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Lecture 16

Lecture 16 Racism and Canada’s Indigenous People.docx

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McMaster University
Social Work
Sandra Preston

1 Social Work 1A06: Introduction to Social Work January 28 2013 Lecture 16: Racism and Canada’s Indigenous People Notes: - Next week o We will take up the exam (from December) o Social work entrance exam info on the social work website o Issue with the quiz: Prof will have to enter marks for this week’s quiz manually Racism and Canada’s Indigenous Peoples Colonialism in Canada - The group that has been impacted more seriously by colonialism than any other group in Canada o Decimation of existing culture and religion  Intended to destroy them – to take them apart and assimilate them into British culture  Done in various ways – will go into more detail thru the lecture  Wars, battles, introduction of illnesses, moving people to reserves  Outlawing religious practices  Enforcing British gender structures o Discrimination continues today - The Reserve System o Restricts IPs (Indigenous Peoples) to particular spaces  Often done thru treaties  British empire and IPs had very different understanding of lands and spaces so these were often shady deals o Even when treaties were worked out well, they often weren’t honoured o Divides IPs into artificial groups which are then pitted against each other  Before, IPs who were nomadic would move with the game, but on reserve they had to stay where they were o Reserves tended to be located in areas that were not considered attractive to settlers  Remote  Set up to meet the needs of the colonists, not the IPs  If IPs were moved to a reserve that the colonists decided they wanted, they would move the IPs again  Map  Reserves are NOT in popular areas o Are put in places that are not valued by others 2  Until they find oil or gas and then they become valuable o Exceptions – British Columbia – where treaties were worked out differently - Residential Schools o Atrocities  Cultural genocide  Decimation of the culture  Destroying the culture thru assimilation  Ethnocentrism – gave justification to the british people who felt that they were somehow improving the lives of IPs by bringing them into british culture o Children separated from their families and communities forcibly for long periods of time  Were taken from their families by force, didn’t understand why as they did not speak English o Schools  Usually run by religious institutions (catholic)  Native language was forbidden  Wanted the kids to speak English – because that was a civilized language  Corporal punishment and humiliation were accepted means of discipline  Sexual abuse was also a huge deal  If you try to run away and go home – beaten and humiliated  School uniforms further reduced individuality  Hair was cut as well  Schools were expected to be self-sufficient  Didn’t really give the kids a good education o Because saw them as lesser race o Trained them to be labourers and servants  Kids had to work at the school to maintain them  Whoever the child was until they were 6 years old – it is made clear to them that they are wrong to be that way  So is their culture – family, community, village  Have to become Christian – spritiuality is taken away from them even  After school ends  Lots of kids have lost the language – can’t talk to parents, family  You grow up, have kids, your kids are taken forcibly to residential schools and there is nothing you can do about it, even if you know what goes on there (atrocities e.g. sexual abuse)  Pretty effective at killing culture o How can they pass on the culture if they can’t learn it from their fam? 3 o How can they learn to be a parent if you lose your own parents at age 6?  Takes away an entire generation  After people realize residential schools are not working, they begin to close. Most are closed by the 70s - “Sixties Scoop” o Use of child welfare systems to continue to remove indigenous children from their communities.  Taking away another whole generation o More permanent as many children were adopted by “white” parents.  Convinced they were doing kids a favour o Prime example of how racism and ethnocentrism in the guise of helping can be quite destructive. - Identity o How to construct an identity with this kind of history? o Language  Many do not speak their language  Many languages are lost as the elders who spoke them die  When you lose language, you lose a lot  Younger people don’t speak the language of their elders o Some things are just not translatable o Political/legal constructions  Including who is identified as an Indian under the law, and who is not  Legally constructed – you don’t get to decide your own identity o Past and Present Media Images  Either this negative stereotype  Or this romanticized version that white people try to appropriate  No reality o Racism and ethnocentric approaches in the school system  Not really represented in the curriculum if you go to white public/catholic school o Racism in the Child Welfare System  Higher number of IP kids in care than the representative population o “Indigenous People”  The people that were here first  Over 500 indigenous nations  But we talk about them as if they are all one nation – another way we take away their identity o Aboriginal Approaches to Reclaiming Identity and Self-Esteem  IPs figuring it out as a group - Access to Justice 4 o Police force – lack of indigenous police officers, problems with police treatment. o Judges – very few indigenous judges o Prison system – overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in both the men’s and women’s systems. o Trouble  More likely to be arrested  More likely to be charged if you are arrested  More likely to be convicted - Indigenous People and Prison o These disparities include the discriminatory over classification of Aboriginal offenders, especially women. In September 2006, native women made up 45 percent of federally sentenced women in the maximum-security population, 44 percent of the medium- security population and just 18 percent of minimum-security women. o While Aboriginal peoples comprise 2.7 percent of the adult Canadian population, approximately 18.5 percent of offenders now serving federal sentences are of First Nations, Métis and Inuit ancestry (Correctional Service Canada, 2006.) - Indigenous Approaches to Justice o Native police services  On reserves  Controlled by the community  Effective in only some areas o Sentencing circles  Western justice  Very adversarial – prosecution vs. defense  Hierarchical – non-community way to deal with issues  Sentencing circles  Attempt to bring community into the justice process  Understand that when people offend, they are not offending individuals alone, they are offending/disrupting the entire community  Becomes a community problem, rather than an adversarial individual problem  Gives the community a place in the justice system o Diff set up in diff places, but the intention is that the community should be involved in dealing with those who commit crime and
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