Totem pole, Vancouver, Canada
After journeying through this exploration of the connection between colonialism and present day issues experienced by Indigenous peoples in Australia and Canada, here are some questions to reflect upon as to further your own critical thinking about this subject.
- While this website explored the impact of colonialism on the Indigenous children that were removed from their communities, it should also be acknowledged that the Indigenous families and communities that these children were taken from were also severely affected as they were essentially robbed of their children. How might the parents, families and communities that these children belonged to have been impacted by their removals? How might this connect to the current social and health issues discussed?
- Indigenous children in Australia and Canada were taught to be ashamed of their culture and suffered great loss of identity during colonialism (Bombay, Matheson & Anisman, 2009, p.14). It can be said that an individual’s confidence in their own capacities and identities is actually highly dependent on their understanding of the relationship between themself and their culture (Lynch, 2001, p.510). Reflecting then upon your own life, how would you describe your own relationship to your culture? How important do you feel your culture is to your identity as an individual? And how would you feel if you were no longer allowed to identify with your own culture?
- While intergenerational trauma and attachment issues rooted in the colonialism periods may heavily contribute to the current issues experienced in Indigenous populations, these factors should not be readily dissociated from harmful or traumatic experiences that are faced by subsequent generations of Indigenous peoples, such as systemic racism and oppression (Bombay, Matheson & Anisman, 2009, p.13). How might the effects of trauma from the past and from the present interact or combine to shape the current issues faced by Indigenous peoples? How might present-day harmful experiences impact people’s experiences of intergenerational trauma and their understandings of their family’s or community’s past experiences of trauma?
- It can be argued that the current issues faced by Indigenous peoples combined with discrimination may be persistent reminders of the traumas endured during colonialism or even a continuation of those past traumas (Bombay, Matheson & Anisman, 2009, p.7). What are your thoughts on such an argument? How does such an argument influence your understanding of the prominent current issues experienced in Indigenous populations?
- This website is intended to be useful as an informational resource to help further awareness about Indigenous peoples’ experiences. How might greater knowledge, awareness and understanding help to address issues of discrimination, racism and oppression? What role might education play? What are some other approaches you might take?
- While the colonialist objective of attempting to essentially erase Indigenous cultures has yielded immensely destructive consequences, Indigenous peoples in Canada and Australia are not just surviving but are demonstrating incredible resiliency. For example, many Indigenous people are currently striving to make their concerns heard, such as with the Idle No More movement in Canada. How can you help support Indigenous peoples in making their voices and concerns heard? What role does awareness play?
- While this website has focused on the transmission of trauma stemming from the forced removal of Indigenous children, the removal of these children simultaneously stole away the opportunities for Indigenous peoples to transmit their parenting knowledge and skills as well as their community values and behaviours to their subsequent children (Ringel, 2005, p.42). How might the inability to pass on these assets contribute to the current health and social issues experienced in Indigenous populations? How does this tie in with intergenerational trauma and attachment?
- Canada’s official policy of multiculturalism claims to seek to “ensure equal access and full participation for all citizens in the social, political, and economic opportunities spheres” while assisting “cultural groups to overcome barriers to their full participation” by removing discriminatory barriers and eradicating racism (Dewing, 2009, pp.4, 6). And according to Australia’s official multiculturalism policy, “cultural diversity for all Australians” is to be valued while a commitment to “a just, inclusive and socially cohesive society where everyone can participate in the opportunities that Australia offers” is maintained (Australian Government, 2012). As a member of an officially multicultural society such as in Canada or Australia, how do you feel about the disproportionate prevalence of multiple health and social issues amongst your Indigenous counterparts? To what degree do you feel multiculturalism policy has served its objectives when it comes to Indigenous peoples in these countries? What steps might be taken to satisfy such objectives?