Jul 30, 2005

Chapter 47

Everybody knows

Florent Vollant
will sing a statement, at the end of this chapter.

The topics of discussion for this week’s conference call:

Abraham Lincoln: “Four score and seven years ago those who were retroactively deemed to be our fathers, brought forth on this continent, a nation deemed to be new, conceived in what some observers retroactively deem to be liberty, and dedicated to possibly discussing the proposition that all men might, under the correct legal administrative structures, be deemed to be equal, although some are retroactively deemed to be more equal than others, but don’t quote me on that.”

Patrick Henry: “Give me Liberty or give me a pale imitation of Liberty but make sure it has enough multi-risk insurance coverage.”

Phrase book for Inuit tourists entering another country.

At customs:

Where were you born?
According to my mother? Or according to the Government?

Where do you live?
Same problem.

You say that this is no big deal? Just an administrative measure for the Treaty? Then what we have here is a failure of communication.

How to translate “deemed to be” from English to Inukitut? As in, “This is deemed to be true, even though everybody knows that it isn’t true.”

(If something is true, you would not have to deem it to be true.)

And there are the deemers and there are the deemed. It is a one-way street.

Group “A” is required to salute the nonsense enforced by Group “B”, but Group “A” does not get invited to supply its own nonsense to the mixture. The result is unbalanced nonsense. And when nonsense gets really unbalanced, the whole damn thing tips over and falls down with a nonsensical crash. Happens all the time.

When creating the future, or just figuring out what the hell is going on, everything is supposed to go like this:
(1) Thesis,
(2) Antithesis,
(3) Synthesis.

Somebody cooks up an idea (thesis); some people don’t like it so they cook up an opposing idea (antithesis); the two debate for years or for generations until their ideas merge (synthesis), and this synthesis is then proclaimed to be the next new idea (the New Thesis), which then gives rise to a New Antithesis, and then a New Synthesis, and so on forever, in every field of endeavour.

In forming a relationship with its native people, Canada is stuck in the old thesis, and quietly suffocates and silences any antithesis, and so no synthesis evolves, and everything becomes fossilized.

The synthesis has gone missing; possibly it is now in a glass display case at the National Museum of Dashed Hopes and Hollow Promises (in the basement of the Museum of Civilization). (Just ask the man in the uniform to let you in; tell him you work for Bob.)

Spend too much time on autopilot, and you forget what flying is all about. You have to get some lift under those wings. The Law of Gravity has not been repealed, despite your indignant petitions and your 5,000 closest friends on Facebook. Go tweet yourself, they say.

No one explained the word “retroactively” to the Inuit. Going from the present into the past to change the way things were, thereby changing the way things are, thereby changing the way things will be.

Inuit shamans see the future, but no one changes the past “retroactively”. Our perception of the past can change; but an honest person cannot deny where they were born or where they lived. Yet your administration claims to have retroactive power.

Your Honour, it is not fair to those who already lived the past: how much do we have to pay to get out of going through it twice?

You know what? We should all stop talking about this bullshit and just go to that bar across the street and get really hammered. I mean, really puking drunk. First round is on me. How about it? All say “Aye”?

(Murmurs and gasps from all sides)

The judge called for silence, hammering with his gavel, and he spoke sternly: he will not tolerate mockery of the law in his court; he said that there is only one system of law, and the law applies equally to all, to the weak and to the strong, to the few and to the many, to the young and to the old, to the impoverished and to the wealthy, to the immigrants and to the natives; and the duty of the legal system is to enforce the laws and regulations and contracts; and all are equal in the eyes of the law. The ladder of justice has no top and no bottom.

“….. a person of Inuit ancestry who was born or who will be born, on that part of Killiniq Island within the NorthWest Territories, shall be deemed to have been born or will be born in Quebec….’’

“This amendment shall take effect retroactively…”

“…if a person of Inuit ancestry is ordinarily resident of Port Burwell, Killiniq Island, NorthWest Territories, he will be deemed to be resident of Quebec…”

“This amendment shall take effect retroactively….”

Your Honour, why does your employer bother with the fancy footwork and the tangle of manipulation? Don’t waste your breath.

Everybody knows a Mighty Judgement Day is coming. The Antithesis is blocked and it is building up steam and could blow off the roof of the shelter any day. And we need the Synthesis here and now, but it is nowhere in sight, and cannot be deemed into existence fraudulently, not even by Sun News.

Where were you on the morning of Feb. 8, 1978? And the previous mornings back to 5,000 B.C.? We have retroactively deemed your island to be uninhabited.

We’ve got powerful mojo retroactivity going on in this file; it is so strong, we could go back in time to 1611 and mutiny against Henry Hudson and cast him adrift on Hudson’s Bay in a rowboat. Oh, that did happen? Sorry. Helluva way to get a bay named after you.

Heard a local legend from long ago about some British idiot who washed ashore, in a captain’s uniform. He was still alive but made no sense. He refused to eat pagan food or wear the skins of dead animals. Fortunately, he soon died. What the hell was the planet he came from?

All the deeming that can be deemed, will make no difference; not now, not retroactively, not any other time; it all + makes + no + difference.

+ Because + everybody + knows.

This video is from Innu, the tribe where our first son was actually born; not just deemed to have been born. (And there was nothing retroactive about it.) (Innu; not Inuit, I have to point out one last time. Innu are far south of Inuit, below the tree line. They are not the same, but they are often in the same situation. They do not understand each other’s languages, but they do understand each other.)

Florent Vollant from (Uashat mak) Mani-Utenam sings in Innu-aimun, a language spoken by about 10,000 people in the world, one of Canada’s 70 native languages that we pretend don’t exist.

Florent re-wrote a Leonard Cohen song in Innu-aimun and some folks on the Rez borrowed a lap-top and a mini-cam and zoomed in on home photos taken by a member of the tribe - a quick way to make a YouTube music video at no cost. A way to speak across political minefields with home-made art. Native people make many attempts to get Canada to SEE them, instead of just staring at them.

Neighbourhood bully:
“Now you listen up and you listen up real good. You go tell yo Mama to stop sayin all them babies wuz borned on that island. Says here in this law that you wuz borned in Kwee-beck, and you wuz residing in Kwee-bec, you unnerstand what I’m talkin? We don’t want no trubbles in these parts. You keep yo ass off Killiniq Island and you park yo ass in Kwee-bec, you unnerstand what I’m talkin? Da big boss don’t tink you is funny.”

In the James Bay Agreement, in 1975, the Inuit and Cree agreed to legally hand over 410,000 square miles of land, an area bigger than the entire Province of Ontario. The Inuit and the Cree thought they were joining something; they thought they were finally going to be invited to sit at the table. They were full of hope that this was to be a new beginning. It is in that context – of what it was meant to be – that the use of weasel words such as “deemed to be” and “retroactively” reveal the dreariness of a process that was meant to be a victory march, finally completing Canada’s truncated Confederation by inviting the native people in, to their own homeland.

So then, where were they born, these “persons of Inuit ancestry deemed to be, retroactively, ….”? Where did they walk, where did they hunt, where did they fish, where did they gather, where can you hear the ancient footsteps and the whispering of ancient souls? Who are the rightful “owners” of Killiniq Island? Everybody knows.

Memo to Killiniq
And to us all
From Mani-Utenam


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