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September 26, 1995 - The Truro Record

Time to remove blinders

A 1994 C.D. Howe Institute report stated that a majority of Canadians believed that the country's minorities are to blame for the disadvantages they suffer and that discrimination isn't. This belief is without any possible basis.

It is founded solely upon the false and negative stereotypical images created over the ages about minorities by the sick imaginations of bigots.

Letís ask ourselves, why in Canada is this still so?

The answer as far as Native Peoples are concerned is very simple. It's the result of a government desire to keep the majority ignorant of the truth.

You might ask why? The answer again is simple.

The unvarnished truth about the historical relationships between First Nations and the British Colonial and later, Canadian governments paints a disturbing, unflattering and morally bankrupt, and at times shocking, picture of the actions and conduct of the two White governments.

Here are a few of the truths that hurt!

Because of the tall tales European-Canadians have been told over the ages by many historians and others about the relationships between colonial Europeans and Native Peoples, the Native American victims end up being depicted as people who spring from inferior civilizations and as being aggressive and brutish barbarians.

The truth, as witnessed by the written record, is just the opposite.

During this period, the Spanish, Portuguese and other European tribes engaged in committing some of the most hellish atrocities imaginable against the persons of Native Americans and the British were full participants.

Here are a few examples of British racist actions and attitudes.

In a letter he wrote to Colonel Bouquet, the Commander-in-Chief of British North American forces, General Jeffery Amherst, requests "Could it not be contrived to send the Smallpox among the disaffected Tribes of Indians?"

Bouquet replied that he would try to do so by passing on to them blankets infected by Smallpox victims. Amherst gave his blessings.

The record indicate that shortly after this exchange took place over ten thousand Cherokees died of the disease.

In Amherst's biography, written by Lawrence Shaw Mayo, Mayo states "As he sped on his way to the relief of Fort Pitt, the Colonel exchanged interesting suggestions with the General as to the most efficient manner of getting rid of the redskins."

Amherst wanted "to hear of no prisoners should any of the villains be met with arms."

Besides using smallpox the two gentlemen contemplated another method: "As it is a pity to expose good men against them, I wish we could make use of the Spanish method, to hunt them with English dogs..."

Then, if honesty is to prevail, a full discussion of the English practice of declaring it a capital offense to be a member of a Native American Nation would have to occur.

In this regard, the 17th and 18th century genocidal scalping proclamations issued by such English Governors as Shirley, Cornwallis, Lawrence and so on, would have to be placed on the table for full examination and discussion.

It would be quite an accomplishment for anyone to convince people of conscience that such barbaric behaviour was civilized.

After Confederation Canada pushed on with the British colonial tradition of trying to bring First Nations cultures to extinction - but by the more humane method of using outrageous laws and oppression.

The laws and methods our country used in this regard were later adopted, in full or in part, by the apartheid South African government to oppress the human rights of its Black population.

It is an undeniable fact, that the implementation of these reprehensible racist laws and policies by the governments of both countries, combined with white supremacist attitudes, have kept both indigenous Canadians and South African Blacks under-educated and poverty stricken in the midst of plenty.

Here is another facet of First Nation history, which has been almost totally ignored by this country's historians - Prior to the European invasion of the Americas, for untold centuries Native American civilizations responded in a very responsible manner to the human needs of their citizens.

In the process they developed some of the highest standards of living then existent in the world. What's inferior about that?

If the modern world could do only half as well as these civilizations did in finding solutions for poverty among their peoples it would be quite an accomplishment.

The failure of governments to include in school curriculums honestly crafted histories of the First Nations of Canada have done First Nations a grave injustice.

For instance, the largely unpublished historical record does not in any way support any contention that Canada's Native citizens were the architects of their own misfortunes.

As a matter of fact the record proves without a doubt that the modern day dependence of our peoples for survival on handouts from governments is caused by the fact that we were effectively excluded for centuries from participating in the economic life of this country by unadulterated racism.

Education is the key to dispelling the false perceptions about our Peoples.

The majority population must be taught that the non-white civilizations of the Americas had superb human values, and that their destruction by European armies to satisfy the greedy designs of the European aristocrat and gentry was indefensible.

In centuries past, several prominent Europeans have recognized Native American civilizations for what they were - "great human achievements."

Itís time, in the interest of dispelling ignorance, to bring out of oblivion and dust off for discussion the positive assessments of these civilizations by such great men as Thomas Paine and Thomas Moore.

Who knows, with the dissemination of accurate knowledge, this country may become in fact, as well as in fiction, a great place for a multinational population to live!

Daniel N. Paul

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