Aboriginals: the Mistreated Minorites of Canada
Aboriginal people are very passionate about their culture and traditions and believe that they are an important part of Canada’s past. Although their customs shaped Canada into a great nation, they are slowly fading into the background while competing with the French and English cultures. “Such an understanding gives no consideration to the presence and role of Aboriginal groups throughout history. ” First Nation’s people do not receive a just amount of respect and equality in terms of their rights for land and freedom.
Over the past century there have been several brutal protests that promote a negative, violent appearance towards all Aboriginals. In order to advance within society and claim land that is rightfully theirs, Natives have had to resort to planning court dates, forming petitions and writing threatening letters to the government. The Canadian government found ways to deceive the Aboriginals and get through loopholes to avoid granting reasonable wishes and staying true to their agreement.
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It is obvious that this Aboriginal versus government battle has been going on for far too long and it is an unfair challenge to the virtually helpless group of minorities. Throughout Canadian history Aboriginals have been judged for the way that they try to get recognition within society. Many citizens feel as if the Natives of Canada are violent and do not know how to control their actions. What people fail to see is that these bands are just mirroring the way they are being treated. Aboriginal groups have objected to uses of the environment by non-Aboriginal groups. ” One of the most publicized protests in Aboriginal-government relations was the Oka crisis in 1990. The Mohawks of Quebec erected roadblocks to stop the construction of a golf course on disputed land, barricaded pathways to halt the movement of government vehicles, and got physical with some of the officers on patrol. After an 11 week stand-off the protestors were arrested and the Aboriginals could not retaliate.
Finally, after 56 years of land disputation an agreement-in-principle was signed returning the land to the band. The government promised that the Aboriginals would receive land that was rightfully theirs and would not be disrupted again. This battle between the government and Aboriginals gives the impression that violent and inhumane behaviour is only coming from the Aboriginals, however the media fails to show the government retaliation. It is unjust to blame all of the violence on the Natives because both parties added problems to the situation.
One of the first land claim agreements that acted as a stepping stone for other land claims that followed was the James Bay Treaty. Due to the fact that “the deal was controversial from the start” there were many signatories to make the treaty official. The agreement was shaped by Hydro-Quebec who wanted to ensure that they would make a profit from the Aboriginal people’s land. This land claim was negotiated under a great deal of pressure with numerous court days and lawyers present at every meeting between the groups.
The Natives often thought that they were being taken advantage of and that they should not have to give up any of their land at all. “The Natives wrote letters to the Department of National Defence, organized joint actions with rural peoples and Aboriginal groups in the U. S. and Europe, met with European government representatives, held news conferences, and participated in demonstrations. ” In order to join the community together, and peacefully riot against the government’s decisions, many petitions were signed by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members within society.
The negotiation ended after about a year due to the pressure from the Cree and Inuit to receive a just amount of benefits. In the end the Aboriginals received great care and all that was promised after the negotiation but felt as if they should not have had to work so hard to get what they deserved. Legal action had to be taken in order for the Natives to voice their opinions about their land. The Canadian government has always found loopholes and ways around subjects that they do not want to deal with or talk about.
When they were approached by the Nisga’a way back in 1890 they brushed them off and told them that as long as they did not get in the way of development, their communities would go unharmed. “Aboriginal people maintained only certain hunting and trapping rights on the land. ” The people of this group wanted to have a self-governed community and felt that they should have the authority to make decisions that would better their standards of living. Their first attempt at approaching the provincial government in 1927 was declined due to the fact that a law was in place prohibiting Indians to advance land claims.
Finally in 1973 the Canadian government overruled the laws that were set and began to negotiate with the First Nation’s people in 1976. “Aboriginal peoples argued that their right to self-government existed because their societies historically had been organized and self-ruling. ” The Aboriginals were given the freedom that they wanted and were granted permission for a self-governed community however many restrictions and by-laws were put in place to keep these people under control.
The Nisga’a people are now living happily while still trying to work out some quirks on balancing the provincial and federal regulations with those of the self-government. The Aboriginal people of Canada have undergone a great deal of mistreatment from the government over the past century and it should not have to continue. Although rules have been made to ensure that this group of minorities receives proper treatment from society, many are faced with the challenge of racism and segregation from the rest of Canadians.
Canada is considered a bilingual country with both French and English as its official languages. Maybe it is time that this country realizes that it was built by another culture too. Aboriginal awareness is not a subject that is touched upon in school and it would be very helpful if the government paid respect to the First Nations people. Aboriginals are equal and deserve the same respect and attention that the rest of Canada receives from the government on a day to day basis.