Was Canada’s First Nations Population Better off Before European Contact?
A long, long time ago, the aboriginal people of Canada lived here in their motherland peacefully for the past thousands of years, celebrating their festivals and following their traditions. Suddenly one day, a group of white men arrived, thinking that this is where they will flourish for the rest of their lives. And through their contacts, the power, traditions, and history of the natives became nearly extinct. The nations of the aboriginals of Canada worsened in major aspects of their society since the European contact, and they could have been way better off without them. This contact did not demonstrate mutualism, but instead, parasitism, which I will explain in the following paragraphs.
The arrival of the Europeans led to the total massacre of the indigenous population of Canada. Once they contacted the first nations and began trading with them, the diseases the Europeans carried started to spread throughout Canada and infected almost all of the natives. An incredibly large amount of the native people of Canada, which is approximately 90% of the population, died from these terrifying diseases! If we just imagine the fraction 90%, it could represent 9 people dying from a family of ten, or it could represent thousands of tribes being completely eradicated from this world, losing their history and descendants forever, similar to what happened to the Beothuks[i]. Likely, we can compare this to the deadliest incidents in history, such as the Black Death of Europe. The Black Death, from 1347 to 1351, wiped out approximately 33-50% of the European population, and it is considered to be a tremendous disaster in European history. It killed entire families, causing major political and economical issues, disrupting the European society. If the civilians during the Black Death suffered extremely, then haven’t the natives in Canada suffered a lot more than that? The death percentage of the natives is twice the death percentage of the Black Death! Everyone must have heard about the Black Death, but not everyone knows about the nine-tenth of the Natives that were killed since the European contact. This also shows discrimination towards the natives in the western society. What is worse is that some European explorers tried to get rid of certain native tribes by infecting their goods with diseases and trading them with the natives[ii]. The cause of this massacre made many aboriginal clans to either disappear or spread out all over the place, losing their history and traditions, families and friends. History has shown that the European contact with the First Nations had a huge negative impact on the population of the natives.
The European contact forced assimilation on the native people of Canada to an extremely large extent. The people that got most benefits from the white men are the ones that are “white-washed” and converted into Catholicism. Lots and lots of aboriginal people merged with the Europeans because they felt that the European goods are a necessity to them. The sick aboriginals really needed medical care, which was highly available with the Europeans. The Europeans are actually using these as a tool, not to help the natives, but to hook them up into merging with the Europeans. Before the European contact, the natives lived in a loving, supporting, and peaceful society[iii], as opposed to western culture, which commonly gets involved with religious conflicts and unfair social structure. But when the Europeans came, they made the native people’s customs forbidden, and left them to perish. As we see today, very few aboriginals are actually living as the way their ancestors did centuries ago, since the rest of them that survived the European epidemic have all merged in with the European culture. If we ask any First Nations person we see today, it is barely possible for them to know how to speak their native language, since all of them has...
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