A History to Reconcile
Canada is known as as a multicultural country that values strength in diversity, however this was not always the case. Many people of all origins have immigrated to Canada, including ancestors of Canada’s “founding fathers” who came to Canada in search of a new life and new resources. Who they met when they came to Canada as far back as in 1534 were Canada’s native people who now identify themselves in three major groups: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. The broad term used when speaking of these three groups vary. However, the term Aboriginal peoples, Indigenous peoples, and Canada’s first peoples/native peoples are all acceptable in present Canadian society.
Indigenous peoples have unfortunately endured many hardships and unfair treatment throughout Canadian history, primarily in the name of colonization. Examples of this include The Indian Act, the implementation of residential schools between the 1870’s and 1990’s (a system that removed children from their homes to deprive them of their own culture and assimilate the, into the dominant white culture), and the current crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
These examples are simply acts of indecency and injustice against human kind. Nevertheless, instead of covering up the past (which history has shown has been done), Canada has chosen to speak openly and educate generations about these atrocities and mistakes that were made in our history. By choosing to acknowledge the past, the Canadian government hopes to reconcile with their native peoples and prevent further violations against their peoples for the rest of Canada’s existence.
Many efforts have been made to accomplish this reconciliation such as: formal governmental apologies issued by the past Prime Minister Stephen Harper and current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a governmental department dedicated solely to maintaining relations and enabling Indigenous peoples to build capacity and support their vision of self-determination (Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada), as well as assuring that each province’s school curriculum mandates educating children about the facts of Canadian history involving the ill-treatment of indigenous peoples at the hand of the Canadian government.
Even though these efforts for reconciliation are being made, there is still a lot of pain and suffering felt by many Canadians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. It is my hope and dream for my country that one day, Canada’s first peoples’ cultures, practises, and languages will be widely celebrated and accepted without question into society. I also aspire to see an end to Indigenous racism when every Canadian will carry a deep respect and understanding for their country’s first peoples.
I believe that Canada is in great need of the aspirations mentioned above. Nevertheless I have hope that my country will be able to change for the better. “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” -Chief Seattle, Duwamish
CORIA Canadian Correspondent