I thought it would
be useful to record my own first impressions of the First Nations
people in Canada as I feel it would be helpful to make this a marker
to see how my research might change my views.
These views to date have been built on
having a very few conversations with First Nations people and others
but mostly on what I have watched on the TV. I have to say my views
are not favourable and here I'll tell you why.
One of the first things I was told was
that if you could claim First Nations ancestry then you'd be
entitled to a lot more support than other Canadians could get
through the welfare system.
As I started to travel around Canada I
heard how projects that were meant to benefit all in an area were
being blocked by the First Nations people as they wanted to milk the
system and get much more money than they deserved. That was a common
theme in my early days in Canada.
As I started to try and explore the
history of the First Nations I found they were not prepared to help
directly and so I was left with using antiquarian resources. I was
also puzzled why they apparently produced some historical material
but it was not free and thus could only be purchased and that the
product they produced was copyright and they were not interested in
allowing any of it to be used.
I then found that a number of tribes
were living in pretty poor conditions and especially where they were
remote communities. At first I was very concerned that people could
live like that in a modern country like Canada.
However as I dug
into this situation there were two factors that concerned me.
First was why they chose to live like that just to continue to live
on their own lands. The world has moved on greatly and now we
expect much better housing, education, a whole raft of social
benefits and a much higher standard of living. So if you
choose to live in these lands why should you be given support by the
Government to do so? It's their choice after all. No-one is
forcing them to live like that.
The second factor was transparency. As
they do receive government money it seems to me they are reluctant
to account for the spending of that money that all Canadians provide
through taxation. So my question was are some taking that
money for personal greed rather than spending it wisely for the
benefit of all?
In a couple of TV
debates I learned that First Nations people were concerned that
their children were not being given adequate support when they went
on to higher education. My view was that's a problem for all ethnic
groups in Canada so why should the First Nations people be
different? Was it because of their own early educational
system that was not preparing them for entry into the larger world?
Then in more recent days I learn that
most of the First Nations people are protesting about the building
of an oil pipeline from Alberta to BC. This is clearly a
project that would benefit all Canadians and yet some of the First Nations,
where the pipeline will go through, seem determined to block it.
Yes there are environmental concerns
which rightly should be addressed but I do wonder if this is just an
excuse for trying to once again get more money from Canadians?
There are some First Nations people
that do seem to have got their act together and are doing very well
indeed. So why are they doing so well whereas others are not
doing well at all. There doesn't seem to be any real
discussion on this and little sharing of information.
In history some
countries in the world were taken over by others through wars, etc.
The whole world has moved on and we're becoming more global in our
outlook. I have no particular problem with the First Nations
being paid by corporations looking to exploit their resources.
That's just business. But it just seems to be that on the
whole they are looking to get as much money as possible without
giving much back. That of course is a trait all over the
However given the
debate on First Nations lands and their people and what they are
entitled to my overall view is that transparency is just not there.
Why are some First Nations people doing well and others are not?
What attempt is being made to find out why? Why are First
Nations people not prepared to be open about their treaties and how
they run their tribes? The Canadian government has to report
on how they spend tax payers money so why shouldn't the First
say education is important but some First Nations people are well
educated and can travel the country and world with no problem.
Yet other First Nations people report many problems. So I have to
ask how well that education is being done. Of course they
should be educated on their local culture but they also need to be
prepared to enter and communicate with the greater world outside
their own lands. What are they doing to prepare their children to do
that? You can't just throw money at the problem if the system is
broken. You need to fix the system and that's not always a money
As far as I can see
no-one seems to be willing to ask the awkward questions of the First
Nations people and it also seems that the First Nations people are
likewise not prepared to be open on their own operations.
And so my first impressions are mostly
negative although I personally have no problem with any of the First
Nations people individually. I would like to learn more about their
culture. I would like to know more about their treaties and how
Canada is living up to them. I would like to know why some of their
people are doing well and why others are not. I would like to know
if there is any system in place so that all First Nations people can
learn from the successes of other First Nations people.
There are many questions and I hope in
the coming months and years I can get some answers.
I will also say that I have made an
attempt at contacting various First Nations people through the "Contact
Us" on their web sites. To date I have not had even one response.
I will end by saying that in 2019 I
watched a TV news channel show where the First Nations people were
discussing the strike that closed Canadian railroads. One of the
chiefs actually said that new Immigrants to Canada should learn the
history of the First Nations people to better understand them. As
a new Immigrant myself I can tell him it's because they mouth the words
but don't actually do anything about it. I've lost count of the number
of First Nations people I've talked to on the phone where they promise
to send me information but nothing ever arrives. I visit Moraviantown in
Ontario quite regularly and everyone I've talked to claim to know
nothing of their own heritage. I spent some time researching them
and found a great deal of information on their early heritage.
When informing them that I've posted my findings on the web they showed
no interest in it. I think that says a lot about the problems the
First Nations are having.
Transforming the Relationship to Work
Together on a Shared Vision for First Nations
Assembly of First Nations January 2012
Royal Proclamation of 1763 [External Link]
First Nations [External Link]
An Illustration on how some Canadians view the First Nations
1st February 2012