In August 2010 a delegation of Chinese government officials and businessmen representing ‘tourist enterprises’ from so-called Qinghai Province (actually a region comprised of Tibetan lands known as Amdo and Kham) were part of a trade mission that targeted a group of Canada’s native peoples. The delegation visited the Stó:lō Nation in a cynical effort to see how profit could be maximised from exploiting native culture through tourism. The trip was though not entirely about how much money could be extracted by milking Tibet’s suppressed culture through crass tourism projects. In a calculated political move communist China’s regime has often sought to link the issues and challenges experienced by first peoples of North America with Tibetans, using the history of the oppression of native peoples as a rebuke to criticism from the United States over the plight of Tibetans under Chinese occupation.
While there may be interesting parallels between the American colonization of native people and China’s annexation and exploitation of Tibet, like any comparison it’s not advised to interpret such as exact. It is no accident that China’s propaganda machine associates Tibetans with Native Americans, as it seeks to implant negative suggestions. As noted by Warren S Smith Jr. in his excellent work, ’Tibet’s Last Stand?’ : “This is in fact a favorite analogy of the Chinese and their apologists because it implies inevitability, a natural replacement of a primitive culture by one more advanced, and a precedent implicating China’s American critics in the same crime of which China is accused”
Seems the party were extended a warm welcome by the Stó:lō Nation, and Canadian enterprise bodies, who presumably applauded when it was announced that there was “a remarkable similarity between the interests and aspirations of Tibetan people living in Qinghai (sic)” . Perhaps it went unnoticed among those in attendance that those aspirations are to rid Tibet of China’s colonizers and restore Tibetan independence. Nor apparently did anyone question the ethics of receiving a delegation from an oppressive totalitarian regime such as China’s, that is viciously oppressing Tibetan culture. Indeed it is irony beyond any known scale that a people such as the Stó:lō Nation, whose freedoms, culture and lands were colonized and exploited welcomed with open arms representatives of a regime which is itself exploiting and violating the cultural traditions of Tibetans.
Such issues did not appear to concern either the Canadian International Development Agency nor Stó:lō Nation President Chief Joe Hall who reportedly dispatched a message claiming First Nations are open for business with China: “The government of Canada have often closed doors for a variety of reasons,” Hall’s message said. “We need to impress on you that we are the true land title holders.” According to reports the Chinese delegation also visited a number of tourist enterprises including Quaaout Lodge, a resort owned by the Little Shuswap Indian Band, and Siska Nation.
Beijing has been making some calculated moves to exploit connections with First Nations, who at times seem to have been blinded by a Chinese charm offensive and perhaps the allure of commercial profit?
“As a result of this historic journey I believe the Chinese understand us much better and respect our culture. The feeling is mutual. I have been made to feel at home here and feel a special kinship that transcends generations,” said Chief Morley Googoo of Nova Scotia’s Waycobah First Nation. While Grand Chief Morris Shannacappo, praised his communist Chinese hosts by stating that: “We have the utmost respect for ancient Chinese culture and civilization and we were so pleased that our sincere respect was genuinely reciprocated,”.
It is a grave error of judgement and highly troubling in terms of moral principal that some within Canada’s First Nations appear willing to engage in business with communist China’s regime, whose violent oppression and exploitation of Tibetan culture has caused colossal suffering and tragedy. It is to be hoped that wiser counsel will prevail within the leadership of the First Nations and that they can show solidarity with their brothers and sisters in side occupied Tibet whose traditions and freedoms are brutally denied and abused by China.
Please email a link to this article to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) addresses below and express your concern that about China’s exploitation of Tibet through tourism which benefits Han Chinese businesses and workers who are colonizing occupied Tibet, Ask Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould AFN Regional Chief, British Columbia to stand in solidarity with the Tibetan people, and support their culture by calling upon fellow First Nations peoples not to engage in any business which sustains and encourages the exploitation and suppression of Tibetan culture.
Jody Wilson Raybould may be contacted here Marcia.firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact directly the Stó:lō Nation here http://www.stolonation.bc.ca/about-us/contact-us.htm
Email too Rick Simon, Regional Chief of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland c/o email@example.com