Misconceptions v.s Facts

Everyone has their own opinion place upon Aboriginal people. Some may be bad, some may be good opinions. Here are some misconceptions people have of them:

  • High drop out rate
  • Alcoholism
  • Substance abuse
  • Unemployment
  • Paid by government
  • No taxes
  • Free land
  • Free education
  • Free heath care
  • Better fishing rights
  • Usage of Peace pipe/ marijuana
  • Free Natural resources

Well, some of these are fact and some are false. It is true that First Nations youth have high drop out rate. In 2006, over 60%  of First youth living on-reserve have dropped out of high school. Compared to non-Aboriginals Canadians, only 9.5% dropped out of school. First Nations have a higher rate for substance abuse. The consumption of alcohol is 40% more than the national average. They are also more likely to be employed.  In 2006, the employment rate for Aboriginals of the core working age of 25 to 54 was 66%. As to the non-Aboriginal people, their average was 82%. The rumour about the government paying First Nations are half true and false. The government pays the bands, and the band split the money up, but this money lasts for their entire life. How about no taxes? Well, they need to pay taxes like the rest of the Canadian population. Though the places that they don’t need to pay tax is only on Indian land. Free land is land on the reserves (which is not a lot of land). As for free education, only 25% is eligible for it. They get free health care, but are not allowed to choose who their doctor would be and are assigned.  It is true that they get better fishing rights though.  The Peace pipe is only used by the Plains people, also marijuana is illegal in Canada. Canada has tons of natural resources,  but the Aboriginals are not allowed to take them, they can have the dirt, but not the things under the dirt.

I believe that the reason why people have these biases and misconceptions towards Aboriginal people is because Aboriginal issues have little importance concerning themselves and they simply have little interest in them. In 2005, 55% of Canadians said they had not been exposed to Aboriginal culture within the past year and 2 in 10 Canadians said they had no exposure at all. When Canadians were asked to name what should be the top priority for the Canadian government, only 1% said Aboriginal issues. For me I had negative emotions towards the Aboriginals from past experiences I had with them, but now that I am educated about Aboriginals,I no longer have these misconceptions about them.

Here are some more facts about the Aboriginals:

  • From 1996 to 2006, the Aboriginal population increased 45%, nearly six times faster than 8% growth rate for non-Aboriginal population.
  • If a First Nations person living on-reserve drops out of high school, he or she has a 36% chance of getting a job. But if a non-Aboriginal person drops out and lives anywhere but on-reserve, this person has 59% chance of getting being employed
  • 4% of First Nations people living on-reserve have a university degree, compared to 23% for non-Aboriginal Canadians
  • In 1996, about 63% of First nations youth  living on-reserve aged 20-24 did not have a high school diploma. In 2006, it dropped to 61.1%
  • 1/8 of  Aboriginal children is disabled, double the rate of all children in Canada
  • Among First Nations children, 43% lack basic dental care
  • Almost half of aboriginal children under 15 years old residing in urban areas live with a single parent
  • Overcrowding among First Nations families is double the rate for all Canadian families
  • Close to 100 First Nations communities must boil their water
  • 40% of all off-reserve Aboriginal children live in poverty
  • Aboriginal youth are currently eight times more likely than non-Aboriginal youth to be sent to prison or put in custody
  • First nations communities have diabetes rates 3-5 times higher than the general Canadian population
  • 36% of children in-reserve are obese
  • High school graduates live 9.2 years longer than those who drop out
  • National rate of suicide among Aboriginal youth are estimated to be 5-6 times higher among non-Aboriginal youth

Are Aboriginals Savage?

Many people think of Aboriginals as “savage” ,but in fact they are very much “civilized” as the Europeans. The Aboriginals are conscious of time and they believe in time immemorial. They are very religious and believes that there is a creator, although each group has a different story of how they were created. Their government system and social structure is very complicated. The levels of their government are based on the family, the band or clan, and the nation or tribe. All the groups have rules and laws that apply for them. The Aboriginal people have a lot of technology, like their ways of tools, art, crafts etc. Their arts and culture are very refined; so much can be said about it. The food source is quite stable even if they needed to hunt. There is always food wherever they went and there was no need to fight over food. The Aboriginals didn’t really have a written language, but this is arguable. Even though they did not have a written form, their spoken language is just as great as written because it holds tradition. To say that Aboriginals are savages is not true. Aboriginal people are a great group of people.

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