Posts tagged ‘immigration’

Natives only. Canadians only. What’s the difference?

Complain and fight as much as you want, but Italians, Mexicans and the Chinese can’t just get off a plane, bring their things, rent a place and live in Canada.

Neither can the Spanish, Portuguese, Czechs, Polish or Brazilians.  Even members of the commonwealth – Aussies, Scottish, Irish, Jamaicans and Pakistanis – all loyal subjects of the Queen don’t have this right to just move in.  Even our greatest allies, the Americans can’t just up and move to Kindersley, Saskatchewan.

They just don’t have the right.  Sovereign law prohibits it.

Nobody calls Canada racist.  Nobody criticizes Canada for their raced-based policies, like relaxing their immigration rules on Haitian orphans.

However, when the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation sent out 25 notices of evictions to individuals living on their territory – Canadians went ballistic with allegations of racism.

It’s true that prospective immigrants have due process to obtain temporary visas to visit family, go to school or even work for a certain period of time.

But when that visa is up – it’s time to go.  By eviction, deportation, sometimes by force.

I have no problem with Canada’s immigration system.  I am absolutely thrilled that the Crown continues to support multi-culturalism and allows so many diverse people to become citizens.

That is Canada’s right.

What most people don’t understand is that the Mohawk Nation has a radically different culture and values than the rest of Canada.  It is different than the Anishinaabe, the Mi’kmaq and many other indigenous nations.  It is as different as Armenians, the Maori, Lithuanians and just about everybody else.  Their culture, values and laws are vastly different than yours and mine.

The Mohawks have different laws, different values and different sense of protectionism.  That is their right.

I personally do not agree with the Mohawk policy.  My nation is going in a different direction on citizenship.  The Anishinabek Nation is moving to develop our own citizenship code that is more inclusive rather than exclusive.  It will adopt a one-parent rule to determine citizenship.  Our citizenship law will recognize adoptions, inter-marriage and allow for a process of transfer and naturalization.  Although I may not agree with the Mohawk citizenship law, I respect their need to protect their diminishing culture and their diluting blood lines.  That is the Mohawk Nation’s right.

But many Canadians – those same Canadians who value differences and respect multi-culturalism – just can’t seem to accept nor respect the culture, values and laws of the Mohawk Nation.

What all Canadians need to understand is that indigenous nations are just that – Nations.  First Nations have our own land, people, language, culture, values and laws.  We have the right to govern our territory as we see fit.  We have the right to develop citizenship and immigration policy, just as Canada has that same right.  It’s a matter of mutual respect, really.

The constitutional and legislative framework in Canada needs to be amended to reflect the reality of indigenous nationhood.  The sooner that politicians understand this and the average Canadian understand this – the sooner we will all begin to work together for the same goals.

We may not have to agree with the Mohawk’s citizenship law.  But we should respect it.