Genocide in Canada – The Canadian Holocaust
The first stage of any genocide is known as Classification. In this stage, the general population is divided into groups, “us” and “them”. The groups are identified on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality. The Native peoples of Canada were legally classified as a separate race; “the legal definition of an Indian is as “an uncivilized person, destitute of the knowledge of God and of any fixed and clear belief in religion” (Revised Statutes of British Columbia, 1960)…” (Truth 12) Laws such as these, which strip the civil, human, and legal rights of Native people, create the perfect situation for in which genocide may be carried out. This set-up for genocide runs many parallels with that of the Nazi party of Germany’s mass elimination of the Jewish peoples.
The second stage of genocide is known as Symbolization. Symbols are used to identify the group created by the Classifications. These symbols are used to distinguish the different groups of people, and occur both in the form of names, such as “Asians”, and through physical objects, such as the Jewish Yellow Stars. In the Canadian genocide, instead of forcing these symbols unto the “other”, the government instead took away these symbols. In the eyes of the state, the long hair of the Aboriginal Peoples, and their language, served as symbols of their freedom, and were stripped from them. As opposed to giving them an identity, they destroyed it.
The third stage of this genocide is Dehumanization. Dehumanization occurs when the humanity of the “them” is denied. This is usually accomplished through hate propaganda, which is spread through the general public. By reducing the human status of a person to that of an animal, one feels little remorse in eliminating them. This is precisely what happened in Canada. The Gradual Act of the Indian Tribes (1857) described itself as “an act to encourage the gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in this Province, and to amend the Laws respecting Indians” (Tripod 1). This act implies the inferiority of Native Cultures and Civilizations, and assumes that they are uncivilized and, like animals, must be helped as to gradually become a civilized human. This act not only officially Dehumanizes Native Peoples, but also creates a legal foundation in which any law relating to the Native peoples can be amended. This is a crucial point in the genocide, because it allows for the legal framework, which will permit the genocide, to be created.