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Letter: Careful what you’re acknowledging, St. John’s

['St. John’s City Hall, where some council members attend more standing committee meetings than others.']
St. John’s City Hall. — Telegram file photo

I wish to comment on the item in The Telegram on Feb. 15 (“St. John’s to acknowledge unceded Indigenous land”) regarding St. John’s city council’s intention to intone some kind of acknowledgement that we — presumably the citizens of this city — are interlopers who, like a bunch of thieves, are living on property which does not belong to us.

These city grandees have once again decided to virtue signal at our expense. They intend to portray the people who foolishly elected them and those who did not as stealers of aboriginal lands. The implication of this intonement or atonement is that we, the city citizens, should either give back this land or pay compensation for it. The city council is opening up a legal liability on our behalf. One wonders if a city tax will be imposed on the citizenry and the money to be handed over to aboriginal groups.

These city grandees have once again decided to virtue signal at our expense.

Unfortunately, your reporter’s article did not recite the exact wording of the proposed incantation which will inspire and promote racial division. However, the article indicated in the headline there is to be an acknowledgement about “unceded” aboriginal land. Any lawyer will tell you the word unceded is especially litigious. At the very least if this stupid idea is to be adopted by city councillors, they should excise or leave out the word unceded. Otherwise they are opening up the city to some aboriginal group to sue us for massive compensation. Even so, the aboriginal group inherent to Newfoundland are the Beothuk, who no longer exist due to pestilence. The Mi’kmaq aboriginals are no more inherent to this province historically than the much-maligned white man. They have no rightful claim for compensation from Newfoundland, and certainly not from this city, which was never Mi’kmaq land. Besides, it is long established law that if one lives openly on unoccupied land without confrontation for a minimum of 20 years that land belongs to the claimant.

The area of this province that became the City of St. John’s became owned by the English — later British — Crown at least as early as 1583. The citizens of this city will be surprised that despite paying at great cost for their respective properties, their own city council views them as mere trespassers in their own houses.

If the city council still plans to keep this aboriginal intonement on its agenda as self-appointed social justice warriors, even though they have no voters’ sanction to do so, then I suggest they also intone on each occasion the following: “We, the city council of St. John’s, acknowledge and honour the brave efforts of our European ancestors in defying dangerous seas, wilderness and hostility to fight for and establish European civilization upon this New Found Land.”

Now, St. John’s city council, will you please leave history for the historians and get on with fixing potholes, removing snow, collecting garbage and other city services. Will you cede to us taxpayers at least that much?

Robin Reid

St. John’s

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