Last Updated October 12, 2017
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 seems assimilation will continue until colonists win or First Nations rebuild. At the moment, colonial infrastructures for education, health care, 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 and care for your family is through colonial institutions. 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. There has to be a way to move forward in a sustainable, mutually respectful way.
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 thirteen 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 missing First Nation infrastructure could be re-discovered, defined, developed and built. These rebuilt infrastructures would respect 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 help 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. So, I am now capacity for Indigenous communities.
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.
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