The voices of Indigenous children are unheard and purposely ignored. This is portrayed through the literature of Birdie by Tracey Lindberg and Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. Despite both apologies from Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, the government system to protect First Nations children appears to have detrimental effects on the life of a child. This is proven by young children turning to drugs in order to satisfy their growing pain, family members who abuse their children because they consume high amounts of alcohol, which has a negative impact on the child, and discriminatory behaviour by surrounding communities.
Despite the fact that all residential schools have closed, what thousands of aboriginal children experienced remain both terrifying to those who hear the stories and relevant to Canadian society. Glen and Lyna are two residential school survivors whose lives were greatly impacted by the government’s attempt to eliminate aboriginal culture. For example, “the system forcibly separated children from their families and “even siblings rarely interacted.” Consequently, the family ties between Glen and his family severely weakened through his years in residential school, making it difficult for him to find comfort in family even when he started his own. As a result, when Glen struggles with alcoholism, instead of confiding in family, he is driven
Alcohol is at the root of many stories of Indigenous people that are heard on television and the news. Alcohol always seems to be the root cause of car accidents, murders and assaults. The stereotype of the “drunken Indian” plays such a vivid role in way people perceive Indigenous people . Because of the misunderstanding and marginalization that these people face, they get stereotypes placed on them that do not showcase their culture and way of living but instead showcase the mistakes and problems that they may be suffering from. Instead of bringing up the mistakes that some Indigenous people are dealing with, there should be steps taken for these people to rectify the substance abuse problems that they are facing .
Individuals, who are surrounded with agony by mistreatment at an early phase, often leave with wounds in which can trouble their lives. In Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse, the Aboriginal children struggle with traumatization caused by dreadful brutality from the white people at the St. Jerome’s Residential School. Unfortunately for the children, the abuse leaves them upset for a lifetime. The children experience cruel abuse, which leading to leaving them mentally damaged.
Birdie is not an easy read, an unexpected fact, considering the woman who penned it, Tracey Lindberg, is a lawyer and professor by trade. The difficulty in reading the novel comes not only from its harrowing subject matter but also from the way the story is told. It’s non-linear and jumps back and forth from the present to the past. At the start of each chapter are poems, which often transform characters into animals, such as Bernice Meetos/Birdie who longs to return to the tree, Pimatisewin. The story doesn’t entirely belong to Bernice however, as the chapters tell the story of Beatrice from the voice of five different women- her cousin, aunt, mother, landlord and herself. Bernice has a special relationship with her aunt Val and cousin Skinny Freda, in particular, who are often referred to as her sistercousin and motheraunt to reflect that bond. Another important way Lindberg sets herself apart from other authors is by using terms like the sistercousin frequently alongside other terms Lindberg creates to fit her narrative, regardless of conventional rules of writing. The novel is Cree, through and through and Lindberg does not shy away from that. Her method of storytelling is dignified, sarcastic and unapologetically against the norm.
The indigenous people are literally crashing into the buildings produced by the colonizing culture, “Look out! Bob shouts. There are Indians flying into the skyscrapers and falling on the sidewalk.” (King 63) and it adequately represents the lack of adaptability of the Native Canadians. Thomas King taps again into the effects of colonialism and notions the indigenous people as uneducated and an untamed species.
Indigenous peoples of Canada have been considered inferior to all other citizens, and have been abused and neglected through European history, and can be seen as a form of genocide. In Canadian residential schools, children were removed from the home, sexually assaulted, beaten, deprived of basic human necessities, and over 3 500 women and girls were sterilized, and this went on well into the 1980 's (Nicoll 2015). The dehumanization of Indigenous peoples over the generations has left a significant impact on society today; the generational trauma has left many Indigenous peoples heavily dependent of drugs and alcohol, and the vulnerability of Indigenous women has led to extremely high rates of violent crime towards these women. A report that
Indigenous people are incarcerated at much higher rates than non-Indigenous in Canada and are incarcerated for longer periods of time (Cook & Roesh, 2012, p.222). Canadians have put Indigenous communities through much heartache and pain. With the colonization of Indigenous people to residential schools, Canadians continue to stigmatize and treat Indigenous people poorly. Indigenous people are more likely to suffer from drug abuse using needles because of the intergenerational trauma suffered through their parents attending residential schools in Canada (Bombay, Matheson, & Anisman, 2014, p. 327). This puts them at a higher criminal risk than others because of what they have been subjected to.
Blackfoot is a native tribe that resides in the Great Plains of Montana and Canadian provinces of Alberta. King writes about how the mother had to face several guards and spend a few nights in the car with her son because of their treatment by Canada. In my point of view, I find the theme to be that aboriginals are treated as objects and are forced to give up their identity and lifestyle. Just like in America, it seems like that Canada is pushing aboriginals are pushed to the side and cover it with some sugar. For instance, when parked at an border office, a woman tried to persuaded the mother to pick a identity by saying “I can understand how you feeling about having to tell us about your citizenship, and here’s what I’ll do.
When European settlers came to Canada they colonized Canada by taking away land, water, rights, spiritual practice, as well as put children into residential school and put an unprecedented amount of children in the child welfare system (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015). This is a key example of how trauma can be passed down from one generation to the next until someone deals with it. Right now the youth of Attawapiskat are dealing with the intergenerational trauma as well as creating more trauma for generations to come, this creates an ongoing chain of risks that will continue to develop if not helped. For Attawapiskat, a major risk has been the isolation, lack of resources, along with the suicides that have happened and their impact on the other youth in the community.
The colonization of Indigenous peoples has dramatically affected their health, and health-seeking behaviours, in a myriad of ways. The Indian Act of 1876 was, in essence, created to control the Indigenous population. The Indian Act laid out laws and regulations that tightly regulated the lives of natives economically, ideologically, and politically. This included a wealth of ways in which their identities were stripped away, and in which they were taken advantage of by the Government of Canada. This has resulted in a reduced quality of life for Canada 's indigenous population, as well as adverse health problems, and prejudicial perceptions that we still see the impact of today.
Rather than focusing on instilling a law that would change the behavior of people, i.e. sentencing youth to jail in hopes of them changing their law-breaking ways, the tribal system used their culture as the basis for instilling change and created a program that reflected their indigenous values. Cody’s connection to his tribe grew and although not raised knowing what a native was, knowing he was one and having a support group to teach him was a driving force towards succeeding in the program. Indigenous legal systems have been known for their unconventional ways of dealing with offenders that do not seek to gain compensation for any wrongdoing. If Cody would have been left to the process of the Canadian justice system, there would not have been any remorse from his part, he would wallow in his punishment. However, the traditional tribal way is to work with the offender because crimes can be explained through the tribe’s cultural norms.
The basis of these problems is a loss of identity and a sense of knowing that their values are oppressed, and their rights are ignored. Likewise, non-indigenous Canadians have become increasingly aware of the unfairness of the richness of indigenous and aboriginal cultures that are taking place.
Critical Summary #3: First Nations Perspectives In Chapter eight of Byron Williston’s Environmental Ethics for Canadians First Nation’s perspectives are explored. The case study titled “Language, Land and the Residential Schools” begins by speaking of a public apology from former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He apologizes for the treatment of “Indians” in “Indian Residential Schools”. He highlights the initial agenda of these schools as he says that the “school system [was] to remove and isolate [Aboriginal] children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them[…]” (Williston 244).