Mischa Popoff's column, First Nation Leaders Must Do Better, on Nov. 5, is offensive because it perpetuates and contributes to negative stereotyping of First Nation peoples in Canada and unfairly judges an entire group of people based on the behaviour of one individual.
We are concerned readers of his column may interpret personal biases and opinions of the writer as facts.
Blatant discrimination against First Nation peoples is highly damaging and minimizes the ongoing impact of colonization on First Nations people.
While the column highlighted serious struggles facing First Nations' people living on reserves, such as addiction, abuse and poverty, we are deeply troubled by the lack of context within which these issues were communicated.
Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, among other evidence-based research, acknowledge the harm and generational impact of colonization, past and present, and the residential school system on First Nations people.
MP Romeo Saganash is a survivor of the residential school system; it is disturbing to read the writer's opinion that solely focuses on his problems or struggles rather than the strength of his resilience.
It is true that accusations of corruption within band leadership exist in some First Nations communities; however, self-government is not to blame.
The "made up positions" within band offices, were indeed made up: Band councils were imposed by the Canadian government in an attempt to transition First Nations people from their traditional forms of government to a Canadian municipal style of government.
Many of these band councils are still first held accountable to the Canadian government before being held accountable to their community.
The successful chiefs referred to are largely successful because they hold their government responsible and accountable to their people first.
First Nation communities operating in self-government have significantly lower suicide and unemployment rates, implement a proactive versus reactive approach to problem solving, and ultimately decrease the tax burden on all Canadians.
Finally, the writer claims that Saganash represents all First Nations people. While we can legitimately expect Saganash to represent his constituents, we question the expectation that Saganash represents all First Nations people.
Rarely would you hear a claim that the actions of one white MP represent all white people because that would be considered a broad sweeping stereotype and, consequently, an illegitimate claim.
The writer states that Saganash should "man up," "apologize" and "come clean" - for what, we ask, for surviving a system that has historically oppressed and marginalized First Nations people?
Canadians will continue to harm First Nations people as long as they perceive colonization as a thing of the past and something to "get over."
Repairing the damage of colonialism requires all Canadians to acknowledge and accept responsibility of this history.
Nicola King, Aneesa Gill, Aimee Jensen, Delena Wiebe, Justin Dyck, Lana Corbett,
UBC Okanagan - fourth year social work students