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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
Stories
Introduction
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)

 
Have your say: Reader responses

November 7, 2001

Below are the responses of globeandmail.com visitors to the following question:

"Do you think natives should have a special status, or should all Canadians, native or not, have the same rights?"

To contribute your thoughts, please go to the main have your say page.

Most aboriginal people want to experience what this great country has to share. However, until there are equitable programs and services in place to make this happen, both forms of special status will continue - the limited tax exemptions and the second-class citizenship. I do believe that Canada reflects a form of apartheid, but one that is so subtle that many of us are appalled to even consider it apartheid. How can the nice Canadians be accused of such a horrible crime. Look back at out history and see it perpetuated today! Nora G.
Barry McGrory

I have had the chance to read most of the articles to date. I will reserve my judgement until I've had the chance to read all 14 installments. As for the question posed to the Globe's readers, I would have to say I'm appalled by some of the comments so far. A number of comments stress that Aboriginal people shouldn't have so called "special rights" and that they should be assimilated into society. One individual even went so far as to suggest that residential schools are a good idea. These people should take some time and actually study the history of this country. The plight that Aboriginal people are faced with today is precisely because of our government's historical assimilationist policies. I guess we should just ask everyone to forget their cultural and ethnic identity. I guess were just suppose to forget that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms exists. Is that what being Canadian really means? I guess, at least from a number of the comments, were just suppose to ask Aboriginal people forget the many thousands of lives that have been destroyed by the government's "Indian" policies. I assure you, no amount of "special rights" can ever compensate for this loss. In order to break the cycle of despair and ensure real change for Aboriginal people all Canadians must learn to respect the past, respect the present, and respect the future.
R. Kahgee

I think we all need to think about what being "treated equally" means. In Canada, some people are more equal than others. As a white, middle class, male, I realize that I am one of those that is more equal than most. The reason certain groups of people have special status in Canada, Aboriginal peoples, women, visible minorities and disabled peoples, is to level the playing field. We may believe that racism and discrimination does not exist in Canada when to comes to hiring practices and so on, but it is alive and well. Once the citizens of Canada and the government of Canada begin to treat everyone the same, regardless of skin color, then we can begin a discussion of ending "special status" for Aboriginal peoples.
Peter D.

It seems like a stupid question considering Canadians and Aboriginals do have different rights. It's a piece of paper called a treaty. Now if you want to you can just ignore the fact that these documents were written by our forefathers. But then again you may just want to stick your head in the sand and say that Canada has no history and that we should start from scratch. Yes scratch out the history that this country has and forget that the government has slowly and methodically raped it's First Nations for everything including trying to eliminate the culture.
Darwin Gardypie

Non-natives are the ones discriminated against in jobs, taxes, education, health care, hunting, fishing and social assistance, many rights that I can't partake in. I believe in one people one nation with all having the same rights. And no it's not impossible it would just take some serious conviction on the part of the government to stop treating the native population with a caretaker attitude.
Hans

All Canadians are not equal. They can go on about First Nations and Natives having special rights but ignore the language problems facing Quebec and if they have special rights. Is Stackhouse afraid to talk about that subject? Yes, I believe Natives should have special status.
Len Gray

Natives should have special status but it should focus on education (at all levels). If this was the concentration, affirmative action, health care, and other special status rights may not be all that necessary.
LC

Apartheid is first and foremost racism and just like South Africa, Canada's racism doesn't target just First Nation's people. The question of special status is a valid one, but I believe the discussion should centre on how to eradicate this underlying racism. It's not just found in private conversations but institutionalized too (i.e. police instructing immigrant targets of racist slurs and threats to "move to a new place" or jokes about certain races' ability to drive.) Racism is insidious, especially in a country that prides itself in being a "world-leader" in human rights. Deal with that, and you might find the special status question just got resolved.
Bruce

This is a good article because it brings the very important issue to light about apartheid. Canada is a very strange country in that it takes care of its newcomers first, providing they pay. Yet there is absolutely no respect for First Nations people. An example is the Oka crisis. Of course natives should have a special status in our society, in fact they should have a status period because right now they don't have anything, and in fairness to mention, they don't ask for anything.
Pierre

All Canadians should have the same rights and be required to pay the same taxes. No group should have special status or be exempt from paying taxes.
P. Halayka

In reality there are lots of aboriginal people who have kept their heritage, but have also gained higher degrees such as MD or MBA and are making a success in mainstream Canada. Some of them are working on reserve, some in the HQs of Canada's multinational corporations. They did not get their qualifications or their jobs by being aboriginal; they got them and keep them by hard work. I am not suggesting that the situations on some reserves cannot be improved, but unless a balanced story is written that lets Canadians know that there are as many successes as problems the only effect is to give the public an inaccurate view that prejudices them against aboriginal people.
Grag Hancock

All of Canada's people must realize we have to look forward to progress. Look at what Canada's experience with First Nation pre-occupation has got us; 1) Decades of wasted taxpayer money. 2) Decades of unrealistic hope, land claims will solve all ills. 3) Decades of making a whole ethic group dependant on government assistance. 4) Decades of making all other ethic groups feel guilty for something they never did. 5) Decades of reverse discrimination. And in the end the First Nations now says it isn't ready for self government! Be realistic, this was a disaster from day one. Why does no one speak the truth?
Brian Owens

Interesting article! Natives have already a special status being Indian. They should merge with the general population, just as immigrants do and keep up their traditions. Right now they are looking too much into the rearview mirror all the time, talking about whaling, hunting, fishing, getting land back. This sounds depressing to anybody.
Jan H.

This will go on forever, we need to say no more money, same status, same rights. Looks like they will milk this issue for another 100 years. We have done as much as we can for these people it's time to cut them off.
Mark

People who complain that "all Canadians should have the same rights" must consider that our whole economic system (and its staggering prosperity) is based on the idea that a deal is a deal, end of story. This country made a series of deals with the natives. Is a deal a deal or not?
Geoff Berner
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