Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Position Paper #3 - The Government Needs to Help Give People Hope

    In past writings, I've written about what I think we need to do as a community to improve our politics or our economic situation. Now, I write about the point of doing these two things. I'll start with a quick story about Canada and the United States, because I think it's closely related to what I'm about to write.

Standing Tall
Governments and Communities Have To Stand For Something

    Every country has a collection of sayings that represent the values of that country. For example, the translated motto of the Republic of France is "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (Brotherhood)." In Canada, our motto is less inspiring: "From sea to sea." We have another saying that I think describes us perfectly as Canadians: "Peace, order and good government." These words are very different when compared to what I think describes the values of the United States: "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

    When the United States was created, there was some debate about what the stated values were going to be. Some wanted "Life, liberty and private property" because they believed that it was private property was one of the core values that made up the best route to having a successful community. Others disagreed and suggested that "private property" be replaced with "the pursuit of happiness." I think this was a very good decision, but I'll explain that soon.

    Contrasted with the USA, Canada was created when the Americans were in the midst of the Civil War. Canadian leaders looked south and saw a country torn apart by disagreements so fundamental that it scared them to think that a people so similar could do that to one another. This was frightening to Canadian leaders at the time because Canada was much more diverse than then United States. We not only had English-speaking people, but French and native people as well. They asked "How could Canada survive in a world when a united people such as the Americans could divide and kill each other?" As a result, Canada was created on the principles of "Peace, order and good government."

    Now, say what you will about how things are now, but I think that the United States was created on a better set of values than that of Canada. I think it evokes more passion and more hope in people to read the words "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" than it does them to read "Peace, order and good government." This is not to say that I dislike Canada, I think we became one of the best countries to live in despite our uninspiring founding principles, not because of them.

    So, that brings me to the point of this essay, what are the founding principles of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations?

    For the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, the first day of April 2011 was a rebirth. As a community, the People of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations have pursued treaty for the sole purpose of improving their lives. We have taken control of our collective destiny in order to help make our individual lives better by working together and making wise decisions that will help as many of our people as possible.

    By pursuing a treaty, we have successfully gained for ourselves a measure of liberty that we had not possessed before. The treaty acts as a means to protect our community and our people as a whole from the neglect of the Crown and (sometimes) the ill treatment of those it governs. In this way, "Liberty" means the freedom from something bad rather than the freedom to something good. We have a treaty to protect our historic and rightful place in Canada from those who would take it away and to allow our community to act in its own interest.

    In essence, I think our Nation is founded on the principle of Liberty. The only thing we ever wanted was to be free to make our own decisions, to be free from the dependence of our People on the Crown. We want to be free from interference by groups and people who don't care enough about us or the things we value. This is Liberty, the freedom from neglect, interference and repression.


    Ours is a diverse people. Unlike other communities, we are known as the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. Nations. Plural. We are a collection of peoples, diverse and distinct, but still united in a common history and a common purpose. We must base our community on the principle of Unity. The idea that we remain united and speak as one despite the time and distance that separates us.

    This is important because we share a common origin, a common history and now a common purpose because we don't necessarily share a common place in time and space. More than eighty percent of our people live away from our territory, but we must believe and understand that distance does not matter when it comes to being Huu-ay-aht. No matter where you are, you're still Huu-ay-aht.

    If our community is united in a common purpose built on the foundation of a common origin, then the separations of time and space should not matter. Everyone has something to offer no matter who they are or where they live. When we are inclusive of all voices, we are a stronger community. In that unity, we can achieve truly great things.

Liberty, Unity and Hope.

    When things are hard, when our lives don't go the way we planned, how do we carry on? One simple word: hope. Often overused, sometimes treated as a joke, hope matters. Without a sense of hope, people can be driven to do very bad things; or worse yet, nothing at all.

    If we focus on all of the bad things that have happened to our Nation and each of our People, it would be easy to understand why we would have given up. But the amazing fact is that we didn't give up. We kept going, we survived and went on to improve our lives in so many ways. We were able to keep going because we had reason to keep hope alive.

    When I was young, I was often frightened by the possibility of failure and being branded a loser. It's a terrible thing, being thought of as a loser. No one wants to be associated with failure. So, it becomes harder and harder for someone to work their way out of that without a reason for hope. If you lose hope for your life, it's very hard to gain it back but it's often the only way to stay motivated enough to turn things around.

    In the past, it would have been very easy to give up on the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. We could have thrown up our hands and decided that we didn't have to call ourselves Huu-ay-aht. We could have nodded quietly to ourselves, doused that fire and headed for the exit. But we didn't. We had hope for the future.

    We need to keep that hope alive. As a government, we need to ensure that our people have the freedom to hope for the future. To do that, we need to keep going no matter the hardship and we need to keep that vision of a better life in our mind's eye. Building a better life takes planning, discipline and hard work, but in order for people to be able to get out of bed every day and work hard, they need hope for the future.

Liberty, Unity and Hope.

    When people trust their government, they have more reason to hope for the future. When people believe in the vision and ability of the government, they have more reason to hope for the future. When people believe that they have a fair shot at making a better life for themselves and their loved ones, they have more reason to hope for the future. When people have the time and resources to pursue things that make them happy, they have more reason to hope for the future.

    When people are convinced that all it takes to make life better is getting out of bed and doing it, then the Nation and our government has reason to hope for the future.

    I believe that we can do all of these things. I believe that we can achieve the dreams of our ancestors and give future generations a better world to live in. I believe that our government needs to earn the trust of the people to effectively use our newly-won liberty. I believe that we need to remain united in a common purpose for all Huu-ay-aht, not matter who or where they are. I believe that we have reason to hope for the future, but I think we need to do more to further convince our people that the future is, indeed, a bright one.


Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council.
Klecko, klecko. (Thank you, thank you.)

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