Arrival of Strangers - The Last 500 Years



"It sometimes seems to Indians that Canada shows more interest in preserving its rare whooping cranes than its Indians. And Canada, the Indian notes, does not ask its cranes to become Canada geese. It just wants to preserve them as whooping cranes. Indians hold no grudge against the big, beautiful, nearly extinct birds, but we would like to know how they managed their deal."

- From The Unjust Society, by Harold Cardinal

"In order to become sole masters of our land they relegated us to small reserves as big as my hand and made us long promises, as long as my arm; but the next year the promises were shorter and got shorter every year until now they are the length of my finger, and they keep only half of that."

- Cree chief, Piapot (1828-1908), in 1895, upon the visit of the superior-general of the Oblate Order to Lebret, Saskatchewan. Quoted in First Peoples, First Voices, by Penny Petrone.

We are still here... Ironic, biting, self-deprecating humour is a part of Aboriginal life. Jokes make clear in private, intimate settings what often may not be said publicly. As troubled, difficult and devastating as the last 500 years have been for Aboriginal peoples, no history would be complete without the humour that has been generated along the way and the laughter that has survived.

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