Conversation: Aboriginals & Canada

I know I said I wouldn’t be writing any more posts until after my finals, but I just couldn’t stay away. I am writing this post out of frustration and anger over a conversation that I had with a non-Aboriginal man.

Non-Aboriginal man: The Aboriginals need to be integrated into society.
Me: So you mean Aboriginals need to be westernized.
Non Aboriginal man: Call it whatever you want to call it, but whatever it is they are doing… it isn’t working for them and hasn’t been working for them.
Me: You mean Canada hasn’t been working for Aboriginals.

I know, I know that Canada has done many great things for Aboriginals. Like in terms of health care, education, employment opportunities. What makes me wonder is why Aboriginals are then still lagging behind in all aspects? They have the highest suicide rates, highest teen pregnancy rates, highest unemployment rates. In fact, some of the reasons why these numbers appear higher than most Canadians think, is because of the contribution that Aboriginals make to these statistics. For instance, in lecture in my sociology class, the professor mentioned this scary stat/number:

2010: Infant mortality rate amongst Canadians 5.3 live births per 1000 versus 19 live births per 1000 amongst Aboriginals

She also added that the reason the number for entire Canada is 5.3 is partly because of the Infant mortality rate amongst Aboriginals in Canada.

Sorry people, but this is real and not made up. To say that all we need to do is “integrate” or become “westernized” or in other words “white” is the wrong thing to say. That has already been done (ie-residential schools, creation of reserves, etc), and it clearly did not work.

Whether Canada wants to admit it or not, or address the problem directly or not, Aboriginal people will not just disappear or go away, and even if they do.. those problems are still part of Canada. It’s part of Canada’s reality and it is also apart of Canada’s history.

Aboriginal people are not the problem, and they never have been the problem. I say this out of frustration and anger, but Canada… YOU are the problem.

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