It’s surprising to think that globalization is not a new concept at all. It began in the 1500’s when Europe decided to exert its political control over foreign land that had the ability to provide wealth. This action, that of dominating foreign land for one’s own purposes, is colonization, and it didn’t begin here in Canada in 1867. Rather, the first seeds of colonization began 300 years prior to Canada’s being declared by England as a country.
When historians identify the time when Canada was discovered by the Europeans, it’s misleading. Since the Indigenous peoples had already been living on the land for some 40,000 years, there was nothing to be discovered by anyone else. Rather, the record should show that the time of European discovery of Canada is, instead, the time colonization began.
The fur trade clearly illustrates the steps involved in colonization. The first step to colonization is “the serious modification of Indigenous ways of life.” As a result of increased trade due to fur demand in European countries, the lives of many Indigenous groups revolved around the trading posts rather than the seasons and the migratory nature of animals.
Step two: “setting up external political control.” In the late 1600’s, the King of England declared that approximately one third of native Canada would now belong to the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). This entitlement to grant such a large amount of land to a group of wealthy British is astonishing. The Crown instructed the appointed governor to ensure the Indigenous groups were made aware that “they [the Indigenous groups] had transferred the absolute propriety to you [the governor].” I imagine that new knowledge was rather a surprise to the Indigenous peoples.
Step three: “forcing the Indigenous population to become economically dependent on the colonizer.” In the early 1800’s, the governor of the Selkirk settlement (Red River Valley) imposed a ban on the exporting of pemmican and other provisions. Pemmican, at that time, was a major economic revenue for the Metis. After the merging of the Northwest Company and the HBC in 1821, the HBC created stricter rules and regulations around hunting and trapping. Shortly after Canada became a country, the fur trade was all but over and the bison had been hunted to extinction.
Now that the Indigenous population was economically dependent upon the government, it was time to start treaty negotiations. This fact made me think of how insurance companies operate. The more desperate the claimant is, the less likely they will receive what they are entitled due to their need to settle quickly.
There is a fourth step to colonization: “providing abysmally poor quality social services, such as education and healthcare, for Indigenous people.” I don’t need a course to learn how that step has been illustrated in Canada.
Week 3’s lesson: Treaty Making.
All quotes are taken from Indigenous Canada – Week 2, Video: Colonization (1:26-1:59). You can access the MOOC through: https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada#faq