Vancouver’s new mega-development is big, ambitious and undeniably Indigenous: In B.C., Indigenous nations are reclaiming power and wealth for their own citizens—no matter what the neighbours thin (Michelle Cyca, March 11, 2024, Macleans)

Sen̓áḵw is big, ambitious and undeniably urban—and undeniably Indigenous. It’s being built on reserve land owned by the Squamish First Nation, and it’s spearheaded by the Squamish Nation itself, in partnership with the private real estate developer Westbank. Because the project is on First Nations land, not city land, it’s under Squamish authority, free of Vancouver’s zoning rules. And the Nation has chosen to build bigger, denser and taller than any development on city property would be allowed.

Predictably, not everyone has been happy about it. Critics have included local planners, politicians and, especially, residents of Kitsilano Point, a rarified beachfront neighbourhood bordering the reserve. And there’s been an extra edge to their critiques that’s gone beyond standard-issue NIMBYism about too-tall buildings and preserving neighbourhood character. There’s also been a persistent sense of disbelief that Indigenous people could be responsible for this futuristic version of urban living. In 2022, Gordon Price, a prominent Vancouver urban planner and a former city councillor, told Gitksan reporter Angela Sterritt, “When you’re building 30, 40-storey high rises out of concrete, there’s a big gap between that and an Indigenous way of building.

The subtext is as unmissable as a skyscraper: Indigenous culture and urban life—let alone urban development—don’t mix. That response isn’t confined to Sen̓áḵw, either. On Vancouver’s west side, the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations—through a joint partnership called MST Development Corp.—are planning a 12-tower development called the Heather Lands. In 2022, city councillor Colleen Hardwick said of that project, “How do you reconcile Indigenous ways of being with 18-storey high-rises?” (Hardwick, it goes without saying, is not Indigenous.) MST is also planning an even bigger development, called Iy̓álmexw in the Squamish language and ʔəy̓alməxʷ in Halkomelem. Better known as Jericho Lands, it will include 13,000 new homes on a 90-acre site. At a city council meeting this January, a stream of non-Indigenous residents turned up to oppose it. One woman speculated that the late Tsleil-Waututh Chief Dan George would be outraged at the “monstrous development on sacred land.”

To Indigenous people themselves, though, these developments mark a decisive moment in the evolution of our sovereignty in this country. The fact is, Canadians aren’t used to seeing Indigenous people occupy places that are socially, economically or geographically valuable, like Sen̓áḵw. After decades of marginalization, our absence seems natural, our presence somehow unnatural. Something like Sen̓áḵw is remarkable not just in terms of its scale and economic value (expected to generate billions in revenue for the Squamish Nation). It’s remarkable because it’s a restoration of our authority and presence in the heart of a Canadian city. […]

What chafes critics, even those who might consider themselves progressive, is that they expect reconciliation to instead look like a kind of reversal, rewinding the tape of history to some museum-diorama past.

Hilarious that the Left expected the End of History to pass them by.


Looking Back at the ‘Unmarked Graves’ Social Panic of 2021: A new book tries to explain how millions of Canadians became convinced that the bodies of 215 ‘missing’ Indigenous children had been discovered in British Columbia. (Tom Flanagan & Chris Champion, 1 Mar 2024, Quillette)

One reason this social panic unfolded as it did is that Canadians had already been led to believe that there was some enormous number of Indigenous children who’d simply vanished—“missing children” whose tragic fates had now been discovered. That claim, too, was always untrue.

This concept was popularized by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), whose officials spoke of up to 4,200 Indigenous children who were sent to Residential Schools but never returned to their parents. It is absolutely true that children died at Residential Schools of diseases such as tuberculosis, just as they did in their home communities. And the fate of some children may have been forgotten by their own distant relatives with the passage of generations. But “forgotten” is not “missing.” The myth of missing students arose from a failure of TRC researchers to cross-reference the vast number of historical documents about Residential Schools and the children who attended them. The documentation exists, but the TRC did not avail themselves of it.

Amid the moral panic that began in mid-2021, the “unmarked graves” were presumed to be populated by these “missing children.” Lurid tales of torture and murder, of babies thrown into furnaces and hanging from meat hooks, became popularized. Yet Indigenous parents, no less than other parents, love their children and certainly would have noticed if they went away to school and never came back. There is no record of parents filing complaints with police or other authorities about children who simply vanished—even though there are documented parents’ complaints about harsh discipline (documented complaints that, it should be added, were addressed by school authorities in favour of the parents’ concerns).

Notwithstanding larger debates about the assimilationist mission of these schools, and episodes of abuse, their operation was governed by bureaucratic protocols. As in schools all over the world, each child received an identifying file number upon admission, which was used for administrative purposes.

The federal Department of Indian Affairs also kept close track of students because it paid a per-capita subsidy to Residential Schools. It reviewed admission records meticulously because it didn’t want to pay for the non-Indigenous students who were sometimes enrolled in such schools. For their own part, the Residential Schools were equally motivated to keep track of students because their income depended on such subsidies.

Media stories about Indian Residential Schools are often accompanied by the claim that 150,000 Indigenous children were “forced to attend” such institutions. In fact, scholars generally agree that more students attended day schools located on Indigenous reserves than went away to board at Residential Schools. Children were not required to go to Residential School unless no day school was available. Moreover, a large number didn’t go to any school at all. And it wasn’t until 1920, decades after the Residential School system had been established, that attendance at either day school or Residential School was made compulsory for Indigenous children. And even then, enforcement was often lax. Even by 1944, estimates indicate, upwards of 40% of Indigenous children were not enrolled in any school whatsoever.

For each student who did attend Residential School, an application form signed by a parent or other guardian was required. Numerous specimens have been preserved and can be viewed in online government archives. Moreover, many Indigenous parents saw Residential Schools as the best option available for their children. Cree artist Kent Monkman’s famous painting, The Scream, showing missionaries and police snatching infants from the arms of Indian mothers at gunpoint is a fever dream of the modern Canadian imagination. It’s not even close to an accurate depiction of historical reality, even if taken metaphorically.


How Justin Trudeau lost his grip: The prime minister’s bleak reality: Canadians don’t like him anymore. (ZI-ANN LUM, 01/10/2024, Politico)

Trudeau, a bilingual Ottawa and Montreal native, tripped over old divisions between English and French-speaking Canada during the 2021 election — another disconnect with voter anger.

Internal Liberal polling suggested Trudeau was on his way back to majority status until the all-party English leaders’ debate during the home stretch of the contest. Trudeau’s tepid response to a question about whether language-protection laws in Quebec amounted to racism derailed Liberal momentum and cost Liberals the 10 seats they needed.

“You deny that Quebec has problems with racism,” moderator Shachi Kurl said to separatist Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet during the televised debate. “Yet you defend legislation such as Bills 96 and 21, which marginalize religious minorities, anglophones and allophones.”

The laws introduce protectionist rules for the French language in the province and ban public servants from wearing religious symbols such as kippahs, turbans and hijabs at work.

While Blanchet unleashed fury at the moderator, Trudeau seemed merely uncomfortable.