The Comeback: John Ralston Saul in conversation with David Heska Wanbli Weiden, introduced by Stéphane Lessard, Consul General of Canada in Denver
John Ralston Saul’s newest book, ‘The Comeback’, is the story of a significant shift in attitudes of the citizenry, political leadership and courts of his native Canada toward indigenous people.
About 5% of Canadians are indigenous and in a few years, it will rise to 7%. These people impact the difference between a majority or non-majority vote. At JLF Colorado in Boulder, Mr. Saul describes a significant evolution. “After the 1982 constitutional rewrite, the rights of the natives were guaranteed. Since then, it has been a center of justice. In every case against the government of Canada, against the Provinces and against the Corporations, the indigenous people won. Now we see art, plays, writers emerging that are the new normal.”
Why Canada? Saul sees the American Supreme Court as very insular. He explains, “Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all share legal interpretations and are far more progressive toward the legitimacy of indigenous people. It is a layered approach. The original Canadians are here for the long term. They have a relationship and responsibility to the land.”
He then goes on to state something that raises eyebrows and applause. “You can destroy a people by destroying their language. There are 70 indigenous languages in Canada. A new law was introduced into Parliament with multi-million budget to support indigenous languages.”
Is there a comeback in the United States? What can the average American or Canadian do? Mr. Saul says, “Be conscious. Being unconscious is the first betrayal of citizenship. Are you still uncomfortable with the idea of people who were here before us?” He suggests that it is time for a wake-up call. “You just have to get over the idea that you are the founding people. Is this such an attack on the American male?”