Street Law will be publishing a series of blogs, reflecting the interests of its team members in their chosen subject. The second is on the importance of understanding the inherently oppressive history of European colonization on Indigenous peoples of Canada and is written by Moiz Chaudhry, Street Law Presenter.
The Effects of European Colonization on Indigenous Families
We often forget how European colonization changed indigenous families. This post hopes to remind and educate that colonial and state policies created the social conditions for violence in indigenous families that continue today (particularly in Canada). An important moment in history is to know about the arrival of Christian missionaries.
Prior to European colonization, indigenous families lived in a community where females were largely respected, had great power and authority, and were the heads of the family (Pedersen et al, 2013, 1036). Therefore, all members within the Aboriginal community were treated with respect and because of this relationship between one another there was no violence in their community and culture.
Eventually comes the arrival of Christian missionaries (from France and later Britain) who had challenged the indigenous culture and their way of living. These missionaries had a goal to implement a Christianity and European ideology, which included a patriarchal system, colonial domination, violence, and social inequality into the indigenous communities. They were also providers of education in the colonial world (Jensz, 2012, 294), and believed their education would benefit them because they taught them the European way.
The event caused by Christian missionaries illustrate how colonial and state policies tried to change the social conditions for violence in indigenous communities because these colonizers wanted to implement their ideology within a community that had little to no violence to begin with.
Whenever we hear about violence within indigenous communities, it is important to remember who caused these changes.
Pedersen, J. S., Malcoe, L. H., & Pulkingham, J. (2013). Explaining Aboriginal/Non-aboriginal inequalities in postseparation violence against canadian women: Application of a structural violence approach. Violence Against Women, 19(8), 1034-1058. 10.1177/1077801213499245
Jensz, F. (2012). Missionaries and indigenous education in the 19th-century british empire. part I: Church-state relations and indigenous actions and reactions: Missionaries and indigenous education:Pt 1. History Compass, 10(4), 294-305. 10.1111/j.1478-0542.2012.00839.x