By Alan C. Cairns
In Citizens Plus, Alan Cairns unravels the old list to explain the present deadlock in negotiations among Aboriginal peoples and the nation. He considers the assimilationist coverage assumptions of the imperial period, examines newer executive projects, and analyzes the emergence of the nation-to-nation paradigm given huge aid via the Royal fee on Aboriginal Peoples. Citizens Plus stakes out a center floor with its aid for constitutional and institutional preparations that might at the same time realize Aboriginal distinction and strengthen universal citizenship.
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Accordingly, this chapter will focus primarily on the status Indian peoples. They were, par excellence, the targets of the oﬃcial assimilation policy. To use “assimilation” as a container for a century or more of government policy toward Indians strikes one observer as a contribution to 47 confusion. To do so, according to Michael Posluns, is to make “assimilation” an “all-encompassing” term that huddles disparate meanings and policies under its too capacious rubric.
First, the traditional beliefs that either Aboriginal peoples would die out or they would merge into and disappear in the majority population lost credibility. The Aboriginal population is now growing rapidly. Further, the growth in numbers is accompanied by a reinvigorated Aboriginal self-consciousness, a reassertion of cultural pride, and a desire to use governing powers to revitalize cultures that have been under sustained attack. Second, by themselves, these domestic developments could not have brought us to where we now are without the support oﬀered by the 40 Citizens Plus international environment.
66 The domestic Canadian version of a form of empire over Aboriginal peoples lacked the pomp and ceremony of the British raj, or the statusenhancing experience of a handful of oﬃcials ruling over millions in tropical Africa, Ceylon, or the Dutch East Indies. Nevertheless, we sent missionaries to Christianize, anthropologists to analyze, and Indian agents – our version of district oﬃcers – to administer. Indian children were taught wounding versions of history;67 sacred practices and revered customs were forbidden or mocked; the use of Aboriginal languages was discouraged; customary forms of governance were bypassed; traditional healing arts were displaced; and treaties were accorded lesser signiﬁcance by governments than by the descendants of the Indian leaders who had signed them.