Windspeaker News is among a number of sites that feature articles that raise awareness of aboriginal issues. Most of the conflicts have been regarding ancestral rights and cultural issues. Another major contention is the lack of decisive actions from the government and unresponsive, even sensitive, policies that have been developed. The site considers itself as an alternative media, providing issues and concerns of Aboriginal people that they feel is not being highlighted enough by the national press.
In October of 2000, a particular article regarding Vancouver was written by Troy Hunter that quoted the sense of ineffectual policies that were designed to protect aboriginal rights. The article related the protest done by almost two hundred aboriginal peoples in front of the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre in protest against the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’s apparent repudiation of Burnt Church’s Mi’kmaq Indians fishing rights (Hunter, 2000). Cardinal and Adin (2005) study in turn show that conflicts do not just rise from urban expansion or new regulation.
Problems for aboriginal people do not decrease as societies stabilize. Their problems just change, this time they have to deal with the stresses of development and the increased competition for resources. They also have to deal with finding their place in the new social order that does recognize that they exist but affords little consideration for their backgrounds (Durst, 2006) Recent conflicts caught the media’s attention and have called for action in resolving these local issues but Vancouver is not alone in this situation.
In a parallel study conducted by the United Nation’s Commission on Human Rights in 2004, this apparent marginalization is prevalent in all countries facing the same challenge of integrating aboriginal peoples into mainstream society (Stavenhagen, 2004). Despite the extensive services that has been made available locally and nationally by government and private sectors for aboriginals , they are still facing significant problems that has led to a sentiment of dispossession or indifference to the rest of society (Wesley-Esquimaux ; Smolewski, 2004).
Cardinal and Adin suggest that policies that specifically address social, economic, and environmental conditions and challenges faced by aboriginal peoples should be sensitive and decisive at the same time (2005, p. 119-122). They point out that the aboriginal people’s triumph despite “historical and cultural injustices” is something that should be considered that should not be taken for granted and is sign that prognosis is still optimistic for their inclusion and empowerment in society promoting “revitalization of culture, improving the quantity and quality of housing, increasing access to employment services, addressing health concerns, and continuing to improve education” (p. 120).
Programs that focus on these factors have long been identified as essential not only in creating opportunities and competencies among aboriginal people (Samuelson, 1993). What is now needed is cascade it to actual policies so that aboriginal peoples can truly enjoy the objectives of these programs.
Stavenhagen (2004) recognizes that Canada has been more sympathetic to other nations in dealing with aboriginal issues but also emphasizes that there is a universal need for policy to be translated into actions. Government should entertain the possibility of self-governance among its urban Aboriginal and support its development and effectiveness together with regional and national administration (Cardinal and Adin, 2005).
This can foster partnership and a sense of recognition for aboriginals that will provide government better insight to their concerns while at the same time making aboriginal peoples empowered (Hylton, 1999). Conclusion In British Columbia alone there are more 200 registered communities or reserves which presents not only an administrative challenge but also a social and political contest to ensure that aboriginals are not made to suffer negatively because of their heritage . The challenge of creating programs that recognize aboriginal features in the population is not unique to Canada.
Aboriginal peoples have historically been marginalized and have had less access to services and opportunists. Their access now to essential services like education, health and government is one that Vancouver and Canada can be proud of. Despite the seemingly immense problems that still have to tackled, the forecast for aboriginals in the region is better than other countries and the response of the aboriginal communities has been better as well. The heritage of aboriginal traditions and peoples of Canada is not limited to the citizens that are from this bloodline.
This is a heritage that all citizens have a right to and are responsible for. The acknowledgment of these traditions and cultures is important in not only creating a society of open-mindedness but more importantly one of equal opportunity.
Aboriginal peoples in Canada (2006). Retrieved on November 15, 2006 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Aboriginal_peoples_in_Canada Aboriginal Rights (2006). Retrieved on November 15, 2006 from http://www. bctreaty. net/files_3/issues_rights. html