Course: Colonization and aboriginal peoples Studies
Identity is a highly charged subject for Aboriginal people, owing largely to colonial efforts to eradicate Aboriginal identities as a part of the colonial project in Canada. The social and cultural legacies of this history continue to be experienced very profoundly today and generate deep tensions that often manifest in troubling and unexpected ways in classrooms. This course provided of the historical and social circumstances affecting Aboriginal identity as a starting point to understanding why identity is such a charged issue. I made a huge transition in my learning process. Especially, I enjoyed watching the films Muffin for granny and we will be free. These films broadened my knowledge as well as helped me Indian residential schools, trauma, intergenerational trauma.
It is critical that an understanding of the historical and social contexts be accompanied by an awareness of how individuals interpret this information and position themselves in relation to it. Both students and instructors, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, are constantly interpreting meaning from this history in relation to their sense of self, but the ways that they do so are often the source of classroom. For non-Aboriginal students, discussions of the issues affecting Aboriginal people are often understood as taking place “in the past” and events are at a great “distance.” Aboriginal students, however, may have experienced these events or lived their consequences in their families and social realities and do not necessarily conceptualize their family and community histories in this way. For these students, history is lived every day, and very personally. Perspectives that distance these events or diminish their magnitude are not only inaccurate, but will be perceived as profoundly trivializing and insulting.
This course broaden my knowledge of the role of the Indian Act, Identity is a highly charged subject for Aboriginal people owing to attempts by colonial nations and societies to undermine and eradicate Aboriginal peoples’ cultural and social distinctiveness in order to stabilize colonial authority and settlement in North America. Historically, colonial policy and legislation had the explicit goal of terminating Aboriginal peoples’ cultural and social identities in order to assimilate them into colonial society. Colonial governments and institutions operated on the paternalistic and Eurocentric assumption that in order to function in contemporary colonial society, Aboriginal people needed to abandon their own cultures and adopt a settler identity. By undermining Aboriginal peoples’ cultural and social relationships to their traditional territories, colonial governments hoped to weaken Aboriginal peoples’ resistance to being removed from their land bases in order to accommodate growing settler populations and designed policy and legislation to this end.
Indian status and understandings of Aboriginal identity are also complexly associated with community and connections to place. Tribally specific relationships to the land are at the core of tribal identity, and as previously discussed, the success of colonial agendas hinged on severing these relationships and by extension eradicating traditional understandings of identity. Displacing Aboriginal peoples to reserves was central to this process. This is not to say that reserves are not communities, or that traditional perspectives of the relationship to land have not persisted despite extreme measures taken by colonial governments and societies to erase them. Communities located on reserves are important to maintaining family structures and cultural practices and for those that come from these communities, these relations are at the core of their identities. For many Aboriginal people, however, the loss of Indian status from intermarriage and forced enfranchisement has meant that they do not come from a reserve