Respect for cultural diversity is one aspect of Canadian society that is greatly admired by people from other countries. It is also supported by the Multiculturalism Act of 1988. Canadians are very proud of their cultural diversity.
In common practice, however, cultural diversity within Canada’s indigenous people is often not recognized nor respected. There is a misconception about indigenous people, and it’s that there is one homogenous group with the same culture, traditions, worldviews, language, needs and desires. This is certainly not the truth.
The three distinct groups of indigenous people in Canada are First Nation, Métis and Inuit, as recognized by the Constitution Act of 1982. Also, the 2016 Canadian Census records that there are almost 2 million self-identified Indigenous persons in the country.
In First Nation as an indigenous group, there are over 600 bands and 2,000 reserves. Each of them has a distinct history, economies, capacities and challenges that shaped its particular cultural identity.
There is an amazing diversity of the First Nation’s culture and language in the province of British Columbia alone. With over 200 First Nation communities, each with its own unique culture, tradition and history, British Columbia accounts for over 60% of First Nation languages spoken in Canada.
So when people erroneously hold the notion that indigenous people are equal and the same, then they are not respecting and recognizing diversity. Canadians must recognize the uniqueness, history, culture and traditions of each community as a fundamental step toward respecting and promoting indigenous people.
So there is a need for everyone, no matter their status or educational level, to spend time researching and developing an understanding of the unique background of each community. You should also increase your understanding of what is important to that community, what they are proud of, and what they are willing to fight to protect.
Another way of promoting indigenous culture is funding. Aboriginal languages centers can be funded to offer courses in Indigenous languages to students of all ages at the beginner and intermediate levels. Language camps can be opened for young people with the provision of student workbooks, illustrated guides and audio teaching resources.
The preservation, promotion and revitalization of Indigenous cultures are paramount to advancing reconciliation with indigenous people, and everyone must play a part.