The process of reconciliation between First Nations and Europeans is complex and quite lasting. A lot of effort has been made to make these two groups find some common ground and truly become one nation. However, it is clear that this goal is yet to be reached. Education is seen as one of the platforms for this reconciliation, and some higher educational establishments have already introduced mandatory Indigenous studies courses to fill in the gap (Monkman par. 5).
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At the same time, it is obvious that some students are not happy about such innovations (Dehaas par. 4). It is important to consider a number of important aspects to understand whether a university (such as Carleton University) should introduce such a mandatory course.
It has been acknowledged that First Nations peoples have been discriminated for many decades and even centuries. Of course, there have been various regulations, laws, and incentives (as well as treaties) to secure human and other rights of Aboriginal Canadians (Harrison and Friesen 185).
Nonetheless, the two groups are still divided. It is also clear that First Nations peoples have fewer opportunities and are more prone to engaging in criminal activity due to the lack of educational and employment opportunities. Furthermore, Aboriginal people suffer from significant trauma associated with racism, exclusion, and neglect (Bombay, Matheson, and Anisman 14). There is still a considerable gap between the two groups.
It is necessary to note that this gap has been created by people who had quite good intentions. An example of such factors contributing to the development of the gap is the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (Freeman par. 6). The document was aimed at developing a path for two groups (First Nations people and Europeans) to coexist and interact properly (Woodward par. 5). However, it had quite a reverse effect as the two groups were divided by different territories and rights. The fact that Indigenous people were treated as another group as opposed to the new society contributed to the increase in the divide. People were made to behave in particular ways (hunt, make agreements, treat cultures), which could hardly lead to the nation’s creation.
The introduction of mandatory courses is quite similar to the Royal Proclamation of 1763. People will feel the gap between the two nations, and both groups will have their arguments against close cooperation. Aboriginal Canadians will hardly benefit from the course as people’s awareness is quite sufficient since the focus on the history of Indigenous peoples of Canada is one of the peculiarities of Canadian K-12 education (Dehaas par. 15).
Other ethnic groups will also be dissatisfied with such decisions as they also feel (and often are) discriminated against. Canadians of European descent will feel weary of those issues discussed during classes. Thus, all the groups will feel dissatisfied, and the course will not lead to the creation of jobs or educational opportunities for Aboriginal Canadians. It will be much more useful for Carleton University to provide more scholarships to these people and launch various events where different groups will interact and develop proper relationships.
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In conclusion, it is necessary to note that mandatory Indigenous Studies courses at any university are bad. Such a decision may contribute to the development of the gap between different ethnic groups in Canadian society. It is better to try to eliminate racism and inequality through other incentives that will create new jobs, new opportunities, new (business and cultural) relations. Raising people’s awareness is somewhat redundant as the issue has significant coverage within the scope of K-12 education.
Bombay, Amy, Kim Matheson, and Hymie Anisman. “Intergenerational Trauma: Convergence of Multiple Processes Among First Nations Peoples in Canada.” Journal of Aboriginal Health 5.3 (2009): 6-47. Print.
Dehaas, Josh. Why Indigenous Studies Shouldn’t Be Mandatory. 2012. Web.
Freeman, Victoria. The Royal Proclamation and Colonial Hocus-Pocus: A Learned Treatise. 2013. Web.
Harrison, Trevor W., and John W. Friesen. Canadian Society in the Twenty-First Century: An Historical Sociological Approach, Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2010. Print.
Monkman, Lenard. “High Hopes for Mandatory Indigenous Courses Set to Start at U of W.” CBC News, 2016. Web.
Woodward, Jack. “Jack Woodward: The Real Anniversary of Canada’s Founding.” National Post, 2013. Web.