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!

Categories: Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Social and Political Philosophy

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4 replies

  1. I suppose a lot depends on how much (and whose) land they want to do their resegregation on, how much money they want to operate their segretoria with in perpetuity, how much poorer Canada becomes consequent to the loss of our land, …and which side posts the guards at the gates in the fences.
    Isn’t this just the “land-back” + rents + self-government argument? Who in settler society would agree with such a proposal? What do we get out of it?

    I think it’s a terrible idea for everyone. Pierre Trudeau had the right idea in 1969 but he flinched when he realized it would take more than dilettantism to accomplish over the objections of 632 chiefs who would lose the best jobs they were ever going to have.


  2. Here’s an interesting thought, if true and, if so, if applicable to other cases. According to the following study, Muslim private schools in Denmark do a better job of promoting “Danish values” to Muslim pupils; i.e. integrate them, into Danish society, than public schools:

    “Denmark: Muslim private schools found to better promote child integration than public schools,” European Commission, Integration News, 10 June 2021,


    So what if “segregation” facilitates, even amplifies, the “integration” of Indigenous peoples? Is this a desirable outcome for Indigenous peoples? Would it be a better way for Indigenous and non- populations to come to terms with each other, perhaps on more equitable footing? Would it preserve anything of the remnants of a culture one wants to save or ‘revive’? I don’t know.

    Denmark is (or was) a largely homogenous population, and has few people spread over a smaller geographic area. Although, there is a divide between cosmopolitan Copenhagen and the country folk in the north. Canada is way more ethnically diverse and spread out, and has some deep divides between north/south, east/west, and urban/rural. For these and many other reasons, maybe the findings of this study are non-replicable here. But it does point to a possible interesting and, perhaps, unanticipated outcome.




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