Throughout the course of Canadian history many unjust actions have been committed against aboriginal peoples. So much so that it has been referred to as the Canadian Holocaust. In order to memorialize those who have lost their rights and lives in the past, and acknowledge they deserve rights in the future, a monument should be made in Parliament Hill to honour aboriginal rights.
Aboriginals have been in Canada for centuries but their basic human rights have been continuously violated. This started as soon as the European arrival but was particularly visible in 1874 when the Indian Act was put into place. This Act took away aboriginal status, put them on reserves and set up the conditions for the residential schools. Throughout the mid 1900’s residential schools had covered the country. These schools took children from their homes, tried to destroy their faith and infected them with diseases until the death rate had reached forty to seventy-five percent. Children were also used as test subjects, were being emotionally abused, physically abused and raped. (Annett). All these crimes were kept behind closed doors.
The hatred and violence towards aboriginals did not stop once residential schools ended. In 1990 the Oka Crisis occurred, then Ipperwash in 1995. (Marshall). Furthermore, in the last few decades, there are over six hundred aboriginal women considered either missing or murdered and the government has done little to recognize these lives until recent years. (CBC News). There were also over 1,017 female aboriginal murders that have occurred between the late 1980’s to late 2000’s and statistics show that aboriginal women are more at risk for violence than non-aboriginal women. (RCMP). These events all need to be recognized and memorialized in order to stop history from repeating itself, and so Canadians understand that we do not just share land, we share a country.
As of recently, there has been more focus on the rights of aboriginals. In May 2016, Canada signed an agreement to value aboriginal rights. (Henderson). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also preached about the damage that has occurred to the aboriginal community and the rising rate of aboriginal suicides. He said, “Indigenous children should be able to stay in their communities where they are known and loved, and indigenous youth should not grow up surrounded by the things that place them at elevated risk of suicide.” (CBC News). Even though they have received this recognition by the federal government they are not officially acknowledged by Britain in Canada. The Canadian government is trying to include them in a system that does little to recognize their existence. That said, the Canadian government and the residential school survivors have agreed to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring awareness of the impact of the residential school system and is trying to get British Parliament to do the same. (TRC).
A monument should be put in place to recognize the horrors that have occurred in the past and pay tribute to those who suffered or lost their lives, faith or comfort in a country they are unable to call their own. The monument will acknowledge the rights they now have and be a reminder that aboriginal peoples deserve continued rights in the future. Such a monument will remind all Canadians of the place in this country’s history held by our indigenous people and that, despite the travesties of the past, they are valued in our society today.