HISTORY CONTRIBUTING TO
CANADIAN SYSTEMIC RACISM
Many of the blue words are links to webpages with even more info on the topic.
There are aspects of Canadian history that are not widely known. Much of the systems of government, education and institutions as we know them were built through colonization at the expense of destruction to Indigenous culture and identity. Continued misunderstandings has led to systemic discrimination in our society. Most people do not start the day with the intention to be racist or to discriminate against others. Unfortunately, discrimination against Indigenous people in Canada is so ingrained in our society that it often occurs without people realizing it. There are many misunderstandings about what it means to be Indigenous, what life is like on reserves, how money is allocated and so forth. There are many horrific parts of Canada's history that are not talked about or even known to the general public. This leads to further misunderstandings. Misunderstandings lead to stereotypes and judgements which lead to discrimination and racism. The video below shows real things that people say to Aboriginal people without thinking twice about what they are really saying.
Indigenous peoples were the first people living on the landmass we now call Canada. The way of life of the First Nations and Inuit was forever changed by explorers and colonization. Colonization is the attempt of one society to conquer and rule another. The goal of colonization in Canada was to displace Indigenous people from the land in order to acquire control and access to resources.
It was not until 1960 that First Nations men and women living on reserves were allowed to vote. The Indian Act mandates treaty rights and governs a certain amount of control over reservations to this day.
Residential schools existed in Canada from early 1880 to the closing decades of the 20th century. For a hundred years, children were taken from their families to be systematically assimilated. It was believed that Indigenous traditions, customs and beliefs were inferior. Children were subject to emotional, cultural, physical and sexual abuse. Many children did not survive residential schools. It was mandatory by law for Indigenous children to attend residential schools. The transgenerational effects of residential schools has created mistrust of educational systems and government, breaking down of family units, poor parenting practices, loss of culture, and shame of culture and identity.
The Sixties Scoop
This is a term used to express the continued assimilation of Indigenous children that occurred after residential schools into the 1980s. Children were taken from their families and placed in foster care or adopted in to Euro-Canadian families. Children were often adopted without the consent of their parents in to families. The transgenerational effects is a loss of culture, break down of family units, and mistrust of government and social services.
Children in Care
The Canadian government spends less money on children living on reserves than off reserves. This results in lower quality of social services and education. Indigenous children are overrepresented in the child welfare system and when apprehended, children are often not place with support systems sensitive to Aboriginal culture.
Reserves were created out of agreements between First Nation leaders and the Canadian government. Reserves were originally intended to displace First Nations groups and create separation from Euro-Canadian society. Many families were separated from each other. Reserves were set up as a system to assimilate First Nations. When children were taken to residential schools, parents and grandparents were often left alone in a community without children. There was a time when First Nations people were not allowed to leave reserves without special passes and permission from government. There was also a time when First Nations were banned from practicing cultural ceremonies on reserves. This has had an influence on loss of culture, language and identity. Nowadays, many reserves are engaged in self-governance and are working to maintain identity and to celebrate culture and traditions. Reserves are homes and communities to many. There is great diversity in the success of Band governance on reserves, standard of living, and personal stories about life on reserves.