Top Ten Warning Signs of Liberal Imperialism (settler-colonialist edition)

In the Idle No More era, allies are increasingly abundant. This is really a great thing. And its also heartening to see so many Canadians educating themselves about Indigenous peoples and the broken relationship with Canada. Unfortunately, many eventually fall into the Liberal Imperialist way of thinking (if they aren’t already firmly rooted there). These Liberals have a desire to help but that desire rarely transcends the superficial. When it does it often revolves around ‘solutions’ that only reinforce the problems of settler colonialism. These top ten warning signs potentially counter the lure of Liberal Imperialism…before its too late:

1. Despite only recently learning about the extent of Indian problem from Strombo and the CBC, you and your friends want to help and are convinced you can create new and lasting solutions over iced coffee at Starbucks.

2. You feel that governments generally know best. While there have been some mistakes along the (mostly noble) colonial adventure, if the federal government says its new program will work, why not give it a whirl?

3. The human rights abuses you see in other countries are absolutely abhorrent and require immediate remedy. Except if those abuses are against Aboriginals, then long-term processes of land and political reform need time to take effect.

4. You feel that having separate laws for different groups of people in our society will only result in discrimination. So we must end legislation like the Indian Act in Canada. And about those treaties and constitutional obligations…

5. You believe that we should all do our part to help. Maybe even visit an Aboriginal community and volunteer or something…but not you specifically…or your children. Indian reservations are dangerous places that should probably be shut down.

6. While money can provide critical infrastructure (clean water, sanitation, electricity, health care services, etc.), you feel that throwing more money at the problem is not a solution. What we provide/give/administer/allow should be more than enough.

7. It is frustrating for you to see the Aborigines disagree so much. Organizations like the Assembly of First Nations have so much promise. You wonder if the current leadership is too radical?

8. You feel that we should definitely give Aboriginals self-determination. After all, you can’t institute private property rules, free-market economies, and transparent band elections without it.

9. Real change will come when Native peoples vote in elections. There are many credible and legitimate political parties that might allow an Aboriginal voice. You think each party could have one or maybe even two.

10. You recognize that Native people care about the land and water. They would make really good conservation officers and land surveyors.

Inspired by Foreign Policy’s “Top Ten Warning Signs of Liberal Imperialism” by Walt