The interaction between the white man and the American continent is responsible for almost having extinct its aboriginal population. As they had been initially only interested in the profits that the new continent would bring them, white people did not pay attention to the effects that their actions had on the natives. Moreover, they considered natives to be a mere impediment that had to be quickly disposed so that it would not affect the well-being of the white society. In spite of the fact that the Canadian aboriginals proved to be gentle and welcoming at the time that they encountered white colonists, they did not receive the same treatment from the settlers. The Canadian Indians have been treated cruelly for centuries, from the first time that the Europeans have set foot in Northern America and until the start of the twentieth century.
The Canadian aboriginal population has been decimated by several intervening factors created as a result of the fact that white people came to colonize the land. Unlike white people, Indians did not have an immune system fit for dealing with the disease brought by the Europeans. Consequently, a large part of the native Canadian population had fallen victim to various maladies that are considered to have been relatively harmless to the colonists.
White people generally had the impression that they had the right to feel superior to non-white people, and, that the latter should obey without protest. Most governments have motivated their behavior towards native Indians through the fact that the circumstances had led them in acting accordingly. The British, the French, and the Spanish, have all shown little respect to the Native Americans, and, furthermore, they did all that they could to rob Indians of their belongings. Natives were being pushed back into reservations as their lands were stolen from them and their culture was turning into dust.
Most white people motivated their conceptions through the fact that red people were inferior and that was only logical for them to lose in the competitive evolution. Surprisingly, a lot of Canadians today still believe that the white race is superior to other races.
The coming of the twentieth century brought hope to the oppressed aboriginal Canadians, as the relationship between them and the government was constantly improving. The first notable document concerning Native Americans and their rights is the Indian Act and it has been issued in 1876. Consequent to this, the aboriginal Canadians had been recognized as being entitled to own land in certain reservations specially granted to them by the government. The matter had been controversial, as only true-blooded Indians could address it.
The government considered that "status women that married non-Indians automatically ceased to be "Indian" (Buckley, Helen, 1993, pp. 177) a number of Indians were receiving special treatment such as "housing, health services, education, social assistance for non-earners, and exemption from income tax" (Buckley, Helen, 1993, pp. 177) from the government. Even with that, a large part of the Indian population in Canada was still unprivileged because they did not meet all the demands necessarily for them to be acknowledged by the law as having the Indian status. The first impression consequent to observing the treaty signed by the government relating to natives receiving land and special care would be that matters were looking up for the minority. However, the Federal Government did not always respect the law when it involved a contest performed between a white man and an aboriginal for a piece of land initially assigned by the government as reserve land for the Indians. The authorities were often reported to make Indian treaties ineffective and to take Indian lands away from the Indians.
The fact that the Northern American natives were receiving limited support from the government did not influence the poverty and the underdevelopment that the general aboriginal population was experiencing at the beginning of the twentieth century. Despite the public had begun to change some of their conceptions concerning the natives and their social statute, stereotypes such as "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" were still common.
Governments seemed to be against such practices, and, moreover, public people were maintaining the idea that natives should be considered equal to normal citizens and that they should not be treated differently.
With change being felt everywhere at the start of the twentieth century, aboriginal Canadians had started to express their frustration relating to the way that they were treated by the government and by white people. The government generally preferred to ignore petitions issued by the Indians, as accepting them would lead to the loss of the profits gained over the territory demanded by the minority. A national struggle to put an end to everything native began as a result of people fearing that the support of the Indian population had been irrational, since the natives were considered to be an impediment standing in front of urban growth.
In addition to the fact that the aboriginal population was diminished as a result of white people extending their power over the land, other factors led to the rapid lessening of the number of Indians. Entire tribes disappeared because of various diseases and because of white people performing executions among the native Canadians. Along with the loss of their lands, the natives also lost most of their culture and traditions. Whites believed that they were responsible for civilizing the Indians and for helping them to abandon their previous pagan practices. Because of the fact that the general white public did not understand the Indian life, white people considered that they would be making a service to the natives by imposing the European culture on them. Apparently, not all white people believed that it had been reasonable for them to attempt to force the natives into adopting new concepts and into abandoning their previous principles. Influential people such as W.E.H. Stokes favored the ancient Indian religion and criticized the methods used by the government.
White people were also influenced in their actions by the Indians that grew tired of being oppressed and accepted to conform to the white society. The main method used by white people to have Indians abandon their pagan rituals had been to convert them to Christianity. The general opinion had been that Christianity had been the only true religion and that only by converting to it could one be saved from leading a primitive life.
The First World War had provided a major change in the lives of Indians, as white people were rendered speechless after observing that the natives supported the war and enlisted in great numbers. Not only did Indians support the war by proving their patriotism for the country, but also by encouraging greater resource production from native lands. Wanting to recompense the natives for their actions, the government came up with new programs meant to assist native groups.
The rapid urbanization of Canada had the government constantly relocate Indian tribes into reserve lands. Because of the fact that they were virtually tyrannized by the white society, the Indians became more exposed to poverty and alcoholism. The fact that they had been accustomed to leading a traditional way of life made it extremely difficult for natives to adapt. Because of their poverty and of vices that they had fallen victims to, the aboriginals became even more imperfect in the eyes of the time's society.
All along the time when the Canadian government did little to stop the aboriginal population from being extinct, the natives kept pressing their case in hope that they would eventually be heard. Claiming that schools would educate Indian children in order for them to fit society better than their elders did, the authorities forced native children into attending schools. This was often traumatizing for the children, since they received little education from the ill prepared teachers, and, moreover, they were tormented by them. The government judged that by installing a Euro-Canadian schooling system they would eradicate most of the native practices. In opposition to that, they had only managed to tyrannize a great number of Indian children. The authorities did not pay attention to the demands made by Native political leaders to hire better qualified native teachers.
One of the main fears that the natives had concerning the government compelling their children to attend schools had been that the system had not been controlled by the state. The fact that the church had been in charge of operating the school system affected those that did not conform to the laws imposed by Christianity. Not only the church had been involved in torturing Indian children, as there have been several reports in relation to the government having performed ruthless experiments on them. Canadians look back in the past with horror to the actions performed by white people through the Residential School System.
In contrast to the white society, the Indian one behaved very different in certain occasions. Indians quickly became addicted to alcohol, since it had been something completely new…