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gender equality & social justice. Aboriginal Rights and the Colonial Canadian State. *Processes of Decolonization Post WWII *Canada? *To be a canadian subject is to be defined, in large measure, by the cruelty and injustice of colonization ?. Oh Canada.

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gender equality social justice

gender equality & social justice

Aboriginal Rights and the Colonial Canadian State

*Processes of Decolonization Post WWII
  • *Canada?
  • *To be a canadian subject is to be defined, in large measure, by the cruelty and injustice of colonization?
oh canada
Oh Canada
  • So, we produce ideas about “canadianness” at the level of identity, and we exist under Canadian law as subjects of the state. By participating both culturally and legally in “canada” we willingly and unwillingly participate in a racist, colonial past and present.
  • But isn’t this a natural was of ordering people?
  • The idea of the nation, and of defining community based on shared nationality is a relatively new idea, one that didn’t really emerge until the 18th century!
  • Example: King Louis 14th of France: “I am the state”
becoming canada
Becoming Canada
  • Two major legal events mark the creation of the state of “canada,” around which we tell stories that become a part of “canadian” national identity.
  • The first moment is Confederation in 1867, which demarcated federal and provincial territories.
  • The Second is the repatriation of the constitution in 1982
  • – The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • From the outset, the British had to negotiate their desire for a colony, first, and nation, later, with the peoples that already lived on these lands.
the indian act
The Indian Act
  • The Indian Act was the principal legal document that organizing this relationship between the native inhabitants of this land and the colonialists.
  • The Indian Act become official legislation in 1876. It outlined the legal relationship between first nations people and the new Canadian government. They were organized into reserves and tribal bands, and were to be an administered people, ruled under the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. From the outset, this was a forced and contentious legal “packaging” of native peoples.
what s in that indian act
What’s in that Indian Act?
  • The Indian Act defines who is an "Indian" and the legal rights for registered Indians.
  • The Indian Act created the category of Indian, which meant that the Indian Act was principally about outlining who qualified for what. It was a buy off and one that employed some pretty insidious legal techniques to disenfranchise aboriginal people from their homes.
  • Three distinct groups are recognized: Indians, Métis, and Inuit.
  • The Indian Act was imposed upon native peoples, and redefined their lives indefinitely.
  • The Indian Act homogenized aboriginal people.
  • Tribes that lived across US and Canadian borders were given right to cross borders but this is regularly challenged.
  • Nomadic peoples were forced into legally set boxes or “reserves.”
  • The Indian Act is war by legal document. Such documents are essential tools of colonial take-over and rule.
  • All rights, all notions of citizenship, humanity, family, community are framed by the colonizers culture/language/laws.
In 1982, with the repatriation of the constitution, the Indian Act recognized the 8 major treaties that the First Nations signed. For many First Nations people, these treaties were problematic and they wanted to renegotiate them. But the Canadian government under Trudeau reaffirmed these 100 year old treaties that most First Nations people found to be problematic, treaties that were never fairly negotiated.
  • Nonetheless, Trudeau as part of the repatriation of the constitution, pushed through the inclusion of the treaties in the legislation.
  • So, as Canada gained a constitution, aboriginal peoples were again marginalized and disenfranchised.
both and
  • So, when “everyone” voted yes to the constitution act, they also voted yes to re-inscribing and reaffirming these racist and problematic legal documents that shape life for First Nations people.
  • Colonizers gained rights and first nations moved father away from their efforts to gain rights.
  • Today, many tribes are disputing the reserve boundaries as they were assigned during treaty negotiations.
the treaties
The “Treaties”
  • Major Treaties Between First Nations and Britain/Canada
  • signed after confederation.
  • (between 1871 – 1921) Some of these treaties are over 100 years old. Many contain language and structure that are racist and that natives themselves didn’t understand because they didn’t speak the language. Some treaties were negotiated by RCMP (rather than government), with people that weren’t necessarily representing native peoples in any kind of democratic way.
  • Challenging the treaties became as increasingly exhausting process after 1982 because now first nations are required to make constitutional amendments to change the treaties, and this is a very long and arduous process.
  • Thus, First Nations have huge legal barriers to overcome to update legal documents that they were coerced into up to 100 years ago.
in the name of the father
In the Name of the Father
  • Even the concept of First Nation is built on a European Colonial notion of Nation that forces aboriginal peoples to frame their struggles in the legal language of the colonizer that sees lands as property for ownership, governed by a nation state.
  • Also notion of family key.
  • Prime Minister/Daddy
  • Patriarchal State/Family
  • Transformed gender relations among native people.
sexism in the indian act
Sexism in the Indian Act
  • Prior to European Colonization of the Americas, many First Nations cultures were egalitarian, in terms of gender
  • [though this differed from tribe to tribe; remember, there was no nationalized idea of gender relations for indigenous tribes].
  • Missionaries and other Church officials discouraged matriarchal or egalitarian aspects of first Nation societies and encouraged the adoption of European norms of male dominance and control of women. Being civilized meant being patriarchal.
  • With the establishment of Canada in 1867, federal Indian Affairs policy reflected a patriarchal bias in many areas. For example, federal legislation from 1869 to 1985 imposed patriarchal rules for determining Indian status, band membership and rights to reserve residency.
sexism in the indian act1
Sexism in the Indian Act
  • “…colonization processes have taken their toll on all Aboriginal peoples but perhaps their greatest toll on women. Aboriginal women face the double discrimination of racism and sexism, which are fostered and perpetuated through statutory mechanisms such as the Indian Act.
bill c 31 amendment to the indian act
Bill C-31 (Amendment to the Indian Act)
  • (usually referred to as) Bill C-31
  • The pre-legislation name of the 1985 Act to Amend the Indian Act. This act eliminated certain discriminatory provisions of the Indian Act, including the section that resulted in Indian women losing their Indian status and membership when they married Non-Status men. Bill C-31 enabled people affected by the discriminatory provisions of the old Indian Act to apply to have their Indian status and membership restored.
  • Go to the document.
nation and gender
Nation and Gender
  • Nation states are formed through profoundly gendered ideologies.
  • Gender inequality can be changed at the level of the state legislation, but we continue to impose notions of citizenship, family, nationality that are racist, gendered, and classed.

Colonialism by Child-Welfare Policy “The Ultimate Betrayal: Claiming and Re-Claiming Cultural IdentityTamara Kulusic

  • There are two key systemic practices of the Canadian state that have operated through certain understandings of “family”. These were aimed at “assimilating” aboriginal peoples into a national identity.
  • In truth, states are rarely interested in assimilating first nations people, but rather of killing their strength and self-identity slowly but brutally.
  • Residential Schools
  • The 60s Scoop
From the beginning of the colonial invasion until the 1970s, the government of “canada” attempted to force first nations societies to assimilate into the white, colonial, patriarchal nation state. p. 24
  • Education was key! “a network of Church run residential schools was established in the mid 1800s.” 24 READ
  • “In what has come to be known as the ‘sixties’ scoop’, thousands of Aboriginal children across Canada were removed from their communities in the 1960s and placed in care of white parents through adoption and foster case programs.” p. 23
  • “In 1959 only one percent of children in government care were Native. By the end of the 1960s, however, this had increased to thirty to forty percent of all children in care being Native.” p. 25
  • What were the reasons for apprehending Aboriginal children?
  • What are some of the complications of these adoption practices as outlined by Kulusic?
  • Poem
anna hunter for and by men colony gender and aboriginal self government
Anna Hunter“For and By Men: Colony, Gender and Aboriginal Self-Government”
  • Aboriginal culture has been permanently changed and altered by processes of colonization that were deeply racist, and patriarchal. There is no “going back”.
  • For this reason, First Nations people must use a variety of tactics to try and regain the health of their communities after projects of genocide, and oppressive assimilation. There are many different ideas, different approaches, different positions, and different strategies for doing this.
  • First nations people are as diverse as any other group. There is no homogenous tribe, or homogenous group of indigenous people. They are forced to behave and think of themselves as “one” because of colonial nation-state ideology.
  • Under these conditions, the notion of Aboriginal self-government has developed in and through European patriarchal influence.
  • Hunter, in this piece, is arguing for a reconceptualization of Aboriginal that self-government that “unites the theory of self-government with the practice”. This means that the communities would be self-governed by all of its members, women and men.
aboriginal self government sovereignty
Aboriginal Self-Government - SOVEREIGNTY
  • “Aboriginal self-government includes the right to make economic and social policy, administer taxes, pass laws, manage land and natural resources and negotiate with other governments.” It means giving Aboriginal people the right to heal their communities, and determine their destinies.
  • “Aboriginal self-government…people.” p. 107
  • Why is self-government the way to approach aboriginal rights for Hunter?
  • How can this happen within a nation state model of Canada?
  • What are some of the challenges of self-government?
  • Why is gender-based analysis in Aboriginal relations so important?
  • Example: Child Welfare policies – “How can implementing the mainstream models of child protection without tailoring the programs and policies to the particular needs of the community and its members be considered progressive?” (110). What is Hunter speaking to here? Hint: Internalized colonialism.
By now “a picture of the formation of Canada as a nation-state with strong racist and sexist assumptions and policies [emerges] from the seemingly separate pieces of history…We may thus come to see racism and sexism as the very foundations of Canadian nationalism.” Roxanna Ng