Small and sustainable Samoa

Dear Editor,

Re: I’d rather be poor with my integrity intact 

I understand that you wish to see an improvement in the lives of your people my concern is that you don’t really have a good idea of the kind of lives that people who have lost their lands through development projects, loans, long leases really have. 

In most cases for the majority they are actually living worse lives than the poor people in your village are currently living. I think the First Nations people of Canada living in a reservation called attiwapiscat would change place with any one of your persons in your village living on their own land as we speak.

Right now in two remote reservations in Canada there is a crisis because the youth are making suicide pacts to kill themselves because their future is so hopeless. 

As many as 13 youth attempted suicide in one day last week. I have absolutely nothing to gain by insisting that the Samoan people hang onto their land at all cost.

In fact I would benefit more if customary lands became under individual British land titles. Right now I can spend the rest of my life working and bettering my husbands family land in Samoa and my children, who have no Samoan blood in them have no claim to the fruits of my labour. 

So you see I’m saying what I’m saying because I have seen first hand how individual title does nothing to raise the living conditions of the people who negotiated away their land thinking it would give them a better standard of living.

Unless the government of Samoa is willing to invest in good health care and good education I don’t think any land deals or cheap loans should be made with people who are interested in accumulating property and power. Beware of wolves wearing sheeps clothing. 

If the Samoan people are going to enter into any kind of deals first they should be healthy and educated or they will get cheated. Unfortunately the governments and Matai can’t be trusted People have to be able to think for themselves when it comes to their land.

You keep saying I am benefiting from this system and while that was certainly true for my generation and my parents generation but I would argue that over time that is becoming less true for average white people in Canada and for sure the majority of the first people have never benefited. 

I am ashamed and horrified of Canada’s genocidal history on the First Nations people. The churches under government programs conducted medical experiment on native children who were forced to live in residential schools away from their families. Many died through abuse and starvation.

I can’t change history but I can warn people not to go down that same road when it comes to their land. The first people lost their land through treaty negotiations between the colonizers and their Chiefs.

You seem to be doing ok, you seem to be educated,so the customary land situation seemed to work for you so I don’t understand why you don’t think it can work for other people in your village.

I know this is very controversial but your people really need to stop giving their overseas remittances to the churches and the money they earn to the churches.

They will only stop giving everything to the churches if they become educated, so in my opinion investment in health and education is the starting place. Then the airport, the casino, etc... One of the greatest agricultural universities is in Samoa.

The university of the South Pacific can do a lot to educate people in agriculture I hope to take courses there in agriculture myself at some point. Maybe scholarships to USP in agriculture and business would be valuable for the future.

I and others have made suggestions about tourism that are good ideas. To develop Samoa with foreign loans is the most risky approach to losing their lands when you have a highly uneducated, desperate, unemployed population.

That is all I’m saying and then what do you have. Uneducated, desperate, unemployed and now landless people. That would be the worst path to pursue, believe me I see it here everyday.

Our First Nations people make up 2 percent of our population but 15 percent of the incarcerated people in our jails. Their life spans are on average 30 years less than most Canadians.

It will take generations and governments like we have in Justin Trudeau to finally right the wrongs of the past that taking the land from the first people have done to them as people. Why will the banks not give loans for businesses on customary lands if the families overseas guarantee these loans. 

Instead of remittances how about loans guaranteed by overseas families for small businesses. At least this way it keeps the money away from the churches and in the hands of families for sustenance.

Why should overseas families be supporting the churches overseas and then supporting them through remittances in Samoa. The churches are sucking the life blood out of the people overseas.

That way customary lands are not even on the table. These can be small business. 

I see a couple in our neighborhood in Samoa that have a small store and a car wash attached to their store. They seem to be doing a thriving business on their customary land.

This is what I see would work for Samoa. Anyway that’s just one example. Another family has opened up an ice cream parlor from money sent by families overseas. Everything doesn’t have to be big. Small and sustainable is a better best for the future.

Wendy Wonder


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