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One hundred and fifty years ago today, Canada entered Confederation. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many places across the country, and I’d like to take this time to share not just its beauty, but also a side of Canada’s history that I certainly didn’t learn in school. The country may be beautiful; our history is not.

There are going to be numerous protests today by people across the country. Chances are you’re in the majority, and the depths of the anger and frustration that fuel these protests are not entirely understood. I’ve been working to educate myself, and what I’ve learned has made me angry as well. Take ten minutes and try to understand.

In 1763, King George issued the Royal Proclamation. It sounds boring, but it’s actually a fascinating read. It uses the phrase “loving Subjects” no less than three times, none of them ironically. George ordered that all land in North America not already settled belonged to the Crown, and that land was to be reserved for Aboriginal Groups.

Fast forward a century. On the mainland of British Columbia, gold was discovered in the Fraser Canyon in the 1850s. Men with far too much facial hair and body odor rushed north from California, and the British on Vancouver Island were frantic to keep these Americans from taking over. They declared the mainland a new British colony and the Governor, James Douglas, was left with a vast territory on which lived an unknown number of Aboriginal people.

Douglas didn’t have the bureaucratic support or the resources to purchase Aboriginal land, so he settled for putting aside the issue of formal land title and allocating large, informal reserves. He also allowed First Nations people the same right to pre-empt land as settlers (they could gain title of land through squatters rights). […]

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