September 27, 2018
After long imposing inaccurate and offensive labels on Indigenous peoples, Canada has made some progress in updating our official terminology. But there are still many hidden assumptions which need to be challenged as part of the wider goal of achieving reconciliation.
Take, for example, the concept of the “frontier”.
In principle, the term may refer to any border. But in the western Canadian context, it often implies a perceived dividing line between European settlers and the land they enclosed as individual property, and the Indigenous population whose well-established communities and cultures were shamefully treated as being unworthy of recognition or respect.
The failure of Canadian governments to acknowledge the basic humanity of Indigenous peoples lies at the root of centuries of policy designed to discriminate: from the breaking of nation-to-nation treaties to the deliberate subjugation and isolation of Indigenous people and communities, to schemes with the purpose and effect of separating families and destroying languages and cultures.
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