Genocide in canada
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Genocide in Canada?. Prior to European contact Aboriginal people occupied every region of Canada. Their total population was estimated to be around two million. Approximately 85 percent of the Aboriginal population died immediately following European contact. Before Colonization.

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Genocide in Canada?

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Genocide in canada

Genocide in Canada?

Genocide in canada

  • Prior to European contact Aboriginal people occupied every region of Canada. Their total population was estimated to be around two million.

  • Approximately 85 percent of the Aboriginal population died immediately following European contact

Before colonization

Before Colonization

  • Newcomers relied on the first nations for the fur trade.

  • Aboriginal people were valued for their vast knowledge of the region, navigation and survival skills, etc.

  • European men often married Aboriginal women and started families.

  • In the War of 1812, Aboriginal people played a key role in helping to defeat the invading Americans



  • When the fur trade declined land for settlement became the primary goal of the Canadian government

  • First Nation peoples have since lost 98 percent of their original lands through various legal means such as treaties and the Indian Act

  • Indian Act: put all Aboriginal people under the control of the federal government

Genocide in canada

  • Europeans categorized themselves as the “civilized” and Indigenous peoples as the “savages”

  • Settlers argued that Aboriginal people were incapable of properly looking after themselves; they were unable to control their communities and institutions, buy land, arrange bank-loans, or buy alcohol.

  • Totem poles, ceremonial objects such as masks, and regalia were destroyed or sold to collectors.



  • The main goal of government policy was assimilation.

  • Underlying this goal was the desire for control over land

  • Since the Aboriginal people were considered 'heathen', their territory was not considered 'settled' in a manner that required the respect of Christian nations.

  • Many communities were forcibly re-located from traditional locales to tiny reserves that had little resources to ensure the continued survival of the community;

  • Major attempts were made to displace traditional aboriginal customs with Western ones.

Residential schools

Residential Schools

  • The purpose of the residential schools was to educate and civilize the First Nation peoples and encourage them to adopt a European lifestyle.

  • Children were separated from their parents and religion was forced on them.

  • Speaking of Native Languages was forbidden

  • Many of the students were subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

  • It is estimated that 50,000 aboriginal children died or were killed in Indian residential schools across Canada

Genocide in canada

  • “I was just eight, and they’d shipped us down from the Anglican residential school in Alert Bay to the Nanaimo Indian Hospital, the one run by the United Church. They kept me isolated in a tiny room there for more than three years, like I was a lab rat, feeding me these pills, giving me shots that made me sick. Two of my cousins made a big fuss, screaming and fighting back all the time, so the nurses gave them shots, and they both died right away. It was done to silence them.” (November 10, 2000)

Department of indian affairs superintendent d c scott april 12 1910

Department of Indian Affairs Superintendent D.C. Scott, April 12, 1910

  • “It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem.” (. ).

Banning of the potlatch

Banning of the Potlatch

  • Potlatch ceremony banned in 1885

  • Ceremony was seen as wasteful and unproductive which was not part of "civilized" values

  • Enforced well into the 20th century

  • Participants who were caught were jailed and/or fined

Genocide in canada

Tlingit Chiefs, dressed in full regalia, are gathered at a Potlatch ceremony in Sitka in 1904.

Aboriginal people and wwii

Aboriginal People and WWII

  • During WWII the Canadian government needed to establish a military presence in the north.

  • In 1941 they implemented a disc system which required all Aboriginal people in the area to carry disks with them stating their identity

  • They were required to carry these disks with them at all times.

White paper

White Paper

  • Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced the White Paper in 1969

  • This policy document ended the existence of Indian Affairs.

  • The document stated that Aboriginal people would gradually take over their lands.

  • Rid any legal distinction between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people.

Royal commission on aboriginal peoples

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

  • Commission undertaken by the Government of Canada in the 1990s.

  • The commission assessed past government policies toward Aboriginal people, such as residential schools, and provided policy recommendations

  • However, many recommendations made by the RCAP have not seen implemented to date

Aboriginal people in canada today

Aboriginal People in Canada Today

  • In 2006 there were over 1,172,790 Aboriginal people in Canada. Aboriginal people in Canada represent 3.8% of the country's total population.

  • The standard of living of Canadian Indians today ranks sixty-fourth in the world, below that of Mexico and Thailand

  • Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by many social, economic and behavioral factors. These include higher rates of poverty, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, limited access to health care

  • These miserable conditions in one of the world’s richest nations are caused by the theft of native lands and resources

National apology

National Apology

  • On July 11 2008 hundreds gathered outside of Parliament Hill in Ottawa as for the first time in Canadian history, the Prime Minister of Canada made a historic apology to the Aboriginal Peoples

  • “On behalf of the government of Canada and all Canadians, I stand before you, in this chamber so central to our life as a country, to apologize to Aboriginal peoples for Canada’s role in the Indian residential schools system…We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children from rich and vibrant cultures and traditions, that it created a void in many likes and communities, and we apologize for having done this”

  • The apology included a compensation package worth over four billion dollars



  • Aboriginal people are three times more likely than non-Aboriginals to be victims of violent crime.

  • They account for 18% of those who are incarcerated in federal institutions. In the Prairie Provinces, 50% of prisoners are Aboriginals.

  • Aboriginal people living in urban areas were more than twice as likely to live in poverty as non-Aboriginal people.

  • The number of Aboriginal children involved with the child welfare system across Canada is also growing, and it rose by 71.5% between 1995 and 2001.

Facts continued

Facts Continued…

  • 13 percent of Aboriginal people are currently unemployed while only 6% of the non-Aboriginal people are without work.

  • 50% of Aboriginal people in Canada have not graduated from high school, compared to 30% of non-Aboriginal people.

  • Only 4.4 percent of Aboriginal people attend university, compared with 15.4% of the non-Aboriginal population

  • In 2002 Aboriginal persons accounted for 14.1% of the total reported AIDS cases in Canada

Aboriginal people today

Aboriginal People Today

  • The main goal of many Aboriginal groups today is to operate as an independent nation on equal footing with the Canadian government

  • Definition of Nation- “A community of people whose members are bound together by a sense of solidarity rooted in a historic attachment to a homeland and a common culture, and by a sense of consciousness of being different from other nations”



Reflection: write a page reflection discussing the question ‘Is genocide occurring in Canada?’

Questions to think about when forming your argument:

  • Is the Canadian government taking the necessary steps to compensate Aboriginal people for the injustice they have suffered in the past?

  • Should the Canadian government be taking more responsibility for the negative situation of Aboriginal people today?

  • Is apologizing for past actions enough?

  • Is money a good way to compensate for past injustice?

Questions to consider

Questions to Consider…

  • Are the current actions/ lack of action taken by the Canadian government leading to the dying out of Aboriginal populations and/or their culture?

  • If you do not believe that genocide is currently occurring, do you think it was in the past?

Genocide in canada


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