There are aspects of Canadian history that are not widely known, taught, or accepted. The systems of government and education were built through colonization at the expense of and attempted destruction of Indigenous culture and identity. Continued racism and misunderstanding 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.This page offers a very basic and short intro in a complex topic. Please take the time to educate yourself further about the history of Canada and it's relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Read about the Indian Act. There are many excellent books, movies, Podcasts, etc.
INidigenous peoples were the first people living on the landmass we now call Canada. 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. Colonization then extended into forced assimilation which is the attempt to make one culture adopt the practices of another by any means necessary.
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. There is continued conflict about hunting, access to resources on Reserve and using Reserve land for infrastructure.
Residential schools existed in Canada from early 1880 until the early 1990's. During this time, 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 60's 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 biological families.
gov't care of children
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 massively over represented in the child welfare system.
The indian act
The Indian Act is legislation that was made to and continues to govern the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It has evolved and changed over time but it still exists. Some examples of imposed restrictions over time have been: Denying treaty status to women, banning any cultural practices such as traditional dance, forbid speaking of Native tongue, denied First Nations the right to vote until 1960.