A July 2008 archaeological dig at an endangered site uncovered the richest, most prolific cache to date of c. 5000 artifacts from several cultures proving that Banff’s rich concentration of natural resources like wild game, edible plants and the famous hot springs, attracted (not repelled as was argued) nomadic peoples for at least 7,000 years.

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In July 2008 Parks Canada archaeologists Bill Perry and Brad Himour during a month-long archaeological dig at an endangered, rare site located west of the town of Banff, excavated 1% of the potential 30,000 square metre site (eleven pits) and uncovered Banff National Park’s richest, most prolific cache to date of thousands of artifacts some dating back 7,000 years, belonging to the Besant, a Plains nomadic civilization previously thought to have avoided the mountains and living mainly on the prairie, had in fact regularly passed through this mountain paradise. Perry says. “On the eroding slope face we’re finding flakes, fire-broken rocks and projectile points. A lot of important information will be lost if we don’t do some salvage excavation.” This site is part of a kilometre-long chain of potential archaeological sites. Although Parks Canada has a dedicated fund for threatened archaeological sites, funding operates on a case-by-case basis, giving priority to culturally sensitive areas at risk from erosion, says Parks manager of cultural resource services Gwyn Langemann. This rich source of knowledge was first threatened in the 1880s when the railway undercut the slope where the excavation sits. “Throughout Western Canada, modern archaeology is only just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to piecing together early human migration paths. Debate still rages on how long ago glacial ice receded from the Bow Valley, opening up the corridor for nomadic travellers. What is known is that human inhabitation in the Banff area extends back at least 11,000 years, with the oldest site in the area at Lake Minnewanka. That site, exposed only a couple months each year and otherwise submerged beneath the lake’s fluctuating waterline, is also at risk from water damage. Much is still being learned about early settlement in the Rocky Mountains, which were originally viewed as a barrier to migration – a harsh and inhospitable place that divided Western Canada’s early civilizations. Bill Perry claims that since the 1980s archaeologists have reversed their knowledge claims on human settlement history and early human migration paths in which they had argued that the Rockies were a barrier to plains people migrating further west – a harsh and inhospitable place. Using modern archaeological methodologies they have found undeniable evidence showing that Banff valley region rich concentration natural resources like wild game, edible plants and the area’s famous hot springs, attracted nomadic peoples. Its prime campsites and travel corridors remain similar to what they are now. “With the valley’s current vegetation little more than a century old, it was once home to broad meadows and open, grassy Plains that played host to grazing bison.” “Debate still rages on how long ago glacial ice receded from the Bow Valley, opening up the corridor for nomadic travelers.”

Perry describes the site as a “prehistoric beach party”, evidenced by ancient fire pits and cooking sites. Roughly dated by the technology used, nearly 5,000 artifacts have been found, indicating several cultures passed through the area between 7,000 and 500 years ago. Although there is no known link to modern day aboriginal cultures in the area, both Stoney and Blackfoot oral histories connect them with the Bow Valley, while the Kootenay and Shuswap crossed the pass to hunt bison here. “It’s an amazing deposit of fire-broken rock on this ledge,” Himour says. “It’s going to definitely add to the conversation about the Besant occupation of the park.” Artifacts will be catalogued and inventoried over the winter, with carbon dating test results expected next spring. Perry hopes funding will continue, allowing ongoing exploration of the culturally important area. “At best all you can hope to do is get enough money to get a sampling of what’s here. Archaeology is an expensive business,” he says (Follett 2008-08-07).

Follett, Amanda. 2008-08-07. “Dig indicates Plains culture spent significant time near Banff.” Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Ross Levin, a NYC hedge fund analyst with Arbiter Partners, who calls himself a “passive speculator in securities” met Lionel Lepine, a member of the Athabaskan Chipewyan First Nation whose family and friends living on the contaminated watershed upriver from the oil sands’ effluence are suffering from unprecedented numbers of cancerous tumours.

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A number of recent stories intersect here: Harper’s apology for past treatment of Canada’s First Nations, the pollution of the Athabaskan River north of the oil sands, the impatient development of nonrenewable resources, the meteoric rise of oil commodities market directly caused by irresponsible speculators playing with volatile, unpredictable hedge funds that play havoc with the market making a fortune for some while destroying economic, social and ecological environments all around them.

In a rapid visit to the local library yesterday I grabbed Jake Bernstein’s How the Futures Markets Work. Although it is quite old for the fast-paced risk management industry, there are certain fundamentals that ring true. He briefly traced the history futures contracts leading to the volatile environment where agricultural futures were replaced by the less predictable currency markets. Of course, his book was written long before the meteoric rise of private equity funds.

My concern remains with the absent ethical component on trading floors. Ethical responsibilities are as elastic as the regulations that govern the centuries old practice of hedging. In the period of late capitalism and the emergence of risk society, the cost of destructive unintended byproducts have created havoc in ways that far exceed the commodities/service value. The road to profits and impatient money, is paved with casualties.

Berstein’s facts of market life are telling. He encourages simple methods and systems which require few decisions and little mental conflict. Too much thought is not conducive to successful trading. Too much analysis costs lost opportunities. Keep systems simple. Control your emotions. Practice caring less so that you remain more objective. Don’t ask why. Knowing why may hinder you more than it will help you. Patterns are the best indicators available (What feeds into a “pattern” however is not a science). Timing is what makes money in the futures market (Bernstein 2000:282-3).

In other words, futures’ gurus encourage young hedge fund analysts to not think too much about factors such as displacement of peoples, the degradation of living conditions and the way in which they unwittingly contribute to making vulnerable ecologies and peoples even more vulnerable. Their gurus tell them to not think about the impact of their actions. They are told to not ask why the prices of essential commodities like fuel and food that they are playing with, are pushing certain groups into unimaginable levels of social exclusion. In the end groups at-risk to health degradation are always those least able to protect themselves. How convenient that the gurus do not factor in these social issues. They are entirely absent from finance reports.

But then a lot of information is purposely not included in financial and business reports. Bernstein argues that the simpler systems that take fewer things into consideration will lead to more profits. Yet when he lists off all the potential factors in operation in even a simple fundamental analysis, it is not at all simple. It begins with the highly complex. The algorithms involved may appear to be simplified through the use of databases that seem to generate accurate, objective hard facts. In reality, the accuracy of any query depends on what was fed into it.

Futures trading, also known as commodities trading, the final frontier of capitalism, became a popular speculative and investment vehicle in the US in the 1960s (Bernstein 2000:1). These financial instruments offer unlimited profit potential with relatively little capital. Speculators are drawn to the possibility of quick money or what I like to call impatient money. The great wealth accumulated from speculative financial instruments has spawned careers in brokerage, market analysis, computerized trading, computer software and hardware, accounting, law, advertising which themselves subdivide into more recent opportunities such as those related to risk-management.

While gurus such as Bernstein argue that gambling is for anyone but speculation is for professionals, the chaos and unpredictability of the current global economy have been linked to a growing culture of gambling in futures trading rather than level-headed professionalism. Gamblers create risk simply by placing a bet; professional speculators “transfer risk from the hedgers to the speculators” and it therefore called risk management instead of gambling.

“It rained last night so the price of soy beans will be down today.” Although the basis of fundamental analysis in economics is supply and demand, the actual fundamental analysis of specific markets that might generate accurate price predictions are complicated as numbers of factors overlap and massive quantities of data need to be considered. The simple equation involves how much of a commodity or service are buyers willing to pay at a given time and place. There used to be a correlation between price and consumption. Factors that impact on price of commodities include the state of the economy (local, regional, national and international – inflationary, recessionary with rising or falling employment), availability of alternate products or services, storage possibilities, weather, seasonality, price cycles, price trends, government subsidies, political influences, protectionist attitudes, international tensions, fear of war, hoarding, stockpiling, demand for raw materials (sugar, petroleum, copper, platinum, coffee, cocoa), currency fluctuations, health of the economy, level of unemployment, housing starts. Most technical systems are not effective in making traders money.

In spite of this there is still a persistent belief that there is an invisible hand that guides market correcting imbalances like a living organism or finely-tuned machine.

“Markets work perfectly as they respond to the multiplicity of forces that act upon them. It is our inability to find, parse, and correctly weight the impact of these factors that limits our results and success of our fundamentally based forecasts (Bernstein 2000:162).”

The bottom line is that wealth disparities continue to intensify and that these inordinate extremes of wealth and poverty destabilizes society. These distorted economic relationships deprive us of any sense of control over economic forces that threaten to disrupt the foundations of our existence. National governments have been either unwilling or unable to deal effectively with this situation in which we live where the deplorable superfluity of great wealth exists alongside the acute suffering of those living in miserable, demoralizing and degrading abject poverty even in countries like Canada.

Social equality is an entirely impracticable chimera. Even if equality could be achieved it could not be sustained. Wages and income should be unequal and should correspond to different efforts, skills and capacities. However, equal justice for all is not only necessary but urgently needed.

As long as those involved in the financial and energy industries remain in denial of their role by hiding behind economic and ideological polemics and simply dismissing concerns from others there can be no productive change. A fresh look at the problem should involve people like Lionel Lepine who are directly involved with decisions, along with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines. There will not be a voluntary ethical turn so for now we desperately need public policies that will regulate industries.

Selected Timeline of Critical Events

1710 The first modern organized futures exchange began with the Dojima Rice Exchange in Osaka, Japan. The Japanese feudal landowners began to use certificates of receipt against future rice crops. As these futures certificates became financial instruments in the general economy the value of the certificates would rise and fall as the price of rice fluctuated. The Dojima Rice Exchange emerged as the world’s first futures market where speculators traded contracts for the future delivery of rice or “certificates of receipt.” The Japanese government outlawed the practice when futures contracts (where delivery never took place) began to have no relationship to the underlying cash value of the commodity leading to wild and unpredictable fluctuations (Bernstein 2000:30).

1848 The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was formed as a price risk occurred in the grain markets of Chicago.

1865 The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) organized trading of futures contracts.

1919 – 1945 The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) traded futures in eggs, butter, apples, poultry and frozen eggs (Bernstein 2000:70).

1960s Futures trading, also known as commodities trading, the final frontier of capitalism, became a popular speculative and investment vehicle in the US in the 1960s (Bernstein 2000:1).

1970s There was increasing volatility in international currency exchange rates as the Bretton Woods agreement began to break down. Business people transferred risk of volatility in international markets by hedging with speculators willing to take the risk. Futures markets began to expand into foreign currencies as fluctuated wildly competing against each other and the US dollar.

1972 The total volume of futures contracts trading was 18 million and the top ten most actively traded future contracts were agricultural futures (Bernstein 2000:71).

1974 The US Congress passed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act and established Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to protect participants in the futures market from fraud, deceit and abusive practices such as unfair trading practices (price manipulation, prearranged trading, trading ahead of a customer), credit and financial risks, and sales practice abuses (Bernstein 2000:32). Individual nation states have similar regulating bodies.

1982 Futures trading in the US was self-regulating and anyone in the business had to become a member of the National Futures Association (NFA).

1986 The total volume of futures contracts trading was 184 million and the T bonds were among the most actively traded future contracts (Bernstein 2000:71).

1990 The price of crude oil rose dramatically when Hussein invaded Kuwait.

1999 The most actively traded future contracts were interest rates, futures, stock index futures, energy futures, currency futures and agricultural futures (Bernstein 2000:72).

2000 The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) trades futures in livestock futures, currency futures, interest rate futures, stock index futures (Bernstein 2000:70).

2000 More than 90 foreign futures exchanges emerged with the ever-increasing demand for new financial instruments “to hedge against fluctuating interest rates, changing foreign exchange rates and institutional securities portfolios (Bernstein 2000:46).

2008 Calgary has a high percentage of young millionaires with lots of disposable income. There are also c.4000 homeless people in Calgary, the oil capital of Canada. c. 40% of the homeless are working poor who are unable to afford housing.

Webliography and Bibliography

Bernstein, Jake. 2000. How the Futures Markets Work. New York Institute of Finance.

The 192-member nations of the U.N. General Assembly passed the declaration wth 143 votes in favor and 11 abstentions. United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand claimed it gave excessive property and legal powers.

The UN declaration of rights for indigenous peoples states that “indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.”

That could potentially put in question most of the land ownership in countries, such as those that opposed the declaration, whose present population is largely descended from settlers who took over territory from previous inhabitants. A balancing clause inserted at a late stage in the text says nothing in it can authorize or encourage “any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity” of states. That was not good enough for the four objectors, notably Canada, where the issue has become a political football. Many of Canada’s 1 million aboriginal and Inuit people live in overcrowded, unsanitary housing and suffer high rates of unemployment, substance abuse and suicide (Worsnip 2007).

Worsnip, Patrick. 2007. “U.N. Assembly backs indigenous peoples’ rights.” Reuters. September 13.

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Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. Kashechewan, made headline news in 2005 when 100s evacuated because water was contaminated by E. coli. It is still a community-in-crisis.

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Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. There are 600 First Nations communities concerned by the issue of clean water. The suicide-plagued community-in-crisis Kashechewan First Nation is one of many that [. . .] continue to struggle with poorly designed water plants or overly modern systems that are considered too costly to staff or maintain.” (Barrett 2007)

Kashechewan made headlines in October 2005 after hundreds of its residents were evacuated to several Ontario towns and cities because of drinking water contaminated by E. coli bacteria.The evacuation prompted the federal and Ontario governments to scramble for solutions to the issue of dirty drinking water in First Nations communities (Barrett 2007).” “The October 2005 evacuation of the community of Kashechewan, in northern Ontario, brought to national attention concerns about the water in this remote community. The evacuation came close on the heels of a report from the federal Office of the Auditor General that found that residents of First Nations communities did not benefit from a level of drinking water protection comparable to that of people living off reserves (OAG 2005 ).”

Selected Timeline of water quality problems in First Nations and Inuit communities

1970s In the 1970s project managers of the the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada oversaw all aspects of on-reserve capital projects, largely without the involvement of First Nations communities.

As a result of downsizing in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada since the mid-1980s, and in keeping with the devolution policy, there has been an increasing transfer of responsibilities to First Nations and tribal councils for capital and maintenance projects having First Nations including planning and implementation of various program activities on reserves. Consequently, there has been a continual transfer of responsibilities to First Nations and tribal councils for capital and maintenance projects, under funding arrangements with the Department (DINA 1995).

1989-90 Information disclosed in government reports inaccurately portrayed the status of conditions on reserves claiming that 92 percent of houses on reserves received adequate water services in 1993-94 (86 percent in 1989-90). However, a survey report released after our audit showed that only half of the water systems in First Nations communities are not experiencing problems and about one fifth of the systems pose potential health and safety concerns (DINA 1995:2390)

1992 the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada started to develop an Environmental Issues Inventory and Remediation Plan in 1992, Over 1,600 environmental issues including soil contamination, were identified on inhabited reserves, and remediation would involve millions of dollars (DINA 1995).

1995 The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was responsible for providing services to over 800 on-reserve communities, most of which are located in rural and remote areas. Populations were rapidly outgrowing their already inadequate infrastructures.

2000  The contamination of drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario led to widespread illness that resulted in seven deaths and
ongoing illness for hundreds of residents. “A subsequent inquiry by Associate Chief Justice Dennis O’Connor of the Ontario Court of Appeal not only probed the causes, but also set out detailed recommendations on how to prevent a recurrence. This “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” reflects pressures to increase drinking water safety that all jurisdictions in Canada have felt since the Walkerton tragedy.

2001 Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada also “uses funding arrangements with First Nations to define drinking water requirements. However, the wording of the arrangements is general and does not specifically refer to water systems. In 2001, in a submission to the Walkerton Inquiry, the Chiefs of Ontario stated: “First Nations, their consultants and federal officials are left to discern the applicable standards from vague and conflicting language in funding conditions, guidelines and manuals.” This situation had not changed significantly at the time of our audit. (OAG 2005 ).

2003 INAC and Health Canada developed the First Nations Water Management Strategy. The strategy is intended to fix most of the problems identified in the 2001 assessment and substantially improve the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities by 2008. It covers the following seven elements:  developing comprehensive guidelines, policies, and standards; educating on-reserve residents about drinking water issues; clarifying roles and responsibilities; building and upgrading water systems to standards; improving operation and maintenance; providing operator training; and expanding water testing. The departments have been trying to address the last five points since 1995 (OAG 2005 ).

2004 World Health Organization published Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (3rd Edition).

2005 The Auditor General’s Office concluded that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, and First Nations do not operate under a regulatory regime for drinking water as most provinces do. When it comes to the safety of drinking water, residents of First Nations communities do not benefit from a level of protection comparable with that of people living off reserves.2. There is no statute or regulation requiring the monitoring of the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities. Health Canada relies on its staff and on First Nations to sample and test drinking water quality. Regular tests at the frequency recommended under the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality are not carried out in most First Nations. When the results of these tests are reported to Health Canada, they are not properly recorded; nor are they systematically shared with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Finally, not all the information identified was collected by the departments in 2003–04 and some critical indicators were missing. Parliament is not yet receiving enough information about the First Nations Water Management Strategy and the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities (OAG 2005 ).
2005 “Kashechewan made headlines in October 2005 after hundreds of its residents were evacuated to several Ontario towns and cities because of drinking water contaminated by E. coli bacteria.The evacuation prompted the federal and Ontario governments to scramble for solutions to the issue of dirty drinking water in First Nations communities (Barrett 2007).” “The October 2005 evacuation of the community of Kashechewan, in northern Ontario, brought to national attention concerns about the water in this remote community. The evacuation came close on the heels of a report from the federal Office of the Auditor General that found that residents of First Nations communities did not benefit from a level of drinking water protection comparable to that of people living off reserves (OAG 2005 ).”

2006 United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 3 and 31. On June 29, 2006 the Human Rights Council adopted by a roll-call vote of 30 in favour to 2 against and 12 abstentions a resolution on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration was forwarded to the UN General Assembly for approval in 2006. Canada has so far decided not to support this Declaration. Nonetheless, were a Canadian government to decide to support the Declaration, this would be a further indication of the policy direction Canada intended to pursue, and would be consistent with the general movement towards recognizing aboriginal self-government rights “GC Vol 2. 2006.

2006 The most recent Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality published in March, 2006 and last updated in September (HC 2006) did not provide an explicit definition of “safe drinking water” in Canada. There is no explicit definition in any provincial or territorial legislation (GN 2006).
2006 Kashechewan was under a precautionary Drinking Water Advisory, but Indian and Northern Affairs Canada claimed they had completed upgrades to the water systems and the system was closely monitored by a certified operator (DINA 2006 ).

Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jim Prentice launched a plan of action in March to address drinking water problems in First Nation communities. (CBC 2007)

2006 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada issued a priority list of communities identified as high risk drinking water systems with drinking water advisories in effect (DINA 2006 ). These high priority list in July 2006 included: New Brunswick: Woodstock, Pabineau; Quebec: Kitigan Zibi; Ontario: Constance Lake, Shoal Lake No. 40, Moose Deer Point, Northwest Angle, Ochiichagwe’babigo-ining, Kingfisher, Muskrat Dam Lake, Wabigoon Lake Ojibway; Alberta: Dene Tha’, Driftpile, Frog Lake; British Columbia: Shuswap, Toosey, Toquaht, Lake Babine (Fort Babine), Canoe Creek, Semiahmoo, Taku River Tlingit.”

2006 The Government of Canada’s panel of experts produced this report “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” Vol. 1. November.

2007 Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine called for Ottawa’s immediate attention to the suicide-plagued community-in-crisis Kashechewan First Nation “Kashechewan and many other aboriginal communities in Ontario continue to struggle with poorly designed water plants or overly modern systems that are considered too costly to staff or maintain” [. . .] A report released in November by federal government adviser Alan Pope made a series of recommendations for Kashechewan, including moving the reserve to within the city limits of Timmins, Ont. – 450 kilometres from its current location on the shores of James Bay. Pope said the move would improve the lives of the community residents, particularly young people, by giving them access to high schools and post-secondary education, as well as economic opportunities and employment. But in a speech on [February 8, 2007] to the International Congress on Ethics in Gatineau, Que., Fontaine spoke out against such a move, saying that First Nations have been subject for too long to policy that amounts to “social engineering.” (Barrett 2007)

Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. There are 600 First Nations communities concerned by the issue of clean water. Chief David General of Six Nations, ON knows his community members become ill from drinking tap water. “They would rather have a new water plant instead of a new communications strategy” (CBC 2007).

Kirkey, Sharon. 2011-06-10. “Despite billions spent, conditions on reserves have worsened: AG.” Postmedia News.


Barrett, Michael. 2007. Kashechewan ‘Community in Crisis’. Red Lake Net News. February 8.

CBC News. 2007. “Message about bad water on reserves not getting through: study.” May 11
DINA. 2006. “Priority List of First Nation Communities With High Risk Water Systems and Drinking Water Advisories.” Last Updated 2006-07-20

Government of Canada. 2006. “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” Vol. 1. November 15.
Government of Canada. 2006. “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations: Legal Analysis.” Vol. 2. November 15.

Government of Canada. 2006. Report, Presentations and Written Submissions to the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.

Health Canada. 2006. “Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.” >> Environmental & Workplace Health. Last Updated: 2006-09-19.
Health Canada. 2007. “Drinking Water Advisories.” in  First Nations & Inuit Health. May 10.
Office of the Auditor General (OAG). 2005. “Drinking Water in First Nations Communities.” Last Updated: 2005-09-29.

2011-05-25 Former auditor general Sheila Fraser gave her final news conference in which she deplored the fact that First Nations’ access to the basics of life — education, child welfare, clean drinking water and adequate housing — are persistently and dramatically substandard, and in some cases deteriorating.

Kirkey, Sharon. 2011-06-10. “Despite billions spent, conditions on reserves have worsened: AG.” Postmedia News.

Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (DINA). 1995. “On-Reserve Capital Facilities and Maintenance.”

WHO. 2004. Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (3rd Edition). World Health Organization, Geneva. Website accessed September
17, 2006.

The Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods in Europe coincide with the period of colonization in what was called the New World. When we admire artistic creations from these periods how can be also remember colonial activities and their implications for everyday life in 2007.

Freeman (2000a 127) describes one of the distant relatives of the 17th century as a fur trader, interpreter and man of public affairs whose influence increased in 1643 with the formation of the United Colonies of New England (Plymouth, Connecticut, Massechusetts and New Haven). His name was connected with almost every Indian transaction on record.

Selected webliography and bibliography

Freeman, Victoria. 2000. Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Freeman, Victoria. 2000a. “Ambassador to the Indians.”Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. pp.127-147.

Moratorium on what some call Canadian ‘Blood Diamonds’? De Beers Canada benefit from government stalling tactics on land claims to extract valuable raw resources leaving behind environmental devastation. Many of the 45,000 Cree and Ojibwa in NAN region live in fourth world conditions in post-RCAP Canada. How many more NAN youth will choose suicide? Let’s not forget Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Kash’s still unsolved water problem.
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For more reading check out my Customized Search Engine on Nishnawbe Aski Nation on Swicki

Richard Nixon noted, “[In 1994] China’s economic power makes US lectures about human rights imprudent. Within a decade it will make them irrelevant. Within two decades it will make them laughable (Huntington 1997:195).” Rural norther women (2006) in southern SEZ, earn pennies. Profits shared by retailers, Tianjin, Klein, Nautica, Chaps, Feniger

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Challenges of Human Rights within a Geopolitics of Exclusion

Originally presented as part of: Flynn, Burhoe, M. 2004. “Human Rights Comprehensive,” Carleton University, Ottawa, ON.


The 1993 Vienna Human Rights Conference revealed the ideological schism between the Western bloc of liberal democracies embodied in European and North American countries and diverse ideologies of fifty non-Western countries[1] which the West lumped together as Asian-Islamic. In spite of this, cultural relativism was rejected in favour of the universality of human rights. At this same conference Islamic and Chinese delegates emphatically stated that the universality of human rights was not questioned. But as China’s economic clout increases so does the demand for a shift in the dominant western-centred human rights lexicon to include Asian values (Falk 2000:8). See also Ignatieff.

The rapid dramatic economic, industrial and technological growth of China’s Special Economic Zones has situated China as a formidable trade partner in the global economy attracting foreign investors particularly the US and Japan. This has a profound effect on Human Rights debates which became visibly apparently in 1994 with Clinton was forced to retract threats to impose sanctions on China for its human rights abuses. It is the hope of the Western world that China’s need for trade partners will lead to greater transparency but in the unpredictable shifts of power dynamics, economic forces alone will not compel China to adopt western values. As China’s international market strength gathers momentum human rights concerns conveyed by even the more vocal dissenters, Tibet and Taiwan are set aside.

At a recent conference on Governance Self-Government and Legal Pluralism (2003) Premier Okalik[2] defined traditional knowledge as a collective means of re-interpreting a rapidly changing world. Falk suggested an “alternative to the false universalism of globalization in the form of an intercivilizational world order that combines the ecological and biological conditions of unity with the civilizational[3] realities of difference and self-definition (Falk 2000b:161). This radical shift recognizes the emergence of civilizational identities which challenges the dominant statist identities (2000b:147). Another term that is used to describe this geopolitics of inclusion is multi-civilizational dialogical relationship. An international globalization research centre, Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research (TODA) is developing a multi-civilizational conceptual framework focusing on the unity and variety of conditions and institutions for global democracy in an age of globalization and regionalization (TODA 2000).

The end of the cold war, ideological passivity of China, spread of market liberalism set the stage for a new period in human rights. The new western political ideology claimed that only democratic forms of governance are legitimate and promote human rights (Falk 2000a:47).


[1](including Communist Cuba, Buddhist Myanmar, Confucian Singapore, Vietnam, North Korea, China, Muslim Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Libya)

[2] At a recent conference on Governance Self-Government and Legal Pluralism Premier Okalik acknowledged the challenges of transforming a society afflicted with inherited social wrongs. Governance for the new territory is based on traditional Inuit values respected for the full weight of the history it reflects, as a proactive means engaging the transition. Inuit culture remained intact until relatively recently unlike other indigenous peoples in North America. Okalik described one of the pivotal values of Inuit governance resides in unique form of communication based on listening to others while never losing one’s own horizon in a process that is as complex in execution as it is simple in expressing. In this way Nunavut governance evolved using the best of the Westminster style of government but with unique Inuit traits that reflect Inuit culture and knowledge Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. The application of IQ is contemporary and continues to evolve although it is steeped in tradition (Okalik 2003).

[3] Falk traced the roots of the civilizational explorations to Braudel (Braudel 1949[1969]) and Toynbee (1961). Elitist and ethnocentric art historian Erwin Panofsky (1939) measured all art history in relation to highpoints of Western civilization, particularly Gothic France and Renaissance Italy (1984; Holly 1997). In education both Hutchins (1936) and Allan Bloom (1987) in his Great Books series assumed the primacy of western civilization over all others. Lord Kenneth Clark’s (1970) televised popular mini-series Civilisation (Alter 1999) spanned eleven countries and sixteen centuries claiming achievements in the name of western civilization through art, architecture, philosophy and history.


The end of the cold war, ideological passivity of China, spread of market liberalism set the stage for a new period in human rights. The new western political ideology claims that only democratic forms of governance are legitimate and promote human rights (Falk 2000:47). In 1989 China cracked down on pro-democracy activists in Beijing‘s Tiananmen Square. This was denounced by Clinton when he was campaigning for the US Presidency. However ever since China initiated its more market-friendly policies in its Special Economic Zones, its GNP has risen dramatically. Currently its economy is second only to the United States. Unlike many other late comers to development, China strategically developed its own technical expertise with rapidity thereby limiting China’s dependency on the United States. This has profound effect on Human Rights debates which became official in 1994 with Clinton was forced to retract threats to impose sanctions on China for its human rights abuses. China is attracting foreign investors particularly the US and Japan. It is the hope of the Western world that China’s need for trade partners will lead to greater transparency such as is beginning in the Special Economic Zone. (See the timeline of events that led to the shift.)

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2004. “Challenges of Human Rights within a Geopolitics of Exclusion,” “Overview of the Context, Content, Conceptual Framework and Outcomes of Designing and Teaching a Human Rights Course in Iqaluit, Nunavut,” Comprehensive Exam II, submitted to PhD committee members Professors Rob Shields, Phillip Thurtle, Donna Patrick. May 21, 2004 in partial requirement for a PhD in Sociology/Anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa, ON.  Creative Commons license applies.


Selected Bibliography

Axworthy, Lloyd. 1995. “Statement.” in World Summit for Social Development. Copenhagen, Denmark.

Braudel, Fernand. 1949[1969]. La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l’époque de Philippe II, vol. 1. Paris, FR: Flammarion. http://www.armand-colin.com/cgi-bin/bookf.pl?is=2200372248

Brittan, Sir Samuel. 1996. “Review of Charles K. Rowley’s “The Political Economy of the Minimal State”.” The Times Literary Supplement. http://www.thelockeinstitute.org/books/politicaleconomy_review1.html

Falk, Richard A. 2000. Human Rights Horizons: The Pursuit of Justice in a Globalizing World. New York: Routledge.

Gadamer, Hans-Georg. 1960 [1975]. Truth and Method. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company.

Habermas, Jurgen. 1981. “The Theory of Communicative Action.” vol. 2.

Hutchins, Robert. 1936. The Higher Education in America. Chicago.

Leary, Virginia A. 1998. “Globalization and Human Rights.” Pp. 265-276 in Human Rights: New Dimensions and Challenges: Manual on Human Rights, edited by Janusz Symonides. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Dartmouth Publishing Company Ltd. / UNESCO Publishing. hum/sym/hum

Lyons, Oron R. 1992. “The American Indian in the Past.” in Exiled in the Land of the Free: Democracy, Indian Nations and the U.S.Constitution, edited by Oron R. Lyons and John C. Mohawk. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Clearlight Press.

Okalik, Paul. 2003. “The Naujaat Challenge: Working Together.” in To the Conference on Governance Self-Government and Legal Pluralism. Hull, Quebec. http://www.gov.nu.ca/Nunavut/English/premier/press/cgsglp.shtml

Powless, Irving Jr. 2000. “Treaty Making.” Pp. 115-126 in Treaty of Canandaigua 1794: 200 Years of Treaty Relations between Iroquois Confederacy and the United States, edited by G. Peter Jemison and Anna M. Schein. Santa Fe: Clearlight Press.

Rikard, Jolene. 2002. “After Essay – Indigenous is the Local.” Pp. 115-126 in On Aboriginal Representation in the Gallery, edited by Lynda Jessup and Shannon Bagg. Gatineau, PQ: Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Ryan, Alan. 1997. “Pragmatism, Social Identity, Patriotism, and Self-Criticism.” The National Humanities Center. http://www.nhc.rtp.nc.us:8080/publications/hongkong/ryan.htm

Symonides, Janusz. 1998. Human Rights: New Dimensions and Challenges: Manual on Human Rights. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Dartmouth Publishing Company Ltd. / UNESCO Publishing. hum/sym/hum

Taylor, Charles. 1989. Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity: Cambridge University Press. http://www.philosophers.co.uk/cafe/phil_may2003.htm

TODA. 2000. Annual Report 2000. University of Hawaii: Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, Globalization Research Center. http://www.toda.org/annual_reports/2000.html

Benign colonialism for dummies: how to impress OECD while Canada’s First People live in Brazil-like favela. Canadian Public Policy research has been usefully challenged by seasoned journalist Atkinson Fellow Marie Wadden’s recent series which continues her research begun in 1978 in response to the hidden horrors of Canada’s Innu town, Davis Inlet. The True North strong and free has been limping for a long time.

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Neither Left nor Right, just wrong

Decades later, Wadden concerned about the elusive solutions for problems of addiction in Canadian Aboriginal continues her research by visiting remote communities to find stories that will unsettle Canadian complacent apathy, compassion fatigue and worldly-wise jaded perspectives. We just do not want to give up the adventure stories that inspired our youth of Arctic explorers in frozen, isolated, hinterland Hudson Bay posts. Perhaps her shocking series will shake our stubborn pryde in our grandfathers’ mythologies while shamefully neglecting tragic tales from our Other grandparents.
Her passion for the subject earned her the 2005 Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy and led her to a year-long, cross-country trek to look at the causes, effects and potential solutions to the addiction crisis among Aboriginals. Her series of stories — Tragedy or Triumph; Canadian Public Policy and Aboriginal Addictions — is appearing in the Star and online at thestar.com/atkinson. Wadden began her career at CBC television in Newfoundland 27 years ago and has won numerous journalism awards. The St. John’s resident is the 17th winner of the Atkinson Fellowship and the first from east of Montreal. The fellowship, sponsored by The Atkinson Charitable Foundation, the Toronto Star and the Beland Honderich family, aims to further liberal journalism in the tradition of Joseph E. Atkinson, the Star’s founder. The Atkinson Series, Tragedy or Triumph, Canadian Public Policy and Aboriginal Addictions

Seven years in a Third World military dictatorship did not prepare me for the harsh reality of the everyday lives of Canadian Inuit and First Nations. I felt shame, powerlessness and confusion stemming from years of work as insider in cultural institutions devoted to Inuit studies. It took me ten years to build heightened levels of trust so all the stories pored out. The more I learned and accepted without offering bandaid solutions, patent excuses, weak explanations or high-haded social theories, the more stories seemed to come to me. It was as if I had a pair of antennas, an open channel to a stream of unending stories each one corraborating the other. The more I learned the more I questioned so I paralleled the kitchen table accounts with deep research into footnotes of published materials, Hansards, and cross-disciplinary work. I asked more specific questions of Inuit elders and the knowers in communities. (The knowers were often Inuit women of any age who had been chosen to learn more because of their superior abilities to learn languages. Their emotional maturity, discretion and wisdom was daunting. Often stories were shared in whispers. I would never get permission to share them. Potent stories of individual personal strength, survival could not be shared because the surviving members of the perpetrators of violence and injustice were still alive. In small isolated hamlets there are systems of power in everyday life that are as imposing as those on parliament hill. This explains why a convicted sex offender can be chosen to represent a community (where family violence is extremely high — off the charts in terms of the Canadian average) in the political arena. In Third World countries there is always the hope that education and maturity, in civil society and democracy, might provide improved access to human rights for citizens. My despair, my overwhelming sense of hopelessness, became consuming as I realized that this tragedy was taking place in one of the more advanced democracies with a relatively informed civil society. I began to meticulously develop a detailed timeline of the social histories of First Nations, Inuit (and African-Canadians). I would take the stories shared by friends and students and cross-reference them with dates provided by classical ethnographers, anthropologists, art historians, museologists, geographers, geologists, administrators and Hudson Bay Company reports. I reread the entire series of Inuit Studies, Inuit Art Quarterly and realized that it was not bad research on my part that made me so shamefully unaware. The very cultural institutions on whom we depend for insight into our shared communal memories, these institutions have failed us miserably. They continue to perpetrate distorted histories insisting covertly on presenting a benign colonialism. Examine the brilliant RCAP, the most in-depth (and expensive) report, undertaken using a progressive research methodology called Participatory Action Research (PAR). It’s on-line and available for anyone! Read the section on how our institutions of public curricula were specifically called upon to reexamine distorted histories in collaboration with Inuit and First Nations communties. The do as I did and examine what these institutions have done since then. A tourist visiting Canada’s cultural institutions, either virtually or in glass, steel and stone buildings, such as the National Gallery of Canada or the Museum of Civilization, or exploring Cybermuse, will not learn of the depth of despair of First Nations and Inuit communties. They will leave perhaps learning something of the heroic status of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Inuit art cooperatives, the benefits to Inuit of entering the international art market, the exquisite aesthetics of Inuit clothing from the pre-1950s, Inuit legends shortened and deformed for consumer tastes. They will learn about the dynamic Inuit culture as if the best of the culture sank with the Nascopie. Explorers and Hudson Bay Company employees are heroized when their work should now be reviewed through the lens of the informed, intelligent generation born in the 1930s and 1940s. Remove the overt desire to portray colonialism in Canada’s north as benign, to continue to cherish histories of post WWII heroism of southerners who conquered the hinterland to benefit all Canadians. Challenge the assumptions that learning English, the market system and the northern form of Canadian democracy was beneficial in the long-run. Unsettle the assumption that the errors were in the past and we should all move on. The litany of mistakes outlined in this brilliant, moving, informed series can be complemented by a thorough reading of one of Canads’ most-difficult-to-read stories, Mistakes. Let’s ask the communal archives of memory for the answers to the questions about what really happened to Inuit-Scottish, Inuit-Danish and Inuit-Icelandic children abandoned in the 1930s, 1940, 1950s, 1960s by their fathers who returned south and built profitable careers on their heroism, adventures in Canada’s north while ignoring pleas from their former partners, and even own children abandoned to the care of small vulnerable hamlets. We no longer accept that the genetic pool of the Scottish, British, American, Danish and Icelandic improved Inuit and First Nations do we? How can we continue in 2006 to lionize those who felt pryde in their improvement of the gene pool? Is there no way that we can honour our blue eyed grandfathers without simply forgetting. We need serious, committed memory work on the level of what has been done in Post WWII Europe. The situations are in no way the same. But the revamping of our institutions of communal memory is just taking too long. In Post WWII Europe it became evident over the decades that it could not be ignored by national cultural institutions. In Canada it has been politically shrewd to use delaying tactics in our museums just as we have in land claims issues, and the dozens of other recommendations of the RCAP. Read the most recent articles by Canada’s anthropologist and you will find apologies for these institions arguing that great progress has been made. After al we do have an Algonquin canoe floating silently in the Group of Seven section of the National Gallery of Canada. Silently is the word. Speak to renowned Algonquin elder William Commanda and put his voice through a loud speaker in those galleries. Listen to him describe the starvation when tourism trade grew as southerners flocked north to enjoy the Canadian Shield. Hear his gentle, firm voice as he describes in elaborate detail how he built canoes to stave off starvation as the First Nations communities were denied access to their fishing camps which had become the land of the tourists. He speaks without rage. His voice is still powerfully spiritual. He calls for a freeing of the rivers from the damage of the dams. In the room devoted to Canadian art of the 1950s install a Stan Douglas type piece where the voices of Inuit and First Nations whose lives were irrevocably changed by the one of the worst incidence of TB on the planet speak of their grandfathers, camp leaders, fathers, the hunters, trappers and fishers buried in unmarked graves near Moose Factory’s sanitorium.

In the National Gallery of Canada’s Inuit Art section (in the basement) remind visitors that the artists whose works continue to be revered, have suffered starvation in Canada in the 1940s and 1950s, have succumbed to alcoholism, and drugs, that they have met violent deaths through suicides, murders, or in preventable house fires. How many Canadians know the other stories connected to Inuit women artists who made history when they were honoured with the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest award or the Royal Canadian Academy? One died alone in a hospital near Montreal in the 1980s, so depressed because of her linguistic isolation (she could only speak Inuktitut) that she gave away her ulu, the woman’s knife so affectionately mentioned in articles about Inuit art. Another was confused at one time when nortern officials refused food to her family during the peoriod of starvation in the 1950s. What about Canada’s most widely admired Inuit artist whose works are honoured internationally who was now ill, forced to live on city streets and was so badly beaten by police he carried a lump on his forehead for weeks. They and/or their families still live in houses where the entire contents of their fridges are a plastic bottle of ketchup and mustard. The have developed diabetes. A few have become violent and abusive. So many Inuit artists are in the Baffin Correction Centre at any given time that local people suggest a visit as part of the itinerary for Iqaluit, Nunavut’s art scene. Then let’s see some footage of the renowned Inuit elder and activist, as he describes through his son, artist and interpretor, his trip to New York or his interpretation of one of his carvings. Let’s hear him sing with tears in his eyes, the song he wrote for the homeless man on the streets of New York. Where is the strong articulate voice of Sheila Watt-Cloutier in any contemporary site claiming to represent to Inuit culture? If you do not know this name you should. She has made history. What about Paul Okalik, Peter Erniq. These are names all Canadians should know. Let’s begin with something simple: honest, inclusive timelines. Let’s contextualize stories about Inuit culture. Stop funding Inuit studies unless there is a critical component that examines issues, not as tidy sanitized disciplines that claim to be protecting Inuit art and culture from the sordid truths of everyday life. Inuit art and culture are dynamic, alive, robust. The Inuit art and culture market will survive but perhaps not by continuing to enrich southerers or those who live decades in the north, return to the south and continue to become enriched on their insider knowledge. If Inuit benefited fully from their own art production in a sustainable, equitable fashion there would be far less need of so much government intervention. There is more percapita talent in the tiny hamlet of Clyde River waiting for a venue than there is many southern cities. There is also far more youth suicide, violence against women and despair.


The private Atkinson Foundation, founded in 1942 by former publisher of The Toronto Star, promotes social and economic justice in the tradition Joseph E. Atkinson. This includes the work of Armine Yalnizyan, (2000), “Inequality Rises As More Families Slide To The Bottom Of The Income Scale: Tax cuts don’t address economic reality says new report,” Centre of Social Justice, January 27, 2000 http://www.atkinsonfoundation.ca/publications/The_Great_Divide_Armine_

Child poverty in Canada is almost six time that of Denmark. Overall poverty rates are also high. 10 % of Canadians live in poverty – a stark contrast to Denmark’s 4.3 % and Sweden’s 5.3. (Rothman, Laurel. 2006. “Report of a Standing Committee on Finance,” www.campaign2000.ca) Recommendations: minimum wage $10 per hour; Employment Insurance reform.

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CBC, 2006. Aboriginal children face terrible poverty in Canada: report: B.C. and Newfoundland have highest rates; Alberta and P.E.I. have lowest rates. Last Updated: Friday, November 24, 2006 | 2:04 PM ET, Accessed November 24, 2006 11:19 PT.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006. “Canada’s nasty secrets revealed to OECD: Child Poverty in Rich Countries,” last updated November 24, 2006 11:05 am. papergirls.wordpress.com, accessed (YY/MM/DD) https://papergirls.wordpress.com/2006/11/25/canadas-nasty-secrets-

Laurel Rothman, Laura. 2006. “Reducing Child & Family Poverty in a Time of Prosperity: The Roles of Tax Benefits, Public Investments and the Labour Market Submission to Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultation,” http://www.campaign2000.ca/rc/rc06/06_C2000NationalReportCard.pdf Last updated YY/MM/DD Accessed November 24, 2006.

Campaign 2000

Selected webliography on Status of Women Canada generated from my Endnote bibliography, compiled from (1992?-present)

Dion-Stout, Madeleine & Kipling, Gregory D. (1998) Aboriginal Women in Canada: Strategic Research Directions for Policy Development. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.c/publish/research/abwom-ehtml

Dion Stout, Madeleine & Kipling, Gregory D. (1998) Aboriginal Women in Canada: Strategic Research Directions for Policy Development. Ottawa, ON, Status of Women Canada. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/pubs/0662634314/199803_0662634314_e.pdf

Frulla, Liza (2005) Statement of Canada. United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 10-year Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/newsroom/news2005/0302_e.html

Gender Equality, Aboriginal Women (2000) Roundtable Report. Ottawa, Aboriginal Women’s Roundtable on Gender Equality. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/publish/table/010914-e.pdf

Jenson, Jane (2004) A Decade of Challenges; A Decade of Choices: Consequences for Canadian Women. Montréal, Canadian Policy Research Network-Family Network. http://www.cprn.com/en/doc.cfm?doc=558

Kenny, Carolyn, Faries, Emily, Fiske, Jo-Anne & Voyageur, Cora (2004) A Holistic Framework for Aboriginal Policy Research. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/pubs/0662379594/200410_0662379594_1_e.html

Kipling, Dion-Stout and Gregory D. (1998) Aboriginal Women in Canada: Strategic Research directions for Policy Development. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.c/publish/research/abwom-ehtml

Lindsay, Colin, Almey, Marcia & Statistics Canada (2004) A Quarter Century of Change: Young Women in Canada in the 1970s and Today. Ottawa, Status of Women Canada (SWC) Policy Research Fund. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/pubs/0662388976/200412_0662388976_1_e.html

Press Release (1998) Fry welcomes gender breakthrough in APEC. Manilla, Phillipines. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/newsroom/news1998/1019-2_e.html

SWC (1995) Setting the Stage for the Next Century: The Federal Plan for Gender Equality. Status of Women Canada

SWC (1998) Human Rights for All. http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/pdp-hrp/docs/cedaw5/nt_e.cfm?nav=2

SWC (1999) Highlights of Federal Government Initiatives to Address Violence Against Women: Legislative Reforms That Assist in Addressing Violence Against Women in 1999: Bill C-79. Status of Women Canada. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca

Voyer, Jean-Pierre (2003) Introduction: Social Capital: A Useful Tool for Public Policy? in Initiative, Policy Research Horizons. Public Works and Government Services Canada. http://policyresearch.gc.ca/v6n3_e.pdf