Native Americans in Quebec.

This is the second part of my series on American Indians. There seems to be much more of a presense of Native Americans here in Quebec. There are reservations all over the place including a couple across the river from the island of Montreal. They are close to the general population and not relegated to Oklahoma. Also travelling around the province, it seems every place has an Indian tourist shop or sell Indian produced items. Every time we visit Quebec City we stop at the Seven Nations Shop. I have flown Air Creebec and half the passengers were American Indian. I have seen their lean-to shacks in the wilderness north of Chibougamau. There they spent the winters hunting caribou. We passed the remains on the roadside. The Indian presense is more than what I had seen stateside.

There is a flip side to this presense and embracing of the culture. If I understand correctly, the Indians are largely supported by the government. From what I hear, there seems to be much resentment about this within the population. I hear second-hand how they live in deplorable conditions, they do nothing, and live off their government checks. They disregard hunting laws that others are required to abide by. Then there is the whole tobacco thing. These same people I hear this from speak in a negative tone when discussing how Jews and Westmount residents take their money. So I’m a bit skeptical of their views.

Again, I would really like to know your thoughts on this topic.

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~ by Frank on November 19, 2005.

9 Responses to “Native Americans in Quebec.”

  1. Can’t really comment on the racial tension thing but I did notice when I was in Toronto that people took great pains to call “Native Americans”, “Native Canadians” (I was corrected a couple of times…)

    Is this one of these politically correct sticking points?

  2. That’s interesting that they say Native Canadians. That’s the first time I heard that. I kept saying American Indians in the post out of habit, not in order to offend or come across as inconsiderate.

    Before moving here I thought it was odd that the US monopolized the use of America, but it has been even more so since moving here. That’s why I avoid as much as possible writing American in respect for Canadians. Although Canadians have their own designation. Do any Canandians out there find the use of American by people from the US offensive?

    I guess it’s similar to how the Jewish have monopolized anti-semitic since semitic means those of Arabian tongues.

  3. Hi, Frank. When anyone uses the term American I think exclusively of a person or thing from the U.S. So, at first I was a bit confused when you used the term Native Americans when speaking of Canadians. If you had said Native North Americans I would have understood immediatley. Other terms we Canadians use are: First Nations people; aborignal people; and for Native Canadians of the Arctic, Inuit. I like the term First Nations because it recognizes and puts them on par with the two other historical founding “nations” of Canada, the English and the French.

    My attitude toward Native Canadians is the same as for any other ethnic group and that is respect. It has been a clash of cultures from first contact between Europeans and Natives that continues to the present and the casualties have been almost exclusively on one side.

    To expand further on the word America, I would use the term North America in reference to the continent and never just America. Thus, I would say that in North America we drive on the right hand side of the road. I don’t think most Canadians are offended by Americans using the word America because we all understand it to mean or pertain to the U.S.

  4. That should be “aboriginal”. (Oh, my old eyes).

  5. They aren’t Indians. Indians are people from India. They are First Nations.

  6. On the contrary, every time I tell someone in Quebec that I am an “American” they are insulted, because they say that people from the US are not the only ones that can use the term “American”, as they are also from North America and use the term “American” to describe themselves as well. I also had this same conversation with someone from Brazil who said the same.

    Regarding the native peoples situation, my husband is from Chibougamau and I know that they do not look at these people kindly. Here is the ugliness: they say they are lazy, dirty, fat, and alcoholics. They say they only come into the village to pick fights and that they live off the subsidies given by the government only. They also say that they couldn’t care less about maintaining their own culture.

    Personally, I think the blatant racism is overwhelming, but it’s not how the majority of Quebecois would look at it. This weekend I will be going up to Chibougamau for the first time and I will see first hand what the conditions are like.

  7. I am an ”american” from the U.S. my wife is a quebecoise. while i lived in montréal for about 7 months, I had this discussion with many of her friends and family. I consider U.S. and Canadians to all be Americans. I would never hold it against a canadian to call themselves Americans, thats because, well, they are. just because there is some imaginary line between U.S. and Canada doesnt mean you (canadians) are not americans as well. yes, canadians are ”different” than U.S. americans, but isnt everybody? Im from Boston, and I believe there is just as much a difference between us as it is between me and someone from new york, maine, maryland, virginia, etc. we are just run by separate governments…i think that is our only MAJOR difference…(besides the natives) we are all mixed up immigrants from somewhere else in the world.

  8. I am so into Native-American culture,I am jewish and my exes are native- We are all EQUAL people, we are all born naked and we die naked. Respect everyone the way you want to be respected.

  9. Absolutely informative post.

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