Historical treatment of Aboriginal peoples and the question of genocide

Naming the historical oppression of Aboriginal peoples in Canada genocide is without a doubt an act of demystification. There is in fact no denial about this event occurring in Canadian history; however, by naming the historical oppression of Aboriginals it will not change the fact that this event did occur. An apology from the government can only go so far it can show people that the government is taking responsibility for their actions, but it will never replace the damage that has been done. Although, this event was not a gory and violent one (like the Genocide in Rwanda) it is clearly evident that the government was willfully blind, and lacked tremendously in protecting these people’s rights. The outcome or effect of such an act of naming will in fact be unpredictable one in terms of the individuals belonging from the native community who may or may not feel good about it.  In a small sense justice will be served, but then again it will not change what happened in the past. Monture maintains a valid argument in terms of her shedding light on the term genocide. The United Nation’s definition of genocide is “includes causing serious mental or bodily harm towards a group, preventing birth in a group, transferring children by force from the group and imposing conditions designed to physically destroy the group of people”, and this definition precisely outlines, let alone fits the description of what happened to the innocent Aboriginal children, and communities. The government was clearly at the time trying to eliminate a culture, by doing what is mentioned in the definition mentioned above. In other words this whole event was indeed genocide. In my opinion this whole event which took place in Canadian history is a very tragic and shameful matter. It is tragic in the sense that a sacred culture was destroyed, and where children were not only forcibly removed from their homes, and loved ones, but also neglected/deprived from basic necessities. This was not only unfair, but simply sickening where the government actually allowed this preposterous event to proceed for a lengthy period of time. It is a shame that it took the government such a long time to realize what a massive error they had made. It is also unfortunate that a culture had to suffer such a great loss, all because the Canadian government in a way wanted to eliminate the beliefs and traditions of aboriginal people and in turn assimilate these people more  into the so called dominate Canadian culture.

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2 responses to “Historical treatment of Aboriginal peoples and the question of genocide

  1. You open with some interesting claims. In particular, you propose that, in relation to the historical oppression of Aboriginal peoples, “There is in fact no denial about this event occurring in Canadian history; however, by naming the historical oppression of Aboriginals it will not change the fact that this event did occur.”

    This raises some interesting questions about the nature of ‘history’. First, we should note that the historical oppression of Aboriginal peoples is by no means a topic that is openly acknowledged and taught as part of our basic education regarding the history of the Canadian state. While certain details may not be denied, there is a huge difference between not denying something and acknowledging it in a way that makes it a meaningful part of a people’s history.

    We should also note that the oppression of Aboriginal peoples in Canada has indeed involved moments of overt violence and bloodshed.

    In relation to the concept of naming this history ‘genocide’, you note that “in a small sense justice will be served, but then again it will not change what happened in the past”. In the objective sense of linear history, this is correct, but again the issue at hand is not whether or not the past can be changed, but how we can change our understanding of the past in order to make sense of our present and future.

    • harvinder23

      I feel as their is not enough emphasis put in this matter in terms of individuals being aware of the Aboriginal culture. It is sad to learn that such a sacred rich culture has not only been destroyed, but has also been absent from many peoples knowledge. Personally I was not aware of such a historic event occurring until I came to post secondary. To me this alone has such a large effect that our education system has failed us in the sense that they have lacked to educate children about such a massive phenomena; however, it is not to say this matter goes completely ignored. it is shocking that not enough attention is given to the subject, especially with that fact that secondary schools did not provide much care into distributing the history to students. This matter clearly goes ignored in the sense that many people are uneducated of this of what actually occurred, and as a result many engage in the awful stereotypical views about the Aboriginal community. Furthermore, on the note of how we can change our understanding about this event in order to make sense of our present, and future, personally I feel that the first step should be educating people, and not only just in our education curriculum, but also the society as a whole. Together if we educate one another about the historical events, (because we cannot change what has already occurred) this can help us take a step forward. I agree with the note that we (the society as a whole) should acknowledge the matter versus creating our own personal views. I strongly feel that education is the key to societies success, because this in turn will build a strong foundation, and have more individuals respect, and understand what happened; therefore, making this event a more meaningful part in peoples history.