Home Top News The story of the “cultural genocide” of the indigenous people of Canada

The story of the “cultural genocide” of the indigenous people of Canada

The story of the “cultural genocide” of the indigenous people of Canada

Loading player

In recent weeks in Canada, hundreds of anonymous graves have been found in various mass graves found near three former colleges for indigenous peoples, known as Indian Residential Schools, widely spread between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and later administered by the Church Catholics later by the state. These findings brought to international attention the history of the oppression experienced by indigenous peoples in Canada, and reopened the discussion of the treatment of the descendants of immigrants who undertook the forced and violent integration of Catholic culture. Colleges were one of the main tools.

In fact, the debate in Canada has been going on for years and is being carried out at the official level as well. There have been a number of initiatives recognized by the Canadian government for the “cultural genocide” perpetrated on indigenous peoples, and the first general amnesty came to college survivors in 2008 when Conservative Stephen Harper was prime minister.

In the following years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established, which issued a comprehensive and comprehensive report on the issue of colleges. Representatives of tribal groups, however, believe that despite recent findings, the path to true reconciliation is still long.

Photo of the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation (EPA / National Center for Truth and Reconciliation) showing some tribal children at Kamloops College where the graves of hundreds of tribals were discovered last May

Indigenous peoples live in Canadian territory Since thousands of years ago It was explored and colonized by Europeans. In general, they are divided into three major groups: the First Nations, the Inuit, and the Medes (“Mestisos”). Despite the diverse populations with different uses, customs, languages ​​and traditions within these groups, it can be said that the aborigines of the first countries were historically the so-called southerners of southern Canada. Tree line (above which there are no climatic conditions for trees to grow); Inuit – a word meaning “people” – instead lives in the Arctic; Métis differ because they live in western Canada and, as the name implies, have a mixed descent between Europeans and tribes.

The first contact with Europeans occurred in the 11th century, when Norsemen traveled from Scandinavia to North America. But the most extensive and structured colonial settlements began in the sixteenth century, and more and more European fishermen were attracted from the Canadian coast to the fish-rich seas, establishing contacts and trade with the natives. The most preferred and most expensive material for Europeans is fur. In the seventeenth century, competition between European monarchies on the New Continent increased, while colonies in North America expanded. Canada soon became a garrison of the French, who now began to settle in the maritime provinces on the east coast.

Over the course of the century, a commercial transport network of English and French regional outposts was formed, around which the natives revolved, adapting to newcomers and finding useful products in exchange for furs: mainly guns and processed ones. Steel products. However, the economic interests at risk often led to armed conflicts with the Europeans and rivalries between the British and the French who fought over vast Canadian territory.

After a long war — in which the natives and the First Nations supported military deployment – the British were victorious and France had to abandon its territorial claims. In 1763, the British monarchy made a state proclamation establishing the rules and boundaries of relations between the English colonies and the First Nations. Basically, the areas near the east coast should be considered English capable, they are west of the tribe. Coexistence was not very complicated during this period, with the first countries often participating in British campaigns through a military alliance.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits a memorial in Ottawa for a mass grave unearthed at the Indian Residential School in Kamloops (Sean Gilpatrick / AB, via Canadian Press)

Things began to change in the next century, due to new immigrants from now independent America and the demand for new land from the United Kingdom. Most of the land owned by the aboriginal people was gradually given to the settlers to fulfill this demand, which should have guaranteed adequate land to the aboriginal people. For their way of life .. Acquisition continued until the middle of the nineteenth century.

It changed the regional situation of the natives and also changed the attitude of the British towards them. If they had previously been regarded as a valid military ally to defend the unity of the colonies against external threats, the attitude would have changed over the years, and due to the peaceful situation in the South for peace with the United States after the war. States. Thus, in the nineteenth century, a tendency arose to regard the European way of life, especially the English, as superior to the aborigines. The idea that the natives should be “civilized” was established, and it was up to the British to show them the way to free themselves from their main livelihood of semi-nomadism, hunting and fishing.

– read more: Struggle to save the oldest trees in Canada

Cultural integration became the focus of immigrant initiatives and was implemented through a series of such laws. Gradual civilization law In 1857, the tribes were given money and land until they abandoned their way of life and agreed to study according to European canons.

But the most relevant law was enacted in 1876, nine years ago by the federal hegemony of Canada (the ancestor of the present state of Canada). L ‘Indian law, Which, as its name implies, is one of the most amended and amended laws in Canadian history, in an increasingly restrictive sense until 1927: it expanded the sphere in which Canadian authority could intervene, promoting the integration and co-ordination of the first nations, and enforcing. They abandoned their customs and practices and banned their rituals.

Introduced the concept of Copyright, So that any tribal man over the age of 21 who speaks and writes English can (a Where are you going) Until they cease to be considered tribal and become full members of British society, gaining citizenship and the right to vote, until they renounce their identity and deny their origin. For a time this process – which included dropping one’s own name – became voluntary and then automatically changed for any tribe that met the criteria established in 1933.

Indian residential schools, which began to spread in the late nineteenth century, played an important role in the cultural integration of the tribe. Some were open until twenty years ago. These religious colleges formed a network of 132 institutions where children were placed in hygienic conditions, often on the verge of survival, not speaking their language and being forced to live thousands of kilometers away from their families. Strength from their homes. Among other things, they had to convert to Christianity, many of whom were attacked and subjected to physical and psychological violence. To date, there are no accurate estimates, but thousands of them are thought to have died of disease, malnutrition, neglect or suicide. Many died trying to escape.

For years the Canadian government has been trying to re-enact the tragic stories of many aborigines who escaped from boarding schools. Truth and Reconciliation Commission (which today a Permanent Research Center) It took six years to gather the testimony of 6,750 people, and its 2015 report concluded that the domestic boarding system was a form of “cultural genocide.”

Despite advances, many Indigenous group representatives believe the legacy of past repression still exists in some respects in current Canadian society. For example, a few weeks ago, a law was introduced that, for example, allowed tribes who needed to change their name to regain their native identity in order to obtain official documentation.

Other restrictions aimed at suppressing indigenous culture were in effect until a few decades ago: this is the case with Inuit’s throat song (Katajjak) Was banned until the 1980s because the Church considered it a satanic practice. The slogan, usually performed by two women holding hands and challenging each other in an endurance competition, came very close to extinction during the ban. Today Known and handed over by four women Hailing from the small village of Puvirniduk in Hudson Bay.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here