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The Parry Island folks I knew woulda been pissed…

Sorry, but having grown up with folks of surnames like Pegahmagabow, Tabobondung, King, Rice, Partridge, Nanibush and others… I think this sorry attempt at a politically correct attempt at being inclusive would be chuckled at.

I don’t pretend to be an expert or even a knowledgeable person when it comes to land claims, treaty rights and all the rest. But I did know quite a few of these folks while growing up in the area and they wanted nothing more than to be respected and given the same opportunities as those of us who lived off the Island.

“I knew that we wouldn’t be involved with the G8,” Tabobondung said in an interview this week at the band office on Parry Island, across a single-lane bridge from Parry Sound.

“But I thought, ‘This is part of our traditional country. Our ancestors are still there – we should celebrate that.’”

The 39-year-old chief says guidance came from his grandmother, Chief Flora Tabobondung, who passed away four years ago at the age of 86. Flora was a legendary figure in Canadian first nations, one of the chiefs chosen to go to England in 1982 when the Constitution was being repatriated, one who fought for aboriginal presence at the constitutional table and who subsequently was named to the Order of Canada for her work.

Flora was the Grandmother of an old friend with whom I went to undergrad. I studied Politics and she, Native Studies. I think Shane is her brother. But the name is widespread across the Island and he may be a cousin.

In any case, Canada’s distant heritage is often an afterthought for the main political parties – as much a bother that has to be attended to than anything else.

But I saw the discrimination, the prejudice and the addiction problems with that part of the population in my hometown.

And it’s too bad that Obama et al are getting an oh-so-sanitized view of a very old story in a part of the world I still call my hometown.


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