Shallow Thoughts on Aboriginal Culture

So yeah, maybe my thoughts were shallow. But at that time, it’s simply the first thing that I thought at that time.   When our school first broadcasted the land acknowledgement, my reaction was: Yay. Now I’ve got a few extra seconds to get to class!

Shallow. I know.

After reflecting for a while,  I began to understand something. I was like the vast majority of other students.  I might know why we say the land acknowledgement, but I didn’t care nor did I truly believe it. It’s hard to care about something without knowing anything about it.

I now invite you to accompany me on my journey of discovery. Today’s big question: Why is Aboriginal culture vital to Canadian culture?”

At first glance, this question could be argued both ways. Those who think that the Aboriginal culture is ancient and outdated. And what I imagine the vast majority who say that First Nations culture is important but when asked can only come up with one reason: It’s their right.

Yes, it is their right. But this is equivalent to telling kids that they should eat vegetables just because. It’s difficult for a child to eat vegetables without giving them a reason, a very valid one at that.

Not that I am comparing First Nations to vegetables and the rest of Canadians to petulant children (although that is indeed what I’m doing), but the situation has too many parallels to make me comfortable.

It’s surprising to know how many resources could be made available to me just by asking. Mr. Lezetc, a Law and Aboriginals Studies teacher at J. Clarke Richardson, is an individual who is not only passionate about this issue, but very knowledgeable as well. It was no surprise that he held many of the answers I was looking for.

What have we learned from Aboriginal culture?  (Fun fact: I had to rephrase this question from the original, “What can we learn from Aboriginal culture?” which only betrays my lack of understanding.)

Because we have learned. Past tense. Canada, a country has just celebrated its 150th year whereas civilization has existed in Canada for over 35 000 years. This disparity must be noted because we have adopted some important things from the Aboriginals.

The idea of democracy belonged to the Aboriginals, their Six Nations was truly something that we have adopted throughout the years. Before this, the styles of government that were used by the Europeans were all monarchies. It seems almost ironic that one of the things that Canadians pride ourselves on is something taken from the First Nations.

Even just human rights, womens’ rights to be exact. Just the fact that matriarchy existed hundreds of years before women were even recognized as persons gives us idea of how much we have to learn from the Aboriginal culture. If we have learned from the Aboriginals, how is it possible that we could consider them as a culture that we cannot learn from.

Thus concludes the first question. The next big question: What do the Aboriginals remember have that we have forgotten?