, the traditional "stewardship" or caretaker perspective is often referred to in the RC. Sometimes other, similar traditional anthropocentric aboriginal terms are used, such as planning for "the seventh generation."

4. Aboriginal Social Base Assumptions:
    I believe that most Canadians would assume that the term "First Nations" encompasses all aboriginal peoples. In Canada, the expression "aboriginal peoples" includes Indian, Inuit and Métis. This is in fact how Canada's Constitution Act of 1982 defines the term "aboriginal peoples". (Not that "legal" definitions can define social, political and cultural realities like aboriginal peoples, who trace in some way their ancestry to those living in North America at the time of first contact. In actual political reality of course, using past instruments like the Indian Act or in a more contemporary setting the 1982 Constitution Act, the Canadian state has imposed its legal definitions to define aboriginals and also to allocate social/economic and ecological benefits.)

    Prior to reading the RC, I had assumed that the term "First Nations" included all aboriginal peoples. This turned out to be a false assumption. Also, I had previously embraced this term as it seemed to honour aboriginal peoples as the first nations, in opposition to the idea of the two founding nations theory - English and French, for the historical origins of Canada. But the term "First Nations" is actually an exclusionist term, in that it excludes the Métis and the Inuit. The RC definition is: "First Nation means an Aboriginal nation composed of Indian people." (Vol. 2, Part 1, p. 107)

    I believe the RC seriously misrepresents the actual size of the aboriginal social base in Canada, by downplaying the size of the Métis component. The Report focuses in an unbalanced manner on registered Indians (First Nations) living on reserves with some kind of land base. The RC uses a 2.5% figure at a number of places in the Report, to represent the aboriginal peoples component of Canada's population. (See for example, Vol. 2, Part 2, p. 449) Yet Métis historian Olive Dickason, in her excellent and progressive 1992 book, Canada's First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times, estimates that the percentage of the population in Canada with "some Amerindian admixture", could perhaps be as high as 16 percent. (p. 365)

    The RC itself acknowledges that some Métis do not want self-government:

 We are aware that some Métis people, although proud of their Métis heritage and imbued with Métis culture, are satisfied with existing governmental arrangements and do not want the picture complicated by the addition of Métis governmental structures. (Vol. 4, p. 252)

    The size of the aboriginal social base is obviously of importance. We can see the implications, if there was going to be a redistribution of land based on "traditional" territories; or if hunting, trapping and fishing "rights" on crown or public lands and irrespective of season, were extended to Métis. Yet this is the actual direction of contemporary court rulings on such issues. Generally the RC accepts the national status of the Métis peoples, although this in itself is a complex and contentious issue within the Métis community. Also, the RC promotes the idea that any existing aboriginal social, economic and exploitive rights should apply to all peoples who consider themselves aboriginal, whether Métis, Inuit, and Indian (status and non-status, on-reserve and off-reserve).

5. Positive Evaluation of the Fur Trade and What This Means:
    The RC sees the fur trade in a positive manner, both historically and in a contemporary sense. Today many rural-based Métis are still trappers. The contradiction of sustaining an industrial fossil-fuel based consumer lifestyle in the mid or far North at the expense of wildlife, is not explored by the RC. As seen by the Commission, for  aboriginals the fur trade "developed as a mutually beneficial enterprise." (Vol. 1, p. 122) I believe this evaluation to be fundamentally wrong, regarding the fur trade's impact on both aboriginals - which was negative and disintegrating socially, and on wildlife.

    The position of the RC is revealing with regards to their real attitude towards the natural world, as opposed to the fairly pervasive traditionalist language present in the Report. (For a discussion of Indian-animal relations past and present, and an evaluation of the fur trade, see Green Web Bulletin #46, "Some Limitations of a Left Critique and Deep Dilemmas in Environmental-First Nations Relationships"; or the article drawn from the bulletin, "Aboriginal Tradition or Commercial Trapping? Fur Industry Masquerades as Politically Progressive," in the Earth First! Journal, Aug. 1, 1995, Vol. XV, No. VII.)

    George Erasmus, aboriginal co-chair of the RC, gives as part of his biography, that he visited England in 1985 on behalf of Indigenous Survival International, and "succeeded in persuading Greenpeace to drop an anti-fur campaign." (Vol. 1, p. 704) In northern Canada the RC advocates the "selective commercialization of the wildlife harvest." (Vol. 4, p. 468)  The Commission also supports the use of "animal parts" as part of ceremonies for "acquiring traditional wisdom." (Vol. 1, p. 664)

    The RC is extremely negative towards critics of the fur trade, the anti-fur lobby and the animal rights movement, without ever presenting the significance of the criticism. The Commission shows no understanding of the evolution of consciousness in non-aboriginal society, which opposes treating wild animals as "resources" and commodities to be sold in the marketplace, and what this means for a deeper land ethic. What is quite amazing is that the RC never once mentions deep ecology and the importance of the deep ecology movement as a bridge builder for non-aboriginals in uniting with spiritually-based aboriginal traditionalists.

    The RC does not discuss the impact of Christianity in undermining pre-contact, animistic land ethics among aboriginals and how the missionaries, through their teachings, undermined animism and the role of the shamen in aboriginal societies. Here on the East Coast of Canada in 1610, the influential Mi'kmaq leader Membertou was baptised. In 1628 St Anne was adopted as the patron saint for the Mi'kmaq. With Christianity, people now had "souls" and came into a special relationship to the sky god Jesus. This made them members of a "higher" order than plants, animals, rocks, waters, mountains, etc. (Calvin Martin has developed this basic analysis in his 1992 book, In the Spirit of the Earth: Rethinking History and Time.)

    Another unexplored contradiction, which the RC never delves into, is what has been called the "overkill" hypothesis. This did not occur just in the Americas but also in New Zealand, with the Maoris who before the arrival of Europeans eliminated many species of giant kiwis and other species of wildlife and denuded large areas of forest; or the Polynesians on Easter Island who ecologically destroyed the Island, again before the arrival of Europeans. In the Americas, people like Michael Soulé, Jared Diamond and Paul Martin have argued for the overkill hypothesis. Soulé, who is a leading conservation biologist, has written:

The ancestors of the American Indians probably exterminated most of the native megafauna (75 percent of the genera of large mammals, including mastodons, ground sloths, camelids, equids, and indirectly their large predators) of the New World about ten thousand years ago. (See "The Social Siege Of Nature" in Reinventing Nature? Responses to Postmodern Deconstruction.)

    It is clear that a publicly expressed, romanticized view of the past and present relationship to wildlife and the land, helps overcome opposition to contemporary treaty and land claims settlements. From a personal perspective of living in Nova Scotia for twenty years, aboriginals have had a fairly minor role in deeper environmental struggles, for example in opposing the overall orientation of industrial forestry, and forestry biocide use as it impacts on plants and animals, as well as on humans. Aboriginal interventions in the public debates on land use are overwhelmingly to have more "rights" to exploit fish and other wildlife and trees.

    For left biocentrists who are seeking social justice for aboriginals but within an ecocentric philosophy, and who are trying to build principled alliances, coming to terms with the overkill hypothesis; coming to terms with the undermining of animistic spirituality by Christianity; and coming to terms with the negative impact of the fur trade upon aboriginal society and the willing participation of aboriginals in it, are difficult issues which must be honestly and openly addressed.

6. Acceptance for Aboriginals of Industrial Capitalist Economy:
    The "economic development" view for aboriginals given by the RC is as follows:

 The essence of this strategy is achieving a land and resource base under Aboriginal control (whether exclusive or co-managed) sufficient to meet the needs of Aboriginal people and to support Aboriginal industries in the natural resources sector. Once this
 is achieved, Aboriginal people will be in a position to undertake the development of natural resources through Aboriginal companies and to negotiate from a position of strength with other interests, whether non-Aboriginal companies interested in joint ventures or other governments, concerning issues such as revenue sharing.

    ...Aboriginal governments would have sole jurisdiction over an expanded land and resource base established on current reserves, newly acquired Crown lands and, where necessary, purchased private lands. In addition, they would share jurisdiction with other governments over a significant proportion of what are now public, or Crown, lands within their traditional territories.

 Some of these lands and resources will have to be purchased from their present, non-Aboriginal, owners but we expect that the dominant focus of negotiations will be Crown lands, and these are vast...

 Moreover, despite many decades of aggressive development by non-Aboriginal entities, Crown Lands remain a major source of wealth. Minerals, timber, oil and gas, fisheries, hydroelectricity and recreational resources are the heart of the economy of several Canadian regions. (Vol. 2, Part 2, p. 857)

    As is clear from the above extended quotation, Nature becomes a "resource" to be exploited within the existing industrial capitalist economy. The RC says that if given a choice, most aboriginal people will choose to participate in a "market economy." (Vol. 2, Part 2, p. 1023) There is no alternative economic model put forward in the Report or fundamental critique of industrial capitalism given, as expressed for example in the Left Biocentric Primer. For the Commission, there is no contradiction between their choice of staying with an expanding industrial economy, and aboriginals keeping "their values and collective identity." (Vol. 2, Part 2, p. 1023). So we have absurdities in the Report such as how in the North, mining may not damage but "perhaps even enhances the traditional mixed-economy."  (Vol. 4, p. 484)

    Aboriginals, according to the RC, accept liberal capitalism as an economic system but differ from non-aboriginals in accepting a collective rather than individual distribution of capitalist economic gains. (See Vol. 2, Part 2, p. 885) The bottom line is that "Canada must remain a stable and secure place for private investment." (Vol. 2, Part 2, p. 854)

    The RC often uses the concept of 'sustainable development' and declares its support for it. We are even told terms such as sustainable development are "ancient concepts inherent in Aboriginal societies." (Vol. 4, p. 139) There seems to be no understanding of the critique of sustainable development as a concept in opposition to the "limits-to-growth" perspective. Sustainable development justifies increased economic growth, consumerism, and a continuing human-centered exploitation of the natural world, while propagating the mythology that the environment can still be protected. (See Green Web Bulletins #16 and #41, for critical assessments of sustainable development in a Canadian context and the relationship to the 1987 UN document Our Common Future.) Even "sustainable" exploitation is disrespectful to nature, because it means taking as much as possible, just short of collapse. We see this in fisheries and forestry exploitation.

    The Report takes a non-class view of Canadian society. From this perspective, all present non-aboriginal inhabitants of Canada are seen to have equally profited from the  dispossession of the land base of aboriginal societies here at the time of first contact and subsequently. Today, through land claims agreements and settlements, all taxpayers must pay in some way to correct past historical injustice. Yet left biocentrists would say some individuals, and corporations such as the Hudson Bay Company, the pulp and paper companies, large fish companies, mining and fossil fuel companies, etc. profited much more and, if there is to be economic restitution, they should be the ones to pay. Also, left biocentrists would say that while the future overall economic model for Canada is open for discussion, it must not be the existing Earth-destroying economic model. Wealth must be redistributed throughout society for all Canadians, including aboriginals, and there must no longer be a ruling class and ongoing corporate control.

    The RC shows no understanding of the larger ecological questions that must ultimately impact on the land- based model for aboriginals that is being put forward. Some of these are, for example, the overall ecological deterioration in Canada because of non-aboriginal industrial exploitation, the running down of the fossil fuel economy on which existing social arrangements rest, climate change, world population growth and its particular striking reflection within aboriginal communities, etc.

To Part B of this bulletin:
Unfashionable Ideas: A Left Biocentric Critique of the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (B)  (Green Web Bulletin # 67B)

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