The Unfair Treatment of the First Nations People in Canada
We believe that the First Nations were treated extremely unfairly; In the first paragraph we will discuss the horrifying effects of residential schools. In paragraph two the repression of culture and discrimination of the First Nations. The First Nations continue to be treated unfairly today with the government of Canada failing to fully acknowledge and make amends for their deplorable actions. This will be the topic of the third paragraph. In the fourth paragraph this writer will explore why so little knowledge is available on the First Nations. We will also analyse why the government continues to refuse to distribute nothing more than sparse amounts of information onto future generations. How is reconciliation possible without knowledge and compassion? It isn’t. Finally we will be disproving a number of arguments that state the First Nations were treated fairly, in proportion to the treatment of other First Nations in other countries.
The residential schools subjected First Nations to atrocities under the guise of civility. Horrors were more prevalent than education, rape and assault ran rampant. Residential schools were not schools, so much as they were torture chambers. Looking beyond the rape and assault, there were other important issues festering. The schools were breeding grounds for smallpox and tuberculosis, diseases which the First Nations had no immunity to. Furthermore, cultural practice and everything directly pertaining to the First Nations culture was banned. How is a child to thrive and flourish in an environment more inclined towards torture and sadism than education. The educators that the students received were vicious priests or uneducated plebeians, They were more concerned with satisfying their own needs than assisting the children they were charged with. All of these factors contributed to the devastation of the First Nations people.
Residential schools were established by the Canadians as a way of repressing traditional aboriginal culture. This included but was not limited to; language, religion, enfranchisement and ownership of land. All of these injustices contradicted the Canadians fiduciary duty to protect the First Nations people. Residential schools were imperative to the government’s machinations, as they were designed to separate the First Nations youth from their culture in hopes of extinguishing it. The establishment of these schools was only a small component of numerous treaties to restrict First Nations rights under the guise of altruism. In addition to residential schools the government stole First Nations land and discriminated their culture in hopes of making them “civil members of refined society”. Whenever conformity is required fairness is not to be found.
The First Nations rights continue to be repressed to this day. The government of Canada has yet to recognize the First Nations ancestral land as their own and it remains property of the crown. Furthermore the apology acknowledging the atrocities in residential schools was half hearted and failed to convey adequate sympathies on behalf of the government. The apology only mentioned the residential schools, it completely disregarded all the other wrongs the government of Canada did to the First Nations people. In addition to this nothing further was done by the government to rectify their atrocities. They seemed content with their letter of apology, complacent in their non existent efforts towards reparations. This lack of contrition has caused a festering conflict between the two sides that exists to the day. As the government continues to treat the First Nations in a disdainful, prejudice manner. Only when proper remorse is aroused will reconciliation begin.
Information provided on the First Nations people and the grievous injustices they suffered is minimal at best. This writer had never heard of anything pertaining to First Nations or any unfair treatment. The term residential school was foreign to us. This supreme lack of readily available information has been a major factor in a culture of ignorance. Contrition is impossible in people especially youth; the leaders of new generations are unaware of the penance their making. How can anything be done if information of the First Nations isn’t widely dispensed? Meaningful change can only be achieved through widespread belief and action by dedicated people of a cause. A few dedicated people cannot make the proper appeals and change to uncaring masses. Which is what the majority or Canada is, they’re uninformed as to the nature of their past crimes and care not for amends.
A popular justification for advocates of the government’s actions weren’t as deplorable as the actions the Americans took to fight the First Nations. This however is baseless. It’s baseless because the law is the law, right and wrong, fair and unfair aren’t discarded when faced with a quandary of proportion. Yes the Americans were worse, spending 20 million dollars yearly to fight First Nations. However because someone else did worse is no excuse for transgressions. Blame is not discarded because someone is and has done worse, this needs to be recognized because such arguments are often used to validate unlawful actions.
In conclusion, the First Nations people were treated extremely unfairly by the Canadians. A multitude of examples of this unjust treatment are readily available; the unlawful seizure of land under treacherous pretenses, the repression of culture through residential schools. These atrocities continue to the day as the government has yet to fully recognize the devastating impact that their actions have had on many a generation. They continue to deny the First Nations their land. All of these factors culminate into a dark period of Canadian history that persists to the day. How are we to be expected to rectify the mistakes of our ancestors when such little thought is given to this tragedy? This writer believes that immediate and decisive action is needed to fully correct this grievous act done unto the First Nations. We cannot change the past, but the future can be changed. As such everyone should do their best to ensure that any decisions pertaining to the First Nations are for their benefit, not detriment.
Findlay, Heather et. al. “First peoples of Canada”
“Conflicts and alliances” 2007