Let the People Speak
Let the People Speak:
Oppression in a time of reconciliation
Foreword by Sheila North
Paperback published by J. Gordon Shillingford Inc.
E-book published by Signature Editions
Jones offers a provocative possibility… [she] manages to succinctly boil down an essential theory as to the massive gaps in [Indigenous] social, political and economic inequity which persists in our prosperous country.
—Winnipeg Free Press, February 2020
This book says what needs to be said—that Treaty annuity payments remaining frozen at $5 after almost 150 years is clearly an unconscionable absurdity.
—Right Honourable Edward Schreyer, former Governor General of Canada
The central message here is simple. The Canadians that our racist Constitution calls ‘Indians’ are voiceless and powerless, and the long-promised ‘reconciliation’ will not happen without empowering individuals and families. This book offers an innovative way to make that happen.
—Gordon Gibson, policy analyst and author of A New Look at Canadian Indian Policy: Respect the Collective; Promote the Individual
Since Indigenous Affairs (IA) became a stand-alone Canadian government department in 1966, it has mushroomed into a federal department unlike any other. IA has jurisdictional reach over 90 percent of Canada’s land mass, authorities that reach into every single federal government department and agency, with a budget (including its 33 federal co-delivery partners) of some $20 billion annually. Indigenous Affairs Plus (IA+) is effectively a “super-province.” Yet not a single person overseeing this new super-power within Confederation has been elected by Indigenous people to represent their interests. Not only do ordinary Indigenous people have no voice in federal policy decisions that can affect nearly every aspect of their lives, they have no power to hold IA+ accountable to them. Ordinary Indigenous people are among the most politically voiceless and powerless people in Canada.
In Let the People Speak: Oppression in a time of reconciliation, award-winning Canadian journalist Sheilla Jones poses a crucial question: are the well-documented social inequities in Indigenous communities—high levels of poverty, suicide, incarceration, children in care, family violence—the symptoms of this institutionalized powerlessness? The solution to powerlessness is empowerment, and the means for that empowerment already exists—treaty annuities linked to the increasing value of ceded lands and paid directly to every First Nations Treaty man, woman and child. Modernizing annuities was validated by Parliament in 1879 and affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1895. It is a telling measure of the powerlessness of ordinary First Nations people that annuities have remained unchanged for 150 years. Only when ordinary Indigenous people are empowered to speak for themselves can all Canadians—Indigenous and non-Indigenous—begin a meaningful conversation about reconciliation.
Publisher: J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing Inc., Winnipeg
Let the People Speak launched on September 19, 2019 at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg.
Elder Glenn Cochrane, left, offers a blessing at the opening of the book launch, with emcee Wayne Helgason. The blessing was live streamed.
Sheila North makes a point during a lively discussion.
Sheilla Jones settles in to sign book copies for the book launch audience.
Sheilla Jones is a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, leading the Treaty Annuity/Individual Empowerment Initiative. She is an award-winning Canadian journalist, former CBC news editor, and author of several books on popular science.
Sheila North from the Bunibonibee Cree Nation is the former Grand Chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), and former Chief Communications Officer for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. She is a former Gemini-nominated CBC journalist, former CTV journalist and documentarist.