Comments on the Boycott

“The boycott does seem to be a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to something that has personally affected you. This has been a long standing practice of many businesses across Canada that I am sure you are well aware of but you react now, when this has just affected you, and you still claim that this is not a knee-jerk reaction?”

Retort:

Miigwetch for your opinion, however unsigned.  This has not been a knee-jerk reaction.  It doesn’t personally affect only me.  It has affected every single First Nations person at one time or another.  And this isn’t just a one time scenario, this happens almost every time I produce my status card.  We have all felt the humiliation or the embarrassment, when stores have to get the manager, fill out long forms, or got forbid, have to actually leave the cash to photocopy both sides of our status card.  How many of us have ‘paid the tax anyway’ because there was a long line-up behind us and we only had a box of tissues or a candy bar?  
In this particular case, First Nations people across Ontario are getting the same tax exemption interpretation and policy from “The Source (By Circuit City)”; and now “Sleep Country Canada”.  Over the years, I have responded similarly and consistantly to all businesses that have refused my status card or have provided significant barriers to my right to tax exemption. I have always left my items at the cash, called for a manager, then told my friends and family. Then I would never return to that business. I am encouraging all Anishinaabe to do the same.    
In some bigger cases, I have gone to the media and in two instances had store employees fired.  One large retailer has improved their Tax Exemption policy immensely.  They may not all be perfect, but in these instances the situation has got a lot better.
These “long standing practices”, as you call them, have to change. 
For example:  Businesses that need “proof” that I am going to consume or deliver these goods to the reserve.  In the past, some business asked me to produce a driver’s license.  (Incidentally, this is a barrier for the many First Nations elders that don’t drive.)  I’m very happy to comply and produce to them my license with my home address.  Then the cashier asks me ‘where does this say you live on the reserve’.  Well it’s right there:  my street number and street name, my town/village.  Then he/she calls the manager to interpret whether or not I live on the reserve.  Both are dumbfounded and can’t make that call.  They begrudgingly give me the exemption.  This scenario has happened time and time again.  My license says 170 Gerald Crescent, RR1, Sturgeon Falls, Ontario.  I know it’s on Nipissing Indian Reserve No. 10.  All the time, there are 5 or 6 people ‘huffing and puffing’ in the line behind me.  I not longer get embarrassed.  I make the time to draw out the scene as long as I possible can.
Sometime in the very near future, we will organize a mass demonstration at a major retailer and hundreds of our citizens will all buy something at the same time.  We will do this in front of the television cameras and the rest of the media.
Legally, they don’t have to change.  But if they want First Nations business, they will have to change.  I’m going to work hard to ensure that happens through this “First Nations Consumer Bill of Rights”.
Miigwetch.

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