Truth be told, there’s never not been segregation in Canada of its indigenous population. Even where it’s not legally mandated or enforced, we can see it on the school playground, in the gym, in our public parks, and so on.
But there’s a movement afoot – spearheaded by indigenous people themselves – to rethink our condemnation of it. If indigenous kids are going to be alienated by our micro-aggressions anyhow, why not opt to just skip the micro-aggressions and lean into this alienation, but on their own terms?
Well, why not indeed?
My worry is not that this makes little sense. In fact it makes a great deal. Rather it’s that this way there be dragons. More specifically that of apartheid. What’s the so what? It’s that separate but equal is never really equal. The smaller the group the fewer the options, and the fewer the options the more impoverished those options will be.
So why should the rest of us care? Because at some point self-enforced isolation becomes other-enforced isolation. And then shortly thereafter all hell breaks loose.
This is why some people – and they’re much reviled for it – would like to see all indigenous exceptionalism, including the reservation system, completely dismantled. I’ve been assiduously keeping myself out of this fray. Not my people, not my problem. So I shouldn’t worry. But I do.
Might this have something to do with suppressed racial memory? Nah, probably not!