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When the Europeans first settled the land now comprising Canada, they signed various treaties with Canada's First Nations, yet today, generations later, and after years of persecuation, Canada's First Nations continue to fight for the Canadian government to fulfil its treaty obligations.|
The problem though is that the Canadian Parliament, being elected by the Canadian people, can only represent the will of the majority of Canadians. Most Canadians take great offense at the fact that many of Canada's First Nations have never considered themselves to be Canadian and insist that they never want to either, but rather as separate nations whose binding treaties with the Canadian federal government are to be considered international treaties. These treaties deal with various issues, including certain claims to land that the government has confiscated from the First Nations.
Presently, the Canadian government is trying to pressure the First Nations to adopt a Canadian identity. Honestly, considering the prejudiced and vindictive opinion that most Canadians have about the First Nations, I can't imagine that their plight can ever be won from within Canada's national borders. Though many non-Aboriginal Canadians sympathise with the First Nations, they're in a minority. They may be a significant minority, but a minority nevertheless, and in a democracy, should the majority choose to suppress the rights of the minority, the voice of the minority is no use.
Unfortunately, even China is responsible, at lesat in part, for the cultural plight of the First Nations. One common argument that many Canadians use when ignoring the right to equal language status on the part of the First Nations is that 'English is the world language; after all, even the Chinese are learning it, so the First Nations should just accept the reality that their languages will eventually die'.
I believe that to save Canada's Aboriginal languages and cultures, only foreign action can work. At that stage, China must become a responsible partner in defending the rights of Canada's First Nations, and I can see some ways in which it could do this. Among them, the Chinese government could:
1. Grant each school in China the freedom to teach the second language of its choice, English no longer being compulsory.
2. Require all Canadian passport-holders born on or after a certain date entering China to prove a knowledge of either their local Aboriginal language (possibly through a certificate acquirable from the governing bodies of each First Nation and accepted as proof by the Chinese government), an international auxiliary language such as Esperanto, or a Chinese language, this policy to remain in effect until Canada fulfils all of its treaty obligations to its First Nations and respects their languages and cultures.
The policy above would achieve two important things:
1. It would reduce the value of the English and French languages for Canadians wishing to travel to China, and so also reduce the legitimacy (as if there was ever any) of their argument that the First Nations' languages and cultures are not worth protecting because English is the 'world language' anyway, as China's own language policy currently seems to prove.
2. As Canadians realise the danger of becoming marginalized in the Chinese market as China's international economy continues to prosper, they would soon acknowledge that they had better start respecting their treaty obligations towards the first Nations and their Aboriginal languages and cultures if they want Canada to remain an active major participant in the Chinese economy.
What are your thoughts on this?