March 29, 2017
This year, the federal government plans to spend half a billion dollars on events marking Canada’s 150th anniversary, prompting a great deal of debate about its historical treatment of Indigenous peoples. The majority of Canadians don’t have all the facts about that, while First Nations continue to live the crisis-level effects of that legacy. Perhaps Canada should cancel its celebrations and undertake the hard work necessary to make amends.
“Indian policy” was based on acquiring Indigenous lands and resources and reducing financial obligations to Indigenous peoples. The primary methodology was either assimilation or elimination. These acts included confining Indigenous peoples to tiny reserves and forbidding them to hunt, fish or provide for their families, forcing them to live on unhealthy and insufficient rations that caused ill health and starvation.
It didn’t stop there. Other genocidal acts included the forced sterilization of Indigenous women and little girls and the mass theft from families of Indigenous children, many of whom were physically and sexually assaulted, experimented on, tortured and starved at residential schools – leading to the deaths of thousands.
This is how Canada cleared the land for farms, mining, oil extraction and development. It simply would not be the wealthy country it is, one of the best countries in the world to live and raise a family, were it not for the removal of Indigenous peoples from the source of Canada’s wealth.