There is this Chief (or former Chief) of Osoyoos Indian Band in British Columbia. This Chief is an awesome success story. He has taken a small Native community - a Reserve and made it in a prosperous business juggernaut in beautiful Okanagan Valley. He is a very successful leader and has done great things. The surrounding communities love him as well as the Government of Canada. The success of the Osoyoos Indian Band is incredible. It is a great success story when you compare the Osoyoos Band to many other Bands in Canada, especially Bands in the Prairies. So we should not be surprised when the media, the government and chambers of commerce trot out Chief Louie to compare and shame all the lazy shiftless Bands out there in Canada.
Chief Louie has even become and echo chamber for the Government and more precisely, the Right wing Old Stock Canadian. Chief Louie is infamous (in Indian Country and in main stream he is golden) for his "pull up your bootstraps and get a damn job" lazy Indians mantra.
The media loves this guy: A gentle-looking man with greying bangs and an animal-skin vest, he deluged the crowd with morsels of advice that have transformed Osoyoos Indian Band, where he is chief, into a beacon of hope for economically ravaged First Nations. The poetic description carries the grace of a savior in the land of despair. Those words are gold in the White community. We should be all so proud. I mean after all we have a genuine success story going on here. It is what we all hope our communities should be: high employment rates, own source revenue and economic prosperity. That is cool and awesome for Chief Louie and the Osoyoos Band.
So why do I say Chief Clarence Louie can suck it? Quite frankly, the guy is a douche, a pompous arrogant prick. Does it seem I am a bit jealous of Chief Louie? Perhaps. I mean the guy has a good message right? We should all follow his lead and his statements. He took a poor community and made it a rich community. No doubt this man is talented, strong and successful.
I guess the baggage I carry is a bit of an excuse for not exactly embracing the philosophy of Chief Louie. His success is certain and a great achievement. The bug in my shorts is the constant comparison between other Reserves. Why not consider their achievement as one of any community in Canada? There are many communities (non-Indigenous) out there which barely survive and exist due to transfer payments. There are dying and Dead towns which exist all over Canada. So the media wants to hold this one community to be the threshold for all Reserves to aspire to. Canada itself has wide variety of regions governed by different circumstances. The results are you get the "have and have not" provinces. The Reserves in Canada operate under a variety of different circumstances as well: extreme climate, access, geography, resources and population. Louie and company shouting out "see? this how you do it" is not a true reflection of the overall situation on Reserves.
The other reason I am not a fan of Chief Louie is his spitting in the face of our people with his condescending comments to Indigenous people. He is like the poster child for the racist elite who can't stand the Indian Nation. They think of us a tax burden and lazy do nothing segment of society. Never mind that our people have with stood years of persecution, legislation and societal norms aimed at killing us. Although the government through the Truth and Reconciliation said the Indigenous people of Canada have suffered "cultural genocide" its still genocide. Louie discounts the historical trauma our people have suffered and still stand against. Trauma is still carried by many of our communities to this day. Economic success is not sole indicator of a healthy community.
The money flow of a community is another reason for a stronger economy. With many Reserves there is no money to come in. Generally people don't come to the Reserve. The infrastructure (stores and other amenities) of many Reserves is lacking or non-existent. Business opportunities are non-existent so how can a community attract the flow of money? Either the population doesn't support or warrant a viable business. The consumer base is just not there. And resource extraction can be cost prohibitive to enter the market. Communities to remain strong, need money to exchange hands within the community before it leaves. With money leaving the community and no money coming in, the community remains a hinterland. Hinterland resource extraction was the recipe for colonialism. Our communities are still looked at as hinterland. The people don't get to exchange money in the community. I buy cigarettes off Barbie, Barbie pays Bobby to watch the till, Bobby spends money at Bennie's cafe and Bennie gases up at Robs place. Where the Damn Rob goes to the movie in the nearby town. And the town cinema owner shops in the city. That cash I started off with is now in Thunder Bay supporting the local economy. Most Reserves don't have hand to hand money exchange.
At the personal or individual level, Chief Louie and company (main stream) don't seem to understand the impact of bullying. Chief Louie uses the bully stance to demean people. The impact of bullying has devastating consequences. The act of bullying is to crush the other person. From playground children teasing and pushing other kids to teens badgering and humiliating peers. The results are the same; a person gets crushed. Cities are at a loss to stop bullying because of suicide which bullying can cause. Just think about how much Indigenous people have endured, have been bullied over the years by governments, justice, church, school, society and by individuals. The results show up in various degrees. We have high suicide rates, murder rates, cancer rates, addiction rates, unemployment and numerous social measurements. So when someone like Chief Louie says "suck it up", "don't be lazy" I say suck it Louie. You embarrass yourself and you embarrass us.
I don't know what is worse: The Indian who amplifies his voice to echo the words of our oppressors or the Indian who mutes his voice in the presence of our oppressors.
Oppressors being our governments and the business interests of main stream.
Suck it Louie.
The idea and the promotion of having wealth as the indicator for success is messed up. Not being interested by Indigenous people in acquiring wealth was part of the equation of making it illegal to practice Traditional Worship. It was deemed against the "Victorian etiquette" of acquisition. Today the chase of the dollar has lead to a huge crisis in the world.
I know many successful people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous and their success has nothing to do with affluence. They are successful due to their hard work, kindness, thoughtfulness, open mindedness, generosity, and good character. Has nothing do with their cheque-book. There are many rich folk who are not successful. Just look at the President of the United States. How can anyone say that person is successful. If that's success, that is messed up.