Genocide, Assimilation or Incorporation?

by August 31, 2009

Dr. Bonita Lawrence explores institutionalized racism, cultural genocide, and the history of aboriginal policy in Canada. Highly recommended viewing.

Dr. Bonita Lawrence (Mi’kmaw) is an Associate Professor at York University, where she teaches Native studies and anti-racism. She is the author of "Real" Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native People and Indigenous Nationhood (University of Nebraska Press and UBC Press, 2004), and co-editor (with Kim Anderson) of a collection of Native women’s scholarly and activist writing entitled Strong Women’s Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival (Toronto, Sumach Press, 2003).

On October 25, 2008, Dr. Lawrence took part in the 7th Annual New College Conference on Racism & National Consciousness, where she spoke for one full hour on "Genocide, Assimilation, or Incorporation: Indigenous Identity and Modes of Resistance."

In her talk, Dr. Lawrence explores "aboriginal policy", the historical framework through which Canada has sought to erase the identity of Indigenous people, by systematically breaking down their cultures, belief systems, community and family structures, and their governments---in many cases, at the barrel of a gun.

She hones in on three specific occurrences in the 19th century for causing the most damage.

First was Canada's refusal to deal with Indigenous confederacies. Instead, the government singled out individual villages, around 620 altogether---which allowed the govenrment to politically, socially and economically segregate everyone across the land.

Then came the banishment of Ceremony and the removal of strong Leaders, all of whom were over time replaced with "Christian converts" and individuals willing to represent Canada's short- and long-term interests.

Finally, there was the political, social, and cultural disempowerment of Indigenous Women---and the forced assimilation of children---which allowed for the erosion and replacement of the fabric of indigenous identity.

While these "keystone" events have past, Indigenous communities are still struggling with their consequences. Indeed, many indigenous people still aren't even sure who they are.

Meanwhile, the historical policy continues. Lately it's taken the shape of private home ownership on treaty lands, a scheme that will inevitably and openly break treaty lands apart---lot by lot, as banks foreclose because a single mother can't pay her mortgage (then the house is sold to a... white family), and so on.

The policy has also been focusing on holding Band Councils to account under the Canadian constitution. While these seems like a rational thing to do, this scheme similarly helps to breakdown Indigenous society in Canada. It's the advancement of Canada's historical effort for absolute control over indigenous communities. It's like putting a dog on a chain, so the Canadian thinking goes. As long as the government has a stick hanging over his head, it's only a matter of time before he does what he is told.

This is where resistance comes in---however, not the kind where you hold a banner for a couple hours and then hope for the best.

The resistance here comes in the form of a process of "removal, replacement and growth." It is an organic process, which means it's one that we carry out at our own pace and in our own way as members of our own community.

The process involves the restoration of Community; the revitalization of Ceremony, Language, and Culture; the empowerment of Women and Men;, the reclamation and protection of the Land; and, finally, the abolishment of colonial interference (the laws, beliefs and institutions that do not serve, help or strengthen us.)

This is all easier said than done, but that makes it all the more necessary. If we do not carry forward such a process, then in no time at all, perhaps 3 generations from today, "the Canadian Dream" will become our everyday life.

There will be no Indigenous People in Canada.

  • Windtalker
    August 31, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    What is the most important issue at this time is to start doing our ceramony's again to start turning to our power again the governments of the world know this and know the importance of merging the modern with our ancient medicine ways to work together could save billions of lives could save man from extinction from his own greed and ignorance to our ways.If the governments of the world do not work with our tribal people all will be lost and this they know.Many of these sins to our people were done in the past. But to move forward to a prosperious future for the human race,not only must they embrace our belief systems but we must embrace their ways,modern ways so to speak it is difficult this i know personally what with all the abuse,racism and arggorance.I have personally been testing these governments to see how serious they are about saving their own necks and that of their children.But i have been greatly disappointed of late.But in the recent past i seen and felt that they were trying.I have a saying mercy for mercy pertaining to the treatment of our peoples and our sacred sites worldwide,but as you can tell their is little mercy being given to such people as leonard Peltier to some of our sacred sites to the mountains and sacred waters all the way to our medicine creatures like the wolves bears and whales.and for that mother nature and our ancestors have shown little mercy on man and his infrastructure for these insults.I hoped and prayed that they were serious about truly wishing to work with us treating us with respect and compassion and understanding.I worry for the future the way things are going but their is groups that are in the governments that wish to weed out the population and i feel that is partly why they have turned back to their old ways also greed.They do not wish to work with our people who wish to protect the lands and waters from corporations and government industry they don't seem to want to work with the earth threw her repersentitives like myself and other medicine peoples among us.We might try again to work with them to save mankind from extinction but if they do not try harder expect powerful storm systems,earthquakes and other powerful means to affect this world.We will try AGAIN but if they don't try harder prepare for a rough targeted ride.
    Peace and love!!


  • anne
    August 31, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    The speech on: "Genocide, Assimilation or Incorportion" is the bell ringer for all First Nations people. We have to come together as a people with one voice and one cry. We have to change how the governments treat us. I am in the field of child protection and see on a daily basis, the erosion of the aboriginal family and the interconnectedness of the parent and the child. We are raising our aboriginal children separate from their families - losing their language, culture and sense of family. We are repeating the "residential school trauma".
    We need the strong leaders of Bands, Councils, governments, etc. to start speaking out on what is happening. They need to start paying attention to the children and do not put all of their energy and resources into mining, exploration, etc. Those will be there for harvesting for many years to come. Once we lose our culture and language, we lose our souls.
    I admire the strong aboriginal women who stand up and speak. We need to continue this struggle and if we put children first, we cannot lose. Mahsi.


  • Shadowwolf
    September 2, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    The children are the future creators if mankind survives what is to come,they should be loved and nourished with not only love and nurturing but wisdom and compassion and understanding.i too feel that our little ones should stay among their kin among their own kind.I hope and pray that these child protection agencies see the absolute importance of keeping the children with their own.It is truly sad what we have done here and we must not teach our children,our mistakes but our successes.


  • marg alexander
    December 29, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    The video doesn't seem to be working.


  • December 29, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Seems to be working OK for me. Could you give it another try, Marg: Just press play and let it sit for a minute or two. The video is hosted by, so it can be a little slow to load. (I hope you can get it working, this is an excellent talk.)


  • Too Muts Whiteman Too Mutts Cholders
    March 2, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Karma always evens the playing field where man is inhumane to man. I know first hand what inhumanity is. It crosses all racial barriers. All cultural mileus. All spiritual practices. All politics and govts. Man is by nature inhumane. Selfish and vindictive. Greedy and petty. Lazy and dangerously ignorant.. Ungrateful, shallow and deluded. Avariscious. Racist, hating, manipulating and fascistic. Grandios and perverted. Judgemental and irresponsible.
    Man will reap the harvest of his diseased existance. All man. Red, White, Yellow, Black, Mullauto, Half Breeds, Quarter Breeds, Full blooded although deluded Purists. Even lil bit Mongrels like me, still and last treaty indin in my familial line. I came to realise that i would rather cut my own throat then live among any peoples, of any origins. Unfortunateloy I can not any more live in our forests. This latest regime in power has separated us from our Mother. Harasses us when we try to be with her and heal our selves. Makes laws against us to discourage our ways and happiness. They deny us our spiritual retreats and slyly refer to areas set aside for that. Places we must pay to camp in. Ignore our treaties. Fascists with good jobs, small brains no hearts..imbeciles.
    I didnt start out hating. Fearing. Loathing my people. Being everyone, that encompasses all peoples. A true blue Canadian I am. I am everyone. We dogs of multiracial ascendancies. All of us are guilty of these crimes against our fellows. Ingraciousness infests all humanities. Mankid has a disease called insanity. We drive each other mad and hate and fear grows. We See our pristine nations now filthy and polluted. We smell the toxins in our once clear clean environment. We develope sores and diseases from all the "progress" and "modernity". All the greed and ill considered pillaging going on all over this dying planet. We split hairs and play semantics with words to throw off the understanding of the real issues, Corporate Media owned by the pathological maniacs rushing to create their NA Unions and One world Goverments. Maniaics with beautific eyes and empty words to get elected or remain behind the closed doors of high towers soon to crash down by their ownhands to facilitate another war or martial law and more oppression and controls..more greed..more filth more death. more hate.
    Im an old man, not ancient but aged enough to have watched not unprotesting while the "superior over classes" enslaving us rape this continent, entire panet, without conscience. I see the hypocracy. I feel the contempt. Its a life time of experience and abuse. By all humanity. By my red relations so upitty and resentful of all who are not like them. Each racial group plays this game well. Haters. Blamers.Shamers. Bullies. Brutalising monsters all, every hue. Rainbow bastards kicking each others dogs.
    Mankind does not deserve to have this world any more. We know evil or madness, the same disease, different mentality doing the labelling.
    Religions of destructiveness and oppressiveness. Mass murdering maniacs loosed upon this world. Millions starve. Millions murdered. Millions thirsting. Millions left in ignorant misery by the few, who pillage our mother earth for their own egomanical pleasures. Excess. Consuming her, defiling our planet. Pointing dirty nailed fingers at each other, sneering around and pitching stones, wallowing in self pity, or ego intoxication.
    Talk talk talk. Promises never kept nor even meant at all. Just playing word games.
    Screwing each other faster than the eye can see. I have no pity for mankind any more, no compassion. I welcome our demise. I hope we all choke to death on this invisible pollution no one sees driving their penis replacements and hopefully die long painful screaming deaths.
    I hope the Earth cracks apart and devours every living beast on it. A life time fighting this regime of regimes. Betrayals too numerous to count any more. Takers grab all they can of theirs and everyone elses too if they can get it into their pockets. Assimilates of a foreign madness. Monsters to look upon. Mankind will not survive this Karma. Our Earth is going to rebel and daily she is destroying the high towers of the immoral and spiritually dead we have become. We are not sheep after all, we are Ravening Wolves feeding on each other. I am happy to be old and soon to die.. i deeply long to be off this rock of festering pain.
    Just let me live long enough to see the explosions and I will die happy.
    Be afraid. Be very very afraid. The future approaches like a back and roiling cloud of suffering. You will ALL pay for your sins :) No one is any more guilty or innocent than another. We know how evil exists. Thank you to the few who struggle on. Give your lives for ingrates. Sucked dry they perish drained. So many now gone away forever. Unheard unseen.
    Shamelessness. Don't talk to me about pulling together. Keep your empty lies. Go kicking and screaming into oblivion. May your running sores consume you mankind. I curse this planet and all on it. Only the innocent will be spared. Only the true warriors few they are will see their happy hunting grounds. Only those who have loving kindness for all beings and creatures will be rewarded. Heaven will be a lonely place for a few.
    Too many kicks. Too mutts haters. To little cholders you are. Speaking from the side of your mouths and bragging to your women. Warriors.?.Leaders. ?? Degenerates.!!
    One generation away from extinction. :) Your children despise you and act it out against themselves. You have finally managed to kill your selves.:) You have killed your children.
    Genius's. Hah. Maniacs.
    Keep on talkin. Keep on lying and manipulating each other. Keep on oppressing. Keep on. Keep on. Do the Universe a favour and kill your selves. I am so deeply enjoying this suicidal head long flight into disaster.
    You see, I know what matters. What doesn't. The thing that matters the least now. Is YOU. ALL of YOU !! Don't matter,.:)
    All of you are the mongrel dogs.all of You are the stinking whitemen. All of you are the savages. All of you are fascists. All of you are the greedy. All of you are the haters. All of you mankind are the doomed.!! :) Die well cringing in your churches.
    And I am just one more of you ALL. One big unhappy family of haters and planet killing rapists.
    What an outstanding group of phonies. I am so proud to be one of YOU at last..I finally belong.
    NInshinabe Quay. Merci . Dungia..Migwitch Wah salama Allah kum vayallah !! Raven will feast on your rotting corpses soon.:)
    And it really doesn't matter :) Cant see what matters. Have to BE what matters.
    Everyone else go home relax :) smile an be assured i see you. I see you. :)
    Thank you.
    good night. :)
    Sleep well.
    Don't let the bed buggs bite. :)


Leave a Response