Back of the Book
Revisionist’s Approach to History is not Appropriate
By John Syrette
I recently read the article (October 2016 issue of Blue Line) titled “Two More Years of Ball Bouncing” authored by Ian T. Parsons who is identified as a retired Inspector with the RCMP.
By John Syrette
Upon reading this article I have to say that I am disappointed. The author has chosen to ignore the role played by police as part of the current conditions faced by First Nations communities. I am the son of a mother who was removed by Agents of the Federal Government to attend residential school. Those agents were backed up by the strong arm of the law, the RCMP. Let’s not lose sight of this fact, as the author would have us do, but rather acknowledge that the police of the day were there to ensure (at times forcibly) the mandatory removal of children from their home communities was completed.
Rolling the clock forward and the author bemoans that police are now tasked with having to respond to the aftermath of the residential schools and the social issues. Making this statement while refusing to acknowledge the past actions of police is inappropriate and a revisionist approach to the history of police in Canada and First Nations. It minimises the belief that many police officers have treated First Nations People poorly. One only needs to look to the ongoing investigations of police interaction with First Nations women in the Province of Quebec or the Oppal report into the Picton farm tradgedy as sad examples of that very relationship.
I look to the book that Mr. Parsons has authored “No Easy Ride” and see his own recollection of how his supervisor routinely entered First Nation’s residences without warrant. I further look to this same book to see his description of the harassment of female members of the RCMP. It is apparent that his expectation that those being harassed should have been the ones responsible for stopping the harassment. Is this the kind of author Blue Line is affiliating themselves with?
In his published article “Head Smashed in” Mr. Parsons muses about the passing of the buffalo in Western Canada. I don’t know if Mr. Parsons is an anthropologist but he makes this statement: “The buffalo might have survived had it not been for the European influx – white buffalo hunters and pioneers hungry for large tracts of farmland. The Indians killed more than they needed, approaching on foot and herding many buffalo toward the edge – stampeding them at the last moment so their momentum carried them to their deaths – wasn’t exactly considered a conservation maneuver, but was very efficient.”
I can only assume this statement is being made based on his own version of history without considering the long standing sacred relationship between the First Nations People of the West and the Buffalo.
I raise this as, Blue Line Magazine has obviously struck a relationship with Mr. Parsons and has provided him a national forum to make statements about issues negatively affecting First Nations and to disparage the efforts of our political leadership to examine all aspects of the Missing and Murdered. I would have hoped that a respected publication like Blue Line Magazine would have considered a review of Mr. Parsons’ past articles and books prior to allowing him a national forum to express his opinion.
John W. Syrette is the chief of the Anishinabek Police Service in Garden River, Ontario. He became a police officer in 1987 and is one of the original three members of the Indian Special Constable office. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.