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Canada is not a better country now than it was before. Women and First Nations have not been treated as equal humans, in the past and certainly not now. The Millennials and the Generation X are at an unfair disadvantage for the future. The treatment of women and First Nation and the rising debt for the future generations proves that no, Canada is not a better country than it was.
My first reason for my belief that Canada is not a better country is the treatment of women. There are many things wrong in the world of women. Violence, sexual harassment, emphasis on being perfect in the world’s eye, the unbalanced wage gap are just a few of them.
First of all, the unfair wage gap. The Statistics Canada data, from 2011, shows that the gender wage gap in Ontario is 26% for full time workers. This means that for every $1.00 that a male earns, a female worker earns 74 cents. “Many girls and women do not pursue these fields because no one ever told them that they have potential to do well in nontraditional fields.” This is a quote from Janet Ruth Heller, Ph.D.
Following the wage gap, women are continually facing discrimination and harassment in the workplace, this ranges from being kept out of leadership roles to not being properly accommodated or supported while they are pregnant. Men get rewarded for being a good and strong leader, while women get looked at as bossy. And then there is the unfortunate reality of how women are treated even if they do get into fields and roles that are typically male-dominated. Sexual harassment is a major issue that can prevent women from entering fields and spaces that have been traditionally male preserved. And the statistics are worse for women who are at the intersection of multiple forms of discrimination, like women of color, transgender women, and women with disabilities.
Violence and sexual harassment is at an all-time high, 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Over 80% of sex crime victims are women. 83% of disabled women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. 57% of Aboriginal women in North America have been sexually abused. And 60% of sexual abuse and/or assault victims are under the age of seventeen. 17% of girls who are under the age of sixteen have experienced some form of incest. 80% of sexual assault incidents occur in the home. According to Justice Institute of British Columbia, one out of every 17 women is raped, 62% of rape victims were physically injured, 11% of women have physical injury resulting because of sexual assault. Only 6% of sexual assaults were reported to the police, this shows that out of 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 would be reported. The research found that over 1 in 3 women experienced a sexual assault. Only 1-2% of “date rape” sexual assaults are reported to the police. Women have been conditioned to believe that it is their fault because they are worth less than men. Women are still subject to disproportionate, high rates of gender-based violence and harassment, including sexual assault and intimate partner violence. These are the reasons that women are not being treated any better, now and not in the near future than they have been in the past.
My next reason that Canada is not a better country than it has been in the past in the way that Aboriginal Peoples have been enslaved to the wills of the racially preferred. My first proof in the fact that the Aboriginal peoples are not being treated as equals is the fact that Canada has had Residential Schools.
The first residential school that opened was during the 1840’s, and the last residential school, in Canada, closed in 1996. During the 19th century, the Canadian government believed it was responsible for educating and caring for the Aboriginal people in Canada. The Canadian government was responsible for the religious influence from the Christian Churches and the missionaries. The government thought their best chance for success was for the Aboriginals to learn English and adopt Christianity and Canadian customs. The Canadian Residential schools provided for a loss of a culture. There was less partaking in ceremonies or traditional family life created because the loss of culture. There is a study that shows that over 6,000 children died while attending the Residential Schools. Throughout the many years, the students lived in substandard conditions and endured physical, sexual and emotional abuse. The unfortunate students that had to attend residential schools rarely had any opportunities to see examples of normal family life. Most of the young children were in school for 10 months a year, away from their parents, never once seeing them; some stayed all year round. This created the inability to learn how to function in society thus when they because parents because they did not know how to parent because they weren’t socialized in everyday life. All of the correspondence from the children was written in English, which many of the Aboriginal parents could not read. Brothers and sisters were being taught at the same school rarely saw each other, as all activities were segregated by gender.
The second reason that the Aboriginal Peoples are still not being treated as equals is that the government is not able to recognize the massive loss that the Aboriginals have faced throughout generations upon generations of suffering. In 1969, Jean Chretien, Canadian politician who was also the 20th Prime Minister of Canada, created the White Paper. This was an act to dissolve the Department of Indian Affairs and transfer the responsibility, of the Aboriginals, to the province. The Aboriginals would lose their Indian Status and they would be treated like any other minority. They would lose their land claims and reserves. Not only had the government taken away their land to begin with but then the Aboriginals were being threatened with more land loss. The government did not want to deal with the “problems” that were arising because of the Aboriginal Peoples fighting for equality so they chose not to.
The third reason that I believe that the First Nations are not being treated equally with the respect that they deserve as humans, the James Bay Project. In 1971 Hydro-Québec and the Québec government initiated the James Bay Project. The James Bay Project is a hydroelectric-power development on the East Coast of James Bay. Over the duration of two phases Hydro-Québec and the Québec government built eight generating stations. This was to allow for the pollution-free production of a significant chunk of Québec’s electricity. In saying this though, the project also immensely disrupted the environment and the Indigenous communities living in the area. These effects are still being felt today. Phase 1 of the James Bay Project had cost $13.7 billion and necessitated massive diversions of the water from the Eastmain, Opinaca and Caniapiscau rivers into dammed reservoirs on La Grande Rivière. This increased the average flow of La Grande Rivière from 1,700 to 3,300 m3/s. It was in 1984, February and May, that the third and fourth generating stations were completed. This ended Phase 1 of the project. The issues that these generating stations and the building of them created were very severe. The project flooded 11,500 km2 of wilderness land that had been home to the James Bay Cree and Inuit. When the area was flooded it created mercury contamination in fish. This was because the mercury was released from rotting vegetation in the reservoirs. The mercury poisoning had contributed to the deaths of an estimated 10,000 caribou. The vast areas of wilderness were inundated and forests incinerated in an attempt to clear the debris. When the James Bay Project was announced by the Québec Premier, Robert Bourassa, it was opposed by the Cree, who had prior not been notified. The dispute culminated in 1975, with the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. The Northern Québec Agreement was the first treaty signed with Aboriginals in over fifty years. In the agreement the Cree, Inuit and Naskapi decided to surrender their land claims for a return of $225 million. They were also able to retain special hunting and fishing rights, exclusive use of their territory, and responsibility and control over education, health care and social services. But all of these are nothing compared to what they truly lost out on. The fact that Canada had residential schools for over one hundred and fifty years, the creation of the White Paper and the start and completion of the James Bay Project clearly shows that the Canadian Government does not wish to treat the Aboriginal Peoples as equals just because they had different beliefs.
My final reason as to why I believe that Canada is not a better country than it was in the past is because of the unfair advantage that the Millennials and Generation X are being faced with right now and in the future. My first reason for the poor future of our generations is debt. One-third of Canadians say they’re now unable to cover their monthly bills while keeping up with their debt repayments, this measurement is up eight points on the index since that last statistics from September. Households that are still able to make ends meet have around $630 left at the end of the month, which is down nearly 30 per cent from over $890 in July. And overall, almost half of Canadians (48%), say they are within $200 of not being able to meet their financial obligations, which is up six points since September. Over 40% are worried they will be in financial trouble if interest rates keep rising, with one in three are afraid they may face bankruptcy. Millennials and Generation Xers are particularly vulnerable to rising debt-servicing costs, the survey suggests, that 50% of respondents in both age groups say they’ll face financial difficulty if interest rates go up much more. That’s almost 10 percentage points higher than the share of those who said across all age groups. The survey found that 25% of Canadians do not have enough funds for an escape vacation; 20% have credit card balances larger than their savings account; 21% believe they overspend during the holidays. Six% of respondents also said they’ve already broken their new year’s financial resolutions, while an equal percentage said they are receiving calls from bill collectors. The poll also shows that younger adults were much more likely to say they are experiencing one of the above financial afflictions compared to Canadians aged 45 and older (68 per cent versus 41 per cent).
The second reason I believe that Millennials and Generation X kids will be facing a tough future is because of the threat of the Baby Boomers. Canada’s job market is steadily improving but there is one demographic group that is taking up more and more of the new jobs: older workers. In April, there were more than 24, 000 new jobs created for workers 55 years old and older. This is the fastest growth rate for any age group. The census data that was released this week shows that Canada is definitely getting older. There are now more people that are aged 65 and older in Canada that there are children for the first time. Many in the baby boomer demographic are in no rush at all to quit working as they enter their older years.
My third reason that Millennials and Generations Xers are facing such an unfair disadvantage is because they have more and more mental health issues. Student debt, shaky employment and housing prices that are out of reach. Millennials have their share of life’s worries, and it’s taking a toll on their mental health. 63% of Canadian Millennials are at “high risk” for mental health issues, this is according to a new Ipsos report that was released to Global News. This is the third year that the people taking the polls zeroes in on their Mental Health Risk Index. While there are definitely other vulnerable segments of Canadians, it is this age group that stood out as the hardest hit by mental health woes, the pollsters say. Last year, 56% of millennials fell into the “high-risk” classification while in 2015, only 53% did. That is an unfortunate increase of 3%. For these reasons, the lack of jobs, mental health declines, and increase of debt prove that Canada is not a better country that it had been.
I do not believe that Canada is a better country now than it was in the past because of the staggering treatment of Canadian women. Women have not been treated equal to men in the past and it seems as though it will not be ending anytime soon. The appalling treatment of the Aboriginals, did not just occur in the nineteenth century or the early twentieth century. It is still an ongoing issue that needs to be recognized and changed. Millennials and the Generation Xers are facing the most unfair disadvantages that white Canadians have had to face in a long time. For these reasons, I have to argue that no, Canada is not a better country than it was in the past.
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