We Are Not You

We Are Not You: First Nations and Canadian Modernity

CLAUDE DENIS
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 178
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2tv0k8
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  • Book Info
    We Are Not You
    Book Description:

    This is an innovative study of an encounter between a Coast Salish Aboriginal community and the dominant institutions of Canadian state and society.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0307-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. Introduction: Joseph Peters, in the court of public opinion
    (pp. 11-18)

    L’Annonciation is a small town north-west of Montreal, in the Laurentians. Police there issued a press release one day in October 1995: arrests had been made in the kidnapping and beating of a man who had “disturbed” (burned, stolen from?) a marijuana field. Evidently, the people growing the marijuana had caught the man, taken him to their house, and punished him for tampering with their crop. He then escaped and called the police.²

    Seven, almost eight years before, in March 1988, on Vancouver Island, another man was grabbed by several people just as he was getting out of the shower;...

  5. Chapter 1 Nationalisms
    (pp. 19-34)

    What is a whitestream Canadian to make of the misadventures of Joseph Peters, as told byThe Globe and Mail?The initial news report is written in such a way that the whitestream reader is very likely to find what was done to Joseph Peters outrageous. In looking at Peters, his initiators, and the Court, such a reader will probably think that a forced initiation to syewen is barbarian and savage, and that the Court’s upholding of individual rights against tribal collective rights is the civilized thing to do. This point is further driven home in an editorial a few...

  6. Chapter 2 Colonialism
    (pp. 35-50)

    For me, it started with two articles inThe Globe and Mail,about the Joseph Peters case. Then, my interest piqued, I went to the judgement itself, obtained on-line from a friend at the Law Faculty. I read, and re-read the three texts so many times that I knew much of them by heart. A first analysis emerged.

    Many, many months later, in the town near which the initiation of Joseph Peters occurred; in the offices of the local newspaper, I am in a backroom, looking through a mess of old issues, bound a year at a time. I am...

  7. Chapter 3 Individual freedom
    (pp. 51-76)

    Winter on Vancouver Island is wonderfully mild by Canadian standards. Temperatures rarely fall below zero degree celsius, snow is even more unusual, and in Victoria the notoriously fragile cherry blossoms begin to bloom by mid-February. Still, it is not the kind of weather that would generally prompt people to undress and jump naked in a creek – which is one of the things that was forced upon Joseph Peters during his initiation. Add to this that his initiators bit him, dug their fingers into his sides, and hit him with tree branches. Testifying at the trial, he told the Court that...

  8. Chapter 4 Self-government
    (pp. 77-98)

    From the point of view of the Coast Salish community,² what went wrong in the initiation of Joseph Peters? First, and most evidently, their right to deal with problems in their own way and on their own was denied by the Canadian state. But this is merely the end of the line in the community’s destructuring, its disarticulation. How so? Someone, Joseph Peters, whom they claim as a member of their community, took the situation out of their hands and brought it to a Canadian court.

    The root of the problem is that the Salish community lives in the interstices...

  9. Chapter 5 Gender equality
    (pp. 99-114)

    My rights stop at the point where they infringe upon your rights: this notion, classically formulated in J.S. Mill’sOn Liberty,is perhaps the best known statement of the liberal discourse on individual rights. It also informs legal decisions by courts with regard to conflicts between individuals, such as contract and family disputes.

    Yet strangely – or perhaps not so strangely – this inter-individual concern quickly disappears from view when complaints like that of Joseph Peters are made. In such cases, as we have seen, the rights of an individual tend to be pitted against “collective rights.” But just as this latter...

  10. Chapter 6 Pluralisms
    (pp. 115-132)

    There is no getting away from social power.

    The women of the Naukana Association who challenged the South Island Justice Project (see Chapter 5) were outraged and concerned that certain individuals and families, backed by whitestream governments, were wielding their power to protect abusers of women and children. In calling for a halt, review, and audit of the program, the Naukana Association women claimed that they were seeking the disappearance of social power. We may better understand their enterprise as aiming towards a redeployment of social power in conformity with their interests and needs.

    It is something like that which...

  11. Chapter 7 Limit-experience
    (pp. 133-150)

    Being uniquely of this continent, the language of aboriginal spirituality would seem like the most appropriate way for me to approach issues of the limit-experience,² more so than, say, an appeal to Zen Buddhism. This is surely the case, and especially since I got to this point through a consideration of Joseph Peters’s syewen initiation. But, as the discussion in Chapter 2 on my relationship to aboriginal peoples and cultures has argued, the most direct approach in this case is not actually appropriate. I wrote that I did not want to describe syewen in any more detail than was necessary,...

  12. Conclusion: Expect aurora borealis
    (pp. 151-160)

    Materially, for us in the West and for every human society, individual autonomy is limited. It always exists in the context of family and community, however these might be defined. Is it inherently a conservative thing to write this? I would think that it is so far from being conservative that it just might be a condition for expanding democracy (see Mouffe, 1994). Here is, in a few concluding words, why.

    If we look at what is involved in being conservative, we find among other things that “obligations always take precedence over rights” (Giddens, 1994: 25). More generally, the self-described...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 161-172)
  14. Index
    (pp. 173-178)