Saturday, November 19, 2005

Native Americans in Quebec.

This is the second part of my series on American Indians. There seems to be much more of a presense of Native Americans here in Quebec. There are reservations all over the place including a couple across the river from the island of Montreal. They are close to the general population and not relegated to Oklahoma. Also travelling around the province, it seems every place has an Indian tourist shop or sell Indian produced items. Every time we visit Quebec City we stop at the Seven Nations Shop. I have flown Air Creebec and half the passengers were American Indian. I have seen their lean-to shacks in the wilderness north of Chibougamau. There they spent the winters hunting caribou. We passed the remains on the roadside. The Indian presense is more than what I had seen stateside.

There is a flip side to this presense and embracing of the culture. If I understand correctly, the Indians are largely supported by the government. From what I hear, there seems to be much resentment about this within the population. I hear second-hand how they live in deplorable conditions, they do nothing, and live off their government checks. They disregard hunting laws that others are required to abide by. Then there is the whole tobacco thing. These same people I hear this from speak in a negative tone when discussing how Jews and Westmount residents take their money. So I'm a bit skeptical of their views.

Again, I would really like to know your thoughts on this topic.

5 comments:

Ant said...

Can't really comment on the racial tension thing but I did notice when I was in Toronto that people took great pains to call "Native Americans", "Native Canadians" (I was corrected a couple of times...)

Is this one of these politically correct sticking points?

Frank said...

That's interesting that they say Native Canadians. That's the first time I heard that. I kept saying American Indians in the post out of habit, not in order to offend or come across as inconsiderate.

Before moving here I thought it was odd that the US monopolized the use of America, but it has been even more so since moving here. That's why I avoid as much as possible writing American in respect for Canadians. Although Canadians have their own designation. Do any Canandians out there find the use of American by people from the US offensive?

I guess it's similar to how the Jewish have monopolized anti-semitic since semitic means those of Arabian tongues.

ra said...

Hi, Frank. When anyone uses the term American I think exclusively of a person or thing from the U.S. So, at first I was a bit confused when you used the term Native Americans when speaking of Canadians. If you had said Native North Americans I would have understood immediatley. Other terms we Canadians use are: First Nations people; aborignal people; and for Native Canadians of the Arctic, Inuit. I like the term First Nations because it recognizes and puts them on par with the two other historical founding "nations" of Canada, the English and the French.

My attitude toward Native Canadians is the same as for any other ethnic group and that is respect. It has been a clash of cultures from first contact between Europeans and Natives that continues to the present and the casualties have been almost exclusively on one side.

To expand further on the word America, I would use the term North America in reference to the continent and never just America. Thus, I would say that in North America we drive on the right hand side of the road. I don't think most Canadians are offended by Americans using the word America because we all understand it to mean or pertain to the U.S.

ra said...

That should be "aboriginal". (Oh, my old eyes).

Anonymous said...

They aren't Indians. Indians are people from India. They are First Nations.