Canada was colonized at the expense of its Aboriginal Peoples. The British started
the forced assimilation and cultural genocide of Aboriginal people in North America
but the federated Dominion of Canada continued the policy after Canada’s 1867 confederation.
Canada’s official policy of forced Aboriginal assimilation started with its first
Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, and used four primary tools to destroy Aboriginal
culture and infrastructure. They were: wardship, the Indian Act, forced relocation
and forced residential schooling. Central in the Government of Canada’s plan was
the utilization of the Christian church. The Canadian Department of Indian Affairs
oversaw Christian mission work and mandated most of the residential school administration
to Christian churches.
In the early 1900’s, as much as 50% of the Aboriginal children forcibly removed from
their parents and communities died each year in the care of Canada’s Indian residential
school system. There are conflicting reports as to when Indian residential schooling
stopped in Canada, but they were all closed by 1996. As a result of forced assimilation
and the Indian Residential school system, Indigenous people died in Canada as a matter
of policy in the care of religious groups. There was no, and will never be an, excuse
for the treatment of Aboriginal people by government in Canada and non-Aboriginal
CAID is about facing the truth, reconciling Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal rights,
and rebuilding what was destroyed; Aboriginal societal infrastructure and a shared
destiny in Canada. This can all be accomplished through a process of meaningful consultation.