If the atrocities that were committed against the aboriginal peoples of Canada within the nation’s history are not looked back upon then there is a danger of similar occurrences taking place throughout the years to come. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, traditional aboriginal celebrations were made illegal and laws were passed to prevent aborigines from raising money or retaining lawyers to advance claims on land. Up until 1967, many different indigenous Canadian communities were forced to leave their homes and relocate elsewhere (Manitoba Government). Pressure is being placed upon the United Nations to class the mistreatment of the Canadian aborigines as an act of genocide. Former head of aboriginal advocacy group the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine has petitioned the U.N. to officially recognise the discriminative and dehumanizing acts that they were the victims of as genocide, claiming that they qualify for inclusion in the list of official genocides (Greco, Westmacott & Qorane, 2013).
Human rights advocate Bernie Farber (2013) claims that the Canadian government’s lax attitude to spreading diseases to aborigines, which led to widespread deaths, can be equated to genocide. According to Aboriginal cultural liaison officer for Carleton University Mallory Whiteduck (n.d., cited Lorenz, n.d.) reflecting back and studying the treatment of Canadian aborigines during colonization is an important component for helping to create a better future for Indigenous peoples within the nation. Examining this aspect of history can help to make sure that it is never repeated and that no other minorities are treated in this manner throughout the years to come.
Looking back through Canadian history can also help to increase the level to which people understand and appreciate the role that immigrants have had in shaping the country. According to Garnett Picot of Canada’s national statistics agency Statistics Canada (2011), the fact that the immigrants that founded Canada hailed from French and English backgrounds but never developed or pursued a single, nationwide identity is important because it has influenced the levels of cultural and ethnic integration that now exist within Canadian society. McMaster University professor of sociology Vic Satzewich and University of Calgary associate professor of sociology Lloyd Wong (2003) have also pointed out that the constant flow of immigrants throughout Canadian history has contributed significantly to its economy.
This means that by studying the waves of immigration that have come to the nation, Canadians can gain an appreciation of the benefits that immigrants have bestowed upon the nation. Canadian citizens can gain an insight into the ways in which the diverse range of different heritages that comprises the country have helped to make it a better place. There is no doubt that a strong knowledge of the positive contributions that immigrants have made facilitates cohesion and racial harmony, helps to relieve ethnic tension and aids in the creation of a unified Canada. It fosters a culture of acceptance in which every colour and creed is viewed as having made the country better in some way.
Another important benefit of looking back upon the history of Canada is that it can provide an insight into how the North American Free Trade Agreement has benefited the nation and the extent to which it has improved its economic status. The NAFTA came into being in 1994 and is focussed on the elimination of tariffs on products that are traded amongst Mexico, the United States and Canada. According to Mohammed Sergie of the Council on Foreign Relations, Canada gained the greatest advantage of all three nations that are involved in this agreement. However it is hard to say for certain that all of the benefits that have been attributed to NAFTA genuinely do stem from it, as the United States and Canada possessed a free-trade deal predating the signing of the agreement.
Investments in Canada tripled after NAFTA came into being. However without knowledge of the previous deal, no clear picture can be gained as to whether or not this was a situation that was already in the making (Sergie, 2014). The Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement came into play on October 4th 1987 and included tariffs being eliminated and a decrease in many non-tariff barriers (Government of Canada Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, 2013). Without looking into the history of this agreement, NAFTA and the conditions within the nation directly after both agreements were implemented, it would be impossible to ascertain the true extent to which NAFTA benefited the nation.
In conclusion, Canadian history is important for the present and future of the country. Without a clear understanding of the events that have happened throughout the course of the nation’s past, it is impossible to gain a true insight into current events and occurrences that are yet to come. Through studying and attempting to gain a full comprehension of the treatment of Canadian aborigines in the years gone by, further ill treatment of minorities can be avoided. Moral lessons can be learnt that will prevent similar atrocities from being committed in the forthcoming years. Looking back at immigration in Canada can also help to prevent discrimination and prejudice by ensuring that the role that immigrant communities have played in shaping the nation are appreciated. Immigrants have contributed to the integration of the country’s citizens and enhanced its economic status. Finally, Canadian history facilitates knowledge of the ways in which the North American Free Trade Agreement has benefited Canada and the extent to which it has done this. It allows the issue to be examined without confusing the advantages that were brought about by the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement with those of NAFTA. A comprehension of the nation’s past is integral for understanding its present and helping to make decisions that shape its future.
- Farber, B. (2013, October 18). How Canada Committed Genocide Against the First Nations People. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/
- Government of Canada Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (2013). Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement. Retrieved from http://www.international.gc.ca
- Lorenz, D. (n.d.). Why Indigenous Studies Classes Are Even More Important Today. Retrieved from http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2013/02/11/indigenous-studies-c lasses-important-today/