Despite popular opinion, the Aboriginal peoples are still existent in the Western Hemisphere. They are not the way you would perceive them to be; half-naked with no idea of outside civilization or as perceived in a popular animated Disney film, Pocahontas. However, despite their evident advancement there are many issues that plague the contemporary Aboriginal peoples.
A subject of hot debate amongst human rights activists are the current injustices against Aboriginal peoples, specifically women in Canada. One of the longest existing nations in the Western Hemisphere, the Aboriginal peoples are one of the most discriminated against with some of the least amount of legal recourse available to them.
Living on reserves, Aboriginal people are isolated from the human world. In a bid to preserve the culture of the people, they have relegated areas of land on which they are required to inhabit indefinitely. However, their isolation prevents them from receiving the benefits privy to most non-Aboriginal citizens. Their environment is not one of progression, but of stagnation. Surrounded by poverty, under-education, substance abuse and domestic violence, most Aboriginal peoples have become acclimatized to injustice and little development.
According to the Newfounland Labrador, a Canadian fact sheet, Aboriginal women are three times more likely than non-Aboriginal people to experience victimization. Aboriginal people are more likely to be repeat offenders of a crime than non-Aboriginals; physical assault is the most highly reported form of violence amongst Aboriginals.
Due to these adverse statistics, the Aboriginals, particularly their women experience adverse financial and social consequences. These women experience a diminished sense of self-esteem and security, damage to their physical and emotional health; this imbalance being transmitted to their children which allows for a continuance in the cycle of violence and a loss in the matrimonial home and their subsequent relocation which results in the disintegration of their community bonds.
The Aboriginal society is imploding due to their socio-economic difficulties. In situations with minority groups’ issues, although the government does not tend to interfere, they will step in if there is a threat to safety and an influx of crime. However, Canada has chosen not to enter an inquiry in order to quell the influx of violence towards women in the Aboriginal community.
These unjust circumstances in a contemporary first world country has been met with fierce opposition from various humanitarian bodies such as Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). According to Alex Neve, the Secretary General of Amnesty International:
“The Canadian record of upholding the rights of indigenous peoples is a real disgrace and a source of national shame… These are not political, economic or natural resource matters. These are issues of human rights.”
These sentiments have also been reflected by other nations such as Cuba, Iran, Belarus and Russia who registered their disgust through the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at Canada’s indifference towards their Aboriginal peoples.
Other nations across Europe such as Switzerland are requesting that a comprehensive review in the investigation, deaths and murders of the Aboriginal peoples as well as reconciliation projects that seek to remedy the historical and colonial strongholds existing between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
However, what of the Aboriginal peoples who have to suffer at the hand of this injustice? Much is not known of their contemporary existence beyond the violence that has sprung forth. You also have to wonder if they have been able to successfully transition into the non-Aboriginal spectrum. Besides the recent news that has sprung forth, many may not even know of their existence. They are relegated to be romanticized in the periods of their near cultural genocide and isolated from any true reconciliation.
What should really be done to rectify the alienation of the Aboriginal peoples is to hear from them directly the injustices they have suffered through and solutions that would best suit them for their social upliftment, such as the Bishop Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission used in South Africa post-Apartheid. Until then the response from the Canadian government to rectify Aboriginal relations are just empty promises.
© Christal Parris-Campbell 2013