Georges Erasmus: Our home and native land
Georges Henry Erasmus has a dream: Self-government for the native peoples of Canada. The charismatic native leader has devoted his life to fighting tirelessly for the right of his people to control their own lives and the land they live on. From his early days as the president of the Dene Nation or as the co-chair of the historic Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Erasmus has never swayed from his vision. It's a dream that has yet to be fully realized.
From his earliest days, Erasmus's political determination has been shaped by his desire for his people to control their ancestral lands.
Having grown up in the Northwest Territories in the 1950s, he is motivated by the impoverished plight of native peoples.
On reserves and in cities, alcoholism, violence and poverty prevail. Most depend on welfare to survive.
Erasmus, president of the Dene Nation, stresses the importance of having a proud and sovereign native society to CBC's Mary Lou Finlay.
Erasmus wants to see native peoples reassert their culture and regain self-rule. He wants to break the cycle of dependence on government handouts, which perpetuates a sense of inadequacy and worthlessness.
He is joined in the debate by Bill Wilson, vice-president of the Native Council of Canada, and sociology professor John Warner.
It's a view Erasmus has held since he first came to prominence in the early 1970s as a young charismatic leader of the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories.
The organization would later be renamed the Dene Nation.
. Erasmus was an outspoken speaker at the Berger Pipeline Inquiry appointed by the federal government in 1974. The Dene and Inuit peoples successfully fought off a proposed pipeline which would have carried oil through the Mackenzie River Valley. The Berger Inquiry gave native peoples a voice to air long-held grievances over land claims.
. The Dene are native to the North and have lived in the Mackenzie Valley and Barren Grounds of the Northwest Territories for centuries.
. Erasmus was a strong proponent of the 1975 Dene Declaration, a historic document declaring the sovereignty of the Dene Nation.
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: March 15, 1983
Guest(s): Georges Erasmus, John Warner, Bill Wilson
Host: Peter Kent
Interviewer: Mary Lou Finlay
Last updated: June 11, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
All Clips from this Topic
Erasmus debates the importance of self-rule for native peoples.
Erasmus is elected National Chief of Assembly of First Nations in a ti...
Another constitutional conference fails to settle issues of native sov...
A frustrated Erasmus warns of inevitable violence by aboriginal people...
Erasmus wonders why native peoples should honour Canada's 125th.
Erasmus condemns the Catholic Church during a hearing for the Royal Co...
The Royal Commission report polarizes Ottawa with its sweeping recomme...
Erasmus offers a native view of Canada's future.
Georges Henry Erasmus has a dream: Self-government for the native peop...