July 19th, 2018

Education is key to reconciliation efforts

By Letter to the Editor on April 4, 2018.

A recent survey found that less than half of Canadians believe they have a collective responsibility to make reparations for past injustices towards Canadian Indigenous peoples. I believe this survey accurately reflects Hatters’ attitudes on the issue. Many do not believe current generations should be punished for past governmental action and are upset that their taxes are being used to fund Indigenous programs.

Public knowledge about Indigenous peoples’ history is relatively low, so this view is fathomable. Many do not realize that the last residential school closed in 1996, that land claims spouting from miscommunication during treaty signing are still ongoing, or that the reserve system continues to oppress band sovereignty. Individuals fail to recognize this as an ongoing issue.

Additionally, there is a lack of knowledge about what supports they get. Those who complain about their taxes going to reserves probably do not know that the average funding for an indigenous student is significantly lower than it is for off-reserve students. Or that due to the remoteness and subpar quality of land that the government established reserves on, it is difficult for bands to establish industry to support themselves. This means subsidization to combat this exogenous factor is sometimes necessary.

This isn’t meant to paint Canada’s Indigenous population as weak or helpless, they have endured, and will continue to thrive into the future. Rather, it is a reminder to educate ourselves about these issues before we make judgments and turn our backs on our part in reconciliation efforts.

Jade Nicoll

Medicine Hat

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