“Evaluate the impact of interactions between Aboriginals and European explorers and settlers in Canada from 1815-1914.”

The relations between the two groups mentioned in the quote above (from the Socials 10 curriculum) has been a topic of discussion since the beginning of the semester, whether from current events or curricular discussions. However, my thoughts, feelings, and drive of curiosity for the matter has evolved greatly in the past week or so, perhaps taking me from a state of naivety to a more well-informed and realistic standpoint. There were a couple of factors that allowed this sort of transition to take place, but I’ll start with my first interaction with this particular PLO, which happened at the beginning of the semester.

Flashback to my first blog post. In this post, I begin to scratch the surface in discussing the opposing rationales of the Aboriginals and Europeans in the treaty-making process, but do so with general objectivity, in a way that is somewhat detached from myself. So far in my studies surrounding this topic, I have felt that my relationship with the Aboriginal issues have reflected this detached quality, that Aboriginal issues had continued to seem impersonal even throughout further discussion and exploration. Perhaps this was because of the formality of some of the resources that myself and the class were accessing, but my ideas around the topic shifted when we read a passage from Richard Wagamese’s novel, Indian Horse. From this novel we read a first-person account of the grim happenings within Aboriginal residential schools, and it was through this that I felt more personally involved in this darker part of Canada’s past. The passage highlighted human suffering over logistical information, and therefore struck deep with a lot of my classmates . Beforehand, I believe I may have been viewing the entire category of Aboriginal issues as land issues or resource issues, but even today, I think its important that we view them as human issues as well. It should go without saying that the Aboriginal people of Canada are in fact humans, and have been experiencing inequality in many different forms for hundreds of years now. So, in terms of my feelings toward this topic, there was an initial sense of guilt, but I have only begun to grapple with my responsibility as a Canadian. What can I do, as an individual, to aid this situation? Is there any way in which I can help rectify the actions of the oppression of European explorers? Finding a more profound connection with Aboriginal issues through the Indian Horse text has allowed me to ask more of these kinds of questions, and address some of my feelings of guilt, sympathy, and hints of helplessness surrounding such massive issues.

I have been speaking in mostly generalities through my feelings about Aboriginal issues, but I plan to lay out some of my more specific goals for what I aim to learn in the next while. Through some recent discussions, I have come to learn more about the current-day legal rights of Aboriginals, and how Aboriginals are (in some ways) able to protect their ancestor’s land from corporations who wish to log old-growth forests or build intrusive dams. This was almost surprising information for me, as I wasn’t aware that the Aboriginal voice was being recognized in the law to this extent, which instills a bit of hope inside me. However, that discussion also sparked some more interest in me in the area of modern day Aboriginal issues, specifically in the living conditions of native descendants who live on reserves today. For example, I was enlightened at a recent poetry slam  by a Aboriginal poet who expressed their views on  the difficulty of obtaining clean water on reserves, the rising number of native women in Canadian prisons, and other related frustrations. I was, and continue to be, perplexed by the lack of basic human rights on these reserves: what are the core reasons surrounding the lack of clean water in Aboriginal communities? Is it even an issue that is being addressed by the government in any way? How are the voices of the Aboriginals being communicated to the government? (representatives, committees, leaders?). Similarly, I am also interested in how the government goes about addressing other issues like suitable healthcare, and the legal processes that would be involved to implement new courses of action or improved living conditions. To connect this back to the original PLO and the time period attached to it (1815-1914), I would also like to explore the more specific interactions in this period that set up these conditions that Aboriginals are living in today. To begin delving into these questions, I plan on reviewing some of the reading material we received in class, and perhaps exploring some Canada government websites to find out more about the legal sides of things. In addition, I am also quite interested in reading he rest of Indian Horse, and understanding more of the personal, emotional depictions of life on the reservations.

Lastly, in order to achieve some of these goals for myself, I hope to hit upon some additional PLO’s. One of those will definitely be A1, which comes into play with the questioning (already done!), comparing, and drawing conclusions portion, which are basic processes that are involved in this type of exploration. For example, I will probably be doing some comparing between the legal rights of Aboriginals versus the rest of the population, as well as drawing conclusions about the rationale behind certain laws and legal structures. Also, I think the that B4 will also end up being addressed: “describe the factors that contributed to a changing national identity from 1815 to 1914“. Obviously the Aboriginal population had a large influence on the identity of Canada, now and then, and answering some of the questions I’ve posed will help me have a better understanding of the relations between Europeans explorers and native people.

It looks like I have my work cut out for me in the next little bit, but am looking forward to continue in my search for answering these questions. Take a look at this poem by Winona Lin, I watched a different performance of the same poem recently, and found that it related to a lot of similar themes that had been discussed in class. Enjoy!