We need to treat our First Nations citizens better. I have been reading the Standard Freeholder for quite some time and I am appalled with how many derogatory comments are made by online readers about First Nations people living in or near Cornwall.
Many of these hurtful, ignorant comments contend that Indigenous people should remain on their reserve because they are too drunk, violent and disruptive. I think this is a ridiculous, racist, and inconsiderate treatment of a group of people who inhabited the land we now live on well before Canada was a country.
Simply analyzing the term “First Nation” implies that we, immigrants or descendants of British and French colonizers, are the “second nation.” Let’s face it, how would you react if your children were taken from you, your land was stolen from you, and every aspect of your language and culture was (and still is) dictated by a government that was not willing to understand you?
Sir John A. MacDonald is revered as a founding father of Confederation, our first Prime Minister, and was recently named one of the Greatest Canadians, according to a popular CBC survey. What you may not know is that in the 1885 Dominion Franchise Act, MacDonald passed legislation that declared that “no Chinaman, Japanese or Indian shall have his name placed on the Register of Voters for any Electoral District, or be entitled to vote at any election.”
My point is not to sully MacDonald’s reputation but to emphasize that too often white privilege and power is taken for granted and this results in the (sometimes unconscious) racialization of other groups. Racism was prevalent in Canadian society during the 1800’s and still is today.
As a teacher, I feel it is important to promote inclusivity and to challenge negative stereotypes, especially ones that perpetuate intolerance and racism.
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