4. The Historical Legacy & Contemporary Issues

Unit 4 looks at the historical legacy of colonialism in BC, as well as contemporary issues facing First Nations peoples in BC. First, we’ll look at Métis history and issues facing Métis people today.

louis riel graphic novel

ACTIVITY 1: The Metis people represent a distinctive group in BC (and Canada). Metis history is fascinating and represents an integral part of Canadian history. There are thriving Metis communities and populations all across Canada. The Metis sash and the infinity flag are important Metis symbols (see the image below). “The infinity symbol represents the coming together of two distinct and vibrant cultures, those of European and indigenous North America, to produce a distinctly new culture, the Métis. The flag symbolizes the creation of a new society with roots in both Aboriginal and European cultures and traditions. The sky blue background of the flag emphasizes the infinity symbol and suggests that the Métis people will exist forever.” For a short but sweet introduction to the origins of the Metis people, take a look at this website: The Metis Nation.


In point form, answer the following questions:

  1. What are the origins of the Metis people?
  2. How is the Metis nation distinct from other Indigenous groups?


ACTIVITY 3: Many First Nations groups in BC (and the rest of Canada) have a conflicted relationship with Canada. This often finds expression during Canada Day celebrations. Check out this buzzfeed article Dear Canada, It’s Not Me, It’s You
I’d like you to answer (in a short paragraph): do you agree with the attitudes expressed in this article? Are you proud to be Canadian? Or is your relationship with this country, like Ossie’s, more complicated?

ACTIVITY 4: As you’ve learned, the legacy of colonialism continues to have a profound impact on Indigenous people in Canada. The cultural reawakening and revitalization we’re seeing across Turtle Island speaks to the immense strength and resiliency of Indigenous people. While progress has been made in many areas there are still enormous challenges. Now it’s your turn to become an expert on an issue that affects Indigenous people in BC today. Below is a list of possible topics:

Language Revitalization
Reconciliation (in BC & Canada)
Conditions on Reserves in BC
Land Claims in BC
The Issue of Alcohol in Indigenous Communities (refer to Harold R Johnson)
Overrepresentation of Indigenous Children in the Foster Care System
Justice System (ie. prisons)
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls