Intro (slide 1)Good morning everyone. My IOP questions is “to what extentis Pete a victim of colonization and the mistreatment of aboriginal people”. Inorder to answer this question I will first talk about colonialism, what the Canadiangovernment did and then how it relates to Pete.Colonization (slide 2)Colonialism by definition is the control or governinginfluence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people. Startingin the late 15th century French and British expeditionary forces “discovered”land they believed to be uninhabited which they promptly claimed, fought warsover and ultimately colonized.
This became common during this time as more andmore individuals migrated to North America and in our case more specificallythe land that makes up modern day Canada. However this seemingly uninhabited land was home to manydifferent and vibrant aboriginal peoples all with their own already wellestablished cultures and traditions such as the Algonquin, Nipissing and Mohawkpeople respectively. This land where First Nations lived gave them sustenance,it was where they grew up, learned not just about their culture but alsothemselves, and thrived as unique but still intertwined communities. Unfortunatelyfor the First Nations peoples the Colonial forces not only took their land, butalso over the course of hundreds of years took advantage of them, exploitedthem for economic gain and attempted to destroy their culture throughassimilation because they viewed it as savage and inferior.The general mistreatment of Aboriginals in the land that nowconstitutes modern day Canada leads us to where we are today. A society whereaboriginal people are three times more likely to have be victimized compared tonon-Aboriginal people, where only half of aboriginal Children live with bothparents and where 28% of on-reserve First Nations people and 30% of Inuit inCanada live in crowded homes meaning with more than one person per room. Through what means… (Slide 3)The Government of Canada through the Indian Act, ResidentialSchools and the 60’s scoop severely impacted native culture and their communitiesin a Negative way. The actions the Canadian government chose to take left manyIndividuals dead, confused about their identity and with issues such as alcoholismand depression.
Indian Act (slide 4)The Indian Act is a law passed in 1876 by the Canadiangovernment. It gave the government control over all Natives people. It covered manyaspects of daily life but focused on 3 things Band councils, reserves, andstatus. Its main goal was to control Natives & assimilate them into Canada.It basically made natives wards of the state, decided who was and wasn’t nativeand gave the government power to decide what the Natives could and couldn’t dowith their culture. For example the government outlawed Sundances andPotlatches which were major social celebrations of culture within communities.The Indian Act effectively destroyed morale and took away aboriginals rights topractice their customs in an effort to assimilate them into Canada.
Residential Schools (slide 5)In the 1870’s the Government of Canada partnered with many churchesto create and run boarding residential schools for Aboriginal children. Thegoal of the Residential School System was to educate, assimilate, and integrateAboriginal people into Canadian society. In the words of a government officialit was a system created “to kill the Indian in the child.” Attendance atresidential schools was mandatory for Aboriginal children across Canada and ifyou failed to send your children to residential school it resulted in thepunishments sometimes including imprisonment.Many Aboriginal children were taken far away from theirhomes normally forcibly removed and separated from their families.
Others whoattended residential schools near their communities were often not allowed to seetheir families outside of occasional visits. Students weren’t allowed to speaktheir native language or practice their own culture and would get punished ifthey did. Many students had to take part in hard manual labour and were fedwith poor quality of food. There are accounts of students being given food thatwas moldy, maggot infested and rotten. Many surviving students reported beingsexually and mentally abused, beaten and severely punished, overcrowding,illness, forced to sleep outside during winters, forced to wear dirty underwearon the head or wet bed sheets on their body, forced participation in medical experiments,disease and sometimes cases death. Many of the individuals who survived theseschools went on to develop and suffer from mental conditions such as PTSD. Anintergenerational effect developed in many descendants the residential schoolsurvivors.
These descendants share the same problems and burdens that theirolder family members faced even if they did not go to residential schoolsthemselves. These include abuse, compromised family systems, and also the lossof Aboriginal of language, culture, stories and teaching of traditions from onegeneration to another.60’s scoop (slide 6)The 60’s scoop was the practice of taking children fromAboriginal families in Canada and placing them up for adoption or in fostercare. Each province had their own systems for this such as Saskatchewan’s AIM(Adopt Indian Metis) program. It’s estimated that 20,000 aboriginal childrenwere taken from their families and put into these systems of foster care andadoption.
This government policy lasted till the mid 80’s. Many childrengrowing up in these conditions where their identity had been supressed and abusewas common eventually went on to experience psychological and emotionalproblems. For many effected children, the roots of these problems did not comeout until later in life when they were older and learned about their real birthfamily and their heritage. Raven Sinclair, A Social work Professor describes thetraumas caused by the 60s scoop as “tremendous obstacles to the development ofa strong and healthy sense of identity for the transracial adoptee.” Feelingsof not belonging in either Canadian society or in Aboriginal society can alsoadd to the individuals struggle to find their true identity.
(slide 7) The passing of the Indianact, creation and implementation of residential schools and 60’s scoop were allattempts by the Government who were in power because of colonization that aimedto undermine aboriginal culture and assimilate them into Canada. These acts didnot successfully assimilate aboriginals into Canadian culture and the only longlasting impacts are ones that left families shattered, individuals with issuessuch as depression, alcoholism, identity crisis and an upbringing that leftmany not learning how to parent and raise the next generation of their people.(slide 8)Pete was effected by all of this and is to a very largeextent a victim of the effects of colonialism and mistreatment of his people.
The Indian Act, Residential Schools, the 60’s scoop. They are all factors thatcontributed to the quality of life he lived. The absence of family, properparenting and his own culture was created and mirrored in his own mother becauseshe too suffered from the same lack of familial presence, proper parenting valuesand absence of culture due to the 60’s scoop and Residential schools and Indianact. Through these injustices Pete was ledto join a gang perhaps in search for a sense of comradery, family and culture.
Howeverjoining a gang only further added to Pete’s issues specifically but not limitedto violence. Pete’s association with his gang enabled him to be more violentand have more outbursts as shown by the sections in the beginning of the bookwhere Petes “angry” mask appears. An example of which is when he murdered his mother’sboyfriend sending him to prison or kicked his girlfriend out of his car.
Pete beinga part of that gang also made him a bad influence on his brother Joey and endedup laying the groundwork and connections for Joey to end up joining the gangwhen Pete was in prison. Pete also suffered from a lack of culture. Prior tohis experience with the healing center he had not experienced any of his nativeheritage. This lack of culture and not knowing a large part of his identity lefthim with no real purpose or aspirations. Before the healing centre Pete was ontrack to just be another statistic but fortunately through discovering hisculture he was able to turn his life around.
(slide 9)In conclusion Pete was indirectly negatively impacted by whatthe government did to past generations of aboriginal people because of the longlasting harmful effects that they had on parenting, family structure andculture. All of which are important pillars in building a strong, morale,citizen who has a positive impact in their community. It wasn’t till Peterediscovered and reconnected to his roots when he was able to grow into aleader and help others around him who are in similar situations to the one hewas in.
Pete’s struggle represents a similar battle many first nations face. Wedon’t learn what band Pete is a part of so by the author not revealing thisPete becomes a face of all of the different first nation’s bands which isfitting because the government treated all natives the same resulting in themall suffering from similar struggles.