In any Canadian history class we learnt about how the Europeans settled in Canada to build a new life. Furthermore, as kids we have always learnt that Christopher Columbus had discovered Canada as an empty piece of land, with no habitants whatsoever. (Flashback Canada, 1994) These statements are false. Native Canadians had already been living in Canada, and the European settlers basically just moved tight in regardless. Setting up their own Government, and being the aggressor in the country took control of everything the aboriginals had.
It was said that to the aboriginals it looked like “mercantilists wanted our furs, missionaries wanted our souls, colonial governments, and later, Canada, wanted our lands. ” (Razack, 2002) The purpose of this paper is to show how the government of Canada, also known as the majority has taken advantage of the native peoples of this country. This has happened in many ways, but one of the most important techniques is land control. In addition, the treatment of the aboriginal people in Canada demonstrates how the dominant group utilizes the technique of land control to dominate the minority group.
This is can be seen though the forcing of the native people to relocate, how the government responds to land claims made by the natives, and how the aboriginals have to settle for insufficient land. Throughout history in Europe, there was a concept of inalienability of sovereignty, meaning that people who were inhabitance of a colony firstly, did not have to adapt to ways and laws of other settlers. (McNeil, 2002) This was not the case when European settlers came to Canada, and forced the concept of assimilation upon the aboriginals who already resided in the country.
The dominant group forced them to relocate to reserves, and as well forced them to abide by their laws, even though it was not based on the political philosophy of Europe. Reasoning being, the government wanted to have control of the land that was occupied by the Indians, because the government could use the land to develop business which can help them build the economy. (Aboriginal Rights Coalition, 1999) In addition, any resources that were available would be controlled by the dominant group, because they wanted to have control of the resources, because it could be used in trade with other countries.
Aboriginal Rights Coalition, 1999) Even after the relocation, the natives were told that they were allowed to return to their original land after a few years, this was another false statement used by the dominant group to force the natives off developing lands. In addition to the relocation of the natives, the dominant group justifies this action by the paternalistic model. The reasoning by the government is that the aboriginals are “Childlike and immature”, and can not conduct themselves in a civilized manner. (Kallen, 1995) Furthermore, the aboriginals are not expected to reach maturity, and they are regarded as permanent children.
They can not self-govern themselves and will always be dependant on the dominant group for support. (Kallen, 1995) The dominant group makes the aboriginals believe that they are less than human, and can not do things for their self, and will continually be dependant on the dominant group. To help ensure this, the government proposed the Indian act, where the federal minister of Indian affairs, has had ultimate authority over all decisions affecting the lives and destinies of the Indians residing on the reserves.
Kallen, 1995) Throughout the years the Indian act has abled the minister to control resources which include, land, housing, income, etc. basically all aspects of Indian life. This was just another way for the dominant group to have total control of everything in Canada. This helps ensure that that the control of dominant powers is not threatened by minorities, and that the individual and collective rights of the dominant population are recognized and respected in society at large, not minorities.
Moreover, even with the minimal amount of rights the aboriginals had already, the reserves they were relocated to were the worst yet. Most of the houses did not have portable water, less than half had indoor plumbing, and only a few of them were linked to a sewage disposal system. (Kallen, 1982) Most of the houses needed repairs, and some needed to be replaced totally. Due to the lack of proper sewage systems and clean water this increased diseases and caused many Indians to get very ill, or even die due to these dehumanizing life conditions on the reserves.
Hence, with these conditions the Indian reserves have become centers of Indian cultural alienation, and helps characterize the Indians with the self-fulfilling prophecy of paternalism. Also, the Indians are viewed as the “paternalistic model”, of being savages and having to depend upon the dominant group for survival. The Government responds very little to claims made by the aboriginal for land. They try the best they can to get out of it, and not to sign any treaties. But because of the continual disputes between the government and the aboriginals, the proclamation of 1763 was signed.
It stated that the Indians, whom the government is connected with and live under their protection, should not be molested or disturbed. (McNeil, 2002) The purpose of this proclamation was to set aside land for the Indians which “private persons must be forbidden to purchase or settle. (Redbird, 2002) But in 1811, the Hudson Bay Company reserved ten percent of this land for employee retirement. Land that said could not be touched or purchased by and private persons. (Redbird, 2002) In terms of the land, the dominant group does not want to give land over to the aboriginals.
They use the excuse of the aboriginals not being able to self-govern themselves and hence do not deserve any land. The government has constantly been trying not to give in to Indian land claims, and trying to settle it in a way that they can still benefit from it. Recently, even though there have been some treaties signed by the government and the Indians, the government did not want to give the aboriginals total control of land. The reasoning behind this was if they did get total control of the land and were able to self-govern themselves, they would be taken advantage of by others.
The government proposed the “protection rationale”, where the aboriginals would reside in the land but it would still be owned by the government and they had control over it. This was justified so that they can offer protection to the Indians and not having them be disturbed or abused by others. (McNeil, 2002) This was a forced reasoning given to the aboriginals so they would be protected by the government from other Canadian citizens. After many attempts for land claims, the government finally proclaimed the Constitution Act of 1982, which incorporated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Boldt & Long, 1985) Finally the aboriginals were getting somewhere, but that was not the case. They made hundreds of land claims under the Constitution Act, and still were not heard. They had to protest in order to have their rights which were supposed to be automatically given to them. (Thom, 1998) Hence, since there were so many land claims they were forced to take the state to court, and it was exactly where the state wanted to be put. The aboriginals would have to get loans for court procedures, and whatever the settlement was, they minus the loan from that amount.
Thom, 1998) Furthermore, the state would drag court procedures on for a long period of time, so that it would cost millions of dollars, so that the aboriginals would be put into more depth. Basically they could not win with the dominant group even after these many years; they would still find a way to keep control of the land. The land that the aboriginals got in terms of treaty rights was some of the worst land that Canada has to offer. This was purposely done by the dominant group, where the land claim settlements have altered the land and resource regimes in northern Canada.
Usher, 2003) Firstly, there was the alteration of river systems by impoundment and diversion Treaty 3. (Usher, 2003) The river system covers approximately 160,000 km, and the government started a construction project of eighteen dams to provide power for local mines, mills, and towns. (Usher, 2003) Although this was a construction project to help small communities and provide power from the natural resource of the water it also did some bad damage to the river. Because of the construction of the dams, the lakes or rivers did not retain its natural flow or level regime and this posed a problem for the Indians.
Usher, 2003) The areas surrounding the lakes and rivers had provided game to hunt for the aboriginals, but many areas surrounding the lakes and rivers would flood and kill natural habitat due to the tampering of the water. (Usher, 2003) Many houses, gardens, sandy beaches, etc. were flooded. Some of the most valuable pieces of lands for the aboriginals were lost, and all that was left was a bit of timber, degraded, and eroded shorelines. But that was just one part of the problem. Another problem with the lands that were given to the Indians was the pollution and contamination of river systems.
Usher, 2003) The English and Winnipeg rivers were contaminated by pulp and paper mills. This caused the commercials fishery to close and Health Canada advised people not to eat the fish because it may have been poisoned. The rivers were a source of food and livelihood for the aboriginals, and now it was poisoned. In addition, it got even worse because one of the effects of river impoundment in a forest environment is to enhance the methylation of mercury in flooded organic material. This caused the contamination of fish to rise more considerably.
Usher, 2003) This impacted the aboriginals drastically by not being able to gain food from a basic food resource, and caused more commercial fishing closures. (Usher, 2003). This was very bad because now the land the aboriginals had somewhat control over, was not beneficial to them and their ways. These were the resources the aboriginals depended on for survival. This is a major impact towards the aboriginals because all the contamination has to do with water, and the alteration of the water.
Water being a necessity for life, and for the aboriginals a source of food. Furthermore, it affects the habitat of fish, birds, crops, etc. These are economic resources and the way of life for the aboriginals, and involve people living in small isolated communities and hence they can not survive without these resources. (Usher, 2003) This was just another technique used by the government to indulge the self-fulfilling prophecy and force the aboriginals to assimilate to the dominant group’s ways.
Hence, it is evident that the aboriginals of Canada have been taken advantage of since the Europeans laid foot in this country. Being the dominant group they forced the aboriginals off their own land which they were settled long before they came to this country, and forced them to relocate to reserves with inadequate housing. Even though the aboriginals made many land claims the government would try to get out of it in any way that they can. Even if they had to be taken to court, because they knew that it would have a great financial affect upon the aboriginals.
This was just another technique used, by the government to stay on top. Even though they were given some land by the state, it was insufficient land to live on and the natural resources that the aboriginals required to have a good state of living were altered purposely, and nothing the aboriginals could do about it. In addition, even though things are getting a little bit better for the aboriginals, it will take a lot of compensation to make up for the years and years of dreadful treatment.