Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life

Examining how Canada gained control of western Canada, it can be argued that they did it without regard by taking advantage of a famine caused mainly by the loss of bison populations, but also due to an overwhelming influx of settlers. Using harsh legislation regarding Indians, Canadian leaders coerced indigenous leaders into signing treaties allowing federal control—all in an attempt to exterminate indigenous peoples from the national consciousness. In other words, Indians were forcibly and willfully manipulated, removed, and killed for the sake of “progress.”

Building the railroad to accommodate western settlements and Canada’s economic foundation was John A McDonald and Canada’s 19th century Indian policy which enabled territorial theft of indigenous lands, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The conclusion is that First Nations Peoples now experience, 150 years later, very difficult conditions due to these events, including residential schools, by having the lowest life expectancy, the greatest amount of poverty and exclusion, and the highest amount of racism and violence. The situation indigenous communities are in today is the direct result of an elaborate and extensive plan in which every Canadian is culpable. Throughout the 19th century Canada largely pursued a state-sponsored attack on indigenous communities which continues to haunt us today.

Speaker: Dr. James Daschuk

A graduate of Trent University (’84) and former member of Peter Robinson College, Dr. Daschuk has a Master of Arts and Doctoral degree in Canadian History from the University of Manitoba.  His research focus is on the impact of environmental change on the health of indigenous people. His historical work investigates the role of disease, changes to subsistence practices and climate change in the historical development of western Canada and his current research projects include the impact of introduced species, horses and domestic cattle, on the well-being of First Nations.

Dr. Daschuk is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina. His book, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation and the Loss of Aboriginal Life, published by the University of Regina Press (2013) won five Saskatchewan Book awards and three prizes from the Canadian Historical Association, including the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize for best scholarly book in Canadian history and was be awarded the Governor General Award for Scholarly Achievement at the Annual Governor General History Awards in November 2014

Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Time: 7 – 9 p.m. Location: Southminster United Church, 1011 – 4 Avenue South, Lethbridge
Cost: Free event, everyone welcome

This Truth & Reconciliation event is sponsored by McKillop United Church’s Justice, Peace & Social Action Committee and co-sponsored by Southminster United Church, Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs (SACPA) and the Ecumenical Campus Ministry (EMC)

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