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Presentation on theme: "POVERTY, EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION: THE LEGACY OF COLONIALISM First Nations Health Forum, Hotel Pur, February 24 to 26."— Presentation transcript:


2 Poverty in the world 1%: percentage of the population that possesses more than half of the world’s wealth 1% The income of 80 of the wealthiest people in the world is equal to that of 3.5 billion of the poorest people…

3 Poverty and inequality: issues of rights The issue of poverty is essentially a human rights issue. Therefore, poverty should be defined as a denial of basic human rights.

4 Continued Charters, at both the national and international levels, have been developed to protect citizens from all forms of systemic and social discrimination. It has been proven that poverty is closely associated with different forms of discrimination.

5 At the national level The Royal Proclamation of 1763 Section 25 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (cultural rights) Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 (ancestral rights and/or treaty rights) Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (Chapter IV)

6 At the international level International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

7 Disparities between First Nations and non- aboriginals

8 The Community Well-being Index (CWI)

9 Canada

10 Community of Opitciwan (n = 1785)1 785)

11 Community of Wemotaci (n = 1075)

12 Community of Manawan (n = 1845)

13 Community of Misipawistick (n = 1140)

14 Municipality of Saint-Séverin (n = 860)

15 Municipality of Saint-Roch-de-Mékinac (n = 325)

16 Food insecurity

17 Continued





22 Why?

23 Government expenditures

24 The weight of history

25 The root of the problem European colonization of North America  From independence to dependence: the fur trade  The decline of the fur trade  The end of strategic alliances Imposition of the Indian Act: racism and structural discrimination  The “Indian problem” and the solution: assimilation  Integrate Aboriginal peoples into the new economic and political order: alliance between the State, capital and clergy  Cheap labour for agriculture and the natural resources industry?  A series of amendments to the Indian Act: the example of 1911

26 Continued “Kill the Indian in the child ”  Settlement and Christianization: the development of reserves and Indian residential schools Political and cultural incarceration  The notion of “inferior” peoples  Geographic boundaries: the creation of reserves  Social and economic exclusion: limited access to resources  Political exclusion: denial of the right of self-determination

27 Attempts at assimilation The objective of assimilating Aboriginal peoples was far from hidden. “Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole objet of this Bill” - 1920, Duncan Campbell Scott, Deputy Superintendant of Indian Affairs from 1913 to 1932 (concerning the amendment to the Indian Act).

28 Parallel between Apartheid and the reserve system  Apartheid (Afrikaans word meaning “separation or apartness”) was a policy of segregated development that affected populations based on racial or ethnic criteria in defined geographic areas. With apartheid, territorial connection and social status depended on the racial status of the individual.  The concept of apartheid involved the political, economic and geographic division of the territory of South Africa and its population broken down into a hierarchy of four distinct racial groups. The black population of South Africa was confined to limited geographic enclaves known as Bantoustans.

29 A prelude to the White Paper? “Indian reserves in territories under the jurisdiction of provincial governments constituted solitary splendours where isolated groups lived, subjected to federal government jurisdiction. The solitary splendour of their isolation was geographic, economic, political and cultural, and the special legal regime based on the Indian Act reinforced this isolation.” [unofficial translation] - Hawthorn- Tremblay - A Survey of Contemporary Indians of Canada, 1967.

30 1969 White Paper In 1969, the federal government published the Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy. The goal of the federal government was to address discrimination towards First Nations by absorbing them into the body politic of Canada. For First Nations, it was another policy aimed at their assimilation. The paper recommended: The abolition of reserves and the status of “Indian” The administrative takeover of communities by the provinces

31 From self-sufficiency to dependence: some examples The Naskapi, people of the caribou: the undesirable consequences of the fur trade Exclusive-rights areas of the North Shore The famine of Ekuanitshit (Mingan) (1873) The Malecite of Viger Aboriginal farmers of Western Canada Illegal cultural practices (potlach) Beaver reserves: restrictions on this right Development of the Gouin Reservoir (La Loutre Dam) (1914)

32 Exclusive-rights areas of the North Shore: examples The appropriation of salmon rivers and the establishment of exclusive-rights areas: Mishtashipu (Moisie River) Mingan River

33 Development of the Mauricie region in the 19 th and 20 th centuries Logging operations in the region Massive influx of Anglo-Saxon capital Emergence of private clubs Construction of the railway Waterpower development

34 In 1911, the Hudson’s Bay Company abandoned its post in Kikendash and rebuilt it in Opitciwan. Difficult beginnings: flu and measles epidemics In 1914, the Quebec Streams Commission enters Nitaksinan and begins preliminary work to built the La Loutre Dam.

35 Continued In 1915, the Fraser Brace Company began to build the dam: The Atikamekw were not informed, consulted or compensated for work that would transform their ancestral lands forever. The dam was completed in December 1917. Rising waters forced the displacement of the Atikamekw once again because of the flooding of Opitciwan. Promises regarding reconstruction would be broken many times.

36 Continued The construction of the dam and flooding of the land deprived the Atikamekw of their resources: Banks along the reservoir were inaccessible. Navigation was dangerous. Water pollution was significant and aquatic wildlife threatened. The work also had a negative impact on the fur trade, trapping and hunting. More than 20 years would go by before the issue of hunting territories was resolved.

37 La Loutre Dam

38 Continued


40 Log drive on the St-Maurice

41 Discrimination today:  Reports by the Auditor General of Canada Housing on reserves (2003) Drinking water in First Nations communities (2005) Management of programs intended for First Nations (2006) First Nations child and family services (2008) Land management and environmental protection (2009) Programs for First Nations on reserves (2011)

42 Continued  United Nations reports Visit by Miloon Khotari, UN Special Rapporteur, on housing (2007) Visit by Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur, on the right to food (2012) Visit by James Anaya, UN Special Envoy, on the rights of indigenous peoples (2013)

43 Tools to address the problem

44 Community development Community development approach Carry out WITH members of communities: mobilization and consultation projects Solidarity alliance between the MESS and the FNQLHSSC First-line services Agreement with Avenir d’enfants and the FNQLHSSC FNQLEDC pilot project on community action Development of a social economy Partnerships with national organizations Development within regions (MRC, etc.) Action research project on poverty

45 Mekwetc! Thank you!

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