Some readers may recall a very enlightening exchange that VoC had with a reader named ‘Rob’ that was posted in “Does past oppression justify present violence. VoC gets ‘real’. Rob was very supportive of the native protesters, and agreed to answer 4 questions I have often asked those who write in to disagree with me. His willingness to ‘engage’ caused me to get VERY personal in my attempt to explain why I would never accept past injustices as an excuse for using violence today. I have received quite a number of compliments from readers who appreciated our willingness to ‘get real.’
I believe, with all my heart, that we cannot win the hearts and minds of people when we ‘yell’ at them, or when we don’t acknowledge the pain they are feeling. I have been fortunate enough to study Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) under a mediation pioneer named Franklin Corner Q.C., a lawyer from Hamilton, Ontario and I try to implement his teachings – whenever my own emotions don’t get the better of me!
A key mediation technique is acknowledging and then restating the argument or feelings that the other side is offering. The simple fact is that no one will care what you have to say – let alone consider modifying their position – until you make them believe that you at least understand their point of view. In a mediation setting, this is done by having the mediator ask each party to restate their opponent’s point of view as they understand it. The mediator then asks the other party if their opponent has correctly done so. This process continues until both parties have accurately articulated the other’s position.
Another important mediation tool is a firm rule that no ‘posturing’ is allowed. This means that the parties are coming together in good faith to discuss real issues and come to a realistic solution. Making silly demands or false allegations or insults are examples of posturing. When native spokespeople question the legitimacy of Canada or use terms like ‘genocide’ they are posturing, and by so doing, they are ensuring that few of us will listen to their legitimate grievances.
There’s one serious limitation with mediation. It’s best used in situations where people are going to maintain some form of relationship after the dispute is settled. Neighbours, friends, relatives, co-workers, employers, business partners, etc. That’s because both parties recognize the need to maintain a civilized, continuing relationship.
In every society, there are those who would use evil methods to get power and money for themselves no matter what the cost to their communities. They want what they want because they want it, irrespective of the damage it causes to those around them. These sociopaths cannot be reasoned with and they cannot be appeased. Native communities are not immune from these thugs who prey on the young attracted by visions of glory – not understanding that ‘no rules’ means their own lives have no value to the demagogues they seek to emulate.
It should be patently obvious that trying to negotiate or mediate anything with sociopaths is an exercise in futility, yet our government would have you believe otherwise.
Fortunately, the vast majority of native peoples (I believe) accept the reality that Canada – while far from perfect – is a pretty awesome place to live, and that their fellow non-native human beings are their neighbours, their customers, their employers, their co-workers, and their friends., and it’s important to make those relationship(s) work.
It is this group of native people, the people of good will and common sense, that I try to reach out to whenever I can at Voice of Canada. Behind the rhetoric and the anger in my critics is very often a person who just wants someone to listen to what they have to say. When I sense this in their words, I try to make a private contact via email encouraging them to offer some thoughtful observations, as I did with ‘Rob.’
Which brings us to Terry Jamieson Jr….
I received a comment from Terry (I’m using his full name because that’s how he identified himself) with respect to another VoC post. Although our ‘exchange’ did not begin on a highly positive note, I asked Terry to review “Does past oppression justify present violence” and give me his perspective. Here’s how it went…
Terry Jamieson Jr. // Dec 24th 2006 at 11:06 am
I am resident of Six Nations. I disagree with you people 100%. Where was the justice when our children were being kept in government sponsored institutions for no other reason then being a North American Native. I mean a true Native unlike you white folks. How can this be fair justice when your kind moved here from another part of the world, claimed eveything in sight as their very own with no regard for the true keepers of the land?
When we stand up for Truth it is portrayed as organized crime by ignorant white people.
VoC REPLY: Wow, Terry, you managed to mention the colour of my skin twice in your comments. As for me being ‘ignorant,’ if using violence and intimidation is standing up for ‘Truth,’ I’m glad to stay ignorant. If you’re saying that past injustices give you the right to be violent today, I suggest you see my most recent post, “Does past oppression justify present violence? VoC gets ‘real’ for my response to that argument. Mark
Terry Jamieson Jr. // Jan 11th 2007 at 3:52 pm
Those would seem like very reasonable and quite logical concepts to ponder however I am not a white man. When “fair” and “civil” justice is stacked to the max with “fair” laws designed to control the courts final decision, the illusion of justice is revealed.
Yes. I mean ignorant of our self governing rites and the treaties made. Time didn’t extinguish them, nor will ignorance.
PS. alot of the violence that occurred was a defensive response to unarmed people being attacked by intruders posessing tazers, guns, pepper spray, and clubs.
Sorry I can’t help but mention skin colour because when one looks back in history , what colour was each and every prime minister of this biassed country? Who designed all of the fair laws of Canada concerning Aboriginal land policies. What race was each protester on the anti-Native side.What percentage of the cops raiding the Native camp were caucasion?
VoC REPLY: Thanks for writing, Terry. In my response to your last comment I suggested that you review a post I did recently with the help of a reader named ‘Rob’ called, “Does past oppression justify present violence? VoC gets ‘real’” It deals with some of the issues you raise, and I did my best to explain my position from a VERY personal point of view. I’d be very interested in your comments, especially since you are -as you say – “not a white man.” I’m looking for some thoughtful feedback, OK? Thanks, Mark
Terry Jamieson Jr. // Jan 11th 2007 at 11:08 pm
Hey v o c. I don’t believe violence is a suitable means of concluding who is right and who is wrong.
However, it happens everyday. I will bet anybody on the face of the earth, any amount of money that on any given day of year, more violence occurs in Canada than at the Native protest sites.I will even give them 50-1 odds.
OK this isn’t an entirely race motivated issue. I personally believe that every single person is making a grave mistake by declaring themselves a truly free person, living in the best system ever devised. Its a lie. This democracy stuff is a total farce. How many politicians tell no lies to the voters? Is the world in a better state now that democracy is in vogue or is it becoming less inhabitable? If the wise elected leaders of the people truly cared about the voters, there will be less toxicity amongst our living space.
Considering the fact that a majority of our population came from another continent which had dictatorship, monarchist (or some other type of one person governing system); democracy would have sounded like heaven to them.Democracy is not omnipotent.
VoC REPLY: Hi Terry. First off, thanks for taking the time to offer some pretty astute comments to this post. I really do appreciate them, so let me respond:
1. I am glad to hear that you don’t think that violence is the way to solve problems.
2. Greater violence at native protest sites: I hate to say it, but if natives are taking land by force and intimidating residents, and lawlessness is running rampant, how could you expect there not to be violence used by law enforcement in an effort to protect the rights of other human beings to live safely in their homes? Your right – and mine – to protest ends at the point when we are injuring other people, and I’m not talking about inconvenience for a few hours or even non-violent civil disobedience. The reason the DCE occupiers are losing the media right now is because they have crossed a line by victimizing other human beings with their violence, their lack of self-discipline and their disrespect.
3. Re the shortcomings of democracy: You’ve got no argument from me there. It really bugs me that almost all the prime ministers of Canada have come from Quebec. It really bugs me that Quebec continually whines and complains like a wife (or husband!!!) who constantly threatens to leave if she/he doesn’t get her own way. It bugs me that rich oil companies are free to rip us off while the government does nothing. It bugs me that a lot of politicians are liars and power grubbers. Everything you say and believe about democracy is true, and probably – it’s even worse than we believe. Even Winston Churchill thought the same thing, but here’s what he said: “Democracy is the worst form of all governments…except for all the others.”
So, here’s the question: if it’s not democracy, what’s the alternative?
Now, Terry, I’m not going to pretend that I know the first thing about how traditional native people govern(ed) themselves (one day, I’d like to learn), but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this to you: let us assume that you were able to create a new ‘nation’ on DCE. Do you not need a way to protect the people who live there, or will you allow them to commit any crimes they wish against their own people and their neighbours?
My – admittedly second hand – information is that there is a lot of violence committed by natives against other natives on Six Nations. I know a native who is afraid to return to the reserve he was born on because he is certain he will be killed. Ultimately, there has to be some kind of authority that prevents anarchy, something that keeps one person from harming another.
4. Let me offer a heartfelt suggestion, if I can: why not focus on all of the good things about being a native person in Canada? I’ll bet that if you really tried, you could make a pretty big list. Man, you get to buy gas from those greedy oil company bastards without paying tax. I’d (almost!) kill for that right!
My government did some bad things to your ancestors before I was even born, and I think there aren’t too many ‘non-natives’ who begrudge whatever help we can provide to help you recover your culture, but destroying the rule of law and equality before that law isn’t part of the deal. No matter how frustrated you might be, the alternative to even an imperfect rule of law is too terrifying to contemplate – all you have to do is turn on CNN to see what’s going on in Iraq and Gaza and the West Bank. I’ve been to Gaza (before the current hostilities), and I can’t believe you would want your children or anyone’s children to live in such a way.
Terry, I urge you. I beg you. Please. Help us stop the thugs and gangsters who are using false promises of glory to seduce your children into creating an anarchistic state where they could well be its next victims.
Thanks again for writing. Mark
Terry, please feel free to respond. Thanks.
Terry Jamieson Jr.
Hey V of C,
Thanks for the praising words. I can’t take credit for my philosopical attitudes though. A great deal of those reasoning tools stem from my ancestral/spiritual belief in the Great Peace. It is what my (Iroquois) culture is truly all about. Not money, nor land and definatly not warring with our neighbours.
My people have always been misunderstood by the Whites. A few signatures does not represent our peoples view. All must be of one mind on the issue in order for it to move forward. It is The Creators designated process for us to follow. There has got to be a reason for that.Right? The fearmongering inuendos might work well in the USA but I think alot of nonnative Canadian folks have more practicality than that. Live Long and Prosper.
fr. Terry Jamieson Jr.
VoC REPLY: Terry, thank you for your kind and wise words. I have to confess that I was concerned about how you would respond as I was accused by one reader of being patronizing in this post, and that’s the last thing I wanted to do to you.
I want you to know about the remarkable thing that happened at the townhall meeting in Caledonia yesterday: I gave a speech and then Gary McHale did his presentation. After the presentation was over Gary opened up things for a discussion. One of the residents stood up to ask their native friends to join them in our fight to restore the rule of law for the benefit of all. During the discussion that ensued, I mentioned your name and talked about our discussion and the importance of appealing to native people of good will to help us. Another lady stood up and talked – quite emotionally – how she misses her native friends, and how badly she wants her town back. I saw at least one other native man listening thoughtfully to what was being said. We videotaped the whole event, and I think you’ll enjoy it very, very much. Just make sure you watch the whole thing, OK? The ending is probably the most important part.
Today, I’ve received some absolutely amazing letters from residents who want to extend their hands to native people. I’m not kidding you when I tell you that I cried when I read one letter in particular that one man sent to the Turtle Island News. His granddaughter was born yesterday, and his son-in-law is as he says proudly, “100% native Mohawk!” I’m going to publish his letter here in a new post ASAP.
Chris Syrie’s father came to the meeting yesterday, and then wrote a terrific letter to me which he, says, in part, “Chris and I would gladly work together to bring both sides together and once again unite the two communities of Ohsweken and Caledonia so we can again walk and talk as friends.”
The residents of Caledonia want their friends, their son-in-laws, their employers, their employees, their co-workers back so very much, but they also want to be free from violence and intimidation.
For the first time since this nightmare began, I am hopeful that something very, very good can come out of this, and I want you to know how grateful I am to you for being willing to listen, and for helping me to understand – at least a little bit – the hurt that native peoples are feeling.
I am embarassed by my own ignorance on this subject. I have to confess something to you that I recently told the people who help us in Caledonia: I used to sell real estate in the Hamilton area, and once sold a home on Indian Line to some first time buyers. I’m sorry to tell you I didn’t even realize that there was an Indian (is it OK to use that term?)reservation across the street.
I have a very important post to write, thanks in part to you, but let me leave you with a thought: Today is Martin Luthor King Jr. Day in the U.S. I hope you’ll allow me to paraphrase his famous, “I have a dream” speech:
My hope is that one day people will come to Caledonia, not to study the destruction caused by those who would do evil to other human beings for their own selfish purposes, but to learn about your culture, about the damage that was done to it, and how Caledonians – native and non-native – came together as one in the dark days to peacefully proclaim Six Nations and the rest of Haldimand County as a sanctuary from that evil.
Live long and prosper yourself Terry Jamieson Jr.