The Assimilation of Aboriginal People: Living Someone Else’s Story
Everyone has a story. The story of a professor includes being organized, on time and marking assignments. The story of a student is to get good grades, go to class, be responsible, and get a job. For the most part, we as students are stuck in this story. Is it not bizarre that our stories are so similar, seeing as we are all such different people? The problem is that this story is not ours. It is, in fact, written by society. Can someone truly live the way they want if they are, in reality, living a life that is being written by someone else?
Canada also has a story — a story of colonialism. A story of forced assimilation, broken treaties, pain, and inequalities. In Maya Chacaby’s course called Aboriginal People of Canada, we were taught that the people in communities that once occupied the land we now call Canada were celebrated for who they were. Each person had a way and a right to express their talents and specialties. No one was considered abnormal. No one was forced into a story that did not fit their needs or desires. But colonization took away the idea that every single person has a place and a right to their own story; Indigenous peoples were forced into and are still stuck living the same stories as everyone else. Now, Indigenous communities are fighting the expectation that they must live the same story as everyone else. They want to celebrate their differences despite having had their beliefs and cultures suppressed.
We should follow their example. We must look beyond the societal expectations that we are forced to live up to, we must break out of the cultural mold we are told to comply with, and we must live our own stories; ones we are the authors of. In a society that dictates our identities, cultures, and ideas of success, we must fight together in order to get rid of this story. Being forced to assimilate is to be trapped in a story that is not your own. Losing touch of your own identity and culture can be detrimental to your mental health because your entire life can end up feeling like it is not your own. It is important be aware of the cultural norms we are expected to follow in our society. We must also take into account how these expectations affects those living around you. Once we acknowledge that, as a society, we are stuck in a story that does not celebrate the differences amongst us, we can then help others come to terms with their own identities. No one wants to be a character in someone else’s book.