Oh Colonization. You had both benefits and problems. The latter cannot be exempted. Being an African in Canada and an African who aims to break down the stereotypes that non-Africans have of my people, I very often fill-in the footprints of colonization. I hardly hesitate to say “Our (Nigeria’s) official language is English”, when a surprised acquaintance or friend tells me that my English is so good. I very often feel the need to have no non-North-American accent in the land of the Westerners. I very often feel the need to speak like the white man. Oh, colonization. I am not the only descendant of a former colony who tends to stick closely to the culture of the colonizers. If you have ever visited Canada, you will know that the culture of its colonizers – the British, still lives on here. It is purposely preserved by the federal government. I do admire it in some cases. I love the historical buildings, I enjoy the designs in-and-out of the pubs. However, there are some negative and worrisome colonial traits that still pervade in my dear Canada. These are with regard to the treatment of First Nations people in Canada.
Their decision to stick with the culture and practices of their ancestors without compromise has long caused them to be treated with less value than non-Aboriginals, in Canada. During colonization, Aboriginals were mandated to totally adjust to the societal systems of the colonizers. Also, Aboriginals were not allowed to pass on their culture under colonial rule. Even now, long after colonization, these individuals earn less than the minimum wage; the rate of employment for Canada’s Indigenous peoples is “about two-thirds of the national level.” Lack of jobs sometimes leads idle hands to get dirty. Aboriginals in Canada have higher rates of alcohol abuse than the national level. Also, the death rate among Aboriginals is “about three times” higher than the national rate. While I have heard that the federal government has issued apologies and offered funds to Aboriginals for the dark history of discriminatory treatments that they have had whilst living on Canadian soil, there is still more work to be done. The cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women are yet to cease. Early this month of May, there was a report that according to the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), over 1000 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal females have been discovered by Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Just when one would have thought that those horrible stories of Aboriginal women being more vulnerable to murder than non-Aboriginals in Canada, had become things of the past. I have mentioned during conversations with friends, my disgust at how Aboriginals are marginalized in a country like Canada that is known and celebrated for having a very diverse population. On some occasions I was replied with: The problem is with their culture. Now that’s the echo of colonization. That’s the trail of the colonizers being followed. No human being should be vulnerable to violence, segregation or discrimination because of his/her race, culture, gender or religion. The federal government of Canada needs to enact strict regulations that protect Aboriginal persons from being victims of violent attack and discrimination. Also, as the government has it’s huge role to play, so do members of the Canadian public. We need to change our mindset. There is no one best way of living. Not the European, African or Asian ways of life. No. Every individual has the right to stick to the culture that best suits him/her without being queried. The mosaic of a multicultural society like Canada is that the different cultures that exist will make the state beautifully unique and more understanding of difference as opposed to homogeneous societies. Rather than believe that Aboriginals should push their cultural heritage aside and dissolve in Canada’s ‘melting-pot’, we should all agree that measures should be put in place to support Aboriginals’ culture in such a way that it is beneficial to them in an all-round way. I look forward to a day when Aboriginals will be treated without discrimination and given equal opportunities to succeed, just like every other Canadian. Last week, I received the petition below via Change.org. Please take a moment to read it and consider signing. Thank you! https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/hon-kellie-leitch-minister-for-the-status-of-women-call-a-public-inquiry-into-hundreds-of-missing-and-murdered-aboriginal-women-like-my-cousin-loretta-saunders?utm_source=action_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=57261&alert_id=wQkThaSAET_LHEtVv70qA1TFdHQ5KvFUZ%2FUTDyEyoxEtpyB7vEaSBY%3D
My Questions For You – How do you think prejudice in society can be curbed? – Do you have other examples of negative effects of colonization that still exist in former colonies?
Love & Peace,