The signing of the treaty did not necessarily provide our people with the life they expected, and the policies of Canada actively sought to integrate or absorb all First Nations people into Canada. Duncan Campbell Scott, who negotiated with our people for our treaty in 1905, became the Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs and said in Parliament in 1920 that “Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question”. Fortunately our people survived this period, despite the active efforts of Canada to remove our culture and status.
The modern period, from the late 19th century to the present day, is characterized by two distinct periods. The first, and longer portion, included the restrictions on our people that would take away our status if we served in the military, received a university degree, chose to become enfranchised so he or she could vote in a Canadian election, or, for women only, married a non-Indian man.
The government also sought to eliminate our culture with restrictions on cultural practices and the residential schools. The schools were used as a tool to remove children from their families and remove the children from their culture. Removing children from their families for extended periods of time helped to break the tradition of passing culture and information from parents to children through oral teachings. Children were forbidden from speaking their language, and were often abused, physically, sexually, and emotionally. The legacy of residential schools lives with us, but we, as a people, have survived this dark time, and will live on, with our culture, in spite of this time.
The second period of our modern history is quite recent, although it started in 1982, with the repatriation of the Constitution of Canada, and the insertion into the constitution of special sections that recognized and affirmed the Aboriginal and treaty rights of Indians. While this did not immediately change the lives of our people, it laid the foundation for what has become numerous court decisions, including Supreme Court decisions, that have granted our people the rights and privileges of our treaty and our culture.
In addition, we are moving to obtain some compensation for the many wrongs done to our people and to our lands in this time, including settling grievances with those who developed hydroelectric facilities and forestry mills. Our modern history is being written by our people, and we continue to work to ensure we maintain our culture and respect our traditions and ancestors.