Ermine (2007). The Ethical Space of Engagement.

Ermine, W. (2007). The Ethical Space of Engagement. Indigenous Law Journal, 6, 193–203.

[“Introduction” (p 194) …]

“One man is dressed in army fatigues and is clearly representative of the dominant and occupying force, while the other man, dressed in civilian, peasant clothing, clearly represents one of the ‘occupied.’ … On the [page break] surface, the presence of the other is acknowledged, but it is space between people, at the unstated, unseen level of thought and feeling that is overwhelming in the picture.” (p 194-195)

[“Ethics” (p 195) …]

“The word ethics is defined here as the capacity to know what harms or enhances the well-being of sentient creatures. To speak about the harms or enhancements to humanity inevitably launches our discussion into the arena of morality and the edifice of our civilization. … a discourse on ethics also includes the serious reflection of those crucial lines we draw to delineate our personal autonomous zones and demarcation of boundaries others should not cross. … sacred … dishonour …” (p 195)

[“The Status Quo” (p 196) …]

“… had its genesis in first contact and the ensuing time span of relations has not alleviated the condition to any perceptible degree of comfort on either side.” (p 196)

“The breach of interaction happened in the waning days of the fur trade and the two entities disengaged and resorted to their respective programs of political, economic and social nature. … [page break] … mainstream Canadian culture. … These acts of state produced the sordid and cumulative conditions of sociopolitical entanglement, an irritable bond of communities and trans-cultural confusion at its worst that is now the Canadian experience.” (p 196-197)

[“The Undercurrent” (p 197) …]

“Institutionalized monoculture creates the unfounded belief that there is a consensus about society and that the status quo of Indigenous-Western relations is the ‘norm’ in this country. … [page break] … Within this norm, minority populations such as Indigenous peoples, women, the aged, and the handicapped are imaginatively created for a caged existence and remain invisible and powerless when compared to the mythical norms established in the Western society. … because their image is created through Western systems and institutions, this same image can also be controlled and manipulated to suit Western interests. … Our existence is reduced to a meaningless and marginal part of broader Canadian life to be silent and ultimately controllable. … Continuing breaches and ruptures between Indigenous peoples and the state …” (p 198-199)

[“Indigenous Gaze” (p 199) …]

“Movement within this community context allows individuals to discover all there is to discover about one’s self.” (p 200)

[“Emergent Rules Of Engagement” (p 200) …]

“The treaties between the First Nation and the Crown are historical models of how negotiation can happen between nations as the representations of diverse human communities. These treaties are nation-to-nation dialogues, between one human community and another, with each party supported and informed by their own autonomy and their respective political and cultural systems.” (p 200)

“There is also the added pressure from human rights legislation and the _United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples_. What these legal instruments recognize is that Indigenous peoples are not the enemies of Canadian civilization, but are, and have always been, essential to its very possibility.” (p 201)

[“Reconciliation” (p 201) …]

“Since there is no God’s eye view to be claimed by any society of people, …” (p 202)

“It is a way of observing, collectively, how hidden values and intentions can control our behaviour, and how unnoticed cultural differences [page break] can clash without our realizing what is occurring.” (p 202-203)

Selected References

  • UN General Assembly. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly, A/RES/61/295 § (2007).
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