Over the next hill
Much work remains to build bridges of understanding and respect amongst all Canadians
I wish to respond to Mr. Peter Blanding’s article of August 3, 2017, entitled ‘Second class citizens.’
You are absolutely right, Mr. Blanding. Many of our Indigenous people are treated like second-class citizens and live in Third World conditions.
The Canadian and provincial governments have made cosmetic changes in their dealings with Indigenous peoples of Canada. British racist attitudes still prevail. We, the Mi’kmaq people of P.E.I. and the whole Mi’kmaq Nation, as well as all other Indigenous peoples in Canada, were wards of the Crown, not British (Canadian) subjects.
Although not considered citizens of Canada, every available able-bodied man volunteered and fought on the side of Canada and Great Britain in the First World War and Second World War. They fought to free Europe from tyranny. However, back here in good old Canada, we didn’t have the right to vote in federal or provincial elections.
Under Canadian law in 1867, a “person” was defined as an individual other than an Indian. Over the years, Canada has declared racism and bigotry as well as discrimination and intolerance to be unacceptable both legally and socially.
However, in the 1990s, Parks Canada presented a video to the visiting public at Province House that called Aboriginal Peoples “infidels and heathens.”
At that time. when I raised this issue with representatives of Parks Canada in Charlottetown, they said that this was a historical fact. So, I sent my complaint to the Minister of Parks Canada at the time, Lucien Bouchard, requesting that this racially offensive video be removed from all Parks Canada Sites in Canada. He was a strong minister and followed up. It’s too bad that the minister we now have seems to be lead around by the nose by Parks Canada.
Given that historical evidence has shown that his main intention was to exterminate all Indigenous peoples in Canada and in the U.S.A., it’s insane for any government to hold onto this hateful racial position and not to change the name of this offensive National Historic Site at Rocky Point Prince Edward Island that is named after General Amherst.
Canadians have travelled a long and winding trail since the Charlottetown Conference in 1864. Some of us have suffered pain and loneliness as well as frustration and injustice; and much work remains to be done as we attempt to build bridges of understanding and respect amongst all Canadians.
As we move forward in our life journey, all of us glance back from time to time, remembering where and what we have been, reflecting on our individual experiences while honouring our heritage and our traditions.
It is my hope that Parks Canada will realize that our collective destiny in this country still lies over the next hill and that they could help us all move beyond the next bend in the river.
Canadian Mi’kmaq veterans are shown at an army camp in France prior to departure to the front lines during the First World War.