by Bill Curry
The Globe and Mail
April 2, 2007
OTTAWA - References to radical natives in the Canadian Army's counter-insurgency manual will not appear in the final version of the document, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor announced.
The use of "radical Native American organizations" as an example of insurgents in a draft version of the manual has outraged native leaders, who viewed the wording as a threat to their political rights to protest.
Assembly of First Nations national Chief Phil Fontaine said yesterday the inclusion of natives in the manual could threaten the ability of Canadian natives to travel internationally.
But in a written statement, Mr. O'Connor explained that the document was simply making reference to past examples of insurgencies and was not meant to suggest that natives in Canada are a potential military target.
"The draft counterinsurgency manual was produced in September, 2005, under the previous government. The draft manual is not a final document, and continues to evolve and be updated," said the statement from the minister.
"The final version will not contain references to any current aboriginal organizations. The draft manual does not make comparisons between aboriginal groups and any insurgent groups," he stated.
"The draft manual does not state that any other particular group is a potential target of the Canadian military... What the draft document does do is use examples of past insurgencies from Canada and abroad to illustrate how some groups have resorted to violence or the threat of
violence in the past in order to gain political influence or concessions."
The Globe published a report on the manual on Saturday. The report noted that the Mohawk Warrior Society was involved in the 1990 Oka crisis in Quebec, which spawned a 78-day confrontation with police and the military that left a police officer dead.
The 135-page draft manual outlines a wide range of measures that could be used to assess, manage and defeat an insurgency.
On Page 11, under the heading "Overview of insurgencies and counter-insurgencies," a paragraph is highlighted which states: "The rise of radical Native American organizations, such as the Mohawk Warrior Society, can be viewed as insurgencies with specific and limited
Although they do not seek complete control of the federal government, they do not seek particular political concessions in their relationship with national governments and control (either overt or covert) of political affairs at a local/reserve ("First Nation") level, through the
threat of, or use of, violence."
There is no other mention of natives in the manual, nor does the manual add further context as to why that paragraph is included.
Five pages later, the manual gives other examples of insurgents, listing Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and the Tamil Tigers.
Mr. Fontaine issued a statement Sunday describing the mention of radical natives as "shocking."
The AFN had not yet heard from the government on the matter and will be issuing letters to confirm the paragraph will be removed.
"Just being referenced in such a document compromises our freedom to travel across borders, have unimpeded telephone and internet communications, raise money, and protest against injustices to our people," said Mr. Fontaine.
The national chief also expressed concern with warnings from Indian Affairs minister Jim Prentice that any federally-funded native group planning protests will face aggressive audits and revenue cuts.
Following a vote last fall by chiefs, the AFN set June 29 as a "National Day of Action" to raise awareness of native issues, but Mr. Fontaine stressed that the protest will be non-violent.
"First Nations people are people of integrity and we will abide by the rule of law while exercising our right to free speech," he said.
A Montreal area Mohawk Chief, Michael Delisle, also criticized the manual this weekend.
"I think it's appalling for all First Nations people to be looked at from any Canadian agency or any international agency, putting us in the same boat as national terrorists," he told CTV News.