The Idle No More movement has served to shine a light on Canada's failure to deal with the plight of its indigenous peoples.
Like all such movements, it will run its course, run out of steam and disappear. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the state of Canada's indigenous peoples, who will continue to suffer under the historical welfare regime upon which they have become so utterly dependent and which has done more than anything else to destroy their culture.
So what to do? How to end this endless cycle of crisis and confrontation?
Absent from any discussions to date is a vision of what we want Canada to look like in the future. Without such a vision, future negotiations will be ad hoc and crisis driven.
Meaningful discussion between native, provincial and federal leaders can then reach common ground between their visions. That will also be the time the Canadian public can weigh in on which vision makes most sense.
The country desperately needs a long-term vision the majority of native and non-native citizens can support.
In the long term, no democracy can condone or tolerate special rules or privileges for any part of its whole, particularly when such rules are racially based.
The vision for Canada must be one in which all of its inhabitants operate under the same set of rules. Successful implementation of this vision is agnostic with respect to the bogeyman of cultural assimilation. It simply means an end to public funding of any group that chooses to practise a particular set of cultural traditions.
We celebrate our cultural diversity in Canada, and so we should; it enriches us all.
In my vision of Canada, any group must be free to pursue and maintain its traditional cultural proclivities, but never at the expense of the public purse. Similarly, it is not the responsibility of government to make resources available for maintaining individuals in any particular geography when the economics of so doing are negative.
Cultures evolve, they come and go, and no culture has an inherent right to continue. It is up to the members of any particular culture to determine its present state and its future direction.
Such vision must also be guided by the fact that by far the best way to destroy a culture is to place its members on welfare for a few generations. Canada has run the experiment, and the results are clear: dependency, poverty, hopelessness, widespread substance abuse and social disintegration.
The welfare state imposed upon Canada's indigenous peoples has resulted in the deplorable state in which so many live today.
My vision for Canada: a democratic country that has the same set of rules, responsibilities and opportunities for all its citizens, in which all are entitled to pursue and maintain their cultural traditions at their own initiative and expense, and in which the cultural hazards of the welfare state are understood.
If this requires changes to Canada's Constitution and treaties, so be it. Neither is sacred or immutable.
If leaders disagree with this vision, they have an obligation to present their own.
As Yogi Berra said, "You have to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."
H. Christian Fibiger,