Oppression among First Nation People: Canada

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Oppression among First Nations peoples in Canada

The detrimental enforcement of colonialism sparked an era of oppression that has altered, even destroyed years of cultural and spiritual traditions by creating a forced lifestyle that changed the face of First Nations peoples forever. Forced European culture resulted in the diminishing of Firsts Nations values and rights. A cycle of social, physical, and spiritual obliteration resulted from the dispossession of First Nations lands and the implementation of foreign methods of government. Poverty, poor health, and substance abuse are some of the long-term side effects that came about from this oppression. European settlers came overseas, unwelcome into First Nations territory with absolutely no respect for their traditions and ways of living. Over time children were taken away from their families and native homelands to attend residential schools; Native students were given new names and taught to speak English. Residential schools attempted to brainwash First Nations children to erase their native culture and traditions. First Nations peoples were defenseless under the power of the Europeans; their rights were ignored and their values were completely demoralized. First Nations peoples were forced down the path of violence and educational failure, which eventually led to poverty. These effects were a direct result of the disrespect and insensible attitude put forth towards First Nations peoples by the European settlers.

The introduction of Residential schools to the First Nations peoples of Canada was a system that began in New France in 1620, and was known as “the experiment of education of Indian Children in residential establishments.” (Timeline: Canada’s Residential School History) These schools had a system that was based upon the idea of “kill the Indian, save the man” (Capt. Charles Pratt, founder of the Carlyle Indian School.) European authorities were trying to Europeanize the First Nation occupants of Canada by instilling in the minds of young First Nations children the beliefs and values of the European culture. The Clash of two different cultures brought upon destructive trauma amongst the First Nations peoples and their future. The government formed a rule that prohibited the First Nations people’s ability to develop their own culture through their rich traditions. Cultural genocide resulted from years of oppression, and social violence. According to Dr. Leslie Korn, “Community development that is not self determined precipitates intergenerational trauma in individuals and communities. When this occurs people suffer loss and grieve over ways of life. Families divide and rituals of celebration and healing lose meaning” (Dr. Leslie Korn: Community trauma and development). The development of a culture is jeopardized when change is implemented on a certain group by another group. This reflects the result of European influence on First Nations peoples. By 1870, the government and missionaries shared the same objective of lowering First Nations children into the reaches of society. By 1920, First Nations children aging from 7-15 years were forced away from their families by priests, Indian agents and police officers as it was now compulsory to attend residential schools. As the years moved along, residential schools slowly faded away. It wasn’t until 1980, where sexual, and other forms of abuse were finally removed. In 1996, the last residential that was federally ran was closed.

Most First Nations children, from birth, are surrounded by the attitude, and social obligation of being faithless. The short story Traplines, written by Eden Robinson, is about a young aboriginal boy named Will. Will is falling deeper and deeper into a dark lifestyle that seemingly has no hope. Surrounded buy substance abuse, alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse, Will is caught up in a trap that many aboriginal teenagers misguidedly find themselves falling into. Will is an...
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