The indigenous peoples of Canada are an incredibly important part of the country’s history, culture, identity, and certainly the future. The three main groups of indigenous people are First Nations, Metis, and Inuit. The total aboriginal population is estimated to stand at about 1.4 million.
From a social standpoint, it may seem that Canada is making the necessary moves to care for and incorporate aboriginal Canadians. The real story, unfortunately, is quite different. Despite movements such as attempting to pay back a federal debt to indigenous peoples, there are many serious concerns. Year after year, aboriginal spokespeople are striving to bring attention to several issues facing the indigenous people of Canada. Here is what you need to know about their struggles:
The level of poverty among the indigenous people is quite shocking. Even worse, these high rates of poverty are directly affecting young children. Child welfare programs and other funding have been drastically reduced. This means that children are not getting access to the aid and security that they deserve. Even worse, there seem to be no alternatives that these indigenous individuals can turn to.
A major cause of the poverty, of course, is to do with the lower income and higher rates of unemployment among indigenous individuals. Indigenous individuals, even highly educated ones, face considerably lower wages than their non-aboriginal counterparts. Compared to the rest of Canada, aboriginal people are more likely to face much higher unemployment rates as well. In addition to leaving individuals in poverty, this also increases the likelihood of debt – click here. In order to maintain even the basic standard of living, many indigenous people are faced with the possibility of debt.
An equally shocking issue is the state of healthcare among aboriginal peoples. They receive much less healthcare than the rest of Canada. This is resulting in a spread of diseases that is reaching a frightening level. For instance, the rate of tuberculosis is 26.4 times higher, and a large number of the indigenous population have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. There is also a lack of psychiatric care as well. First Nation youths are almost seven times as likely to commit suicide as non-aboriginal Canadians.
3. Social Justice
Since 1990, there has been an estimated 800 indigenous women who have either been murdered or reported missing. Of this staggering number, only about 400 cases have been actively pursued by Canadian investigative forces. Despite this limited response, a large number of these cases have remained unsolved. In order to improve the overall justice system, there needs to be more urgent action taken towards the criminal acts committed. This is regarding aboriginal women and the community as a whole.
There is also a considerable lack of attention on the poor educational systems faced by indigenous children. Residents in rural areas are facing more and more schools being shut down. The schools that remain standing are already overloaded with children. It is not just the lack of education for aboriginal people. It is also the discrepancy when compared to non-aboriginal Canadians. Non-indigenous individuals have a much higher percentage of individuals who have graduated from secondary school.
5. Native Land Rights
Once more, the indigenous individuals of Canada are fighting for their right to their land. Activities such as fracking and mining are taking a severe toll on the people living on native lands. There are large amounts of lands that have been found to be rich in natural deposits. Now corporations are invading these areas and attempting to use them for their own benefits. The advantages for the aboriginal people, however, remain unclear.
These are just some of the issues that are being faced by the indigenous people of Canada. In order for there to be real change, there needs to be a greater amount of awareness created about the situation. Only then can proper progress be made.