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Reconciliation And The ‘Indian Problem’: How Some Parts Of Canada Are More Forward Looking Than Others.

3376 words - 14 pages

Throughout Canadian history, Aboriginal peoples have been subjected to varying degrees of state imposed control. With the end goal of eliminating the ‘Indian problem’, colonising mechanisms were put in place to regulate individual and collective Indigenous rights, possessions, and privileges. Various Canadian governmental policies had made institutionalized racism, as well as assimilation tactics against its Aboriginal people’s common practice. Infringing on their basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, the legislated policies and programs reflected the ideology of the time, which could be summed up by the very words of the Deputy Superintendent of Indian and Northern Affairs from 1913-32, Duncan Campbell Scott. As he infamously wrote, “our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department” (Palmater, 2011, 28). While present-day Canadian governments preach their official governmental policy of multiculturalism, progress is thought to be making headway towards a state of peaceful coexistence between the Indigenous population and the settlers of Turtle Island. However, in spite of Harper’s apology for past governmental ails regarding its ‘Indian policies’, the country continues to defend, and create new hidden legislated assimilation programs. Nevertheless, progress towards reconciliation is arguably being made in certain areas of our Nation, displaying exemplary deeds, which the rest of Canada ought to learn form, and quickly follow suit.
In settler societies like Canada, reconciliation between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples is certainly an obscured, but a profoundly important concept. As with many other concepts, the meaning of the word reconciliation and what is needed to achieve it is difficult to pinpoint. Many academics argue that reconciliation must be rooted in political struggle, and must push for meaningful social change to reinvigorate Indigenous existence, regenerate lost culture, identity, and pride (Alfred, 2009, 19). Achieving reconciliation is improbable, if not completely impossible, if the majority of Canadians are unaware of the historic and current injustices carried out on Indigenous populations. Addressing this exact problematic, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is committed to the acknowledgment of the discriminations and horrors experienced by Indigenous peoples, in regards to the Residential school legacy. The TRC is dedicated to reconciliation through the promotion of awareness and public education of past eradication policies (TRC, Website).
Canadian Aboriginal affairs are deplorable. It is said that the need for meaningful dialogue that could bring Canadians closer to a mutual understanding of Aboriginal rights is essential to achieve a workable union between Aboriginals and the rest of Canada. Yet, this already exists but is unequivocally ignored. It can be found in the...

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