Now for something a little more controversial. Somebody who I work fairly close with recently questioned my leftist politics. That’s fair – I feel quite comfortable in the bureaucracy of the AMS, and I feel quite comfortable trying to balance the 42 000 different opinions of AMS members, and I even support many CASA policies. But after reading Jesse Ferrara’s post on the Musqueam issue, I agreed that it was something that should get some more discussion in this year’s election. And frankly, at the most recent BoG debates, there are a few things that should be clarified.

More behind the jump…

A History of First Nations Oppression:

There is a certain camp of people, in which I identify, who might describe the history of First Nations people in BC like this:

There were no “signed” treaties in BC that handed the land over to the Crown – in fact, the conditions under which these other “treaties” were signed across Canada are sketchy at best. There was also no war that was won that legitimizes the Queen of England‘s right to let the Canadian government oversee this land. The only thing that did happen was that a lot of Europeans came to this land with racist, imperialist assumptions that the people who lived here were “backwards and uncivilized” and that was some sort of justification for why we could take it over.

Over the years, those racist assumptions permeated into the minds and hearts of almost every Canadian, excusing policies that forced children to leave their homes, renounce their Native identity and stop speaking their Native language. What followed were decades of white people actively destroying Native culture and history, and any of its power and meaning. Families fell apart, survivors of the Residential Schools were taught to hate themselves and histories were not just being lost, but violently rewritten. We built entire institutions that systematically destroyed Native culture and kept the First Nations people down through a reinforcing cycle of economic and social poverty.

Now, people think that we should just forget all that: “I didn’t take over their land, its not my fault.” Well, that’s nice. But I for one feel perfectly capable of taking responsibility for the incomprehensibly terrible things that my ancestors did, and I feel perfectly comfortable doing whatever it takes to rectify the situation, whatever it will take for First Nations communities to heal and rebuild.
Systemic oppression is about systems, structures and societies that are built on keeping certain people down, certain perspectives out, and certain power-structures in place. Accepting the First Nations issue as an oppression issue is about acknowledging the decades of violence that has been launched at Aboriginal communities.

Land Claims issues:

The basic principles to rectifying the relationship between Canada and the First Nations communities are outlined in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP): recognition, respect, sharing and responsibility. We must recognize that the Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants of this land, and no matter how you want to look at it, that grants them certain rights, and we must recognize them as nations, on par with the nation of Canada. We must respect their tradition, their history, their culture and their wishes, the way they define themselves and the future that they define for themselves. We must share this land. And lastly, we must take responsibility for the years of violent oppression, it is our responsibility for the current relationship and state of affairs.

Understanding current First Nations issues, like current land claims, requires a deep appreciation for these basic tenants. Land claims in BC are about negotiating use of this land on equal terms, land which has never been negotiated fairly up until this time. It is not necessarily about “living off the land” – although most Indigenous cultures have a strong cultural tradition that is linked to particular land. To assume that all Native people want to return back to some sort of pre-Settler lifestyle is racist. Thus, if the Musqueam nation wants to build condos on the Golf Course – by all means, who are we to say what they should do? Land claims are about reconciliation of past injustices – and we need to respect the terms of reconciliation that they define.

The Musqueam Nation and UBC:

We have to recognize the First Nations people as legitimate nations, with legitimate governments. In this sense, why would the Musqueam nation negotiate with UBC? The Musqueam Nation negotiates with the nation of Canada. UBC just happens to be the governmental institution that sits on their land. The notion of putting a Musqueam leader on the Board of Governors is absurd because it is tokenistic. It doesn’t address the heart of the issue at all. It is a false gesture. Until UBC is willing to address Indigenous issues head on, with a serious commitment to change things and rectify things, then a BoG seat is entirely meaningless. A serious approach would question how we perpetuate racist and anti-indigenous assumptions in our institution. It would question how we, as an institution of higher learning that is representative of advances in human society, continue to oppress and colonize First Nations people.

UBC’s current approach is to increase access of First Nations people to the ‘incredible education of UBC’ – aka bringing more FN students into UBC. Education can be one of the greatest tools for empowerment and freedom. It also can be one of the greatest tools for domination and repression. Unless UBC’s educational experience is willing to take on this question, and change to be anti-oppressive, then again, this solution is tokenistic, and side-steps the real issues, and even perpetuates the colonial relationship. What would an empowering education look like for an Aboriginal student? Well, it would be an Aboriginal education, taught from an Aboriginal perspective by Aboriginal people. It would not be a Western interpretation of Aboriginal history. It would force white students to engage in that Aboriginal history from an Aboriginal perspective. It wouldn’t just be a pathetic attempt at being more “welcoming” and “supportive” of First Nations students. UBC’s approach doesn’t critically ask, how does the white institution of UBC needs to change in order to end the oppression of Aboriginal people within its doors, and in society as a whole.

The Issue as it relates to the AMS:

You may have read in a recent issue of the Ubyssey that the AMS failed a motion to support a negotiated settlement for the Musqueam Nation in the recent golf course issue. I think it was a very sad day, and a missed opportunity to publicly support the Musqueam nation. The AMS, like UBC, really has no role in “building relationships” with a nation – would any true representative of the United States come deal with the AMS? But there are things that the AMS can do. Firstly, the AMS can do a better job of publicly supporting the Musqueam nation in their struggle. The other thing the AMS can do is better represent its First Nations students – this would require more Aboriginal representation within the various facets of the AMS, better resources and services for FN students, outreach and relevance. Of course, its a bit of a Catch-22, because there aren’t many reasons currently for First Nations students to get involved in the AMS, which makes it difficult to build in those relevant resources and programs. For example, there should be an Aboriginal Student Centre in the Resource Groups. But again, until the AMS is willing to take a critical look at how we actively perpetuate an oppressive relationship, then we aren’t doing much better than UBC. The AMS will ha
ve to engage in the issue head-on, work with Aboriginal students to define what their needs are and how the AMS can support that, and then help Aboriginal students to make it happen.


25 Comments so far

  1. maayan kreitzman on January 23, 2008 4:09 pm

    Why is it tokenistic to have a first nations seat on BoG, but not on our AMS council?

  2. brendoooon on January 23, 2008 4:18 pm

    oops, that wasn’t supposed to be in the final version. Let me update it, there were a few other things I changed in that last paragraph.

  3. Anonymous on January 23, 2008 4:37 pm

    This is a good post and I don’t want to hijack the comments section here, but I really think today’s issue of the day should have been: candidate apathy.

    The presidential candidates talked at length in yesterday’s debate about student apathy, with the normal wishy-washy answers. Then, lo and behold, when the presidential debate concluded, they could not hold the next debate because no candidates had bothered to show up!

    Well gee golly gosh, I honestly can’t think why the general student body thinks of these elections as a joke and doesn’t bother to vote…

  4. Jesse Ferreras on January 23, 2008 5:07 pm

    It’s probably not tokenistic to have an aboriginal seat on AMS council because the AMS tried to have a referendum on that in 2005 and it failed.

    To be totally honest, I’m not entirely sure I support the idea of an aboriginal seat on AMS council (and I use the word aboriginal because the term “First Nations” excludes Inuit or Metis) because, frankly, I don’t know what good that would do. I know that Nate Crompton is proposing to bring that up again but there would be no precedent set for that if the AMS didn’t formally recognize the Musqueam title to UBC land to begin with.

    I simply couldn’t believe it when the motion didn’t pass last August. And I thought the reasons behind not supporting it were appalling.

    Tahara Bhate, for example, said the motion would be paying lip service to Musqueam people and that it probably wouldn’t mean anything. And she did this, I’m sure, without talking to a single Musqueam or aboriginal person about this. If she had spoken to Richard Vedan, director of the First Nations House of Learning, or Madeleine MacIvor, its Associate Director, she might have seen that such a gesture would have been vastly appreciated by aboriginal people on this campus. Then if she had read Amanda Stutt’s feature she might have seen that Chief Ernie Campbell was appalled that the student association doesn’t support the idea that the Musqueam hold a title to this land.

    I’d like to see this motion come up for debate again. I think it’d be fine if it was the exact same motion, because it doesn’t bind the AMS to anything. And, frankly, I’d like to see it pass.

  5. Peter on January 23, 2008 5:45 pm

    Well, time for the token evil racist white guy to disagree with both Jesse’s support of the motion and Brendon’s post.

    “There should be an Aboriginal Student Centre in the Resource Groups. There should be an FN seat on Council.” (note, Brendon changed this in his conclusion, but I’m going to respond to the original anyway)

    I don’t understand how this interacts with any sort of principle of equality and democracy. As things stand within the AMS, each student has a single representative that is based on faculty, a non-discriminatory system. What you’re proposing is simply racist against anyone who is not FN (or aboriginal). The original referendum also proposed an international student seat. But where was the Alberta student seat? the Quebec students seat? etc. That is why I voted against that original referendum. That is why a lot of people voted against that referendum. It would have set bad tone and a bad precedent. That’s why it failed.

    As for there having to be an “Aboriginal Student Center in the Resource Groups”, I don’t see why that is a problem. If someone wants to create it, then I’m fairly sure that they are free to propose it and create it. I don’t understand how its non-existence somehow supports your thesis of perpetuating “an oppressive relationship.

    Lastly, the motion failed Council, because certain counselors did not feel comfortable with it. Why? Exactly for the reasons you mentioned in support of it against Tahara’s arguments. It would have had effect and been a clear sign of a certain will and support of the AMS in a certain endevour. This was something that at least 1/3 of Council did not support. (Note that the motion had more than 50% in favour, but it needed 2/3 to pass).

    It was rightly brought up in Council that virtually all the consultation done by Mariana, Brendon, Jeff, etc was with those that supported the motion. However, this is not democracy. Vocal minorities are not justified and should not be allowed to hijack the AMS (or any other institution of that matter). Had there been wide-spread and popular consultation of ALL students on the matter with clear results (2/3 in favour) in favour, then Council would be duty-bound to pass it. Instead, however, we were presented with one of the most single most biased processes of consultation I have ever seen.

    Not to mention that many of us were not at all comfortable with the wording, the language, and the message in general. Personally, I did not like the motion. I did not agree with its spirit, it’s motivation or its message.

    I apologize for this, but that is what I feel. For people to continue to slyly insinuate that such believe is racist, colonialist, misguided, stupid, ill-informed, un-educated, un-appreciative, etc, is offensive and, well, ignorant.

    People can disagree with you without being total louts or members of the KKK. Please keep that in mind.

    Also, this issue has been featured and debated here before:

    Lastly, do you know why this isn’t a feature of anyone’s major campaign platforms? Simple: students do not care. Students have a bajzillion other more pressing problems to take care of. That’s not to diminish the Musqueam issue by any means. However, it needs to be recognized that most students simply do not have a vested interest in this.

    That’s why you have minority groups, parties, candidates, and the like in any democratic society.

  6. Anonymous on January 23, 2008 6:34 pm

    Peter has made some very good points here. The issue isn’t coming up because it is very low on student priorities. There are a lot of more important issues to students that need to be addressed (candidate apathy is one for sure).

    Frankly I wouldn’t go calling out Tahara and others who voted against this motion. In all honesty this ‘symbolic recognition’ is just a waste of time. People wonder why students don’t care about council and the AMS..probably because instead of dealing with issues that are relevant to students (housing, debt, child care, academic quality) they spend time voting on whether or not we should recognize UBC as Musquem land.

    The AMS needs to stop wasting time with silly motions like this. Also Jesse your right this motion doesn’t bind us to anything…precisely why it failed…it is meaningless. I will vote it down again.

  7. Anonymous on January 23, 2008 6:49 pm

    Yay, the coverage on issues is back again! That’s what makes UBC Insiders so great!

  8. brendon goodmurphy on January 23, 2008 7:07 pm

    Two quick responses :)

    Anon 10:34 – We produced a very extensive report on student housing this year, and I have been doing a lot of lobbying with this document since its been approved. The AMS recently guaranteed that 40% of the new daycare spaces built will be reserved for students by committing $100 000/year for the next 10 years. I have also been working INCESSANTLY on academic quality – trying to change the institution’s focus back on to high quality teaching and learning.

    So, please explain how the AMS hasn’t been addressing issues that are “relevant to students.”

    Peter – this article is about understanding the issue from an anti-oppression standpoint. You don’t have to agree with that, its okay. But, give it some recognition that it deserves. “Vocal minorities” as you put it, aren’t just some random group at the periphery that we can ignore because they don’t represent the homogenous masses in the center. The whole point is that it may take some work for our society to meaningfully bring in other cultural perspectives. No one’s calling you racist just because you think this is a non-issue for the AMS. It’s that there should be some recognition of the fact that there may be some perspectives in the world that a lot of people don’t understand (the experiences of different cultures, sexualities, genders), because our society as a whole ignores and marginalizes those voices. We’re privileged, you and I, so we have to work harder at trying to understand the experiences and perspectives of those who aren’t so privileged. What’s the harm in that?

  9. flame twister on January 23, 2008 7:30 pm

    AMS should be devoted to bridging social gaps, and ignoring aboriginal issues goes against that. The colonial government built this university on a land the Musqueam had been living on for thousands of years. It is indeed a shame that the AMS seems determined to turn the other way! The same goes to BoG, but since they are set up by the province, their bia$ is like a mountain of $teel, or million$ of hectare$ of logging and development. Why should the Musqueam NOT have a seat on BoG?

  10. Patrick on January 23, 2008 7:46 pm

    Why exactly should the AMS devote its time to ‘bridging social gaps’?

  11. maayan kreitzman on January 23, 2008 8:50 pm

    I admittedly don’t know a whole lot about this – I want to be upfront about that – but here’s some stuff I was pondering.

    I like Brendon’s message because it’s about adressing issues of historical wrong leading to present day disparity in a way that’s meaningful and whole, not symbolic. But it doesn’t seem like there are very many answers out there – even in the article, there’s more time devoted to what’s gone wrong than waht options we actually have. This seems to fall into the category of questions without easy answers. That there’s disparities between FN communities and mainstream canadians in almost every measure of health and properity is undeniable – and different FN people will tell you different things about how to improve their lives (from highly integrative to the opposite). But whether that should affect the way UBC and the AMS as organizations treat aboriginal students is unclear to me. What are the “needs” of an aboriginal student on campus that are different than other people’s needs? Everyone needs community, cultural sensitivity, and the opportunity to learn about their history and be with people like them – or do they? Maybe charachterizing these fulfilling supports as “needs” is going too far – after all, imigrants and people that don’t identify with any culture to speak of aren’t fulfilled in these ways. I feel that there is a danger of imposing extra rights and privelages on people that don’t want them, and who might feel patronized and talked down to. The way to avoid this, of course, is to have aboriginal people initiating stuff (like brendon said) and acutally becoming part of the institutional structures such that there no longer is an us/them. But I don’t really understand looking at this through the lens of “opression”. It seems more like an issue of participation at UBC, at least. As for council making symbolic motions about aboriginal issues (or any other issue) I think it’s fine, but it seems to be hard to come to consensus about these things, simply because of the fact that they’re not action-oriented.

    to peter – yes we’ve talked about it before on the blog and we’ll probably talk about it again. We can all learn something more about First nations issues.

  12. Mike Thicke on January 23, 2008 9:18 pm

    Maayan – I think it is somewhat inaccurate to refer to aboriginal oppression as a historical wrong that has led to present day disparity. Rather, it is a continuing wrong that has been perpetuated by living people for quite a long time. Musqueam are not a victim of “bad initial conditions” + “just system”. Rather, they are a victim of “bad initial conditions” + “unjust system”. We need to both address the bad initial conditions (say through reparations), and address the continuing unjustness of the system.

    Brendon – I’m not sure I’m on board with creating further resource groups. I think the current resource group system is somewhat broken, and I don’t think further fragmentation would be going in the right direction. I think consolidation is needed. There might be a need for “safe space” for various groups of people, and that should be provided by the AMS for sure, but not necessarily within the confines of the resource groups. I would like to see the resource groups move towards being a more unified anti-oppression organization rather than trying to form a separate group for each specific category of oppression.

  13. Reka on January 23, 2008 11:23 pm

    I think Council often has a “why should we care” attitude to motions like the one that failed. There has been plenty of time wasted in Council debating pointless motions, and Councillors will go to great lengths to try to prove something isn’t the AMS responsibility just so that they don’t have to debate it (and stay for another hour…). I think Brendon makes a great case though for why the AMS should care, or at least why it should be more proactive than just trying to pass motions of support.

    I think one huge resource that gets overlooked a lot on campus is the FN House of Learning in the longhouse. When I was working for Imagine I went there for a meeting once so we could try to come up with ways to provide resources to new FN students and it was a real eye-opener… we knew nothing about the services they were providing, and they knew nothing about ours. They do great things for FN students, but seem to be totally isolated from the rest of campus. I think that bridging the gaps between the FNHL, the AMS and UBC is the kind of problem that is well within the AMS’ power (and responsibility) to do something about.

    And as for having a FN seat on AMS Council, I was against that in 2005 and still am, but only because of Council’s rep by pop (by faculty) structure. If that ever changes to a interest-based structure (or some kind of parallel general assembly thing a la Spencer), I’m all for it.

  14. maayan kreitzman on January 24, 2008 2:40 am

    Could you give an example of the unjustness of the system at UBC that justifies looking at Aboriginal issues as an “opression” scenario?

  15. Mike Thicke on January 24, 2008 2:53 am

    I know much too little about this, but I can offer the problems with the Access and Diversity office as one possibility. Another might be the way in which laws are bent/broken/ignored in land claims issues, such as with the UBC golf course. I’m sure someone who is actually well informed could supply many more and better examples. Also I was thinking of oppression in society at large, rather than confined to UBC. It’s not like UBC operates as some autonomous zone in society where any systemic oppression stops at the campus border.

  16. tristan on January 24, 2008 4:08 am

    hey all.
    i think it is good to learn about as many things as possible, so i’m happy people are at least talking about this issue. this has been a good discussion.

    reka is right that there should be more communication between the ams and the house of learning, if possible.

    there have been politically active indigenous groups working with the resource groups, but until the ams in general becomes less of a hostile environment, the relationship cannot be sustainable.

    the first nations student association uses the lounghouse space. they stay away from the SUB, because the lounghouse is a space that is welcoming, and understanding, and you don’t have to explain your identity from the very start everytime you talk to someone. the president of the FNSA indicated that they have given up on the AMS, which does less than nothing to address their needs as first nation students. i’m sure people affiliated with “cultural” clubs/groups can identify with that feeling somewhat; i know, though, that it will take time to appreciate that the issue is on a whole other level for the people whose land this is.

    there are many things the ams could do to become relevant to ubc’s first nations students. there is no end to the list of things. i won’t bore you with them, but suffice to say that such an endeavor would be positive, rewarding, and you might be changed yourself in the process.


  17. Tim Louman-Gardiner on January 24, 2008 4:20 am

    Fun fact: two of the AMS Presidents this decade have self-identified as First Nations. Just a thought.

  18. maayan kreitzman on January 24, 2008 4:30 am

    Tristan – thanks for the comment. I am actually genuinely curious about these things. I won’t be bored if you could give a few examples of the needs that the ams is failing to meet. I think the fact that the SUB is unwelcoming and that first nations students have given up on the AMS is terrible, and I’m (possibly naively) surprised by this. Why has this occured? Do first nation students consider getting involved in the ams democracy/beurocracy in order to infiltrate and change this? It seems hard to understand such complete alienation when I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that this organization does/doesn’t do that would be such a turn-off. I mean, explaining waht you are/who you are is annoying at times, but it is part of living in a mixed society, as long as the question is asked respectfully. It’s something that visible and cultural minorities deal with. But that’s why I’m curious to hear.

  19. Jesse Ferreras on January 24, 2008 8:53 am

    Nicely put, Tristan. There are few issues where we find ourselves on the same side, and this is one of them.

    As for calling out Tahara – by serving as a Science councillor, she’s a public figure. That means she opens herself up to all kinds of criticism, especially for unfortunately controversial issues such as recognizing the Musqueam title to UBC land. She was a vocal opponent at the meeting and I remembered her arguments above most others, so I quoted them.

    Peter, I don’t think you’re a racist, but I think your arguments against the motion are flimsy. I don’t see what there is to be uncomfortable about. It asks council to: 1) support the idea that the Musqueam band holds a title to UBC land; 2) support negotiations to a settlement on the UBC Golf Course. What exactly do you (and others) find so scary about this? And what in the world was so biased about the consultation? I’m in support of the motion, yet neither Jeff, Mariana or Brendon ever consulted me about it.

    Just remember that for as long as anyone opposes this, people will still be able to say that the AMS DOES NOT SUPPORT the Musqueam title to UBC’s land.

    Do you really want that on your conscience?

  20. Peter on January 24, 2008 4:49 pm

    “Just remember that for as long as anyone opposes this, people will still be able to say that the AMS DOES NOT SUPPORT the Musqueam title to UBC’s land.”

    People can say whatever they want. I don’t see why its somehow a terrible thing not to support the Musqueam claim to UBC’s land.

    As to why I did not support the motion? I simply do not like to “support the idea that the Musqueam band holds a title to UBC land”. That’s it. I do not like their claim. I do not like land claims in general. I do not think they are a solution to any problem that exists. In fact, I think they create more problems. I do not like reserves and I do not like the current Indian Act and even some of the language in the Constitution as to that effect.

    Nor do I like giving the Gold Course over. To me it seems the very hight of hypocrisy to basically simultaneously condemn western civilization and its actions over the past several hundred years and to also demand land that is more valuable then virtually any other solely as a result of that western civilization. It really rubs me the wrong way. Certainly, it was their land before, but that was a long time ago. Frankly, times have changed. Things have happened since then.

    This is my personal view. That’s why I voted against it. Currently, I do not have the time to justify that view. Needless to say, I was not convinced by the arguments presented at Council (btw, I was a proxy that day) and so I voted against the motion. Frankly, I think the onus is on those brining the motion forward to convince Council of its need and its justification, not for individual Council members to have to defend against its passing.

    On the other hand, I fully agree with what Tristan said. There’s plenty more that can be done to connect the campus with the first nations community. That said, I think the onus is on both sides to work together on this and I don’t understand how the AMS “does less than nothing to address their needs as first nation students”.

    You must understand me, I am an immigrant to this country. My parents came here with very very little and yet have managed to build a life for themselves with hard work and determination. I have a hard time understanding how first nations are so oppressed that they can not do that themselves. Especially in light to the amount of money that the governments of this country spend on trying to make up for their past sins.

    Anyway, I am not deeply familiar with the history of this issue. However, I also do not have a standing bias toward either side. I call things as I see and understand them based on my background. Maybe I’m just not getting it, but it’s not up to me to get it. It’s up to those bringing such motions forward to show me the light and bring me to reason (assuming that reason is what they’re basing their arguments upon).

  21. Mike Thicke on January 25, 2008 12:59 am

    peter – actually as a voting AMS councilor I think it is “up to you” to get the issues you are voting on. If you don’t get it, abstain.

  22. Jesse Ferreras on January 25, 2008 1:31 am

    Peter, I don’t know how you got the idea that the experience of an immigrant coming to Canada has anything to do with recognizing title to land. Your parents came here and made a life for themselves – that’s great, my dad (from Puerto Rico) did the same thing.

    Musqueam people likely had lives before their land was colonized and taken from them. This has NOTHING to do with working hard and building up lives for themselves. This is an issue of recognizing that we live on land that was taken from a people who used to live on it. I really don’t see how hard it is to recognize that.

    To take this kind of a stance on the thin grounds that you’re supposing does require you to defend being against passing it.

    I definitely agree with Mike – you probably don’t know the background because you haven’t looked into it. It really isn’t fair to vote against something you know nothing about.

  23. Peter on January 25, 2008 2:31 am

    My idea is that first nations peoples decry the injustice of their land being taken away, which is fair. However, I don’t understand why we can’t simply move on. Yes, it was a bad thing to do. The government profoundly apologizes and works hard to rehabilitate and heal the communities affected (ie. fix crappy Indian Act; abolish reserves; work to remove idea of victimization and willful opression). Ok. Done. But that’s not the end of it. There’s the demand that this land be returned as the only way to make amends. I frankly disagree that that is a solution at all.

    The debate, and disagreement, arises from what follows from that. One side demands the return of this “stolen” land as the only form of solution. I am of the opinion that that is neither practical nor fair.

    As to recognizing that this was Musqueam land before it was “ours” is fine. I can’t dispute that. It’s a historical fact. The real question is what that means for us now.

    I am of the opinion that giving land back and recognizing title and claim over land is not reasonable. Land is inexorably bound to the surrounding social, political, technological, etc circumstances. Thus, this land is not the same land that was taken those many years ago. That’s the simple reality. If we went back in time, I would be absolutely in agreement that this is first nations land and that it should be returned. However, this land simply isn’t the same land.

    That’s why I voted against the motion.

    Mike – an AMS Councilor (not to mention a proxy) is not obligated to delve into the historical and political background in order to fully educate himself on an issue. That is simply impossible, and I think you’ll agree, infeasible. Ideally, it would be great, but this is the real world and we have finite time and infinite information to process.

    As far as I was concerned when voting: I got the issue. I disagreed with the motion. I voted against it. You might disagree, and you might be right. But its up to you to convince me of that. Its impossible to ask me to take no position on an issue without having perfect information (which is what you’re implying).

    For my part, and as I said earlier, if a wider consultation was conducted, with a representative sample of campus and this was presented to me as clearly being in favour, I’d have a very difficult time saying no. This would also have to include the constituency which I was representing at that meeting, namely Commerce. That’s representative democracy for you.

    However, at least to me, the motion did not have such backing. There was consultation, sure, but it was with a certain group of stakeholders that share an opinion. I was not convinced by the presentation and the supporting arguments that a significant effort had been made to get the opinion of the “average” UBC(let alone commerce) student.

    As it was, the onus was on the presenters to convince the rest of Council why this motion was a good idea and something that Council should adopt. Clearly, they failed.

    As for abstaining on issues that we’re ill-informed on: that’s just silly. 1. the AMS would never ever meet quorum on any vote because only about 1/10 of Council actually reads and researches any given motion. 2. By your logic, one would be able to pass complex and confusing motions, no matter what they said, because Council would be required to abstain if they didn’t get it. Sorry, but that’s just stupid.

  24. Mike Thicke on January 25, 2008 8:00 am

    So if you go on vacation and I knock down your house and build a better one, when you come home you have no claim over the property?

    It’s not the prerogative of the thief to determine what constitutes just recompense.

    On the voting issue I simply misunderstood your position Peter. I don’t require you to be the World’s Leading Expert on Land Claims to vote, but if you feel you have insufficient information to make an informed choice one way or another, you should probably abstain or propose to table the motion for the next meeting if it seems a good portion of the council doesn’t have enough information.

    You’re probably right that only 1/10 (or less) of council is ever well-informed on an issue. That says a lot about council though.

  25. questionable on January 25, 2008 6:24 pm

    A couple of questions

    Would the aboriginal rep have to be aboriginal?

    Would only aboriginal students be allowed to vote for that position?

    Who would count as aboriginal? Would they have to show their status card when voting?

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