We often hear of the difficult situation on aboriginal reserves and
in their communities. For many of us, our vision is characterised by
media reports of poverty, unemployment, leadership disputes and
We also hear their calls for treaty rights and other signed
agreements to be respected by the federal government. We see their
protests and actions to put pressure on the government after what is
seen as years, even decades, of foot-dragging and outright disregard.
But these stories are often divorced from a discussion of the impacts
that decades and centuries of colonialism has had.
Last summer when the Canadian government formally apologized for the
horrors of the residential school system there was a rare break is the
conventional discussion. Both government officials and the media made
reference to how the historical abuses of the residential school system
had contributed to the current struggles facing most First Nations
communities across Canada.
But those links are often both quickly forgotten and rarely discussed.
When members of the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake blockaded a
major highway in northern Quebec twice this past year, there was little
discussion in any venue about the historical context that would bring
members of a small, northern Algonquin community to initiate a blockade
and face the harsh repercussions. In episode 80 of the CitizenShift
podcast, Montreal journalist and member of Barriere Lake Solidarity
Courtney Kirkby delves into this history, from before the first
encounters and treaties with European settlers to their current
struggle to have management and say over their land and their community.
As always, if you have any thoughts or comments on this issue, we'dencourageyou to post them on our site: http://citizen.nfb.ca/podcasts.
To find more media on First Nations and aboriginal rights and culture in Canada, visit CitizenShift's two dossiers on the topic: Language Lost, on the struggle to maintain native languages in Canada, and Rebel With a Cause: Alanis Obomsawin, a look back at the work and career of this groundbreaking aboriginal filmmaker. For more on Barriere Lake, visit barrierelakesolidairty.blogspot.com.
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