3. MISCONCEPTIONS: Indigenous peoples are responsible for their current situation.
The Facts: Many factors have contributed to the situation of Indigenous peoples in Canada
- Prior to European contact, Indigenous communities were strong and self-sufficient. While many Indigenous peoples were never conquered, the process of colonization resulted in their complete loss of control over their lives. For example:
- According to article 32 (1) of the Indian Act no band or band member could sell anything to anyone other than another band member without approval in writing from the superintendent.
- The Pass system, which was not repealed until 1941, required written permission from the Indian agent for a person to leave a reserve, to fish, hunt, sell their crops, get married, etc. The pass indicated why they were allowed to be absent, for how long and whether or not they could carry a gun.
- Policies of displacement and assimilation (for example residential schools and banning of potlatch) deprived Indigenous peoples of their traditional, social, spiritual, economic, and political powers.