To what extent did the treatment of Indigenous people/communities (more specifically the Métis) shape early Canadian History?
Outline the focus of your inquiry and provide background knowledge. Why is this an important and significant question to ask about the past?
The Métis are the descendants of French-speaking Roman Catholics and Indigenous women. They established a French-speaking community in river-lot farms with their own flag, traditions, and beliefs, and by the early 1860s they were the largest population group in Red River. During the negotiations over the ownership of Rupert’s Land – Canada was going to buy the land from the Hudson’s Bay Company – the Métis weren’t even informed of the change or asked if they wanted to become Canadians. The Métis were not only looked down upon by those who settled in Red River, because they were of Indigenous descent, but had their basic rights/feeling of safety taken away from them.
This is an important and significant question to ask about the past because Indigenous voices are often completely disregarded, even though the creation of Canada was so deeply affected by them. The immense amount of prejudice and oppression they faced, and are still facing to this day, is romanticized and buried under less important stories. Kylie Jenner’s new baby is being talked about more in media than all of the missing and murdered Indigenous women. The extremely discriminatory and violent treatment of Indigenous people/communities is a topic that we all should be aware of, as it’s an unfortunate but important part of Canadian history.
(The Métis provisional government, source: wikipedia.org)
CAUSE AND CONSEQUENCE: Why did your researched events happen the way they did and what were the consequences?
The Métis merely wanted protection and equal rights, but were constantly being treated unfairly by those in power because of their Indigenous ancestry. It would’ve been quite easy for them to be consulted before the decision to take over Rupert’s Land was finalized, but the Canadians’ inability to treat the Métis like regular human beings lead Louis Riel to form the Red River Rebellion. There were many deaths that could have been prevented if the Canadians respected the Métis, such as the highly controversial and widely discussed execution of Thomas Scott. As well as this, these events have lead to an increase in racism and violence towards Indigenous people throughout the years, and as a result they STILL are treated as “different” and “inferior”.
ETHICAL JUDGEMENT: Is what happened right and fair by the values and standards of the time? How about from our current values and standards? Explain.
The treatment of the Métis was right and fair by the values and standards of the time, but only by those who weren’t of Indigenous descent. The Métis and other Indigenous peoples knew that they deserved equal rights, and fought hard to earn them. The Canadians however looked down upon them, and refused to respect their beliefs, culture, and land.
From my own current values and standards, what happened is neither right or fair. The Canadians took over the land of the Métis without even talking to them about it, which was both prejudicial and immature. Not only did they make the decision without the permission of the Indigenous communities, they refused to give the Métis equal rights and the safety they deserve. No one should have to feel unsafe in their own home. Sadly, there are people who have the same mindset as the Canadians during the Red River Rebellion, even now. Racism is very present- there is still an incredible amount of hate and violence directed towards Indigenous people.
What conclusions can you reach about your question, based on the research you conducted?
Based on the research I conducted, I can conclude that the treatment of Indigenous people/communities by Canadian authorities perpetuates the idea that minorities (such as the Métis) don’t deserve equal rights. Although recently we’ve become less discriminating towards Indigenous people, there is still a long ways to go, as their opinions are often viewed as less valuable than the opinion of a more privileged person (a white, straight male for example). Additionally, this research contradicts the common belief that all Canadians are diverse and accepting human beings. It proves that Canadian history is filled with racism, hate, and violence, just like the history of every other country in the world.
(Just a small sidenote: my computer wouldn’t let me upload any more images for some reason, I tried to upload four of them but it said there was an error).