Book Review: Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry


Dr. Frances Widdowson’s blog: Offended by Offence

UPDATE: Gary McHale (Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality) and Mark Vandermaas (VoC editor and founder of Caledonia Victims Project) have been invited to speak at a ‘New Directions in Aboriginal Policy’ forum at Mount Royal University in Calgary on May 05/10 by the author of Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry, Dr. Frances Widdowson. You can see the program and various writings from the speakers here: 

UPDATE: Author Frances Widdowson cites VoC in ‘Pseudoleftist support for “Mohawk Warriors” in Caledonia, Dec 02/09.

UPDATE: Frances Widdowson, co-author of ‘Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry‘ comments on Caledonia and the Brown/Chatwell trial in ‘Caledonia: A glimpse of aboriginal self-government,’ Nov 23/09. 

UPDATE: National Post book review of ‘Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry,’ July 02/09: Peter Foster: The chiefs have no clothes

UPDATE: Policy Options, March 2002: The Aboriginal Industry’s New Clothes  PDF, by Widdowson & Howard

UPDATED 1311 EST June 21/09

Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation

Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard
McGill-Queen’s University Press  Format: Trade Paperback
Published: November 1, 2008
330 pages
ISBN – 10:0773534210
ISBN – 13:9780773534216

Available at Chapters: $32.99


A delicious paradox…

For those seeking to understand the insanity of racial policing and the official tolerance of it by the McGuinty government (and others) ‘Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: the Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation‘ tells it exactly like it is without ever talking about Caledonia or Ipperwash. That delicious paradox will be especially appreciated by readers who are familiar with the issues associated with land claim lawlessness in those locales. 

The book’s importance was recognized early on when it was placed on the Short List as a finalist for the Donner Prize, awarded for the best book on Canadian public policy. The winner will be announced on Thursday, April 20/09.

Toronto Star article by authors

The Toronto Star recently carried an article written by the authors that explains why the “self-serving industry” thrives on “the continuation of aboriginal dependency and social deprivation.”

The authors also share our experiences with respect to being the recipient of sleazy allegations of being racists:

The aboriginal industry, however, favours segregation over integration. In order to prevent the recognition of this socially destructive policy direction, the aboriginal industry has developed some very effective tactics over the last 40 years.

It viciously attacks the credibility of opponents, arguing that criticism of aboriginal policy is to denigrate aboriginal people themselves. “Racist,” “colonialist,” and “right-wing” are the most common insults hurled at those who dare to question the viability and effectiveness of land claims and self-government initiatives.

Recently, organizations like the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs have even argued that critics like us are guilty of “inciting hate,” and some members of the Canadian Political Science Association have asked if we should be charged under the Criminal Code. As a result of these tactics, most people who are uncomfortable with the obviously unworkable and irrational character of aboriginal policy are discouraged from raising their concerns publicly…

Toronto Star, April 25/09: Exposing the Aboriginal Industry  REPRINT  PDF

Policy Options article by authors

The official view that aboriginal “traditional knowledge” is a useful supplement to scientific research provides a good illustration of how the development of native policy in Canada resembles the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes. As is the case with other aboriginal initiatives, any public questioning of traditional knowledge is likely to be met with accusations of racism. The main beneficiary of this extreme form of political correctness is the Aboriginal Industry that has grown up around the negotiation of land claims and self-government agreements. Its victims are aboriginal people, whose dependency and severe social problems are never seriously analyzed.

Policy Options, March 2002: The Aboriginal Industry’s New Clothes  PDF

VoC submits review to Donner Prize jury

After reading the Star article I went out and bought the book ($32.95 in stock at Chapters) and was so impressed by what I read that I felt compelled to send a review to the Donner Prize jury with copies to the authors, their publisher, and the Chair of the Department of Policy Analysis at Mount Royal College:

Meisner, de Groot & Associates
Prize Manager, The Donner Prize
Frances Widdowson, PhD
Faculty, Mount Royal College
Co-author, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry
Albert Howard
Co-author, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry
Bruce Foster, PhD
Chair, Department of Policy Analysis
Mount Royal College
Jacqui Davis, Publicist
McGill-Queens University Press
Dear Donner Prize Jury et al:
I apologize for this late submission. I only just became aware of ‘Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry’ via a recent article in the Toronto Star and, after purchasing and reviewing the book, I would like to pass on my thoughts from the perspective of someone who gave up a career as a real estate broker two years ago to expose and oppose native violence and race-based policing practices during the Caledonia and Ipperwash land claim disputes. Please see the attached resume for the founders of CANACE (Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality); it contains links to our extensive work with respect to these issues.
One of the stated key criteria for the Donner Prize is ‘the importance of the subject.’ Rather than take up your time recounting the history of Ipperwash and Caledonia, and how the McGuinty government and the Ontario Provincial Police have worked together as a unified security force and public relations unit for native protesters who have wreaked violence, vandalism, illegal tobacco and intimidation on innocent non-native residents, I refer you to two CANACE reports and a published article (see links in attached resume or below my signature):
  • The Human Costs of Illegal Occupations
  • Legalized MYTHS of Illegal Occupations
  • McGuinty’s Ipperwash Cover-up: The Caledonia Legacy 
I humbly suggest that were you to read these reports your decision about the importance of the authors’ subject matter would be an easy one indeed.
‘Disrobing’ explains – without ever examing the plight of non-natives – why children in Caledonia are afraid in their homes; why the OPP arrest non-natives for putting up Canadian flags; why Crown Attorneys drop serious charges against natives while pursing non-natives for the most minor of offences; why the Commissioner of the OPP personally intervened in directing officers to target a non-native activist for criminal charges despite knowing the man had committed no prior crimes; why the OPP illegally refuse to protect land owners from native occupations; why the Ipperwash Inquiry refused to allow non-native victims to testify; why Ipperwash negotiations are still ongoing; why natives broke off Caledonia negotiations; why natives are allowed to operate an environmentally dangerous quarry when a licence was refused to the non-native owner; and why false accusations of ‘racist!’ are made against those of us who speak out against the injustices created by the Aboriginal Industry. This book simply has the clarion ring of truth that resonates in perfect harmony with our own experience and knowledge. 
I see the authors’ work as a macro explanation for the micro-situations people affected by landclaim lawlessness face every day as they cope with native aggression and police tolerance of it; peacefully protest; write letters; take photos; file complaints to those who should help but refuse to do so; are assaulted, threatened, smeared and arrested; file court documents; defend themselves against scurrilous attacks; and deal with media determined not to tell the real story about legal and social abuses that represent a clear and present danger to the very survival of our democracy. After reading ‘Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry’ I now understand the twisted, bizzaro-world policies and ideologies that have allowed the Ontario government and the Ontario Provincial Police to deliberately abandon thousands of innocent victims in Caledonia and Ipperwash. As one police officer who lives in Caledonia recently testified in a Hamilton court, “Policing was suspended in that town [Caledonia].” 
I would be remiss if I did not express my sympathy for the authors at having to cope with disgusting attempts by supporters and beneficiaries of the Aboriginal Industry to stifle free debate by attempting to label them as purveyors of hate. I and my colleagues have been assaulted, threatened with kidnapping and death, and smeared as ‘white supremacists’ despite all evidence to the contrary. Today, the Commissioner of the OPP testified in a Hamilton courtroom that after receiving complaints from natives the OPP launched an investigation to have my associate, Gary McHale, charged with a hate crime. There was no charge. This however, did not stop the Commissioner from accusing Mr. McHale in court of being a racist even though he admitted he couldn’t recall a single racist thing on his website. 
This book deserves the attention and the credibility that the Donner Prize can provide. I can think of no more important service to the people of Canada than a work that encourages others to brave the sleazy intimidation of the Aboriginal Industry and its proponents, and begin in earnest an honest discussion about why the emperor has no clothes. 
In closing, I would like to express my profound gratitude to Widdowson, Howard, and their publisher for having the courage to publish this work, and to take heart; as we like to say, “In Caledonia, you’re nobody until somebody’s called you a racist.‘   
Thank you so much for listening. Please feel free to call any time, day or night:  cell: I have cc’d this to the other founders of CANACE; please feel free to contact them as well. As mentioned above our ‘resume’ is attached. I would be pleased to provide telephone numbers for my colleagues upon request.


Mark Vandermaas  

Co-Founder, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CANACE)
Editor, VoiceofCanada
Legalized MYTHS of Illegal Occupations
The Strength of a Woman – 14 year old ‘Dancer

A cry for OPP protection from a resident on the Sixth Line in Caledonia

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.”     

VoiceofCanada to native reader, Jan 12/07


Algonquin Chief wants end to the ‘native land-claims industry’

It is my hope that the governments put a stop to the native land-claims industry that has been created as a result of these disputes. All it has done is make lawyers rich while their clients are wondering what happened to the settlement.

Letter to Ottawa Citizen, June 02/09, Paul Lamothe, Ottawa Chief, Ottawa Algonquin First Nation: Put an end to land-claim industry

Six Nations councillor concerned about money spent on negotiations

She [Claudine VanEvery-Albert] said in her letter that she is “uncomfortable” about two invoices that were submitted to her committee, debated and set aside earlier this year. Her concern increased in March when she learned that at least a part of the invoices had been paid without her knowledge even though she’s the co-chair of the committee.

The invoices submitted were from Lynda Powless, publisher of the Turtle Island News, for $216,000 and one for $143,000 from Aaron Detlor, a Six Nations lawyer who set up the Haudenosaunee Development Institute.

The Powless invoice simply says: “Communication and media advisory, crisis media management, press strategy, consulting, advisory Mohawk Chief Allen MacNaughton 2008-2009 $216,000.”

Brantford Expositor, May29/09: Questions raised about hefty bills REPRINT PDF

VoC Comment

‘Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry’ has nothing to do with Caledonia and Ipperwash yet it has everything to do with them. If you want to understand what’s really driving the landclaim ‘negotiations’ and associated violence and crime, and the true cause of aboriginal misery on reserves, run – not walk – to your nearest bookstore and buy this book before the Aboriginal Industry starts intimidating booksellers into not carrying it with their tired cries of ‘racist!’  

One thing is becoming clear: Others besides CANACE are speaking out on Aboriginal issues to draw attention to the incredible double standard society has accorded them and the damage it is doing to native people themselves, and are willingly facing the same vicious attacks we have endured in order to bring about a better Canada for all citizens. As Widdowson and Howard note in their Toronto Star piece of April 25/09: 

Intimidation and smear tactics may have worked in the past, but they are beginning to wear thin. Now that it has been exposed that the Emperor has no clothes, his nudity cannot be denied indefinitely.

Now that the intellectuals have joined the fight (admittedly following in the footsteps of other authors before them) can there be any doubt that the fight against Two Tier Justice/Race-based Policing/OPP Experimental Justice will be won? Can there be any doubt that others will now find the courage to speak the truth? 

Be sure to visit Widdowson’s blog, Offended by Offence.

Mark Vandermaas, Editor