help the situation?
RA: It helped Aboriginal people to affirm
their own identity – that they were right
and the government was wrong.
FT: What do you think is the biggest mis-
conception non-Aboriginal Canadians
have about First Nations communities?
RA: Jacques Ellul (a French philosopher
and lay theologian) says that legality is
when a government passes a law to make
Egypt in Crisis: In an Islamic country, Christian Egyptians are a minority who
face constant criticism. Many of these fellow Christians have very limited
church upbringing and a very limited understanding of the Scriptures. Due
to much poverty, they are desperate for Bibles and Scriptures for children.
what they are doing legal. Ellul says that you
shouldn’t ask, “Will this lead to something
good?” You should ask, “Is this something
good?” Most people don’t understand that
when the treaties were signed, the incom-
ing Europeans colonizers quickly realized
they couldn’t afford to buy the land off the
First Nations people. At first they were try-
ing to buy the land, but then they thought,
We will tax the settlers and pay annuities to
the First Nations. At one point the govern-
ment realized they didn’t want to pay these
annuities, and that’s when they tried to do
a legality. If you claim to be a follower of
Christ, you can’t use [the excuse] that the
end justifies the means.
FT: If Ellul’s question – “Is this right?”
– had been asked all along, how do you
think Canada would be different today?
RA: If it had been done right, you’d have
something that honoured the treaties. There
have been times when it has been good, The
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
said we should return to the time of treaties
because things were better then. Canadians
start saying, “Oh, these guys are taking all
our tax dollars.” Well, that was always the
plan. That’s how they would pay the rent
on the land. Now, Canadians are saying we
don’t want to pay the rent. That’s a legitimate
conversation to have, but you have to have
it in the right way. Idle No More is saying
you can’t just keep passing these laws that
chip away at our communal identity. And
our communal identity includes the land.
It’s not unlike some agrarian communities
in Canada, this idea of belonging to the land.
FT: Ray, it feels like a legitimate concern
on the part of the government and “other
Canadians” that in some communities
the money sent there does not seem to be
RA: I have worked in a denominational set-
ting where the rhetoric was that we have
put over $1 million into First Nations min-
istries with little results, and we can’t keep
pumping money into this. On the face, that
seems to have legitimacy. But when I tell
you that the money was sent over ten years,
so it’s actually only $100,000 a year. And
then I tell you that it was split between ten
churches, so all of a sudden it’s $10,000 a
year. Well, that is the same thing is in At-
tawapiskat. There are two things people for-
get. The government says what the money
can be spent on.