'This is all stolen': Canadian man offers to share his land with First Nations

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'This is all stolen': Canadian man offers to share his land with First Nations

Post by Didge on Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:59 am

Joel Holmberg had been batting the idea around for years. But the final decision came last month, as he scrolled through the online vitriol that erupted after a white farmer was acquitted of killing a young Cree man in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

Holmberg turned to social media, but instead of joining in the often-vicious debate surrounding that case, he offered to share his family’s five-acre property in northern Alberta with a First Nations family. There would be no bills, no rent, he explained.

Instead the family could join him, his wife and two children in living off the land; hunting, fishing and growing food.

“I wanted to offer some sort of hope,” said Holmberg. “It was really disgusting to see the way the racist people were speaking. I wanted to let them know that it’s not everyone in Canada that feels that way.”

The invitation to share his acreage near Barrhead, about 100km north-west of Edmonton, seemed like a fair one.

“We all know in our heart the truth, that this is all stolen land,” said the 45-year-old. “They’re our hosts and we’re their guests and they’ve been criminally abused for far too long and it has to stop.”

Holmberg said his appreciation for First Nations culture began as a child growing up in British Columbia, when members of the Sinixt First Nation began bringing him along as they hunted and fished. “I had the opportunity to do sweats with them and learn about their culture from them and learn about the real history of Canada,” he said.

He continued to delve into Canada’s rich tapestry of indigenous cultures as he moved around the country, from the Northwest Territories to Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“They’re the kindest people I’ve ever met. They’ve been there for me in the worst times in my life when I needed help the most,” he said. “It is very clear to my family and I, that it is us that will be blessed by this thing happening most of all.”

Since posting the offer earlier this week, Holmberg said he had received hundreds of responses from across Canada and the US.

“I haven’t made it through all the messages yet … Somehow it turns out I’m the first white person to think about giving the land back since Marlon Brando,” he said, laughing as he referred to the late actor’s decision to of land in California to the Survival of American Indians Association in 1974.

He said he had yet to hear any negative reactions to his post. But communities across Canada – from Sikh and Muslim groups to Chinese-Canadians – have expressed interest in helping out.

Indigenous elders have contacted him about holding ceremonies on the land while others have inquired about buying the farmland surrounding his property so that his project could expand.

Holmberg said he had invited all of them to visit the property, although he said his wife – while still excited about the idea – was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. “It’s starting to look like it could be Woodstock around here this summer,” he laughed.

In the coming weeks, Holmberg is hoping to meet interested families and tour them around the property.

“It’s a really special place here where we are, there’s a lot of wildlife coming to visit here,” he said. “It’s just really beautiful and I think that a traditional family would really feel that kind of magic that’s in the land here.”


Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.

-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

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Re: 'This is all stolen': Canadian man offers to share his land with First Nations

Post by Raggamuffin on Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:46 am

I was quite interested in the trial which sparked this off. I wonder if the jury system in the US ever gives people confidence. The jury in this trial was all white, and so of course a lot of Cree people are saying that's why the farmer was acquitted. What if the jury had been Cree though? The assumption is that the farmer would have been convicted because the guy he shot was a Cree man.


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Re: 'This is all stolen': Canadian man offers to share his land with First Nations

Post by magica on Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:47 pm

I admire the man willing to share his land with natives. He's right, it was their land first, same as America. They were there thousands of years, then robbed of it.


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Re: 'This is all stolen': Canadian man offers to share his land with First Nations

Post by WhoseYourWolfie on Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:27 am


What I find surprising here, is that this is supposedly the "first time" that a "white man" in Canada has offered to either share or give back a piece of private land to some First Nations people, off his own bat...

With Canada usually being such a relatively progressive nation, I would have thought that this kind of thing might well have happened before..

Though rare, I have heard of private citizens and companies returning lands and/or "sharing" properties with indigenous peoples in New Zealand, Australia and the United States (where Marlon Brando was mentioned in this story..).  Usually involved with farming or mining properties, but still.

Then again,  not everyone has to wear their good deeds as a badge of honour and go chasing international headlines, and so often it's years later when people eventually hear of those deeds..

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Our life is frittered away by details. Simplify, simplify.
The mass of men lead lives of quite desperation.
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