Here is a paragraph about Canadian history, written by somebody else, every word of which I agree with:
The intent of the Canadian state and emerging capitalist ruling classes was quite explicit – appropriation of the Aboriginal lands, extinguishment of Aboriginal title (actually written into the Manitoba Act, and found, in assorted ways in the various treaties), marginalization of the First Nations to tiny and divided reserve territories, and settlement and commodification of the dispossessed lands by Europeans to build Canadian capitalism as an extension of the European political-economic space.
Of course, one could hardly expect that all those experts bloviating on Parliament Hill on Sunday in their desperate attempt to whip up Canadian nationalism would actually have any idea of the foundations of Canada as a nation. In fact, we didn’t get off to too bad a start when George III signed the Royal Proclamation by which the French-English battle for North America was concluded. In there he undertook that Indian land should not be settled or developed without the agreement of the “several Nations or Tribes of Indians with whom we are connected, and who live under our Protection,” and that such agreement could be arranged only “at some Publick meeting or Assembly” of the Indians with the colonial authorities, and that no private persons should be permitted to buy Indian lands. This was a measure designed, says the Proclamation, to avoid repetition of “the great frauds and abuses” that had already occurred in the purchasing of Indian lands.
The problem came with the application of this noble ideal. Many treaties were signed, it is true, mostly covering the best agricultural lands across southern Ontario, where various native tribes accepted to surrender their rights to millions of acres of land for derisory sums. .The Indians (I am using the term, no longer in much use, but the one by which the indigenous people were normally described throughout these fateful years), never initiated these treaties, and did not much influence their terms. Once they had alienated their title, it was simply assumed they would simply retreat from the advancing settlement by Europeans into more remote hunting territories. The pattern henceforth, right up to the present day, has been that such treaties were and still are negotiated, only when the land on which the Indians are living has become useful for European settlement.
The view taken of the Indians by the colonial authorities was a contemptuous one, used by the Colonial Secretary in 1830 when he said that they were “in a state of barbarism”, and that efforts made to provide them with the “industrious and peaceful habits of civilized life” had failed. Therefore he believed they should be gathered together in one place, so as to be out of the way of the industrious settlers, in some preferably remote place where they could be encouraged in religious knowledge and education.
When the infamous residential schools were established some decades later, they were actually established in the written intention to detach Indian children from the barbarous lives of their parents. When one thinks for a moment about this purpose, its cruel inhumanity, its assumption of infinite superiority by Us over Them, one cannot surely be anything but convinced that the framers of such purposes were both arrogant and ignorant. The laws they began to write through the 1820s to the 1870s, when they were cohered into the Indian Act that is still to this day the instrument of control over the First Nations, were and are redolent with this sense of superiority. The Indian Act purported to, and actually did, exert control over every aspect of Indian life, even including such things as who could be, and who could not be, regarded as an Indian. This was taken so far at one time that any Indian who passed through a university with a degree was automatically stricken from the rolls, and no longer regarded as an Indian.
This is a diabolical system, with twists and turns that are scarcely believable, such as the disbarring from Indian status of any woman who marries outside her race, and the acceptance into full status of any white woman who might have married a status Indian man. This particular idiocy is being slowly corrected, bit by bit, but the process towards its full abolition is slow and tortured.
I have to add one thing more: an admirable, persistent, unquenchable resistance to the future laid out for them by the Euro-Canadian lawmakers, should be one of the glorious chapters of Canadian history, if only it were known more widely. I have travelled widely across the country to many indigenous communities, and I know the story has been the same everywhere; deprived for many generations of an equal education --- still the same thing today, in fact --- they nevertheless threw up their own leaders who stuck to their guns against government schemes designed, ultimately, to abolish them as a race of people.
Unfortunately, this is a history --- and the full story, in all its glory, is fifty times worse than I have described --- about which most Canadians have a very hazy notion, if that. And it is one which would give me serious pause before standing on Parliament Hill to extol the virtues of our law-abiding society.