In Canada, the question of Native land claims is one that continues to vex politicians and activists alike.
On the one side are the Natives themselves, who want to maintain their culture while breaking free of paternalistic governments that treat them as unfit to govern themselves. At the extreme one may find those who want to abolish the Indian Act, make Natives into 'full' citizens (who have to pay taxes just like the rest of us) and grant them control/ownership of lands while cutting them off from most of the government handouts they currently receive.
This 'extreme' position is not merely held by 'so-called angry White men, but by many Natives themselves.
So what are we going to do about this?
I say....who cares? I'm here to discuss my land claims, dammit.
Those who have spoken with me about my family are aware that my ancestors, although they come from many places, have been in North America for a very long time. It's been so long, in fact, that I'm not entirely sure when the first of them arrived here. What I do know is that the last of them to come to Canada did so in 1867, the same year we became a mostly-sovereign country.
For example, my great-great-great-grandfather was a man by the name of Robert Wagstaff. (Lest you should think I'm grasping at some tenuous relationship with the past, I should point out that 'Wagstaff' was my mother's maiden name.) He was born in Cambridge, England in 1794. In 1815, as a British soldier, he took part in the Battle of New Orleans. In that battle, which the British lost incidentally, he was severely wounded in the neck.
I can only imagine what it would have been like to take a musket ball to the neck. Perhaps the only thing worse than that would be living to talk about it later.
Anyway, Robert Wagstaff, who was not even 21 at the time of this battle, must have eventually become an officer or a very high-ranking NCO. I say this because more than twenty years after returning home to England, he was back in North America to fight on behalf of the Crown. This time, however, he was taking part in quelling the (Canadian) Rebellions of 1837, which in fact stretched into 1838.
The Rebellion quashed and many of its leaders hanged, Robert decided to settle down in 'muddy York', the town that had recently been renamed 'Toronto'. He had good reason to stay here, since the Crown had promised free land to British soldiers who fought in her defense.
Alas, Robert was not to see this free land. He died in August 1843, with the cause of death listed as 'wounds sustained in battle'. It was that nearly thirty-year-old injury that ultimately killed him, although the gory details are, perhaps thankfully, unavailable.
The following December, his widow (my great-great-great-grandmother) wrote to the Crown's representative in Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, Governor-General. She asked that the Crown make good on its promise. Actually, she begged the Crown to keep its word, if not for her then for the sake of her five children.
The Governor-General informed her that the rules had changed, there was no more free land being given out and, if there were, the Governor-General would be the wrong person to ask for help anyway.
Sounds like the government, doesn't it?
My great-great-great grandmother married another man, mostly likely to avoid living in penury for the rest of her life. This is what government inaction did to a soldier's widow, forcing her to practically enslave herself to a man in order to feed her children.
Well, I say enough is enough. My ancestors were promised land and they were deceived. Now, nearly two centuries later, it is time to right that wrong and make good on the Crown's promise.
I want my land, dammit.
If my ancestors were promised even as little as five or ten acres -- an amount that seems ridiculously small for the time -- then surely some kind of inflation must be taken into account when redressing this gross injustice. To show I am a reasonable person, I am willing to take possession of approximately 570 acres of land that is, for the most part, uninhabited.
To those who inhabit the lands I claim in the name of my ancestors and for the benefit of my descendants, I promise to be a fair and just ruler. As a City-State (more of a Hamlet-State, actually) within Canada they shall enjoy all the rights accorded by law and the Constitution.
It is time to settle all land claims, but ME FIRST.