Sunday, April 17, 2005

"Conservation" or Colonialism?''

"Conservation" or Colonialism? The far right agenda of the
Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Printed March 1998

Late in the summer of 1995 four Native men were assaulted in Owen Sound by three to five non-Natives. Three Nawash Band members were seriously stabbed while police sat watching the assault from their car, never once getting out to intervene. Also on September 3 arsonists set fire to a Nawash fishing tug, burning it to a shell. Other boats had been vandalized and thousands of dollars worth of fishing nets had been stolen or destroyed over the course of the summer.

Only a month before these attacks about 100 anglers (sports fishermen) from the Grey-Bruce area marched on the booth of a Native woman selling fish with her children at an Owen Sound open market. The anglers were led by Grey-Bruce MPP Bill Murdoch.

Disputes over fishing around the Bruce Peninsula are the background to these acts of violence and vandalism against Native people. The isolated acts of a few rednecks? Perhaps. But a closer look indicates that a prominent "conservation" lobby helped create the environment in which these attacks took place.

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) boasts a membership of 74, 000 and has been in existence since 1928. The OFAH builds its public image on its supposed commitment to "conservation." Yet this organization, which enjoys a close relationship with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), has devoted much of its energies in the past several years to a sustained campaign against First NationsÕ hunting and fishing rights. What's more, key individuals behind the OFAH's anti-Native lobby have eye-brow raising connections with the fringe right and organized racists.

At the root of these disputes is an argument about who has the right to use and control resources. Indigenous rights to fish in and regulate the fishing waters around the Great Lakes existed before European settlers came to North America and have been affirmed both in treaties and more recently in court rulings. The OFAHÕs attack on Native fishing is more than just a fight about who can take how many fish. The OFAHÕs work towards undermining Native control of resources- which Indigenous people have historically maintained- is a direct assault on the basis of First Nations self-determination: land, water, and the way of life derived from them.

The OFAHÕs misinformation about Native Rights

The OFAH pits "conservation" measures against Aboriginal hunting and fishing rights, as if the exercise of these rights threatens conservation. By misrepresenting treaties and court rulings, and their implications for fishing and hunting by First Nations, the OFAH has tried to establish that Native hunting and fishing is both out of control and a threat to conservation measures.

Although anglers like to refer to the waters around the Bruce Penninsula as "their" waters, they are not. Anglers, like non-Native commercial fishermen, must purchase licenses in order to fish. For them it is a privilege to fish. For Natives itÕs a right. ThatÕs a big difference. ThatÕs the law.

Indigenous and Treaty Rights of the Anishnabe

In the Treaty of 1836 and the Treaty of 1854, signed between the Anishnabe (Ojibwe) in the Bruce region and the crown, a couple million acres of Anishnabe territory was ceded, but the Anishnabe retained the rights to fish in their traditional fishing waters. This area includes 7 miles around the Bruce Penninsula and around Manitoulin Island. These rights have never been surrendered. The Native right to fish in these waters is a priority right. The only way it can be restricted is for the sake of conservation and only if all other fisheries are stopped first. More info about fishing rights

A 1993 court case, referred to as the Jones-Nadjiwon decision by Judge Fairgrieve, recognized the Aboriginal and treaty rights of Anishnabe communities to fish commercially in these waters. The defendants, who had been charged with the violation of a government imposed fishing license, were all acquited. The First Nations have ignored the license, claiming certain terms prejudice their rights, and may indeed be unconstitutional in light of the Fairgrieve decision.

Indigenous fishermen demonstrate more concern about conservation than non-Native anglers. In May 1996 a Chippewas of Nawash by-law was ratified by the Department of Indian Affairs. The by-law regulates fishing in reserve waters and provides for gathering information on the fishery by Nawash fishermen. The angler catch is completely unknown. No one ever does a proper assessment of the total angler catch. Click to puke at OFAH propaganda.

The OFAH and the new OMNR

The OFAH also supports Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) wildlife "management" practices which actually damage Bruce Peninsula eco-systems. Splake, a hatchery-raised hybrid of speckled and lake trout, were stocked into the fishing waters around the Bruce Peninsula by the OMNR. Studies by Dr. Stephen Crawford of the University of Guelph and Dr. Mart Gross of the University of Toronto reveal that stocked fish can actually threaten the fish population, rather than replenish it. Stocked fish often bring diseases into the wild, against which wild fish have no defenses. Hatchery raised fish rarely breed, but when they do they dilute the gene pool to the point of wiping out the specialized genes of the native fish population. Further, stocked fish compete with wild fish for food and territory.

Pacific salmon, another fish stocked by the OMNR, are not indigenous to Bruce fisheries. Fish from the only stocks of wild trout left in the Georgian Bay have been found to have scars consistent with attacks from salmon. Guess who likes to fish salmon? You got it, those sports fishermen so fond of "conservation"!

The OMNR has actively assisted sports fishermen's clubs in the Grey-Bruce area to stock fish. And, on June 5, 1997, Chris Hodgson, the (former) Minister of Natural Resources, announced that he would make fish stocking even easier by waiving the fee for a fish stocking license (OMNR Press Release, June 5/97). Attempting to gain and maintain public credibility, the OFAH shrouds its anti-Native objectives with words like "conservation." The OFAHÕs "conservation," practiced by the OMNR, has less to do with maintaining the natural balance of eco-systems and more to do with conserving man-made environments favourable to week-end sports fishermen taking a break from the urban, corporate rat-race.

Since the Progressive Conservative government (Tories) under the leadership of Mike Harris was elected to power in June 1995, it has made a series of attacks on First Nations. Only months after the Tories came to power, Dudley George of Stoney Point First Nation was murdered by the Ontario Provincial Police. The Stoney Pointers were protecting traditional burial grounds located in Stoney Point (Aazhoodena) Territory which had been occupied by Ipperwash Provincial Park for over 50 years. Evidence now points to HarrisÕ direct involvement in the decision to confront the Stoney Pointers. Harris also cancelled agreements made between First Nations and the previous provincial government, including negotiations regarding co-management of natural resources by First Nations and the Provincial government.

The Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board

In June 1996 the Tory government created the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board. Stacked with anglers and hunters, the Fish & Wildlife Advisory Board is to advise the Minister of Natural Resources on how to best spend the revenues from fish and wildlife licensing fees, royalties and fines.

Since the Board was established, members have advised former Minister Hodgson to expand sports fishing opportunities and increase fish stocking. In April 1997, Hodgson announced that the OMNR will increase its stocking of salmon and trout in Ontario fisheries. According to an April 16, 1997 press release from the OMNR, "These initiatives will improve future sports fishing opportunities available to millions of Ontario Anglers," and, "In the future, MNR will significantly expand the coho (salmon) program to add exciting new seasonal angling opportunities for boat and shoreline anglers."

Significantly, there are no representatives of First Nations on the Board which former Minister Hodgson touts as, "a good example of how this government is keeping its promise to restore public involvement... in government" (OMNR Press Release, July 22/97).

Phil Morlock was appointed as the Chair of the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board. In 1992 Morlock gave a speech at an OFAH "Emergency Meeting" in Pembroke, Ontario and was introduced by Mike Harris (Harris wasnÕt yet the Premier of Ontario, but he was the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party). Morlock's paranoid speech gave the false impression that then New Democratic government was threatening conservation by turning over all the province's natural resources to Natives. Morlock also tried to play the good guy by stating that through self-government, Canada is creating apartheid. Now there's a perversion of reality! Self-determination simply means that a people (First Nations) determines the direction of their communites and ways of life, rather than being controlled by another group (Euro-Canadians). Morlock is ignorant, too; South Africa modeled apartheid on CanadaÕs reserve system, not on the right to self-determination and Indigenous control of Indigenous resources.

Also on the Board is former OFAH president Davison Ankney's sweetheart, Sandi Johnson, a zoology professor at University of Western Ontario (Western). Charles Alexander, past president and director of the OFAH, Gary Ball, an OFAH writer, and several men who own businesses which serve the angling & hunting and recreational industries were also appointed to the Board. The appointment of so many OFAH types to the board is virtually the same thing as handing OMNR contol over to OFAH!

The OFAH and "academic" racism

OFAH's anti-Native rhetoric stepped up while Davison Ankney was president of OFAH from 1991-1993. During this time, Ankney made a presentation to the First Nations Circle on the Constitution. In his speech, Ankney appropriated the spiritual basis of First NationÕs hunting and fishing, claiming that, "One hundred years ago members of both groups hunted and fished primarily for food... Now, except possibly in some very remote areas, neither non-natives nor natives must hunt and fish for food... The spiritual renewal from hunting and fishing is especially important for those of us, who,... must live in urban areas." AnkneyÕs twist on reality is subtle but unmistakable: not only does he deny that First Nations people ever hunted or fished for spiritual reasons, he implies that the only people who presently have a spiritual connection to hunting and fishing are non-Native urban dwellers. So urban sportsmens' week-end vacations in the bush are more "spiritual" than First Nations' subsistence hunting and fishing- activities which tie First Nations to a way of life directly connected to the land and waters?!!!

In the same presentation, Ankney argued that Ontario government policy on fishing was racist because it's based on race. But, Ankney's own "research" on so-called "racial hierarchies" proves him a hypocrite. Ankney is a zoology professor at the University of Western Ontario (Western). He published a eugenicist document co-authored by notorious Western psychology professor J. Philippe Rushton.

Rushton is infamous for his research into racial differences. He claims there is a hierarchy of "races" based on biology...he's obssesed with brain size, penis size and family size. According to Rushton "races" with large brains are more intelligent but also sexually inhibited, while those with smaller brains are not quite as bright but fuck like bunnies. Asians sit at the top (in terms of brain size) of RushtonÕs hierarchy, followed by Caucasians and then Blacks. Native North Americans are interestingly absent from Rushton's ludicrous theories. Ankney joined in with Rushton to examine the "data" of brain and penis size in order to publish their article. Eugenics

Ankney also rushed to publicly back Rushton in 1989 when Western University students led a series of protests against Rushton and his racist excuse for science. The Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS) was formed in 1989 to defend Rushton from student outrage and since then SAFS has opposed affirmative action and support for disabled university students. The groundwork for the formation of SAFS was laid by Davison Ankney, Doreen Kimura, a Western psychology professor, Douglas Jackson (another "gender researcher"), and University of Toronto psychology professor John Furedy.

Like Rushton, Doreen Kimura has built her career on studies linking intelligence to gender and race. As president of SAFS Kimura is the perfect weapon for SAFS' attack on the gains made by people of colour and feminists within universities. At the first SAFS conference, in 1993, she told a crowd of 150 academics that, "... university administrations in Canada have begun a campaign that can only be described as discrimination against men, and particularly Caucasian men."

The Racist Right and the anti-Native Lobby

Across North America, fringe right groups encompass various conspiracy theorists, soft-sell fascists, Christian fundamentalists, "family values" bigots, anti-immigration fanatics and almost every other stripe of racist or bigot. Any close study of fringe or racist right groups reveals the extensive (and sometimes mind boggling) network between these groups and the individuals associated with them.

Since the emergence of the modern anti-Native movement in the United States in the late 1960's, white supremacists have capitalized on the anti-Native sentiments of groups such as Steelhead and Salmon Protection Action in Washington Now (S/SPAWN), Protect Americans' Rights and Resources (PARR), Citizen's Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) and United Property Owners of Washington (UPOW). One example of many is the affiliation of several figures in the American anti-Native movement with the U.S. Populist Party. The Populist Party has been known to be home to Ku Klux Klansmen, Christian Patriots and an assortment of other groups on the racist right. Senator Jack Metcalfe, who has held a membership with S/SPAWN and UPOW, spoke at a Populist Party convention in 1984. Darlene Hangartner, a member of PARR, ran for Wisconsin State Attorney General in 1990 with the backing of the Populist Party. Anti-Indian Movements on the Tribal Frontier, a paper by Rudolf Ryser, details the extensive connections and organizational co-operation between anti-Native groups and the racist right in the United States.

In Canada, connections between groups expressing anti-Native views and the racist right include:

* Kenneth Hilborn, a history professor at the University of Western Ontario is a member of SAFS along with former OFAH president Davison Ankney and Hilborn is a member of the Reform Party. He has also had five books published by Paul Fromm's Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform (C-FAR). Paul Fromm was recently fired by the Peel Board of Education for his continued involvement with white supremacists. Fromm has shared several platforms with white supremacists, including the anti-semitic and racist U.S. based National Alliance, the Heritage Front, the Women's Aryan Union and Church of the Creator. Click for more info about Paul Fromm

Hilborne's C-FAR publication titled The Cult of the Victim: Leftist ideology in the 90Õs contains an introduction by Fromm in which he defends the anti-Native comments of Don Blenkarn, a former Tory MP. Blenkarn stated that wealthy non-Native property owners wished that their community could be turned into a reserve so that they wouldnÕt have to pay taxes. Fromm wrote, "BlenkarnÕs honest comments might tend to diminish the victim status of Indians and, thereby, harden resistance to their ongoing claims for special status in hunting and fishing rights..." (emphasis added). Sound a little bit like the OFAH?

* C-FAR also distributes Our Home or Native Land? a book by Mel Smith favored by other anti-Native organizations such as ON F.I.R.E. and BC F.I.R.E. (see the ARA- Toronto exposŽ of ON F.I.R.E.) and also by the Reform Party of Canada. Smith's book advocates the assimilation of First Nations into mainstream, white Canadian society. Smith was a bureacrat in BC for 31 years and he now writes for BC Report.

In the October 1995 C-FAR newsletter, Doug Collins writes a review of Smith's book, "...Our Home and Native Land offers some valuable debunking of the notion that Canadian aboriginals, Indians, native people, or whatever the politically correct moniker is, are a victimized minority. Far from it they enjoy privileges the majority does not."

* The Alberta Report, BC Report and Western Report are three right-wing magazines coming out of western Canada. Ted Byfield, creator of the Reports, is a Christian fundamentalist whose publications were the propaganda machine of the Reform Party in its formative years. The Reports have published articles slanted against Indigenous people as well as advocating for the teaching of Christian fundamentalism in schools, and espousing hatred for pro-choice advocates, feminism, homosexuality, sex education and on and on and on. The December 1996 issue of The CAN F.I.R.E. Report reprinted an editorial by Ted and Virginia Byfield (Ted's daughter) arguing that Native Residential Schools really weren't all that bad. Other gems from the Byfield's include an editorial in The Globe and Mail (Sept. 13/97) by Ted's son Link that it was really Indigenous people who killed off the buffalo in western "Canada." One Western Report article promoted Christian missionary activity in Native communities (Western Report, Sept 2/96).

Link Byfield was one of the founders of the Northern Foundation. Members of the Reform Party, the Canadian Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, the Heritage Front, REAL Women and many other fringe right groups have also been supporters or members of the Northern Foundation. The Northern Foundation served as a forum to unite members of the fringe and radical right with more mainstream right-wingers and its original raison d'etre was to advocate for white South Africa.

The OFAH as the mainstream of anti-Native activity

The OFAH has co-opted the honorable goal of "conservation" to open the door to the reception of a thinly veiled anti-Native agenda. What's even more disturbing about the OFAH's perversion of conservation is that it's being championed by Ontario's present provincial government through the OMNR, specifically through the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board. As well, OFAH propaganda contains a message which is also championed by many on the fringe or racist right: equal rights for all or equal rights for whites. The lesson to be learned from the American experience is that the racist right will capitalize on or be attracted to the anti-Native agenda of the OFAH if it is not recognized- and challenged- for what it is: racism.

Beneath the arguments over who takes how many fish is a more fundamental battle over First Nations' rights to self-determination, a right which implies control of the resources they depend on for survival as a people. And here's where the anti-Native lobby of the OFAH and the racist right can find common cause: both ultimately want to keep control (of resources, of culture, of laws, etc.) firmly in the grip of white people, or at least those who would use the resources in exactly the same way. And that's why it's important for anti-racists and those concerned about conservation to challenge OFAH in every way possible.
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