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SOC102H1 (261)
Lecture 5

Lecture 5.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Lorne Tepperman

Lecture 5- Aboriginal Race and ethnic relations, continued: First Nations People A few salient facts about Aboriginal people in Canada • Aboriginal people are spread with varying degrees of density over all of the Canadian provinces and territories. •  They fall into three main categories: 1. First Nations, 2. Métis 3. Inuit. • Within the First Nations and Inuit categories,they belong to scores of different bands – each band having its own governance, land, language, and traditions. These bands vary dramatically in size and wealth (or poverty). • Additionally, about half the Aboriginal people live on tribal reserves while the rest live elsewhere, mainly in cities. • So, given this variation, it is nearly impossible to generalize about Aboriginal people in Canada – hence, my hesitation. • That said, a few generalizations will be ventured nonetheless. A few generalizations • First, all Aboriginal people descend from people who immigrated from Asia about 10,000 years ago • Second, by the time that Europeans arrived in Canada in the 16th century, Aboriginal people had staked out their own lands • Third, the colonization of British North America – later, Canada – involvedthe seizure or purchase of native lands, often on unfavorable terms The Indian Act • Fourth, the Indian Act, which formalized relations between the federal governmentand Aboriginal people, remains contentioustoday • The Indian Act (1867)defines who is eligible for certain legal rights and benefits • Bill C-31(1985)ended discriminatory provisionsof the Indian Act and allowed bands to define their own membership rules. Some benefits to Aboriginals • Treaty annuity payments are paid annually to registered members of bands that have historic treaties with the Crown. • Social programs provide income assistance, child benefits, assisted living, child and family services, and family violence prevention. • Yet, these fail to meet present-day needs on many reserves. • E.g., 60 per cent on reserves aged 20-24 have not completedhigh school or gained an equivalent diploma Residential schools • Fifth, many Aboriginal children had to leave their families and communitiesto attend residential schools circa1870 to 1960. • These schools, under federal authority, were intended to acculturate Aboriginal children to European, Christian standards. • Many Aboriginal children were abused in these schools; some died from neglect and poor care. • Aboriginal family life and culture was weakenedby this forced acculturation Social pathology resulted • Sixth, Aboriginal people – especia those on rural reserves -- are morelikely than average to suffer from unemployment,poverty,low educational attainment, poor housing, and preventable infectiou diseases. • They are also more likely than oth Canadians to be victimized by crime– including • They are also more likely than oth Canadians to be victimized by crime– including domesticviolence; morelikely to suffer from an addiction (including both alcohol and gambling); and more likely to commitsuicide. Legal penalties were harsh • Especially in the Western provinces, Aboriginals are over-representedin jails and prisons, and in sex work. • In some regions, Aboriginal people represent well above the majority of the prison population – 70% in Manitoba and 80% in Yukon. The exodus from rural reserves • Seventh, for generations Aboriginal people have been moving off the reserves and intermarrying with non-Aboriginal people. • Those who have movedto the major cities have assimilated economically and socially into the mainstream society,sometimeswithout any great difficulty. • To varying degrees, they have retained their links with their native communities and traditions while living away from the tribal homeland. The Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study (UAPS) • A survey of Aboriginal people living in Canada’ s largest 11 cities was commissionedby the federal governmentand managed by the Environics polling
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