First Nations in Canada fighting same battle as Cubans

Blog, Poverty, Joseph Quesnel

Cuba is a country undergoing economic modernization. This past year, the country allowed citizens to sale and purchase private property. Just recently, the government announced that citizens may now own vehicles.
Slowly, this country is reforming itself and allowing individual citizens to engage in personal economic enterprises and have a personal stake in the economy.

Like all recovering statist countries, Cuba is realizing what everyone else (well almost, but we’ll get to that) in the world realizes: that state-initiated collective ownership and state-led central planning does not work. When China began to experiment with individually-owned agricultural plots, they quickly discovered how much more productive these plots were compared with collectivized farms.

Recognizing this reality that individual ownership and initiative is inherently more productive than state-led or collective enterprise is not evidence of some ‘right wing’ conspiratorial thinking, but an acknowledgement of reality.

However, this truism has not reached so many Aboriginal activists in Canada who are expressing cynicism and outrage over a move by the federal government to move towards property ownership for First Nations here. Do they think the truism expressed above does not apply to indigenous peoples? Are they outside human experience?

The bill being proposed doesn’t even create individual property rights on reserves. Rather, it seeks to transfer title to lands held by the Crown to First Nation governments, who in turn may opt to grant it to individuals. Underlying title to the lands would go to the First Nation governments, so the land will effectively always be subject to First Nation laws and be Native land, no matter who owns it.

The tired old canard of property rights as ‘assimilation’ is getting really old. Owning property does not make anyone less indigenous. Does this means Natives who live in citites now and own homes are suddenly not “Indians”?

It’s time to help spur Native economies, just like the government is trying to do in Cuba.