Dr. Richard G. Herbert Personal Note
Intentioned disease transmission, forced relocations, residential schools, the Indian
Act, and the complete disregard for Aboriginal rights were tools used to destroy
cultures and colonize. While I would like to write that Aboriginal forced assimilation
is over in Canada, it is not. It will continue until colonists win or First Nations
rebuild. At the moment, colonial infrastructures for education, health, justice,
food, resource management, commerce and economic development have replaced their
traditional infrastructure counterparts, preventing modern First Nation community
infrastructures from developing on traditional law. This is a type of “silent genocide,”
the slow death of traditional ways where the only alternative to provide for your
family is through colonial development. Today, many First Nation communities cry
out for mines and logging so they too can have jobs, have an economic infrastructure;
but at what cost? These are jobs in a colonized society. To have them, First Nations
simply have to stop being who they were created to be.
By 1998, I had gained awareness of this silent “cultural” genocide and began to refocus
my skills towards alternatives to cultural genocide. I am a professional with a broad
education. However, there are no courses in rebuilding culturally-based infrastructures
that were destroyed in Canada through the genocide of its indigenous peoples; this
knowledge comes from within and is honed by experience. I have spent the last ten
years learning and in discussion, teaching, developing, and pursuing funding with
First Nation communities and their leadership. The goal is now clear: Rebuild destroyed
infrastructures in today’s global society on a foundation of traditional law to provide
benefits to the community without loss of culture. For those who already understand
this goal, it is not about turning back the clock, it is about moving it forward.
As I advanced in my understanding, I became involved in developing a cultural process
through which any missing First Nation infrastructure could be re-discovered, defined,
developed and built. These rebuilt infrastructures would respect all traditional
Aboriginal law and customs while harmonizing with outside municipal, provincial,
federal and international law and customs. Restored and reconciled First Nation traditional
infrastructures would allow First Nations to take their place in the global community.
I found the cultural process I was looking for. It was carried by traditional Elders
and lay dormant waiting to be reactivated. I now work through a charity I founded,
Christian Aboriginal Infrastructure Developments (CAID), to rebuild traditional infrastructure
destroyed by Canada’s policy of forced assimilation. The first step is to provide
the capacity First Nations need to organize and initiate their rebuilding process.
Canada may have recognized Aboriginal rights but it is mortified over the affirmation
of those rights. Canada should not be afraid of rebuilt traditional infrastructures
that affirm recognized First Nation rights. We have room in Canada for equal rights.
© Christian Aboriginal Infrastructure Developments