Cuthand: Canada must be better than our history

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Canada was basically a copy of Mother England, and the colonial attitude and British rule continued. Canada was really born as a neocolonial entity beholden to the parent.

Canada was established in 1867 as a confederation of former British colonies. In 1871, B.C. agreed to join, providing a railway be built connecting it with the rest of Canada within 10 years. It was a huge ask at the time, and the veiled threat was that if Canada reneged, B.C. would join the United States.

The pressure was on. Treaties had to be struck with the First Nations, and the financing and engineering had to be completed so a railway could be built. The treaties established Canadian sovereignty over the land, and the rest was left up to the Canadian Pacific Railway.

By 1885, the railway was completed and the relationship between Canada and the First Nations and Metis changed. The events of 1885 were largely the fault of the federal government. The practice of starving the First Nations into submission backfired and the people fought back by looting the stores in Battleford. The attempt to survey Metis lands on top of the existing farms and orderly river lots resulted in pushback.

The Battle at Cut Knife Hill was an example of this high handed attitude.

In the past if someone committed a crime or was wanted by the North West Mounted Police they would ride into the camp and speak to the Chief and headmen. This was common practice and had the respect of the First Nations leadership. Poundmaker expected this courtesy when Colonel Otter rode toward his camp on the Poundmaker reserve. Instead, Otter attacked the camp and the resulting battle was a defeat for the Canadian militia.

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