Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Uprising in Tibet: What is it like?

[One way of viewing the Lhasa riots and the anti-Olympics campaign, is that the Tibetans have a land claim which requires negotiation. If, as Phil Fontaine suggests, the plight of Canadian First Nations is strongly analogous to that of the Tibetans, then it might be reasonable to ask, what is it like? Oka? Ipperwash? New Caledonia?

I'd like to suggest that the closest analogy in recent times is a heavily underreported incident known as the Gustafsen Lake standoff, also known as the Ts'Peten Standoff. Both the similitaries and the differences are worth considering. -jlt]

OTTAWA -- Canadian native groups might highlight the "desperate conditions" in their communities with protests during Vancouver's 2010 Olympics similar to this year's pro-Tibet demonstrations, First Nations leader Phil Fontaine warned Thursday.

This despite a memorandum of understanding with Vancouver's Olympics Committee (VANOC) signed by Mr. Fontaine and the Four Host First Nations last summer.

"What that speaks to is the desperate situation in our communities," said MR. Fontaine, Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. "We find the Tibet situation compelling. The Tibetans are disenfranchised people. The situation here is similar, but it's different in this sense - the poverty we're talking about exists in Canada's own backyard.

"It's OK to express outrage with the Chinese government's position against Tibet, but [Canadians] should be just as outraged, if not more so . . . with what is being done to First Nations here."


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