A difficult situation

Media version of texts courtesy of K. Napier’s  class

In 1980, Amerindians made up less than 1% of Quebec’s population, but their numbers had increased rapidly since the 1960s. There were a lot of economic problems for Amerindians. Sixty percent received employment or welfare benefits, and their income was much lower than that of most Canadians. The infant mortality rate was three times that of other Canadians, and life expectancy was 10 years less. In addition, the suicide rate for people less than 20 years old was six times greater than that of average Canadians.

Struggles and claims

In 1969, the Government of Canada proposed the abolishment of the Indian Act to fully integrate Indians into Canadian society. This would have the effect of abolishing their special status and treat Amerindians like all other Canadians. Native Americans were strongly opposed to this project because they believed it would lead to the disappearance of their culture. The government has finally decided to maintain the special status. Since then, the Indian nations from across Canada have come together to make joint claims.

Amerindians are now looking for more autonomy for band councils that administer the reserves. They also want to be more involved in the economic development of their region. Finally, they are concerned about the preservation of their culture. Some nations, such as the Mohawks of Kahnawake have established schools to teach their language and traditions.

Author:  Alexandre Lanoix