Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

JUSTICE FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Posted by strattof on September 15, 2013

There is no justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada.

  • The Canadian government has continuously broken the Treaty agreements it made with First Nations people – from the time of their signing up to the present moment.
  • Today, a child who attends school on a reserve receives 25% less in government funding than other Canadian children.
  • Today, 40% of Indigenous children live in poverty, more than twice the national average.
  • Today, Indigenous peoples are more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to be unemployed.
  • In the last 20 years, there have been at least 582 cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
  • While Indigenous peoples make up only 4% of the Canadian population, they constitute 23% of the federal prison population.

OVER 150 YEARS OF INJUSTICE

EDUCATION

Residential Schools: 1884 – 1996

Under Treaty 4, the Canadian government promised “to maintain a school on the reserve, allotted to each band, as soon as they settle on said reserve.” Instead, the government implemented the residential school system, with the aim of assimilating First Nations into European-Canadian society – of “killing the Indian in the child.”

Attendance at the schools was compulsory for all children aged 6-15. Parents who failed to send their children willingly had their children taken from them forcibly.

All students at residential schools experienced cultural abuse.

  • Many students were also subjected to physical and sexual abuse.
  • The Canadian government ran biomedical experiments on children at residential schools in the 1940s and 50s. Subjects were kept on starvation diets and provided or refused vitamins.
  • The mortality rate at some schools reached 69% – caused by poor diet, overcrowding, and lack of sanitation and medical care.

Genocide

Genocide, as defined by the United Nations, includes:

  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part

Canada’s residential schools constituted genocide.

Reserve Schools: 2013

Schools on reserves are funded by the federal government, while non-reserve schools receive their funding from the provinces.

  • Some reserves still do not have schools and children must leave their families and communities to attend school.
  • First Nations schools receive on average 25% less funding per student for K – 12 education than their off-reserve counterparts. In Saskatchewan, the funding gap is 40 – 50%.
  • Because of underfunding, many First Nations schools are in poor condition and present health concerns.  
  • The federal government has complete control over the First Nations educational system, which means schools risk promoting a colonial agenda.  

MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS GIRLS AND WOMEN

  • There are 582 recorded cases of missing or murdered Indigenous girls and women in Canada.
  • Only 53% of the cases involving murder have been solved, compared to 84% of all murder cases across the country.
  • While Indigenous women make up only 3% of Canada’s female population, they represent approximately 10% of all female homicides.
  • Young Indigenous women are 5 times more likely than other women of the same age to die as a result of violence.
  • Indigenous women are almost 3 times more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-Indigenous women.
  • According to a 2013 Human Rights Watch report, the police fail to give Indigenous girls and women adequate protection and to fully investigate when they go missing. They also sometimes make Indigenous girls and woman objects of police physical and sexual abuse. 

IMPRISONMENT

Imprisonment has been a recurring theme in the experience of Indigenous peoples since the time of colonization.

  • Residential schools were prisons for children.
  • Reserves became prisons when the pass system was imposed to control the movements of Indigenous peoples.
  • Today, a First Nations youth is more likely to go to jail than to graduate from high school.

From the 2013 report by the Canadian Office of the Correctional Investigator:

  • Since 2006, there has been a 43% increase in Indigenous prison population.
  • Indigenous people are sentenced to longer terms; spend more time in segregation and maximum security; and are less likely to be granted parole – all indications of systemic racism within Canada’s legal system.  

Treaty agreements did not extinguish Indigenous peoples’ right to govern themselves. The imposition of Canada’s legal system on Indigenous peoples is a violation of Treaty agreements.

TREATY 4

139th ANNIVERSARY, SEPTEMBER 15

This Sunday is the 139th anniversary of Treaty 4. On September 15 1874, Cree and Saulteaux First Nations and the Canadian government signed Treaty 4 at Fort Qu’Appelle.

We are all Treaty people. All southern Saskatchewan residents, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous, benefit from Treaty 4. The Scarth Street Mall, where we stand every Thursday, is situated on Treaty 4 land. So too are Mosaic Stadium and Wascana Park.

For the past 139 years, the Cree and Saulteaux First Nations have kept their side of the Treaty 4 agreement. The Canadian government, on the other hand, continues to breach its treaty commitments.

When will there be justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada?

STAND FOR JUSTICE: FURTHER READING

BOOKS – available at the Regina Public Library

●Arthurson, Wayne. Fall From Grace, 2011 (novel)

●Daschuk, James. Clearing The Plains, 2013 (history)

●Gosse, Richard. Continuing Poundmaker and Riel’s Quest (law)

●King, Thomas. The Inconvenient Indian, 2012 (history)

●Wagamese, Richard. Indian Horse 2012 (novel)

OTHER RESOURCES – available online

●Angus, Charlie. “Four Horses at the Great Divide: Google CBC Morning Edition, Archives, Monday September 9, Charlie Angus

●Gebhard, Amanda. “Pipeline to Prison,” BriarPatch Magazine, September-October 2012

●Henderson, James Youngblood. Implementing the Treaty Order

●Human Rights Watch. Those Who Take Us Away

●Idle No More, The Manifesto, 2013

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