The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up
Analysis
  |  
Indigenous
  |  
Rights + Justice

Canada’s Coming Crisis with Indigenous Peoples

This alienation didn’t come from nowhere. And it won’t be going away anytime soon.

Geoff Russ 1 Jul 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Geoff Russ is a journalist, writer and member of the Haida Nation. Find him on Twitter @GeoffRuss3.

Don’t be surprised that many Indigenous people do not like Canada. Do not be shocked that many actively reject it, and won’t cease to do so in the future as their population and power grows. Alienation is what happens when a group of people are continually abused and mistreated for centuries by a state without true redress.

No government in the history of this country made its raison d'être to facilitate real reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Even when newly elected governments promise “full reconciliation,” the current state of Indigenous affairs reveals they were false promises or outright failures.

There have been official apologies, recognition of past wrongs, removals of statues, and renaming of roads, but there still is no clean drinking water on many Indigenous reserves across the country.

The ongoing discoveries of unmarked graves of Indigenous children forced into residential schools has unleashed a fresh wave of rightful anger and bitter sadness, correctly directed at Canada and its current government and the ones that preceded it.

Removing statues of Sir John A. Macdonald, as some cities are doing, is a tiny token to make up for the discovery of hundreds of children’s unmarked graves. It does not make intergenerational trauma disappear or bring dead family members back to life. It certainly won’t stem the tide of rising Indigenous alienation from Canada.

That alienation did not emerge out of thin air in the past decade, and it will be increasingly difficult to brush away going forward. To keep doing so would be a grave mistake for the moral and structural integrity of the country.

Loss of moral integrity is a stain on any country’s honour and reputation, but a loss of structural integrity — the ability of a country to hold itself together without breaking — will be far more damaging than any hit to its reputation. Unless this state’s toxic relationship to Indigenous people improves, huge numbers, and maybe even a majority of Indigenous people, will fully reject Canada in the future. Many already do, and they belong to the younger generations who will soon be leaders.

Two incidents in the past two years are harbingers of the future regarding Indigenous land rights and Canadian governments. Activists on Vancouver Island near Victoria, many of them Indigenous, blocked logging roads through Pacheedaht territory, sparking confrontations with the RCMP and loggers and stifling economic activity. It mirrored the Indigenous-led railway blockades of early 2020 that caused damage to the Canadian economy.

What these two events had in common was they partially stemmed from the poor relationship between Indigenous peoples and the provincial and federal governments. It does not matter if the governments are progressive or conservative: there is a clear breakdown of communication between them and Indigenous peoples, if that communication ever existed at all.

Activists can be brushed aside, but problems will emerge when these activists become lawyers or politicians with the same convictions. Canada has already been rocked by politicians from the alienated francophone community in Quebec and it nearly tore the country apart, leaving Canada shaken and exhausted. The Indigenous population is growing faster than the non-Indigenous one, with no signs of alienation slowing. Without change, there will be quite the opposite of reconciliation in Canada.

Former cabinet minister and MP Jody Wilson-Raybould recently said that politics are toxic for Indigenous women in Canada.

Another Indigenous MP, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, announced that she would not seek re-election. Qaqqaq said she felt Parliament was indifferent to the social problems facing her community in Nunavut. Qaqqaq is only 27 and said she feels no pride in Canada. There is perhaps no greater example of the alienation of Indigenous youth in Canada.

When people are dissatisfied with a government, they vote them out of power and replace them with another party. If no parties demonstrate the will or ability to improve their relationship with the people, the people have no alternative but to find their own solutions outside the existing system.

It’s not complicated to understand. People can’t and won’t tolerate an intolerable system if they see a way out of it. That may not be the case for Canada’s non-Indigenous majority, but it is evident among the young, increasing and active Indigenous population. Indigenous people in Canada are the only group endowed with ethnic land rights, and asserting those rights is now common practice.

No longer will there simply be Indigenous protests in remote areas of the country, but two visions and worlds locked in escalating conflict over the same land. Couple that with a growing rejection of “so-called Canada,” and what you have is a recipe for an existential threat to the country.

Canada is going to face a future crisis unless Ottawa starts taking its relationship with Indigenous people seriously and treating it with the necessary urgency. Otherwise, there’ll be a much larger, more powerful, and still alienated Indigenous population that is fed up with indifference and broken promises.

The politicians in Ottawa have choices to make and those choices will have consequences. Whether those consequences are dire or gainful is up to them, but they can’t afford to wait, because Indigenous people have shown that they will not.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.

Do:

  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll