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After the War of 1812, Canada emerged as an independent nation that had a political system that mimicked the one from London rather than Washington. It was this political system that proved to be oppressive to the aboriginal peoples living within Canada. The aggressive policies pursued during the aftermath of the War of 1812 allowed Indians to be stripped of their “unique culture” and made to assimilate into the prevailing European culture (Bezeau, 2007, par. 1). Some might argue that after the War of 1812, the situation almost led to the genocide of the aboriginal peoples. It can be argued that although the Indian Act allowed the British to establish some form of relationship with the aboriginals living in Canada, the Indian Act highlights the oppression of the Native American Indians in Canada, caused by the British colonial powers; in addition, it depicts how some of Canada's aboriginal groups have been marginalized through the use of aggressive policies and the strained relationship between the Europeans and the First Nations after the War of 1812.
The War of 1812 changed the relationship between Europeans and the First Nations groups by uniting the First Nations and the Métis peoples against the Europeans. The First Nations, for the most part, “strategically allied” themselves with Great Britain during this period (Marsh & Berton, 2011, par. 1). The First Nations did this because they saw the British as the “lesser of the two colonial evils” and the group “most interested in maintaining traditional territories and trade” (Marsh & Berton, 2011, par. 1). Jannica Hoskins explains in the documentary, The Fallen Feather, that the British needed to align themselves with the Native American Indians living in Canada, who, “at the time,” outnumbered the Europeans (Hoskins & Bezeau, 2007). However, during the aftermath of the War of 1812, particularly during the negotiations for the Treaty of Ghent (1814), the British attempted to “bargain for the creation of an Indian Territory,” but the American delegates “refused to agree” (Marsh & Berton, 2011, par. 13). The most that the American delegates would agree to was the “amount of territory that the Aboriginal people had before the war” (Marsh & Berton, 2011, par. 13). Marsh explains that for many Native American Indians during the aftermath of the War of 1812 have had to deal with being outnumbered by “settlers in their own lands” (Marsh & Berton, 2011, par. 14). Political or social influence, which was enjoyed before the war by the Native American Indians, had “dissipated” afterwards (Marsh & Berton, 2011, para. 14).
The Métis attempts at forming an independent identity in Canada from the time of Riel to the time when they were named in the Constitution involved setting up a provisional government at Red River under the leadership of Louis Riel (Ouelett & Hanson, 2009, par. 8). This provisional government had the intention of “negotiating terms” for entering into “Confederation with Canada” (Ouelett & Hanson, 2009, par. 8). They drafted a Métis Bill of Rights which demanded, amongst other things, to “elect their own legislature at Red River” and to “maintain Métis culture and customs” (Ouelett & Hanson, 2009, par. 8). When a Canadian surveyor was tried and executed for treason, Canada responded by sending troops to “assert control” over the region (Ouelett & Hanson, 2009, par. 8). The Canadians also wanted to see Riel executed, which then caused him to flee to the United States. When Riel returned to Red River in 1884, he sent a petition to Ottawa requesting a title to lands “already occupied by Métis families,” provincial status for Red River and other areas where Aboriginals occupy, and the “better treatment” of all Native American Indians (Ouelett & Hanson, 2009, par. 10). The lack of response then led to the Northwest Rebellion, which had ended within two months, and with Riel being tried and executed on November 16, 1885 (Ouelett & Hanson, 2009, par. 10). However, the Métis were vindicated in 1982 when Section 35 of the Constitution Act which included the First Nations groups, the Inuits, and the Métis peoples. The Act states that the “existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed” (Department of Justice Canada, 1982, p. 63). The results of these attempts include the Canadian government establishing the Métis and non-status Indian Relations Directorate which works mainly with “Aboriginal political organizations who represent the interests of Métis and non-status Indians (MNSI)” (“Métis and Non-Status,” 2012, para. 1). These are important because human service workers are charged with safeguarding the rights of the Métis peoples and other aboriginals. Furthermore, human service workers are charged with the responsibility to liaise with the Métis peoples to find “practical ways to improve the life chances of Métis and Non-Status Indian organizations” (“Métis and Non-Status,” 2012, para. 1). Additionally, it should be noted that changes to the Indian Act affecting Indian registration and band membership were influenced by the McIvor v. Canada case. These changes will ensure that the Canadian government is given the chosen “approach to moving forward with legislative amendment” (Nation Talk, 2009, para. 2).
The development in the North has been similar to the rest of Canada in the sense that the Aboriginal Indians are allowed operate under their own land code so as to take advantage of economic opportunities. The We Wai Kai Nation, for instance, are able to take advantage of the resources in both land and sea, build new buildings, and generate new jobs or employment (‘Success Stories-Aboriginal Peoples and Communities,’ 2013, para. 2). The T’Sou-ke First Nation is also given resources by the Canadian government to take advantage of the economic opportunities in renewable energy (‘Success Stories-Aboriginal Peoples and Communities’, 2013, para. 2). On the other hand, the development in the North is different from Canada in that the Canadian government allowed Indian children to be “singled out by race” and “forced to live in institutions” in Indian Industrial Residential Schools (Bezeau & Hoskins, 2007, paras. 1 & 2). Bob Joseph explains in the documentary, The Fallen Feather, that up to “fifty percent” of Indian children died while in these residential schools. Bezeau and Hoskins explain that tens of thousands died of “Tuberculosis and other ailments brought on by grossly inadequate living standards” (Bezeau & Hoskins, 2007, para. 4).
In conclusion, after the War of 1812, the Indians relationship with the Europeans changed for the worse because they lost much their lands, and had to cope with being overrun by them. Nevertheless, the Aboriginals living in Canada were able to be guaranteed their rights in Section 35 of the Constitution Act in 1982; but, this was not done without conflict by the Métis and Luis Riel their leader. Moreover, although it should be noted that the Indians have experienced some economic progress and developments in the North that are similar to the rest of Canada, they have still been negatively impacted by the abuse and deaths of children at the Indian Industrial Residential Schools.
Berton, P., & Marsh, J. (2012, March 6). War of 1812. Retrieved July 11, 2015, from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/war-of-1812/
BILL C-31. (1995, September 1). Retrieved July 11, 2015, from http://www.johnco.com/nativel/bill_c31.html
Changes to the Indian Act affecting Indian Registration and Band Membership McIvor v. Canada – December 2009. (2009). Retrieved July 11, 2015, from http://nationtalk.ca/story/changes-to-the-indian-act-affecting-indian-registration-and- band-membership-mcivor-v-canada-december-2009
Hoskins, J. (2007). The Fallen Feather - Feature Documentary. Retrieved July 11, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/user/fallenfeatherprod/videos
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Oeullet, R., & Hanson, E. (n.d.). Métis. Retrieved July 11, 2015, from http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/home/community-politics/metis.html