Michael Stewart, writing on rabble.ca quite effectively skewered Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his childlike glee over the discovery last week of one of the two vessels lost in the Franklin expedition.
After pointing out that Harper has become a laughing stock in the world community for using his foolishly bellicose and threatening stance towards Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hamas to mask his impotence when it comes to paying for any of the decisive actions he thinks other nations should take, Stewart points out that Harper’s ‘discovery’ has been foretold by the Inuit who have been telling us where to find it all along.
Cover: Mendelson Joe’s Stephen Harper postcard.
We’ve re-published some excerpts from Stewart’s column but you really should read the whole thing here.[excerpt]
The tableau, of course, is cut with irony. First, there is the matter that Harper’s Conservatives have been relentless with their cuts to Parks Canada (who led the Victoria Strait Expedition), who have lost nearly 1,700 jobs since 2008, and to Libraries and Archives Canada, who have seen entire collections mothballed and access to archives cut. Of course, Harper would surely answer the criticism that his administration isn’t actually overly concerned with history with a gesture toward the pomp he delivered during the bicentenary of the War of 1812…
Second, is the awkward timing of the Franklin expedition and his refusal to address the epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women. His infamous “sociological phenomenon” vs “crime” gaffe was bad enough, but what’s notable about today’s press conference is that it was really an announcement that nothing was “discovered” at all.
“The Inuit have said for generations that one of their hunters saw a ship in that part of the passage, abandoned and ended up wrecking,” said the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge. “It’s exactly where this guy said it was.”[excerpt]
It took almost two hundred years for Canadians to decide to listen to Inuit people who actually saw the ship crash. And when they did listen, they called it a “discovery.” It’s almost as if Mansbridge wants to credit the scientists for coming up with the idea to stop ignoring Aboriginal peoples. Today’s announcement both diminishes the Inuit oral history directly responsible for finding the wreckage while simultaneously seeming to validate it. Good job, traditional peoples. Let the grown-ups take it from here.
Métis/Cree poet Marilyn Dumont writes on her Facebook page:
“My question is, if the Inuit stories recount the location of the Franklin ship and ‘researchers discovered’ this material evidence through the Inuit Traditional Knowledge, why aren’t the Inuit perceived as practitioners of formal systems of knowledge? Why aren’t the Inuit ascribed ‘discoverers?'”