There seems to be little common ground between Canadian natives and mainstream Canadian society. Canada’s uniqueness in world culture is thanks to its natives, who are regularly trotted out in ceremonies related to international events such as the Olympics, and now featured in the composition of the new Canadian ten dollar bill. But they remain at the bottom of the mainstream pecking order economically.
Justice Thomas Berger wrote in 1966: “They began by taking the Indians’ land without any surrender and without their consent. Then they herded the Indian people onto reserves. This was nothing more nor less than Apartheid, and that is what it still is today.” First Nations children in western countries live in Third World conditions, with an estimated 80% of urban Aboriginal children under the age of 6 living in poverty.
In a famous anecdote, Justin Trudeau’s father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, cynically told Marlon Brando when the American actor wanted to discuss native rights:
“There are differences in the way we treated our natives,” he said. “You hunted them down and murdered them. We starved them to death.” Trudeau meant actual physical starvation, not just cultural starvation, echoing what the Canadian historian James Daschuk has called “the politics of starvation.”
The policy in North America towards natives can be put simply: confiscation of 90% of lands, assimilation and/or death.