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A Note from our CEO

Intentioned disease transmission, forced relocations, residential schools, the Indian Act, and the complete disregard for Indigenous rights were tools used to destroy cultures and colonize. While I would like to write that colonization and Indigenous forced assimilation is over in Canada, it is not. It seems assimilation will continue until colonists win or Indigenous Peoples rebuild. At the moment, colonial infrastructures for education, health care, justice, food, resource management, commerce and economic development have replaced their Indigenous infrastructure counterparts, preventing modern Indigenous community infrastructures from developing on Indigenous law. This is a type of “silent genocide,” the slow death of traditional ways where the only alternative to provide and care for one’s family is through colonial institutions. Today, many Indigenous 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. I am not suggesting that Indigenous communities should not develop their resources, if they choose, or receive revenue from the use of their land and resources. There simply 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 just 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 fourteen years learning and in discussion, teaching, developing, and pursuing funding with Indigenous communities and their leadership. The goal is now clear: Rebuild destroyed infrastructures in today’s global society on a foundation of Immemorial rights and 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 Indigenous 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 to achieve the goal of self-determination.

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 the charity I founded, Christian Aboriginal Infrastructure Developments (CAID), to help rebuild traditional infrastructure destroyed by Canada’s policy of forced assimilation. The first step was to provide the capacity First Nations needed to organize and initiate their rebuilding process. So, I became capacity for Indigenous Peoples.

Canada may have recognized Aboriginal and Treaty rights in section 35 on the Constitution Act, but they have never recognized Indigenous sovereignty and Immemorial rights. The Government of Canada is mortified over Indigenous Peoples moving forward on Immemorial rights towards true self-determination. Canada should not be afraid of rebuilt traditional infrastructures that affirm Immemorial rights. We have room in Canada for equal rights.

Dr. J. Richard G. Herbert

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Last Updated July 28, 2019