Although Canada regularly tops international rankings for its quality of life, the daily existence of the country’s indigenous people, also known as “First Nations”, has more in common with that of the world’s least developed countries.
Even today, Canada’s indigenous peoples, also known as First Nations, are still paying dearly for the colonialism they have suffered for centuries – and which the country’s Supreme Court recently described as “cultural genocide.” They live a markedly different existence from the rest of Canadians, filled with poverty, unemployment and alarming high suicide rates.
But in recent years, some indigenous people have decided to work together, determined to improve their living conditions through concrete initiatives. As a result of this unprecedented action, a wind of change seems to be blowing and has even caught the attention of the prime minister.
Enthusiasm and scepticism
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s young prime minister, has called for a genuine “nation-to-nation” process to improve the relationship between the two sides. Immediately after his election, Trudeau announced six billion euros in investments in indigenous communities. This historic pledge has been met with both enthusiasm and scepticism. Although the urgency of the situation on the ground is undeniable, indigenous people remain mistrustful of the Canadian authorities, who have so often betrayed them.
From Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba province, to Cross-Lake, a remote reserve in the province’s north, FRANCE 24’s reporter went to meet Canada’s First Nations.