As a social worker, I have often thought about what the government and society can do to boost the fortunes of the aboriginal people of this country.
Canada needs to focus on more than just monetary and self-determination matters. The federal government needs to adopt a holistic approach that includes social, cultural, ethical, political and spiritual issues. There is a societal breakdown in the perception and treatment of aboriginal people by most Canadians and its leaders.
All the various levels of government and stakeholders need to come together to create a social network of support for aboriginal people at the community level. There needs to be talking circles, drumming circles, sweat lodges and elders in every city. Mentorship programs need to be started up.
The media, employers, educational institutions and government need to lead by example. Why are there no reserved seats on the Supreme Court for aboriginal people but there are for Quebec?
Why are there so many aboriginal prisoners? Why is there no national aboriginal holiday when we celebrate Victoria Day?
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 stated that the British Crown recognized the aboriginal people as a nation. Why then are many aboriginal people essentially wards of the state?
Canadians need to recognize and acknowledge the special role that the Aboriginal people played as one of the “three” founding nations of this country.
The early British and French fur traders and settlers would not even have survived if it was not for the aboriginal people showing them how to live and adapt to the land and its harsh environment.
Most importantly, in order for true healing to occur, Canadians have to start treating the aboriginal people with respect through their words and actions.
The shackles of oppression, marginalization, discrimination and racism will slowly but surely start to fall off and free the aboriginal people to start living the Canadian dream that we all cherish.
Alex Sangha, Delta