Chipewyan Nation group in Canada

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Canada must rebuild trust, and make amends for residential school abuse: Editorial | Toronto Star. (2015). Retrieved 7 April 2017, from

This article examines political forgiveness, along with the content of the article justifying the need for reconciliation in Canada. Alberta's Chippewian healing ideas are informed by the cultural brutality of boarding school programs. The commentary paints a picture of the noble savages by examining the lives of children deprived of the opportunity to be with their parents and denied the opportunity to learn about the way Aboriginal groups lived, is greatly influenced by the findings of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada as well as phenomenological experiences of survivors who were taken away and placed in notorious schools that were characterized by solitude, lack of affection, and fear. XXXX discusses the attempts to assimilate the First Nations arises from the mid-Victorian scholastic views that justified the superiority of the European groups and defended the activities of explorers and expansionists by noting that they were inevitable. XXXX point out that the current distrust between the First Nations and the Canadian government goes back to the White Settlement in North America, where the Europeans took advantage of the innocence of the Natives. The settlers took the land and enjoyed the resources.

Besides the establishment of a commercial and political empire, the imperialists also attempted to Christianize the world, with the underlying motive in forcing foreign ways of life being founded on a flawed belief that Europeans were superior when compared with other groups (p.18). The element of noble savage captures primitiveness, a concept that was built on the social evolutionism. The European intellectuals developed definite laws of human thoughts and actions and considered the simplicity of Natives of other regions as backwardness (XXXX, p.19). They associated hunting among other ways of life as an early stage of social evolution and noted that the European societies had progressed beyond the era.Scholars such as Edward Tylor as well as voyagers such as Simon Fraser among others popularized the idea of savagery by describing natives in Africa, Asia, and America as unearthly-looking devils, who did not have clothes and rubbed their body with ashes (XXXX, p.20). Samuel Barker argued that Europeans were a superior race, whose true characters remained unaltered even when they changed localities. He claimed that the natives of Africa, Australia and North America Aboriginals, and Chinese were captured in the cycle of savagedom and idleness, and could only change if they were forced to work.

The views of supremacism among mid-Victorian scholars assumed that the spirituality, morality, and intellectuality were shaped by their cultural and physical uniqueness (XXXX, p.21). The English scholars also considered their cultural distinctiveness as intrinsic qualities that were heritable and viewed it as distinguishing biological elements when compared to other European civilizations such as Germany, France, and Russia (XXXX, p.21). The argument rejected that culture was a product of one’s environment as well as the social surrounding. It supported the need for imperialism, a notion that was conceptualized to spread the industriousness and enlightenment of the White man, as defined by his cultural values. The thoughts are best exemplified by Henry Stanley work, Through the Dark Continent (1878), where he describes the Natives of Africa as savages who were ravaged by the slave trade. He suggested that the terrible picture of the people could only be resolved by enlightenment guidance, a move that perhaps influenced his decision in helping King Leopold establish Belgian Congo (XXXX, p.22).

The article suggests that the residential schools were one of the darkest eras in the history of Canada, where children were punished for speaking Cree, Inuit, or Métis dialects. The attempt to civilize the First Nations was a gross violation of basic entitlements, an issue that was deepened by the fact that they were receiving a substandard education. They were also underfed with meat and milk being a luxury. While the motive of achieving cultural homogeneity was good, the approach of taking away children to stamp out the culture and eliminate the distinctiveness of the Aboriginals was a cultural genocide, as most approaches were against the will of the Natives. The attempts were built on the western anthropological notion of primitiveness, which guided not only the racial conception of the world but also the idea of Manifest Destiny. The Europeans felt they had a God-given obligation of civilizing other groups through spreading their idea of Christianity and ways of life. Nevertheless, XXXX suggests that the anthropological focus was flawed, and ignored distinctiveness among people (p.21). It was based on the Eurocentrism, which became the lens of the social development. Any group that failed to express congruence with Western elements was considered primitive and placed at the lowest level of the cadre.

Besides the detailed exploration of the lived experiences of some of the 80,000 survivors, the article also infuses expert opinions. One such is the view that over 6,000 minors died out of preventable causes. The underlying aspect was overcrowded schools and environmentally-linked tuberculosis among other scourges, a challenge that the Creek-speakers face to date because of systemic unemployment, poverty, defragmented families, murders of Native women, high imprisonment rates, disproportionate number of children in foster homes, shabby living conditions, despairingly high number of suicides, as well as lack of opportunities. The suffering, pauperism, and inequities have become the backbone of the current reconciliation attempts, a focus that is built on Edward Burnet’s anthropological idea that the central thrust of any study should be the human nature. He laments that the notion of civilization and savagery created gaps in building a robust knowledge to understand various aspects of the human society (XXXX, p.18). Friedrich Engels also invalidates the notion by suggesting that even European cultures expressed dark traits. The German scholar noted that the urban community in England was faced with misery and barbarous indifference (XXXX, p.22). The cadre-based society was more uncivilized, a view that is evidenced by the Hobbesian argument on the social state. Engels point out that the war of each against all, is here openly declared. Each exploits the other, and the end of it all is, that the stronger treads the weaker underfoot” (XXXX, p.23)

The opinionated article concludes that the crown should issue a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation, establish a National Council for Reconciliation, and observe an annual State of Aboriginal Peoples address. Similarly, the article notes that the federal government should adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and guarantee the First Nations basic entitlements such as non-abiding freedom from interference, self-determination, and the right to lands. The article notes that such moves would be practical measures to redress the historical wrongs and ease the pain. The need for reconciliation and addressing historical injustices is built on the contemporary understanding of culture, where the element of Anglo-Saxon has been dropped, with derogatory terms such as ‘savages’ being treated as abusive to human capacities.

Besides dropping the notions of cultural evolution, the need for respecting the way of life of Natives is also built on the recognition of local conditions in influencing social circumstances. A perfect example of the importance of contextual element is highlighted by Brown (2003) is his presentation of common eider in North America (p.205). While the duck is globally valued for its insulation materials, Brown (2003) notes that the birds are a source of food among the Inuit people inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada. The Natives depend on the eider for food, an aspect that has influenced their way of life. The cultural aspect was confirmed by a 1980 incident, where conservation groups were unable to undertake the population count of Hudson Bay eider because of the harsh weather. Nevertheless, the Natives played a critical role in not only establishing the number but also documenting the profile of birds. They helped in bridging the gaps in scientific studies, an element that has found tremendous relevance in the conservation efforts. The incident highlight that sociocultural values arise from local conditions, with the knowledge being critical in the survival (Brown, 2003, p.206). Culture cannot thus be viewed through the collective lens, and this invalidates the idea of primitiveness. It also justifies the need for not only compensation and reconciliation being undertaken by the Canadian government, but also preserving fishing grounds and hunting zones. The observation is supported by Brown (2003), in his argument that land is an integral element of the Aboriginal culture entirety, as it forms the template of other aspects including ideas and rituals (Brown, 2003, p.209). The recognition of culture as an element of local knowledge also challenges the notion of a mainstream society with unified values, a motive that guided the establishment of residential schools in 1883. It calls for identifying the Native groups based on their language and cultural values. The argument is supported by curial shops along the Mohawk Trail, where recognizing the Native Indian art has created an anachronism that is characterized by unique pieces (Brown, 2003) (2). They not only identify the values and traditions of the group but also challenge the stereotypical notions.

While the political regimes have made efforts to recognize the inalienable rights of the First Nations, the commentary article argues that the Canadian government must go beyond compensation. It must take symbolic and practical solution such as integrating the history of the Aboriginal in the education curriculum and building monuments. While the move is expensive, the article upholds that it’s the only way to true reconciliation. The views are echoed by Hall (1995) in her views that human rights should go beyond UN Charter and international agreements, as a culture cannot be moulded by political structures (p.243). The view is also expressed by Brown (2003). While the U.N recognizes the need for protecting indigenous group as evidenced by the Daes report, Brown (2003) suggests that the document cannot cover all issues. Hall argues that cultural identity of any group is a dynamic element and that any reconciliation effort should be geared towards sustaining the production system and not preserving norms and values (1995, p.244). Brown (2003) also point out that supporting the capacity is the only sure away of total heritage protection, as it promotes the survival of a body of values, norms, practices, and beliefs (p. 209).

In conclusion, culture is a broad-gauged concept that defines the entirety of human practices and motives. While human capacity is characterized by universality and thus the need for international agreements and legal structures to safeguard all elements, culture is complex and cannot be protected political measures. It is also dynamic and influenced by continuous development in local knowledge. The focus of any government should thus be to promote the capacity of unrestrained development. Culture should also be nonrivalrous, where a practice should not be forced to other groups or prevented from infiltrating to others (Brown, 2003, p.6). The Canadian government should thus move beyond reconciliation and redressing the harm of residential schools, and adopt policies that support the development of a truly multicultural nation that is characterized by many languages, including the Creek.


Brown, M. (2004). Who owns native culture (1st ed., pp. 1-7; 205-228). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Canada must rebuild trust, and make amends for residential school abuse: Editorial | Toronto Star. (2015). Retrieved 7 April 2017, from

Hall, K. (1995). There’sa time to act English and a time to act Indian”: The politics of identity among British-Sikh teenagers. Children and the politics of culture, 243-264.

April 19, 2023

Culture Sociology

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