Colonialism is the corruption

Unfortunately, events have conspired to rob me of my blogging juice for today, but all is not lost. There is a great article by historian Tony Kaye that looks to debunk one of the central claims of the opposition to the #IdleNoMore movement, and I think instead of reading what I would say about it, you should read this:

Canada belongs to a significant group of countries whose modern nationality is a result of British expansion overseas. The colonial history of Canada and the West African country of Ghana, for example, have their beginnings with the British Crown. British agents used treaty making in each region as legal justifications to themselves and their competitors that specific native leaders would “Cede and Surrender” their traditional rights over land in exchange for the Protection of the English Monarch. In both colonies, the altruism of “protection” in the treaties hid the British plan to gain control over the region without the expense of projecting its full military force.


Years after colonial rule in Ghana ended in 1957, generations of scholars, politicians and activists from throughout the world examined the accusations of wrongdoing among chiefs under British rule. Not a single voice concluded that chiefs were the only cause of the scandals. Nor did they advocate that increased accountability would have protected people from injustice. Instead, scholars contextualized abuses of power among chiefs within the more important discussion about the effect of colonial rule in Ghana.

The take-home message here is that what Canada is doing to its chiefs – focussing on ‘wrongdoing’ by chiefs (which is, more often than not, ludicrously hypocritical), is precisely the behaviour that has been modeled by other colonial states. Examination after the fact reveals that it is colonialism, not ‘corruption’, that best explains the issues facing colonized people.

Read the rest of the article. It’s really good.

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  1. says

    Unfortunately the vested interests seem to be swaying public opinion. I shocked a co-worker the other day when I told her I support the Idle No More movement.

  2. says

    The latest polling suggests that fewer than half of Canadians support the movement. Keep in mind, we’re less than two months out from widespread public awareness of the issue at all. It will take time to dig people out of their preconceptions about the status of First Nations in Canada.

  3. smrnda says

    I’ve often thought the idea of imperial powers recruiting native liaisons is that the native liaison is in a no-win situation; that’s intentional, it’s a way for the imperial power to either blame the native liaison if the natives get restless and make governing them difficult, and after the imperial power screws over the natives its the fault of the native liaisons for not doing what’s right for their people.

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