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Contested History: Issues

The following section will discuss some of the historical issues that surround Aboriginal people in Canada. There are a variety of topics that have come into discussion inside and outside of Aboriginal communities across Canada. Identity, labeling, land and resources, and education and health are just a few of the contested historical issues in Canada.

The Treaty and Scrip processes set off a drastic change in the relationship between the government and Aboriginal Nations. From this moment on, land became a central issue between colonial and Aboriginal interests. For many Aboriginal people, their identity and sense of being is traced back to their connection to the land. The Treaty and Scrip processes disrupted this connection and, in doing so, set off a chain reaction of issues that are intricately tied to the land. In the late 1970s and 1980s, a movement on behalf of Aboriginal peoples erupted into questions and situations that the government could no longer ignore. For example, Bill C-31 is a piece of legislation that acts to reinstate many individuals, most of whom are women, who had lost their status as a result of their marrying a non-Status Indian. Along with this came the push for self government and resolution of land claims.

Lake Bow and Mount Crowfoot Education is another piece of contested history. Residential schools were set-up across Canada as a means of educating and civilizing the masses. However, residential schools were also the source of great strife for many Aboriginal children who were denied their right to speak their language and practice their ceremonies. In saying this, there are also those who feel they benefited from attaining a European-based education. Like all the issues in this section, the residential schoolsí issue is complex.

The last topic in this section is environmental degradation. It is an issue that once again takes us back to the connection to the land. The effects of excavations, extractions and over harvesting have lead to massive resource depletion in areas that were traditionally abundant in resources: resources that are often attributed to being given to the people by the Creator.

Though these issues persist, Aboriginal people are persevering, finding solutions and building strong communities for future generations.


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