Guess what happened on Friday? A small step forward, but yet another example of how the Aboriginal people are still dealing with the effects of the colonization of Canada, namely the treaty processes, reserves, and residential schools.
Although we will never fully understand PLO B2, “evaluate the impact of interactions between the Aboriginal peoples and European settlers and explorers in Canada”, because it is still going on today, we are coming to the end of the class time we spend on this learning outcome. I actually wouldn’t mind studying these issues and interactions between Aboriginal people and the Canadian government (or, as is relevant to my environmental issues project about energy, interactions of Aboriginal groups and natural resource development companies) for the rest of the year. There are so many things going on, and I want to learn about all of them! Especially after learning about residential schools, I want to make Canada a place I am proud to be a citizen of, which means I must educate myself about the problems we face as a country.
So far, PLO B2 has been really engaging for me. A lot of the material we learned about really impacted me and how I view BC and Canada, especially since we learned about residential schools and the treaties that were (or in this case, were not) signed. At first, I was just incredibly shocked. Canada, my home, instituting residential schools? “Killing the Indian in the child”? It seemed impossible that the last residential school had only closed three years before I was born. After getting over the initial shock of residential schools, I felt a growing sense of dysphoria with my Canadian, and even British Columbian, identity. The fact that most of BC, especially the densely populated lower mainland, was never ceded by any treaty is horrible! The Aboriginal people were pretty much kicked out of their ancestral land without much warning, and placed into small reserves with mediocre to unsatisfactory hunting or farm land. This unit uncovered the dark side, so to speak, of Canadian history. It wasn’t easy to learn about. But educating myself is a step in the right direction, and a step towards creating improvement.
A lot of what we are learning about relates back to what I did with my Eminent person project at the beginning of the year. I learned about the problems black people face in America. Now, having learned about Aboriginal people in Canada, I realize that the problems American blacks face are the same ones the Canadian aboriginals face – over-representation in prison, discrimination, unequal opportunities, poverty, and all the issues that come from a system that works against these cultures. America was built on slavery. Canada, on the near extinction of the Aboriginal people. The only difference is, we hear about America’s faults all over the media, whereas Canada’s dark side is kept quiet.
~Now Entering the Question Zone~
I have a lot of questions, so see the bottom of this section for some pictures of my outline – a visual “TLDR”
I have a lot of questions and interests relating to this PLO. For example, we learn about gender roles, but I also want to learn about issues concerning specifically women, such as violence against Aboriginal women, and the hundreds of missing person cases still left unsolved about Aboriginal women (For a governmental action plan, link here: http://swc-cfc.gc.ca/med/news-nouvelles/2014/0915-eng.html. In contrast, check out the Moose Hide campaign, a campaign started by an Aboriginal man and his daughter: http://moosehidecampaign.ca/) Finding out about and supporting Aboriginal-run campaigns and programs is one way to get involved in this issue, but I really want to learn more about the bigger picture.
On one hand, I want to learn about how reserves work. I read that, back in the 1800s, the reserves were meant to be a place for Aboriginals to stay until they “graduated” into Canada and became civilized, English-speaking (and ideally Protestant) Canadians.
- What are reserves meant to accomplish now?
- Why do Aboriginals give up their benefits or rights when they leave the reserve?
- What benefits or rights do they lose?
- Why can’t Aboriginal people own land?
On another topic, I want to learn about the interactions of Aboriginal people and resource development companies.
- Do Aboriginals still have authority over who can use the minerals and resources on their land?
- If they sell the rights to it, do the people of that area gain from the profits the company makes?
- How do natural resource rights differ from province to territory?
- Do Aboriginal groups have a say in the kinds of methods used to attain these resources?
- Tying into my environmental issues project, what about energy sources, like possible dam locations that fall in Aboriginal land?
- What resources are there in the North, and where exactly are they located (so far, I know of diamonds, iron and zinc)?
I’m also curious about Aboriginal representation. To learn more about this, I need to understand the Comprehensive Claims agreements, and just what exactly is going on with defining “existing Aboriginal and treaty rights”. I especially want to look into more of what George Abbot was trying to set up with the Aboriginal people, and try to piece together where we are now in the process of sorting out this issue.
- How do we try to hear out, and work with, the Aboriginal people through our own government?
- Does it differ by province to province, or territory to territory?
- What exactly does the Department of Aboriginal affairs and Northern Development do?
More importantly, do the actions of this department help empower First Nations peoples, or simply provide a better crutch for them, and increase dependency on government subsidies? As we’ve been learning about, the paternal attitude the Canadian Government used to have towards the Aboriginals restricted their rights and made life very difficult for them. So, although we want to support Aboriginal people, we also have to keep in mind that we should be giving them the tools to help themselves, not an easy solution. As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish, and he will not go hungry for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will never go hungry again.”
In social studies, all the events we learn about are intricately linked together, causing new events to occur, spurring new ideas and perpetually changing the world we live in. Thus, the questions invoked by PLO B2 connect to many other areas of the curriculum, and of my personal passions and interests. For example, energy and resource development is linked to PLOs E1-3, as well as my environmental issues project. Aboriginal representation ties into C4, and most likely some of Socials 11 in learning about how our government works. However, much of what I will learn will be for life credit, not school credit. I think learning about and assisting the people whose oppression I’ve benefited from, albeit indirectly, is a responsibility I have to take to continue living with a clear conscience.