Every country has a history that both builds and defines its nation.
It is composed of various events and people that greatly impact the participants and their surroundings. Events such as these occur in countless of ways, some are positive and form an immense sense of pride, while others are negative and are therefore shameful. Canada has an elaborate mix of such events but, due to the research gathered, it has become apparent that Canada does not have a history to be proud of.
Like every country, positive events such as the establishment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the founding of the Co Operative Commonwealth Federation, and the War in Air during World War 2 are remembered proudly by those who call themselves Canadians. Unfortunately, the focus on such positive events tends to overshadow the various negative ones that plague Canadian history such as the residential schools that Aboriginal children were forced to go to, the segregation African-Americans faced in Africville, as well as the relief camps that were established by Prime Minister R.B. Bennett.
These events are prime examples of Canada’s shameful history as they consist of Canada mistreating its citizens and discriminating against them in almost inhumane ways.Canada must recognize the dark side of its history as it is responsible for the basic genocide of an entire culture. In the early 19th century, the federal government began forcing the Aboriginal people of into the European way of life. Canada established the Residential School System as a crude attempt to help the native aboriginal people make the transition from their traditional lifestyle to a more alternative, different way of life, with a more European influence. These schools were a complete immersion program.
This meant that children were forbidden to speak their native language, or practice or display any form of aboriginal tradition. They were moved far away from their families and communities, only seeing them rarely if ever. The goal was to turn these children into English speaking, Christian farmers. Obedience was mandatory and lack thereof would result in various forms of abuse, including both physical and sexual. An incredibly large amount of native kids were thrown into the harsh, unfamiliar system, regardless of their consent or that of their parents, and were forced to endure substandard conditions and endured physical and emotional abuse. The last residential school was only closed in 1996, twelve years after the Canadian constitution and the Charter of Rights had been changed to accommodate the various different races that lived in Canada. Although the intention was to integrate the Native Canadian population into the European-Canadian society, under the assumption they were unable to adapt to a rapidly modernizing society, the whole process was far from positive for those families as thousands of children were separated from their families and communities due to a policy issued by the Canadian government. Canadian citizens may wish to remember their history and be proud, but events such as the residential school system prove that, though Canada has various achievements both in the country and out, it had failed its own citizens by not tolerating any native culture and ignoring the rights and freedoms that had been issued in order to prevent such horrors.
Canadian history did not only mistreat its aboriginal population but also its African-American one. Several white citizens lived on the assumption that the African-American population would never meet the strict regulations set by the government, and therefore many African-American citizens were segregated in various Canadian cities, one of which was Halifax. The people of Halifax openly racially discriminated against the Black population within the city, denying them proper jobs, education and places to live. Long established Black Canadian communities were often isolated from prosperity and opportunities. Since the 1850s, the community of Africville had been home to Halifax’s Black population and had existed as part of the capital city. Although it was a part of Halifax, Africville ignored by the city councilors. The community was excluded from receiving even the most basic city services, such as running water, paved roads, sewage, and garbage collection.
The residents of Africville, as well as the rest of the African-American people, were forced to live in such horrible conditions because the Canadian government did not view them as “persons” worthy of being protected by the law. In 1962, wanting to create new industrial space for big industries and expand the urban development of Halifax, the city took away the land in Africville and removed the four hundred citizens that resided there in order to bulldoze the town. The community itself was not even consulted before the destruction of the resident’s homes. Although some were compensated for their property, the disrespect shown toward the residents of Africville was horrifying. Though Canada can be proud of its various accomplishments overseas, such as aiding the Allies in the War in Air during WW?, events that happened within the country are also important to take into consideration because what happened in Africville is something to be looked back on in extreme shame.In addition to Canada’s maltreatment of its Aboriginal and African-American communities, in the 1930s Canada’s Prime Minister R.
B. Bennett was responsible for the segregation of the unfortunate single young men who could not find work following the great depression and were therefore feared by citizens in various cities. In 1932, the federal government set up isolated relief camps, away from cities, for these men and provided them with work, food, and a place to sleep. Many of the men in the camps were forced to go because, in addition to they not finding work, they were not eligible for relief. They dug ditches and roads, but this job held no future.
Due to the fact the men only received 20 cents a day, they could not save up for anything. In addition, as the economic situation for The Canadian citizens outside the camps got worse, conditions in the camps worsened too because the government decided to support those who weren’t in the camps more than those who were. In 1935, relief camp workers in British Columbia went on strike demanding better living and working conditions, and higher wages. Trains were commandeered and the men headed to Ottawa to present their demands to Prime Minister Bennett but were stopped in Regina. The RCMP was ordered by Prime Minister Bennett to stop the strikers and a riot broke out when the RCMP squads tried to use force to breakup the protesters and arrest their leaders. The “On-to-Ottawa Trek” ended in failure and the strikers were no better off. The Canadian government ended up build these camps in order to get the unfortunate men out of the way and out of the public eye.
The federal government chose to establish the camps instead of creating a program of reasonable work and wages and therefore men felt they were being treated unfairly. This should be looked back on in shame because the government discriminated against these men, aiding those in the cities instead, even though their only crime was the inability to find work when work was unavailable.Though there are obvious highlights in Canada’s history, it is hard to say Canada has a history to be proud of when events such as residential schools, Africville and relief camps were all happening in and around the same time. All these events are examples of Canada discriminating against and mistreating its citizens. The country known as Canada today, was the result of the various events that happened as it progressed as a nation.
Some are very proud moments, while others are rather shameful, but all in all it is clear that Canada has come a long way in accepting its diverse population as events such as the residential schools, Africville and relief camps are no longer acceptable.