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Canadian National Identity and Indigenous Oppression

Currently writing a paper on Canadian National Identity and its impact on the oppression of Indigenous peoples. Seems pretty fitting for a day like today.

Here’s an excerpt:

Identities have always had a fundamental impact on Indigenous nations. As Miles and Brown note, various European explorations brought back negative representations of the Other serving to define and legitimate the ‘positive’ qualities of the author, the reader, and ultimately, West Europe and their citizens1. Thus, Western-Europeans deemed themselves superior by virtue of their “civilization,” as well as their achievements such as trade and exploration, and used these self-righteous notions of superiority to justify their colonial intrusion in the New World2. As Anthony Hall notes, extension into the New World was justified in the “language of religion,” that Christian rulers had the “authority” to override any rights held by “heathens” regarding their “own persons, governance, and lands”3. Now however, the Canadian national identity and the two dominant myths accompanying that - what I call “Canada as terra nullius” and “Canada as benevolent peacemaker” - serve to “indigenize” and legitimize Settler presence, subsequently delegitimizing Indigenous claims, hindering Indigenous resistance and the accumulation of Settler solidarity.

1Robert Miles and Malcolm Brown, “Representations of the Other,” Identity and Belonging: Rethinking Race and Ethnicity in Canadian Society,23.

2Miles and Brown, Ibid.

3Anthony Hall, The American Empire and the Fourth World,  47.