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Euro-Canadians's Impact on Aboriginal Lives

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 1995 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Destroying Aboriginal Lives

In the twentieth century, Aboriginals and Euro-Canadians were similar to comparing rocks and diamonds. Aboriginals got kicked around by the Euro-Canadians, as they experienced very little appreciation, care and their values were irrelevant to the country. However, the Euro-Canadians considered themselves diamonds as they believed they were perfect, valuable and more significant than these rocks. Unfortunately, although both groups were special in their own way, Canadian Aboriginals were treated very poorly as they did not experience the same equality and rights that European Canadians did, due to the fact that they did not follow their culture, beliefs and language. Although the treatment of Aboriginals has improved as the time progressed, it negatively impacted Canadian society because Aboriginals experienced discrimination, their status was threatened and were assimilated.

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To begin with, the Aboriginals experienced discrimination that negatively impacted how each individual thought about each other and themselves. Even though the Indian Act (a federal law that governs the life of Aboriginals) has improved over the years, up until the 1980s, Aboriginal women were not treated like men as they were limited on rights and opportunities. In this act, First Nations were given an Indian Status for those who were full blood First Nations that provided them with many rights and living conditions. During this time, men were seen as more significant compared to women. A major difference from the two genders included that if an Aboriginal man married a non-Indian, they were still allowed to have this status. However, if women married out of their culture, they were forced to give up their status. This included giving up their lifestyle, such as living in the reserve with their family. Women were upset that their rights differed from the men who didn’t lose their recognition, therefore, in the 1970s, Indian Rights for Indian Women and the National Native Women’s Association created a campaign to get their voice across. In 1973, they faced defeat as the Supreme Court as they argued that this was not discrimination as all First Nations women were treated the same. With the help of other women organizations in 1979, Sandra Lovelace from New Brunswick went to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and in 1981, the Indian Act did not follow the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights causing the government to change this and give the women and children equal rights with the men in 1985. This should not have taken more than fifteen years to fix as their gender should not have changed their status. Also, when Aboriginal husbands passed away, the wives could not own the property. Women were treated as men owned everything in their environment including these individuals. Euro-Canadians impacted these Aboriginals lives by causing conflicts between the genders that were insignificant before the Indian Act was created. This created jealousy, stress, low self thought, and lower the happiness in their community. As well, these women were forced to decide between their culture and loved ones. These two most important things in someone’s lives can truly impact an individual’s life, leading to depression, sadness and loneliness. Euro-Canadians limited these women and destroy their futures while men were treated like kings out of their culture. Even though women were majorly targeted out of this Canadian group, all Aboriginals faced inequality in their life.

Next, the Euro-Canadians attempted to take away the Aboriginal status for more equality and to be more involved in Canadian society. Due to this, the White Paper was established by Trudeau government in 1969 to negotiate how the Aboriginals were treated. This agreement would give the Aboriginals access to healthcare and education that were the same as other Canadians, however it included destroying the Indian Act, reserve lands and ending treaties, moving responsibilities for Aboriginal services to the provinces and removing the Department of Indian Affairs. Although this was creating equality, it also included getting rid of their culture and what was comfortable to them, therefore Harold Cardinal, leader of the Indian Association of Alberta, created the Red Paper which entitled keeping special status to guarantee survival, having access to same services as Canadians, and be “citizen plus” as they wanted their own rights to continue their culture. Trudeau government got rid of the White Paper, but unsurprisingly, the Red paper failed as well. This negatively impacted Aboriginals as the white paper was not the best interest for these individuals by trying to get rid of their culture by removing rights that were needed for survival. If this had went through, it would have been a challenge for all, as they would have no choice but to adapt to a whole new lifestyle. This was not the only time where Aboriginals experienced the feeling of being overpowered and not getting their voice heard as they were forced into many things that tried to destroy their culture.

Finally, the Euro-Canadians goal was to assimilate Aboriginals as they wanted to dominate their culture due to the belief of being superior compared to these individuals. Aboriginals were not accepted for who they were during the 1900s. As a result, the 60s Scoops and residential schools were established. The 60s Scoop took place during the 1960s up until the 1980s where about 16,000 Aboriginal children were removed from their homes, families and what was comfortable to them by child-welfare service workers. As they were placed into non-Aboriginals homes all around the globe, in 1977, 44% of children were living in Alberta, 51% in Saskatchewan, 60% in Manitoba and others were moved to the United States and the UK. This forced the children to develop a completely different lifestyle that involved gaining knowledge about the Canadian culture as it prevented these individuals from growing up learning about their family, culture, religion, beliefs and language, as well as their name. This caused traumatic stress, anxiety and sadness for all individuals involved as Euro-Canadians left Aboriginal families with a sense of loss by taking away a piece of them that was truly loved without any consent. This impacted the success of many Aboriginal families and parenting skills while experiencing little support and compassion. “I learned the fear, how to be so fearful at six years old. It was instilled in me. I was scared and fearful all the time, and that stayed with me throughout my life” (Waskewitch Shirley). The first residential school opened 1831 in Brantford, Ontario but became popular in the 1880s. Operated by a religious organization in cooperation with the federal government, caused approximately 150,000 Inuit, Indian and Metis to be ripped out of their homes and sent to residential schools in hopes of educating the students to be able to have their own lives living the Canadian culture. Life was not easy and pleasant in these schools as they were affected emotionally, mentally and physically. The living conditions included low quality and quantity of clothing and food that led to illnesses and diseases, replaced their name with a number, cut their hair and teachers were harsh and impatient. Due to this, if students were misbehaving in any way or not doing what was asked, they experienced physical, verbal and sexual abuse as no one cared how they were being treated. Because of this treatment, 6000 children did not survive to return home as about 3000 died from the abuse, suicide and many fought incredibly hard to escape. No respect, no care, and no nurtur was provided for these young individuals who were forced to live fear in these living hells that were constructed all around Canada especially in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba. How they handled the idea of trying to get rid of Aboriginal culture was poorly done and left many in situations where they were unstable, disconnected with family and friends, and gained addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling and food in the future. Canadians made these individuals go through pain, misery, isolation, and risking their lives that caused us to not experience and grow as a country with their culture and lessons. With all that they faced in their live, they managed to push through the pain and with their strength they improved the futures for these individuals.

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Even though Euro-Canadians have recognized our mistakes, made apologies, changed many of the rights, and have giving support to these Aboriginals as the years have gone by, the treatment these individuals faced was wrong as they experienced discrimination, their status was attempted to be removed and they were assimilated. With the Indian Act, many did not get to live a happy life as they lived with anger, stress, low self-esteem and picking between the two things that can improve an individual’s life. The White Paper did not benefit the Aboriginals and was just used to hopefully change them in the future by taking away the rights that help them survive. With residential schools and the 60s scoop, many families were departed and their future involved living in fear that they can not take back. Euro-Canadians destroyed the lives of many Aboriginals just because they lived a different lifestyle. Canada can do nothing to make up for the treatment Aboriginals faced.

Work Cited

  • “Aboriginals.” The Canada Guide, www.thecanadaguide.com/basics/aboriginals/.
  • Gray, Smith M. Speaking Our Truths: A Journey of Reconciliation. , 2017. Print.
  • Miller, J.r.. “Residential Schools in Canada”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 21 September 2018, Historica Canada. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/residential-schools. Accessed 14
  • Minsky, Amy. “In Their Words: What Residential School Survivors Told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” Global News, Global News, 2 June 2015, globalnews.ca/news/2031617/in-their-words-what-residential-school-survivors-told-the-truth-and-reconciliation-commission/.
  • January 2019.Miller, J.r.. “Residential Schools in Canada”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 21 September 2018, Historica Canada.
  • Policies of Forced Aboriginal Assimilation in Canada, caid.ca/Dassimilation_policy.html.
  • Quinlan, Don, Rick Mahoney, Rick Chang, and Gregory Morris. The Canadian Challenge. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
  • “The Indian Act.” YouTube, 4 Dec. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHefD-cdTxU
  • “Treaties and Agreements.” Relations Couronne-Autochtones Et Affaires Du Nord Canada / Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada – Canada.ca, 11 Sept. 2018, www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1100100028574/1529354437231
  • “What Was the ?60s Scoop?? Aboriginal Children Taken from Homes a Dark Chapter in Canada’s History.” Global News, 23 Aug. 2016, globalnews.ca/news/2898190/what-was-the-60s-scoop-aboriginal-children-taken-from-homes-a-dark-chapter-in-canadas-history/
  • “Why Aboriginal Peoples Can’t Just ‘Get Over It.’” What’s the Difference between Anxiety and Stress?,www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/indigenous-people-vol11/why-aboriginal-peoples-cant-just-get-over-it.


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