Part I: Not Celebrating Colonialism
First, the obvious reason. Currently in Canada, the graves of over a thousand children have so far been recovered and the number is likely to continue growing. When settlers came to Canada, they inconveniently discovered that their new land was already inhabited by a wealth of people and cultures. That was an inconvenient fact, so they started to wipe them off the map. My home province of Newfoundland Labrador has the distinction of having completely wiped out its Indigenous people, the Beothuk. (Though lately evidence has arisen that there may be some descendants.)
In other provinces, stretching through Saskatchewan to British Columbia, new government systems forced Indigenous children from their parents and put them into schools largely run by the Catholic church. In those schools their hair was cut, their language was beaten out of them, their culture removed at all costs, and they were made to assimilate to the colonising culture. Further to that, they were sexually, physically and emotionally abused for a hundred years, poisoning their lives and the lives of their descendants. As we know, many were murdered.
In my time growing up in Canada, I have repeatedly heard settlers blaming Aboriginal people for their own problems with alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, and overwhelming despair. I often heard things like “we have given them so much money,” without any sense of irony how “money” was a system that was also imposed upon them. They are still being blamed for not assimilating to a culture that has completely taken over their home and native land. Can you imagine if someone removed your children from you, forced them to abandon their own identities, murdered and abused those around you, and STILL won’t apologise for what they did for fear of lawsuits? If you can’t, it’s because it didn’t happen to you. Modern Indigenous people are still dealing with a theft of cultural identity and over a hundred years of abuse that is still ongoing. Some continue to struggle to find their place in our modern settler’s world, and suffer generational trauma that all success in Canada has been built upon. So if you’re pointing a finger at Indigenous people who are still suffering, you are pointing that finger in the wrong direction.
My evaluation here is superficial and doesn’t even begin to capture the individualized experiences of every Indigenous family’s trauma. I am not an Aboriginal person and my observances come only from listening to them, studying their history in university, and working within their communities in a limited capacity. So I do not speak for them, but if you are willing to listen, they are speaking for themselves. Accusing them of being freeloaders is really a sad and ironic projection of settling culture mindset.