National Aboriginal Day: My Thoughts on Canadian Indigenous People’s and the European Colonizers: Past, Present, Future – By Kelsey Darnay

As a part of my Indigenous Peoples course my final exam was an essay outlining the relationship between Canadian Indigenous People’s and the European colonizers, including the past, present, future. As today is National Aboriginal Day, I thought it would be important to share my thoughts on how I see the relationship between two from an Indigenous perspective. There is a lot of work to be done in the present and the future to heal and move forward to a better relationship.

Canadian Indigenous People’s and the European Colonizers: Past, Present, Future

After the European “discovery” of North America and the ‘Indians’, their goal was to benefit and profit from the land’s resources. Trading was already a developed network amongst different Indigenous bands in North America and trading naturally developed between the European explorers and the Indigenous bands that they encountered (Payne, 2004). By the 1600’s trade between the Indigenous and the French became ritualized because of the demand of beaver fur that was fueling the economy of New France (Payne, 2004). These trades benefited both parties, although the French did not want to rely on the Indigenous people for trade and therefore wanted to settle within Quebec and become self-sufficient.
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World Water Day importance by Jamie Lupia

We cannot celebrate world water day and talk about how important the water we have access to is, without acknowledging who the water belongs to. Despite being a sought after commodity today, sold in tiny plastic bottles and pouring over kids at your nearest water park, water is and will always be especially precious to a specific group of people. Indigenous communities, especially the Native presence in Canada, has an incredible ownership over water and rights to be consulted about what is done with that water. These rights have been being ignored for all “150 years” of our country’s “birth”. When people are fighting against pipelines and other water pollutants — they are fighting in solidarity against the theft of Indigenous land and resources; against people who think they can take what is not theirs. I know in my Niagara region specifically, there is an incredible outreach from the Indigenous community against organizations that put a high economic value on water. This being said, water is not only an Indigenous issue — when there is a water crisis, it is an everyone issue. If you aren’t mad, you aren’t in the know. For example, Canadian government has for a long time approved a pipeline from western USA to Montreal, all along the watershed. This pipeline transports tar and oil. The catch is that it has 14,000 chances of leakage. They have fixed (I think) 2,000 potential spots. That still leaves tons of possibilities of pollution, not to mention that a lot of these possible pollution leakage spots are going through reserves or residential areas. Not to mention again that 20% of the entire world’s fresh water supplies comes from the Ontario lakes. What does this mean? The government, for economic purposes, is ignoring that they are at high risk of polluting 20% of the world’s fresh water supplies. Indigenous rights, Indigenous resources, but everyone’s problem. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, and I genuinely want people to talk about these issues and events. And if you don’t know why World Water Day is so important, you need to start waking up and joining the conversation. Please make yourself aware about how important water is, where it comes from, and who it belongs to. Water is not renewable.

A post about Canadian Treaties by Kelsey

I realize I am a bit late in writing this because Treaties Recognition Week was the first week of November, but the ignorance I found in my ANTH*3670 Indigenous People’s discussion thread has pushed me to share my response on a larger platform. I wanted to share to Storyteller because I feel that people who read these submissions want to learn through other individual’s experiences. Myself, being of Indigenous background, have had to deal with classmates who do not understand Canadian’s history with its Indigenous population. This can sometimes be very frustrating to me, but I also realize the oppressed history of the Residential School System legacy is to blame. For this exact reason, this is why I believe education is extremely important.

Teacher Discussion Question: Are We Really Treaty People?

Student Answer:
We Are Not The Product Of Treaties.
I would argue that the average Canadian is not the product of treaties so much as we are the natural conquerors. Indigenous people are the ones who abide by the limits treaties place. The average Canadian does not concern themselves with any particular treaty and if all treaties where suddenly destroyed it would not effect the life of the average Canadian but it would cause a crisis in the indigenous community in Canada. Treaties have been more of a way for Europeans to legitimize their conquering to new lands and the negotiate a system in which the indigenous peoples are essentially bought out so that they do not have to be conquered by force. Is this system the equal, no, but should it be, no. Indigenous peoples and Europeans where not at an equal balance of power historically or presently and it is only right that the more powerful decide the system of institution that will govern the lands. The treatment of indigenous peoples is not meant to be equal it is meant to be fair and many of the treaties have proven to be fair and those that where done through unfair means are resolved through the court system of the Canadian government, the dominant power, which is willing to accept its mistakes of unfair treatment if they have been fairly proven.

My Response:
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Response to the Recent News from Trisha

I wanted to first and foremost say that whatever fear and anxiety you feel from this election is real and valid. The results are frightening for many and no one is 100% sure what will come from the new presidency. And while it may look like a very dark time, I don’t want anyone to get trapped in hopelessness. Now, more than ever, we need brave people who will fight for their rights and recognition in this world. 

The indigenous people of North America have taught me that even when there are so many policies, law, and violent measures in place to destroy you, you can rise above. Indigenous people were the first targets of the colonialism that North America is built upon, and they have proved that regardless of the measures to destroy them, they are here and their population is growing far faster than any other group in Canada. Through this, they’ve kept loving and giving their care to people and the earth regardless of the horrors they’ve been put up against. Those are the people to look up to rights now. The people who have been targeted, yet still seem to have enough hope, passion, and love to keep moving forward.

The people who have been told they aren’t worthy are the ones who will be the strongest and pull us out of this. We’ve already seen this in action, BLM groups have been fighting for justice, LGBTQ+ groups will not be silenced, islamophobia is being challenged, and feminist groups are pushing for equity. We need to fuel these groups by supporting them while ignoring the hate that is being spewed. Bring awareness to these groups, and help them fight. If you are outraged with this news, channel it into movement. We want those with privilege to use your privileges to create that change. Unity is what we need. Help others and ultimately everyone will benefit.

We want to raise your voice.

Please use our platform to speak out against these issues that you are passionate about. Please use our platform to facilitate change.
We want to get your message out. 

Keep your focus. Keep fighting. We can do this.


“The real reason behind Aboriginal issues” by Kelsey

My Grandmother (who has since passed away) grew up with her family on the Garden River First Nations Indian Reserve in Sault Ste. Marie.  I have been to Garden River recently; my first time just this past 2015 summer.  Being there gave me a sense of wonder, but also sadness.  It made me want to belong, but still unsure of how.  Indian Reserves are so beautiful with the community togetherness, the art, and the respect for nature.  It is truly something completely different than “the outside world”.  But it is also very sad and heartbreaking.  If you look beyond the art, the trees and the community centre you’ll see the poverty, the addictions, and the people who are pushed to the side.
My Grandmother was taken from her family when she was very young and brought to the Shingwauk Indian Residential School (IRS), away from her Reserve.  I am unaware of what happened to her during her time there, it is not something I would have ever wanted to ask her.  According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) the goal of the IRS was to “Kill the Indian in the Child”.  The Churches ran the schools and they wanted to force assimilation upon Indian children to make them more like them.  The way they forced this assimilation was through cultural genocide.  Indian children were physically, emotionally and sexually abused.  Upon arrival to the schools, their clothes were taken and their hair was cut, and that might not seem like a big deal, but each piece of clothing would have been handmade and beaded with beautiful art by someone who loved them.  During their stay they would be separated from their siblings, prohibited to participate in anything that was a part of their culture or their traditions, unable to speak their own language, and forced to learn the Catholic ways.  Even worse, some girls were sterilized so they could not have children of their own in the future, children died from malnutrition and abuse among other reasons, and not one child in the school system was shown any love.

I remember talking to my grandmother about Shingwauk once.  She told me when she tried to run away, the RCMP were the ones who dragged her back.  She told me there was no escaping and going back to your family.
The last IRS closed in 1996, meaning that residential schools existed in Canada for over 100 years.  The Canadian government never even acknowledged what they allowed to happen, until recently.  What happened is considered cultural genocide, but I think it was more than that.  What happened 50 years ago to my Grandmother, affects me today.  I was never taught anything about my culture growing up, my dad and his siblings were taught in school that it was shameful to be Native.  No one wanted to be associated with the word.  People would bully you if they knew what you were.  Instead of being taught what really happened to the Native people and its culture, people in school were taught to continue alienating them.  There are so many First Nations today who do not self identify because they are scared to – they are afraid of the government, afraid of the unknown, afraid to be discriminated against, and so much more.  Being Indian is such a powerful thing, but it can be used against someone in such negative way.  There are so many stereotypes surrounding Aboriginals.  Many that I have heard are; they are lazy and therefore do not care about school or jobs, they are alcoholics, they are drug addicts, they are bad mothers, they don’t care for progress, they have free land and houses, and they all live on Reserves.  I can tell you that these stereotypes are not true. Yes many Aboriginals have problems with alcohol and drugs, but it is from intergenerational trauma from the IRS.  Imagine growing up in the IRS without any love and being abused, and then years later having your own children.  How would you know how to raise a child with love, if you were never loved?  Being a good parent is something that is learned, you learn from how your parents raised you. How would someone raised in an IRS know how to raise their own children?  Many Aboriginals turn to alcohol and drugs because of what has happened to them, and the lack of opportunities Reserves can offer them.  As for schooling, Aboriginals already have a challenging relationship with education because of the history of residential schooling.  As well, there is no curriculum for the schools on reserves because reserves are federally run, not provincially.  The land Natives do have now is what was convenient for the government to “give” them.  It is usually out of the way and land that is considered awful compared to what these people would have been used to.  The government has broken many land treaties and Indians relocated as a result.  Every single person who is Indian is affect by what happen in the Indian Residential School System.  I grew up not knowing what it meant to be Native.  I did not know what my culture was.  I was never taught what happened to my people.  Today with all the personal research I have done, I still have troubles feeling like I really belong.  Sure I have my status card, but really that only means that the government has my name on a piece of paper saying I am Indian.  I have to continuously remind myself it does not matter what percentage I am, it only matters that I am.  I have to continuously search and learn about these things that were kept from me.  So many Aboriginal people have the same identity crisis that I have and it’s really sad to think about.  My culture was banned under the law, and we all have to work together to rebuild what was broken.
Through all our history, heartbreak and a government attempt to end our culture, we are still here, even if we have some issues.  It is something we need to be supported for, by our families, friends, strangers as well as something the government will have to step up and help us do.

National Aboriginal Day

National Aboriginal Day

June 21st is National Aboriginal Day.

It is very important to recognize the harm and effects the European settlers had on aboriginal cultures and people. Aboriginals in Canada have the highest rate of suicide and addictions than any other group. There are thousands of missing aboriginal women. Food prices and food accessibility problems on reserves are creating extremely high poverty rates. Schools on reserves are built in dangerous conditions and underfunded. Many of the children on reserves cannot finish their education because of accessibility, quality and location of the buildings, and lack of teachers. This is happening in Canada and this is not okay. Many Euro-Canadians treat the aboriginal population as if they are “others” or “not our problem” and many of their issues and struggles are ignored because of it.

What we would like to stress is that even though European settlers and the Canadian government have tried to destroy these cultures from every angle, these cultures are still present and the aboriginal population is expanding faster than other populations in Canada. We want individuals who are aboriginal to celebrate the fact that their culture is still here despite these efforts; we want individuals who aren’t aboriginal to educate themselves on aboriginal culture and become an ally to help them continue to keep their culture and people alive. We want everyone to work towards voicing concerns and working together to create equal accessibility to things that many of us take for granted like food, education, and medical services.

If anyone would like to share anything for National Aboriginal Day, please submit to us!