First Nations people in Canada comprised the different cultures the six geographical groups.
The differences occurred in spiritual beliefs, food resources, and social organization. The first group, the woodlands first nations comprised of independent groups who possessed great courage and skills for hunting. The Iroquoians were excellent farmers and had permanent settlements that enabled them to have democratic systems of government. The Huron-Wendat based their leadership on councils that made laws that governed people. The Plains composed of the migration groups. The differences in these groups made Canada to be a diverse society in the 20th century. The First Nations was separated from the other Canadians on social, political and economic aspects of life.
The First Nations were exposed to more restrictive and exploitative measures than other Canadians.The legislation that led to the introduction of the Indian Act changed the dynamics of the Canadian society in the 20th century. The Indian Act was a consolidation of previous restrictive measures that targeted the First Nations. The legislation gave the federal department authority to intervene and have control over the resources of the First Nations. The Indian Act was the most amended legislation in Canada.
Most of the amendments that were done almost yearly made it more restrictive by imposing more authority over the lives of the First Nations. The Act emphasized on the abandonment of traditional ways of life and the adoption of new spiritual ceremonies like the sun dance and the potlatch. The concept of enfranchisement remained to be the key concern to the First Nations. It was the key element for the government policy in the 20th century. For instance, few members of the First Nations became enfranchized. It was a requirement for the members of the First Nations to possess a university degree to be enfranchized. The government continued to add more restrictions to the Act to forbid members of the First Nations from pursuing land claims.
The Act was used as a tool to implement restrictive policies over the members of the First Nations. However, regardless of the painful conditions that the members of the First Nations experienced, by the late 1940s, there was hope on the social and political transformations that would mark the beginning of a new era in the Canadian society. The First Nations across the nation started forming region-based groups that forcefully expressed people’s grievances to have equality among all Canadians. By 1946, the First Nations had fought for their rights to parliament. The crusaders of equality in the First Nations wanted to have an equal Canadian society, but at the same time, they wanted to preserve their cultural practices and beliefs. They opposed the idea of enforced enfranchisement contained in the Indian Act and the extent to which the government controlled their lives.
Although most improvements have been done on the policies that control social status in the Canadian society, the First Nations still fell sort of the standards for all the Canadians.For the entire part of the 20th century, the Canadian government focused on the Aboriginal policies that aimed at eliminating indigenous rights and governments by the termination of treaties and social setups of the First Nations. Researchers argue that the establishment of residential schools is a cultural genocide that aimed to deny the First Nations opportunities to access best educational facilities.
The government focused on the creation of practices and policies that will destroy cultural structures that allow integration of the First Nations. For instance, the land was seized, the movement was restricted, spiritual leaders were persecuted, and traditional languages were banned. The family structures were disrupted to stop the transmission of cultural practices from one generation to another within the lineage of the First Nations. The introduction of the residential schools was aimed at separating parents from their parents. The primary intention of the residential schools was to break the link of connecting children with the culture of the First Nations. The government used the restrictive policies to eliminate the distinct features that helped to identify the Aboriginal people among the Canadian population.
The issue of First Nations and the policies that helped to maintain the status quo have been the primary focus of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CTRC). The primary focus of the commission is to integrate all the groups that make up the Canadian society. In conclusion, the First Nations faced exploitative legislations that completely separated them from the other Canadians.
Although there have been improvements based on the recommendations of the CTRC, still there is no equality in the economic, social and political aspects of Canadian society. The Indian Residential Schools (IRS) has been regarded as the basis of the injustices that the members of the First Nations have faced in the society. Currently, the CTRC intends to unite the Aboriginal people with the Canadians to create a relationship that is based on mutual respect and understanding. The IRS provides information that will facilitate the process of reconciliation. The commission uses the historical practices and records in the residential schools to come up with a comprehensive report that will enable the future government to make decisions concerning the residential schools.