This is a response from someone I know on Facebook to a message he received, the message expressing a point of view I’ve seen far too often & is seemingly prevalent in Canadian culture. The response is in 2 parts and many others responded as well. (Part 1)
Well friend, it’s taken me a while to respond to this. I have to admit, part of me didn’t want to respond at all. What you’re saying to me in these messages comes from a place of ignorance and I understand that, but it’s still taken me a bit to figure out if it’s worth talking to you about these issues. In the end, your first message seems to me to carry within it a desire to learn more and so I’m going to take the time to provide you with some resources to educate yourself on the history of the relations between Canada and the indigenous peoples within its borders.
I’m not going to preach to you and I’m not going to spoon feed you; if you want to learn the issues at hand you’re going to have to do some reading. When I take the time to examine the current dialogue on Idle No More it’s obvious that most of the discourse comes from a place of fear and ignorance as to the nature of the relationship between Canada and First Nations, with the end result being a stunning amount of racism towards indigenous peoples. You have shown some of that racism in your messages and it’s been difficult for me to hear that from a former friend. That’s why I’m going to give you these resources. I hope that you use them to educate yourself about the history of our nation.
Understanding the current relationship between Canada and First Nations requires understanding a long and tumultuous history. Therefore, the very first resource I will suggest that you read is the Highlights from the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100014597/1100100014637 ). This is a summary of a report commissioned in 1991 to examine the relationship between Canada and First Nations. This is not a biased news source, this is a report of a government commission. Here is a short summary of its findings, though I highly suggest that you read all of the highlights:
“The main policy direction, pursued for more than 150 years, first by colonial then by Canadian governments, has been wrong.
Successive governments have tried - sometimes intentionally, sometimes in ignorance - to absorb Aboriginal people into Canadian society, thus eliminating them as distinct peoples. Policies pursued over the decades have undermined - and almost erased - Aboriginal cultures and identities.
This is assimilation. It is a denial of the principles of peace, harmony and justice for which this country stands - and it has failed. Aboriginal peoples remain proudly different.”
The grievances that are being brought to light by Idle No More are the very grievances that a Canadian Royal Commission composed of both indigenous and non-indigenous members identified as being systemic within the Canadian system. To understand more of the issues, these articles can provide further reading:
That will give you a basic understanding of the history of Canada’s policy towards First Nations. To address one of your points: “if I were to say “stupid drunk natives” then every native seems to get offended online.” Yes, most victims of attempted genocide get a little bit offended when being mocked for social scourges introduced to them by the perpetrators of that genocide. For the record, there are hundreds of individual indigenous nations within Canada. However, the government’s genocidal assimilation policy regarded them all as a singular “Indian problem” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_Campbell_Scott#Indian_Affairs). So I guess there’s something about being a unified target of genocide that builds solidarity among disparate peoples. I wouldn’t know, and neither would you. But many indigenous people do, since the history I’m talking about here continued well into their lifetimes. So please, think before you spout racism like that.
I should tell you that I posted your first message to my timeline. I was so taken aback by it that I wanted some perspective on it. I’d like to show you some of the responses I got from some of my friends who have direct experience with Canada’s racist and destructive policies:
“Holy Fuck. The average native eh? I guess I’m anything but average than, being Haida….i can only speak from a Haida perspective, but as far as I know the differences between native nations are just as diverse as those between countries in Europe. After hundreds of years each of those nations has kept their identity and heritage in tact. Anyway, Pascal…thank you for being you, thank you for sharing and giving information, thank you for your successes and failures, thank you for your thoughts and opinions, and thanks for sharing. It’s exposing the truth, all those inner feelings we have that allow us to really look at them and decide what to keep and what to discard. And evoking a response from someone who has opinions as such can only do more good, it’s really really damn hard to put something forth that isn’t really yours…then try and defend it. It’s really really hard for a lot of people to let go of what they have been told and learned, now imagine what’s its Like for people to let go of who they are or what they experienced? How can you ask someone to give up who they are and just ‘conform’. We’re supposed to be living in the ‘cultural mosaic’ of Canada where we all have identities and work together. I’ll tell you one thing…my native side & my Ukrainian side both think this guy deserves to have this exposed. Better be ready to defend your opinions there buddy, or… Take our own advice and ‘think it over for a week’ and maybe do some research into Canadian history and the history of the First Nations people. There is a reason why our grandparents and some of our parents are referred to as survivors.”
“”stupid drunk natives” is a touchy subject for people who have first nation family members suffering with addictions. The pain from losing one’s cultural identity through genocide, colonization, residential schools etc is passed from generation to generation. Of course people get offended when you strike a wound that is still open. As I am Metis, I have struggled with my beliefs about myself and my family due to comments like this. On my father’s side I have seen the pain passed from my cree grandparents, who were in residential schools, onto their children. On my mother’s side, I have seen my great grandmother cry and sing in some form of co salish tongue, mourning the loss of her old way of life. Most of my family is still numbing pain through addiction, and few have managed to get out of addiction and work through the pain and find balance in life as it is today.