Book Reviews

21 Thing You May Not Know About the Indian Act – bob Joseph

I have learned so many things listening to this book. I would be tempted to rename it An Introduction to The Indian Act.

For instance it was called the Indian Act because when settlers first arrived in North America they thought they were in India (where they had already travelled) so assumed the people they came across were Indian.

It talked through the treatment of indigenous people as colonisation began and continued in Canada; the set up and purpose of residential schools; the eradication of any culture or tradition within indigenous communities and much more.

It’s ultimately about human rights and child welfare.

I am making a concerted effort to educate myself about the colonisation of Canada and dehumanisation of indigenous people who belonged to this land long before it belonged to anybody.

It’s genuinely horrific to hear some quotes from people in charge back in the ~1870s. They talk about “killing the Indian” within people – particularly children, as they sent them to residential schools to remove them from family, and culture. There was no hiding from the language used that they wanted to wipe out indigenous people within a generation and be a purely European colony in the west.

One of the saddest things is the way the colonisers taught children to hate their families and renounce their heritage – even to the point of thinking their indigenous language was evil. They would be beaten and abused if they spoke in their native tongue. Considering that on arrival to the schools they didn’t speak English, that’s not a great place to begin. It also meant when they went home they were afraid to speak their native language so parents were often unaware of the abuse going on in the schools (not that they could have done much if they were fully aware anyway…).

I like that this book talks actively about reconciliation. Starting with the importance of understanding the history and recognising the wrong, then how to move forward giving honour, rights, and recognition to indigenous people. Particularly to have joint rights in government, land ownership and decisions on how land is used.

There is so much more I could say. If you’re interested then I definitely recommend this book. Or researching in other ways. Or messaging me (although I can only talk about what I’ve learnt and my opinion, so am limited 😉).

Medium: audiobook

When: August, 2020

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