Racism ensured that they were always at the bottom of the heap. This led to a sad situation – where suicide, alcoholism, family violence and substance abuse conspired together to decimate the "First Nations". But – are they "Nations"? What solution do they have – in the 21st century?
In Labrador recently, the 600 strong Innu tribe of Davis Inlet were re-located thousands of miles to Natuashish. What prompted this? Six years ago, an epidemic of children’s suicide and gas sniffing, was highly publicised in a T.V. documentary. The shocking images of kids craving glue or gas sniffing, in a freezing shack talking suicide, so despairingly – horrified Canadians. The shamed Indian and Northern Affairs Department of Canada quickly made &160 million available. The project is still not finished but the first Innu have arrived at their new homes, where they found in-door toilets with running water in the house for the first time in their lives.
Moreover, the Government of Canada conveniently did not register the 1,800 Innu under the Indian Act at the Confederation of Newfoundland with Canada in 1949. The federal government claimed "the act was outdated and badly in need of an overhaul" Under pressure, the Native Affairs Minister Robert Nault finally agreed last year (http://list.web.ca/archives/innu-l/2001-December/000062.html). This will at least free the Innu of income tax, and enable them to both make some bylaws, and enable them to obtain further federal funds, where Natuashish is a "reserve".
But more problems await them - despite a tax-free, running water life. Accept that the most immediate causes of their current sadness is alcoholism, drug dependency and hopelessness, and you accept that virtually nothing can be done. Accept that it is capitalism, and then an answer might be seen for what is to be done for the Innu.
And what then? Some First Nations peoples claim that the avenue forwards is "nationhood". However we argue that the recent sad history of the Innu shows that they needed State support to end their isolation in Davis Inlet. That they will need even more state support to ensure that they do not remain prey to hopelessness. But is this possible under capitalism?
We argue that the Innu should accept that they are part of the Canadian peoples now. That they are in fact part of the Canadian Nation. A nation according to our view, should conform to the principles as follows: