The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report said Canada’s negotiation of treaties with First Nations were “marked by fraud and coercion.” The report said the federal government continues to stall on the implementation of treaties to this day.
The TRC suggests the only reason Canada bothered to enter treaties was because it couldn’t afford to subdue the Indigenous population through war. In 1870, the total of Canada’s budget was about $19 million. Across the border during the same time period, the U.S. was spending $20 million just to fight its “Indian Wars,” said the report.
Early post-Confederacy Canada had one goal in mind when it began negotiating treaty, said the TRC.
“The intent of the government’s policy…was to assimilate Aboriginal people into broader Canadian society,” said the report. “At the end of this process, Aboriginal people were expected to have ceased to exist as a distinct people with their own governments, cultures and identities.”
Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, told the House of Commons in 1883 that residential schools would be one of the main weapons used to eliminate the “savage” before it grew to become incorrigible.