In looking at the history of Europe, one cannot ignore the mistreatment of the earth across the sea. The Europeans faced the tolls of starvation, polluted water and scarcity of land and game. Ancestors of those in Canada today are proof that those affected fled their homelands to find “The New World,” at the expense of Indigenous people.
“Free farms for the Million! Canada; Manitoba, British Columbia, Northwest Territories,” was displayed on a poster in 1893, produced by the Canadian Department of the Interior.
Europeans came with the promise that they would own their own land, a promise that was unheard of in Europe at the time. The promise that they would be free people, while Africans continued living as property in shackles. How could our ancestors have known Europeans would enforce their concepts? They couldn’t, but the generation of Indigenous people today are well acquainted.
The movie Avatar had all in the audience on the side of the fictional Na’vi Omaticaya, when in reality all Indigenous people have been entangled in a situation similar to the Omaticaya. Indigenous people are not met with the same compassion given to European ancestors when they arrived, starving and ridden with scurvy from months at sea. Many are met with misdirected anger and hatred by many Canadians.
“Along with teaching racism, I teach sexism and discrimination,” wrote Contributor Nicholas Ferroni in Education for the Huffington Post. “I do not mean for one second that I personally indoctrinate students with such vicious and hateful values, but the text book that I use (and that nearly every public school in every state uses) indirectly leads teachers into teaching students to be racist, sexist and discriminatory to their peers and other people, which is why I no longer use the text book as the main reference for my classes.”
“Our text books do not blatantly encourage students to be racist, sexist or discriminatory, but it’s the lack of figures and truths which give students the impression that certain groups didn’t nearly have as large of role as others and, in some cases, groups are completely nonexistent,” Ferroni wrote.
This is only a piece of Ferroni’s article titled “We Teach Racism, Sexism and Discrimination in Schools.” This means that because Indigenous history is overlooked and parents and ancestors of the generations today are not educated in Indigenous matters; everyday there is a child with a family that instils racism towards Indigenous peoples, with a school system that does not correct it.
“Oh Goddd how long are aboriginal people going to use what happened as a crutch to suck more money out of Canadians?”
“The benefits the aboriginals enjoy from the white man/europeans far outweigh any wrong doings that were done to a concured people.”
“Get to work, tear the treaties and shut the FK up already. My ancestors migrated here early 1900’s they didn’t do anything. Why am I on the hook for their cultural support?” Wrote Brad Badiuk, published in an article by CBC Manitoba titled “Brad Badiuk, Winnipeg teacher, on leave after controversial Facebook posts on aboriginals.”
Had Mr. Badiuk been taught about Indigenous people; known our situations as sovereign people, known that his ancestors unknowingly stole the living right of an Indigenous family by bringing theirs here, known our connection to the earth is spiritual, known that we don’t have a “New World” to flee to like his ancestors, maybe he would understand.
Maybe he would offer compassion, offer to remove the stereotypes associated with Indigenous people instilled by media. Maybe he would side with Indigenous people like he would the Omaticaya of Avatar.
The day that we are free from racism will not come until we are rewritten back into history, properly taught in classrooms and considered the natural living and breathing people of North America. Striving to educate will bring indigenous people to become the Omaticaya of this generation.