Idle No More: The Way Some See Things

Over the months that Idle No More has been around, there have been those who are strong advocates for the movement and there have been those who are strong opponents to the movement.  And in between, there are a number of people who have populated the spectrum between the two.

One of the most recognized names in the opponents corner is Michele Tittler, and her rants against Indigenous peoples is what some consider to be extreme.  But who is Michele Tittler?

She claims to have attended Humber College in the early 80s. She records herself dancing and uploads the videos to YouTube.   Mainstream media reports that she’s in her fifties and has a history of harassing people.  And CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has referred to her as an aggressive and racially charged Internet troll.

CBC_20 January 2014_Michele Tittler

Michele Tittler’s most recent video is certainly one for the books, and at around 16 minutes in length, there’s considerable repetition combined with comments and behaviors that seem intent on flaming the fires of racial hatred, from the headdress she wears as her protest against “Indian industry” and “Indian dialogue” to her demand that indigenous peoples stop talking about the genocide that has happened over generations.

To facilitate this dialogue, I’m providing a very brief history of the term genocide and how it is viewed in International Law.

The term genocide didn’t exist before 1944 when Raphael Lemke, who worked for the U.S. War Department, created the word, and used it in his essay, “Axis Rule In Occupied Europe.”  He created the word by combining the word geno (meaning race or tribe) and cide (meaning to kill) thereby creating the word genocide.  The United Nations General Assembly included Article III (c) in the Genocide Convention that was passed on December 9, 1948.  Article III (c) states that “direct and public incitement to commit genocide” is a crime.

[G]enocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

In Michele Tittler’s video, she accuses First Nations peoples of being the “least productive, least contributing, least respectful group of people in Canada.”

She accuses First Nations peoples of “holding progress back,” of “impeding the progress of mankind,” and of “oppressing Canadians.”

She refers to discussions about First Nations issues as being “cruel, vile, divisive, repugnant dialogue.”

She alleges that “a lot of good came out of residential schools” and that “the damage of residential schools is a bunch of lies.

She accuses First Nations peoples of being “part of a lying culture,” and says First Nations peoples “don’t even know what colonialism is.”

She loudly proclaims that “everyone who immigrated here lost their language and their culture.”  It’s an odd sort of pronouncement given that across Canada, many who immigrated to Canada — or whose parents or grandparents or even great-grandparents immigrated to Canada — have held on to their traditions, their culture, and their language.

There are mosques and synagogues and churches where culture and spirituality thrive.  There are different sections in major cities across Canada where ethnicities are celebrated in their restaurants and their shops and on city streets.  Quite clearly, her assertion that “everyone who immigrated here lost their language and their culture” is incorrect.

What Michele Tittler hasn’t done is educate herself on the issues that are central to the Idle No More movement.  She doesn’t seem to know much about any of the Treaties, and she doesn’t seem to know much about Canadian or World History.

It’s unfortunate when someone who is so passionate about matters insists on ignoring the facts in favor of the controversy and attention such controversy may bring her.

And contrary to what Michele Tittler claims, we have a very good understanding of what colonialism is.  It’s the policy or practice of acquiring political control over another country for the purpose of exploiting the country’s resources economically and flooding that country with one’s own people to achieve that goal.  And no, colonialism should not to be confused with imperialism, which is altogether a horse of another color.

Elyse Bruce


6 Responses to “Idle No More: The Way Some See Things”

  1. Janie Lee Silas Says:

    Despite the response from her father, people get most of their views from the environment they were raised. She obviously craves for attention and the more we give her, the more we satisfy her need. Thank God my parents raised me in the manner they did…infuriates me that this is one of the residuals of the internet, FB, youtube, etc…we are giving her exactly what she wants…air time…

    • Elyse Bruce Says:

      While studies support what you say about attention-craving individuals, it’s just as important to share factual information so people can make informed decisions.

      On social media earlier today I communicated with a handful of people who thought they felt the same way as Ms. Tittler. However after they read my article, and started delving into the history of the Treaties, those same people messaged me that they weren’t so sure they felt the same way as Ms. Tittler anymore.

      I also communicated briefly with angry people who were upset by my article.

      • Blog Woman!!! Says:

        I have to agree with you Elyse, about the need to correct misinformation wherever and whenever it is spread. Her followers, however unaware of her background, do continue to share fallacy after fallacy in the comments of virtually every story covered about Indigenous Peoples issues.

        I also see them shared as the headlines to opinion pieces at those same sources. There is a long way to go to educating North America about its history. I wish we would get on with that in schools, instead of just teaching about how to make dream catchers and bannock when it comes to Indigenous history.

        I’m pretty sure the majority of people would find the truth very interesting, and would also be interested in real healing dialogue and efforts.

  2. Blog Woman!!! Says:

    I have followed this woman somewhat as a member of a group that was created to fact check her public statements. I’ve come to the conclusion that she is someone in need of medical attention. I’m not medical personnel, but much of her behaviour seems more indicative of mental health issues in need of attention, as opposed to general attention seeking.

    Her whole life revolves around her screen rants and inciting similar remarks from people of similar thoughts – without apparent regard to self sufficiency, or legal means of achieving her desires.

    It’s an ironic event that she even had to fund raise on her webpage to be able to buy the headdress she flaunts back at the people she taunts with it and calls a drain on the public system. Truly pathetic.

  3. auntiethis Says:

    Reblogged this on auntiethis and commented:
    While we would expect nothing short of excellent work from this author, this article is a wonderful precis of MTs recent video and a summary of how flawed are the arguments advanced by ERBL. Thank you once again Ms. Bruce.

  4. Idle No More: Indians Are History | Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] misappropriation of culture by sports teams, celebrities, and others further reinforces the belief that Indians are a thing of the past, and that in […]

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