Wednesday, February 22, 2012

'Aboriginal' is the most correct term

Published in The Hill Times

Aboriginal letter writer Richard Powless says calling aboriginals as such is "dehumanizing and objectifying." He could not be farther from the truth. Referring to them as aboriginals is no different than referring to "Canadians" or "Americans" or "Chinese" or "Irish." It's not objectifying; it's their group's identity just as any other group has. 

What's more, to say this term is also offensive because aboriginals are not one "cohesive entity" is like saying we shouldn't call ourselves Canadians because we're actually Ontarians and Quebecers.

The Canadian government recognizes the term "aboriginal" as the appropriate term. In fact, only recently did Indian and Northern Affairs Canada change its name: it is now properly named Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, which obviously corrects the erroneous belief that the "Indians" were from India. They note that "aboriginals" were the original inhabitants of North America, who were Inuit, Metis, and Indian. The term "Indian" is only used today for legal purposes under the Indian Act, and generally does not include Inuit or Metis people.

"Aboriginal" also holds the most concise meaning: from Latin ab origine means the first inhabitants of a city or specific area of land.

As for his position that aboriginals are entitled to land and the only reason Canada exists, that's another issue entirely.