Canada: 150 years of oppression

“To Canada, talk is the cheapest commodity in the whole world.”


July 1 was Canada’s 150th birthday, 150 years of disaster for indigenous peoples, 150 years of being discriminated against, marginalized, and put down.

I’ve always advocated that the “Indian Act” was the most discriminatory piece of legislation ever passed by Canada and to top it all off, it is still relevant today! Mr. Justin Trudeau (prime minister of Canada), recently changed the name Aboriginal Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. We have gone from being called Indians to aboriginal peoples to indigenous peoples, but the name of the Indian Act remains the same. Under the Canadian constitution, we are all supposed to be equal, but that equality is taken away under the “Indian Act.” The “Indian Act” needs to be changed to the Indigenous Peoples Act and be rewritten with input from the people it will affect the most, the Indigenous peoples.

I am not an Indian, I am Haida, and the Haida people have used, occupied and owned (and still own) Haida Gwaii for approximately 15,000 years. Canada has been here for 150.

When I trace my ancestry, it comes right back to Haida Gwaii. The only people in Canada who are not immigrants or refugees are Indigenous peoples. When I was a young man, immigrants were called Displaced People (DP’s).There is no parallel between indigenous values and the values advocated by Canada. Canada treats our lands and resources so callously because Canada knows they don’t own the lands called Canada.

Canada did not discover an empty land, Canada didn’t defeat us in war, nor did they treaty with us. My Canadian citizenship has been imposed on me.

I heard recently that Justin Trudeau (prime minister of Canada) withdrew $2 billion from the Canadian pension and gave it to Mumbai. That $2 billion would have remediated a lot of concerns and problems in Canada.

If Canada put the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the “Indian Act” on the table, the “Indian Act” would become null and void.

To Canada, talk is the cheapest commodity in the whole world. Action speaks louder than words.

Gary P. Russ