Canada’s Ethical Responsibility Towards Indigenous People

I believe that as Canadian people we have a large responsibility towards the Indigenous population of our country. Even though it was technically not us that made the decisions, it is our legacy, and our job to fix what we did. When you really think about it, the abuse that we directed towards the native people of Canada was not so long ago.  A common excuse is that it happened many years ago, and that we shouldn’t dwell on the past. However, that is obviously not true. The last Residential school closed in 1996, which was only twenty two years ago. Yes, our government has apologized numerous times. But saying and doing are two different things, and in reality, I don’t believe that any amount of writing or a performance done by Trudeau could ever heal the emotional scars left by us, the Europeans. Our impact is still visible today. In Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, fifteen percent of the homeless population consists of Natives, even though they only take up 0.5 percent of the population. Sixty percent of First Nation people live in poverty. Due to residential schools, established by us, the parents were never taught how to love and take care of their child. Naturally, they make mistakes, since they never had the chance to learn from their mother and father. Substance abuse is also a large problem. The emotional, and even physical scars left by the residential schools and the atrocities committed by our country have led to drug problems, and alcoholism. In order to cope with the abuse that they have endured, they turn to those two things, as they seem like the only thing can make them forget about what happened. We ruined the life that they had for themselves. With false treaties, lies and unfair deals, we have ruined any chance we had on having a positive and healthy relationship with the true owners of our country. Every problem that the Indigenous population faces today can be linked back to one single source, that which is the Europeans and Canadians. We can blame our ancestors, parents and grandparents all we want, but it’s our responsibility to make it right. It is a common myth that the Native people mooch off of the government, laying around at home and getting drunk while our tax dollars are used to fuel their addictions. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Each Native person, as long as they are living on a reserve, gets around 7,316$ a year. The average Canadian spends around two hundred dollars a month on groceries, 9,004$ a year on renting or owning a house and 3,000$ on gasoline. That’s over 14,000$ annually. The Native population is given the bare minimum. I believe that we owe it to them to apologize more than we have so far, and to fix the wrongs that we have done.  We have compensated the Indigenous population by millions of dollars, but no amount of money could ever repair the damage that we have caused them. It will take a long time to mend the wounds we caused them. Instead of talking and paying, we should actually stand up and start doing. I believe that we need to help them get back on track. Not by assimilating them and teaching them our ways, but by adapting teaching, universities, jobs and overall lifestyle in order to accommodate the different needs of our Indigenous people. They are not Europeans, and they will never be. Instead of treating them like dirt, and a nuissance, we need to show them that they are important to our society.  We must respect and value their culture,  and embrace the contributions that in can make to our society, instead of judging and criticizing their way of life. By letting them believe that they are “just an Indian,” as a Native man once told me, we are doing them so much harm. We need to prove to them that they are not “just Indians”. They are people, just like us. They deserve respect, and a chance at life. As soon as a Native attempts to amount to anything, they are told that they have all they need on the reserves, and they get free money anyways, so why bother. They are shot down before they even get the chance to prove that they can be successful. They don’t need money, or speeches, we need to make things right with our actions, and by proving to them that their culture and ares are capable of coexisting, each one contributing to make us the rich country that we are today.

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