Saturday, 5 January 2013

Some thoughts on the Idle No More movement and other such movements

I'm a supporter of Idle No More movement. I think it's a wonderful and lovely thing to see, and it gladdens my heart to see what it has inspired in the hearts of non-indigenous peoples. But I think it suffers from a lack of consistent and consolidated principles the same kind that plagued Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring.

I've been reading up on the writings of Edward T Hall, while trying to context and frame so many other things currently occupying my mind, including Idle No More. The problem is not lack of leadership as far as I'm concerned but a lack of political and intellectual principles that diverse communities of interests may buy into and inform their actions and advocacy (and I'm not talking just about the aboriginal group, but environmentalists, scientists, policy analysts, and elected leadership like Assembly of First Nations and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami).

Hall wrote about what he calls "situational dialects", like this:

During our studies, we concluded that people anywhere in the world master hundreds of what we came to call "situational dialects" which are used in specific situational frames, none of which is the language taught in the classroom. More important, the classroom is the only place where the classroom form of the language will be found. It is a monument to the human intellect that it has been able to overcome the handicap of classroom instruction and moved into the living language.

Ordering meals in restaurents represents a class of situational dialects (SD) of moderate complexity, depending upon the circle the speaker travels in as well as on how much of a gourmet he happens to be. If he eats ordinary food or frequents lunch counters in larger American cities, a few properly placed words will do. But if he wants to swing with the Jet Set and be at ease with the maitre d'hotel at the Ritz, Maxim's, or La Pyramide, he will need a whole new arsenal of terms as well as strategies and plans for their use. (Hall, Beyond Culture, p. 132)

-all of which faciltates and simplifies ease of interaction and "take[s] advantage of what the other person already knows" (ibid, p. 132).

I developed what I call a "family health model" (written in more detail somewhere in this blog) to try and frame justification for policy development advocacy for Inuit but in all the years of policy advocacy I couldn't get my fellow Inuit to grasp what and how I wanted to use it, and those federal and territorial bureaucrats who actually knew what I was rambling on about acted innocent and disingenuous because it implies things that make them uncomfortable for historical and ideological reasons.

The family health model, I think, would work very well as a set of basic principles for community development concerns like Clyde River's Ilisaqsivik where it provides early childhood education, acts as a family resource centre, and provides general beneficience for the community through counselling and public education initiatives.

But there are other things like the Humanist Manifesto I and II that could provide the 'situational dialect(s)' necessary for solidarity and informed direction however modified and adapted for such thing as Idle No More. As far as I'm concerned a servicable direction would be to ask for a negotiated process for First Nations-Governments relations to provide conflict resolution mechanisms and ombudsman role with legal force (ie, things that have been neglected for all these years).

But these are only my thoughts.

Jay

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