Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2013 – October 5th, 2013
Independent Project – “The Trappings of Power”
My project is the result of my growing concern for Native Rights and how they are viewed and treated in Canada. Treaties have always been particularly lopsided agreements that serve to erode the Native connection with the land, increase Government control over Native Rights and activities, and most importantly, to gain control and title to large parcels of land.
Very few Canadians realize how unfair the Treaties are, or that Governments regularly violate Treaties with little recourse available to the Natives involved. Aboriginal claim to the land has been challenged by war, disease, enforced segregation, starvation, genocide by status and writ of law. Curiously, all modern Treaties and Agreements in Principle include a stipulation that absolves the Government of all previous misdeeds and breaches of contract that may have been committed in dealing with that Aboriginal community! They are effectively holding themselves above being responsible for any and all actions!
Modern Treaty negotiations still result in the same lopsided agreements that have always prevailed. In the ongoing Algonquins of Ontario landclaim, the proposed settlement payout is around $300 million dollars for a claim covering about 9 million acres of land in Eastern Ontario. To many non-Natives, the settlement being offered sounds like a lot of money… until you do the math – it works out to $33 per acre being paid for land that was taken 300 years ago, and includes the entire city of Ottawa. No one would sell land at this price if that is how it was presented!
As a direct result of having created and exhibited The Trappings of Power, I was asked to contribute an article to the University of Toronto’s Indigenous Law Journal. The article is my opinion on treaties and treaty negotiations. There are many articles within the U of T Indigenous Law Journals that are well worth the time and effort to read through. We all need to stretch ourselves if we hope to ever effectively gain some control of our future. I highly encourage you to read everything you can to get a better understanding of how these laws affect us.
Click here to go the the University of Toronto Indigenous Law Journal to read my full article.