(Re: Native land rights a moving target, The Guardian, March 1):
I wish that letter-writer John Palmer had actually read carefully what I wrote - “Exact numbers not important,” Feb. 21.
My reference to the numbers of Mi’kmaq on P.E.I. or Mi’kma’ki broadly are not my figures. Those were taken from some of the extant literature. I freely admit that I have no idea what the precise numbers were in the 1700s - and neither does he. But it was more than a few. That was my point.
The Mi’kmaq were the original occupiers of this land. More importantly, there are no land claims treaties on P.E.I. between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown. And since land title was never legally extinguished in a treaty, that means that it was subsequently stolen from them.
Simply saying this might be complicated is really just code for let’s not do anything about it. So, let’s forget about any talk of proper atonement, compensation or reconciliation. It’s the same old colonial mentality that has gotten us into so much trouble with respect to our First Peoples over the centuries.
All it takes is a dispensing of that narrow and dated mindset, offering a respectful hand and a promise of partnership, and exhibiting some desperately needed political will and courage.
Unfortunately, Indigenous peoples on P.E.I. and elsewhere have been waiting for that hand for hundreds of very painful years. Isn’t time that we changed all that and dealt with our past appropriately and respectfully.
Professor, chair of political science
University of Prince Edward Island