Prime the Indian Act of 1876, impacted the lives

Prime Minister Trudeau once said, “We define a Canadian not by a skin colour or a language or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams.” This is what defines us as Canadians, it is who we are. We are made up of a variety of cultures with different traditions and ways of life. It is what makes us different from the world and unique. A peaceful unity of a multicultural society is the Canadian trademark. But what would we become if we let go of our values? The day of April 12, 1876 gave Canada a dark spot in history. That day that the Canadian government declared the Indian Act of 1876, impacted the lives of many First Nations. The horrifying reality defining this Act and its impact until this day, are what makes this day the most important day in Canadian history. The Indian Act of 1876 was put in place to obligate Indigenous people to become English washed. It disrupted the innocent lives of many First Nations. The Indian Act is still in effect today, defying Prime Minister Trudeau’s above statement, and contaminating Canadian values.          Canada is a country well known for its multiculturalism, inclusivity, democracy and freedom of speech. It welcomes different cultures and beliefs worldwide and embraces an individual’s right to speak and stand out. The Indian Act stands against these Canadian values. Instead it completely disregards an aboriginal person’s basic right to inclusiveness, freedom of speech, and freedom of religious practice. Ironically, this Indian Act disables First Nations from voting in elections of a democratic country. There is no doubt that it contradicts everything Canada stands for and reflects the presence of an alarming white supremacy.  The Indians were not qualified to be Canadian. Is it because they were not white enough and did not speak the language of the white people?  The existence of the Indian Act until this day is a disgrace to all Canadians. As Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”       In April 12, 1876, Canada passed an Indian Act, which violates International human rights. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood,” -first principle of the International Human Rights Principles as stated by the United Nations General Assembly. The Indian Act, which was enacted in 1876 and has since been amended, allows the government to control most aspects of aboriginal life: Indian status, land, resources, wills, education, band administration and so on. It attempted to control and erase the existing practices of the Native Indians. Its purpose was to civilize, assimilate, and brainwash the Indians out of their cultural practices. That is why they introduced residential schools. The school system was created for the purpose of removing children from the influence of their own culture and assimilating them into the dominant Canadian culture. They treated them so badly that at least 6,000 of these students were estimated to have died while residents. As part of the assimilation, the schools were intentionally located at far distances from Indigenous communities to minimize contact between families and their children. The residential school system harmed Indigenous children by removing them from their loved ones, depriving them from speaking their mother tongue, and exposing many of them to physical and sexual abuse. Disconnected from their families and culture and forced to speak English or French, students who attended the residential school system often graduated unable to fit into either their communities or Canadian society. This has been linked to increased prevalence of post-traumatic stress, alcoholism, substance abuse, and suicide, which persist within Indigenous communities. As Canadians we should be furious that our country’s legislation passed and still allows the Indian Act to exist. Canada has a history of standing up to human rights. As Canadians we should pressure our government to treat First Nations in agreement with International human rights. Give them the freedom they deserve. Instead of uniting together in the spirit of brotherhood, the Indian Act divides Canadians.     The Indian Act, also referred to as the Vanishing Act, is still part of the Canadian legislation. It affects Indigenous communities all over Canada today. In a CBC news article recently dated December 2017, was Delilah Saunders, an Indigenous rights advocate. She is in an Ottawa hospital with acute liver failure — but she’s been denied access to a waiting list for a liver transplant based on her history of alcohol use disorder, according to her friends and family. In Saunders’s case, Arthur Schafer, founding director of the Centre for Professional, notes that her Indigenous background is an important factor. “The most disadvantaged people get doubly disadvantaged because we deny them life-saving transplants because we judge them to be not likely to succeed.” Delilah Saunders is one of the many Indigenous women to be feeling these feelings of discrimination to this day. The Indian Act confined First Nations to reserves and limited their education and minimized their future opportunities to succeed outside of these reserves. A lot of the youth find refuge in alcohol and substance abuse. And when they seek treatment they face difficulty and discrimination. The Indian Act of 1876 resonates until this day, affecting the lives of many First Nations.      The Balfour Promise of 1917 parallels the Indian Act. The Balfour Promise happened when the English promised Palestine as a home to the Jewish communities in Europe. The ideology behind the creation of a Zionist state on a Palestinian land, assumes the vanishing of the Palestinians. What the state of Israel is doing to the Indigenous Arabs of Palestine is similar to what was done to the First Nations in Canada. At the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, it was recognized that Palestinians are enduring a colonialist, discriminatory, military occupation of their lands. Israeli military forces bulldoze Palestinian homes and destroy centuries-old Palestinian olive and lemon groves so that the Israeli government can sponsor Jews from all over the world, as settlers in Arab territories. All while the Arabs are moved to refugee camps. Similarly, the Canadian government sponsored Europeans to settle in Canada as First Nations peoples were herded onto reserves. The Palestinians’ victimization over the years, loss of land, and loss of basic human rights, makes them the greatest empathizers of First Nations. Israel has been condemned by the UN, Amnesty International, and the Red Cross for its persistent use of torture and for its military courts. Israel is in violation of several United Nations resolutions, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and Human Rights organizations. The Indian Act is an extremely significant day in Canadian history as it makes Canada overlap on a Venn Diagram with Israel.        The Indian Act is the most important day in Canadian history because it infected a beautiful country shortly after its birth. This happened by compromising Canadian values, and cutting it short of its inclusivity and righteousness. This Act includes articles that fail International human rights’ principles. The Indian Act of 1876 is still in effect today and is still affecting the lives of First Nations around us. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict parallels the First Nations-Canada tension, and leaves Canada in the role of the oppressor. We live in a world of fast moving technology that connects different parts of the world together. Inclusivity should not exclude anyone. Canada must be true to its virtues and stand with First Nations. Confederation day was gaining control of the borders. Letting go of the Indian Act of 1876 will make us, us, and truly define our borders. In this Trump-era, Canada should celebrate its diversity and stand out shining like a star. All Canadians should rise against the Indian Act. As Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”