Canada: Culture, Religion, and Aboriginals

I write this post after hearing again this week that Aboriginals should just assimilate into society. Canadian society that is.

After thinking about this comment for some time, I am going to give the person the benefit of the doubt and say that she probably meant no harm in saying it. There is, however, harm in saying such a thing. Especially to an Aboriginal person. Why is that? Well it was the very same act *assimilation* that has put Aboriginals in the state that they are in today. Unhealthy: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I am then reminded of a comment my Irish friend made me to me one day. He said, “I am proud to be Canadian.” And I told him, “That I don’t think there is enough of that.” He asked what I meant and I said “proud Canadians.” I then gave the example to him that a lot of people that I know (besides him) don’t ever say: “I am a proud Canadian.” They usually say, “I am proud to be Italian…” or German or Korean or Mexican and so on. I told him in comparison to the states, Canada doesn’t really have it’s own “culture.” And it’s true about Canada, it is rather a mixture of cultures than rather a country that possesses it’s own culture.

Saying that to him I was reminded of some younger people’s lack of faith in religion. Perhaps today religion is not as strong as it once used to be. Especially in Canada. I think that religion creates a lot of difficulties especially in regards to creating divisions (and by religion I mean Christianity/Catholicism..the very 2 religions that attempted to assimilate Aboriginals into Canadian society). Even in past history, conflict and violence erupted because of people’s different views on the church and religion of the past. Sometimes people ask me what my religion is and I always answer “I don’t have a religion.” They usually look puzzled and stumped at the same time after hearing my answer. I then explain to them that my culture is not a religion and that it is my values, beliefs, and way of life. When I think of religion (mostly Christianity/Catholicism), I think of conflict, divisions, violence. I do not want to be associated to that. Most certainly I do not want someone thinking the same thing as me to associate those descriptive words with the thought or idea of practicing Aboriginal culture.

But what I am really trying to get at in writing this post and sharing these views and stories is that I believe Canada does not have it’s own culture and that it rather has a mixture of cultures. Also religion is not the same as Aboriginal culture. And that religion is not valued as much as it once was in Canada. But most importantly in regards to the comment relating to Aboriginals assimilating into Canadian society–just because Canada does not have it’s own distinct culture and that just because it does not think highly of the values of it’s own existing religions within… Aboriginals shouldn’t have to be one in the same—lacking culture and devaluing their beliefs.

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