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Ideas of Pierre Trudeau on Just Society: Analytical Essay

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Canada racial discrimination

In the whole historical process of British North America and Canada, the policy towards indigenous peoples has always been promoted in two contradictory goals – ‘protection’ and ‘assimilation’, correspondingly, there have always been two kinds of policies. On the one hand, the government believes that the best way to protect the interests of indigenous peoples is to separate them from Canadian society; on the other hand, it is in favor of assimilation – supporting their placement of them among nonindigenous people, eliminating special protection measures and legal status, and finally turning them into ‘civilized groups’ like white Europeans.

From the beginning, the civil rights granted to indigenous peoples are based on the premise and vision of the elimination of national identity. Therefore, this kind of civil rights is discriminatory, instrumental, and incomplete, so it is meaningless. In addition to a very small number of people who have the will and meet the conditions to apply for citizenship, most of the indigenous peoples’ tribes and groups have no access to any citizen’s treatment and legal protection, but also face deprivation, assimilation, discrimination in economic, cultural, identity and other aspects, and have no human rights as a Canadian citizen.

“Boarding school”

In trying to exterminate Indian culture, the most notorious and sinful measure is to set up a so-called “boarding school” for Indian children, which is self-help by the federal government and sponsored by the Christian Church and specializes in exterminating Indian culture. In 1892, the Indian Act Amendment officially authorized the establishment and management of Indian boarding schools. In order to protect Indian children from the harmful influence of their families and from growing up in barbaric countries, the act stipulated that Indian children aged 5-16 must attend boarding schools. According to statistics, between 1870 and 1970, as many as 150000 Indian children were forcibly delivered. Nowadays, when Canadian look back at the “boarding school” event, all of them feel ashamed for what their government have done.

Anything changed?

In 1968, the newly elected prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, was determined to realize his ideal of building a just society. Trudeau is determined to achieve the full equality of civil rights of indigenous peoples as other Canadians.

Pierre Trudeau

The government will take the following steps to achieve this framework: first, to propose to the parliament to repeal the Indian law, while taking the necessary legislative measures to enable Indians to control their land and fight for their rights; second, to suggest that the provincial government should take over the responsibility to Indians as it does to other citizens in the province, and the taking over will be accompanied by federal funds to the provincial government Transfer, these funds are usually provided by the federal government to Indian projects, and the amount of funds can be increased if necessary; third, provide a large number of funds for Indian Economic Development (as a temporary measure); fourth, terminate Indian Affairs and this part of the Northern Department’s work function related to Indians and transfer the remaining responsibility of the federal government’s Indian projects to other departments The appropriate federal department. In addition, the government will appoint a Commissioner to consult with the Indians to study and propose an acceptable procedure for determining claims.

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Trudeau also acknowledged that this transformation process ‘is a difficult choice for Indians, because on the one hand, they realize that if they enter the society as full citizens, they will obtain equal legal status, but on the other hand, they also risk losing some traditions, some cultures, and even some basic rights. In view of this, he said that they will not be forced to Accelerate the process. After the publication of the white paper, the Indians fiercely opposed it. Indian organizations thought it was an attack on their culture and land, a legal means to destroy a nation and its culture, the chief Indian of Alberta pointed out in a protest letter

The attitude of Indian

After the publication of the white paper, the Indians fiercely opposed it. Indian organizations thought it was an attack on their culture and land, ‘a legal means to destroy a nation and its culture, the chief Indian of Alberta pointed out in a protest letter believe that the white paper and a just society are contradictory.’ Another chief said that ‘Mr. Trudeau’s reference to a just society should be based on mutual respect, consideration, understanding, integrity, and good faith, but this policy does not reflect this at all, and actual equality cannot be separated from differential treatment.

In addition to cultural reasons, there are also economic and social reasons for Indians’ opposition to the white paper oriented by ‘just society. According to the Hawthorne report (1966-1967), the per capita income of Indians with legal status is $300, while that of all Indians is $1400; the per capita annual income of Indians is $1361, while that of all Indians is $4000. The average social assistance dependency of Indians is 36%, and the total is 3.5%. The former is more than 10 times higher than the latter. In 1970, 52% of men and 14% of women in Canada earned more than $6000 a year, compared with 24% of Indian men and 5% of women. In terms of education, according to the Hawthorne report, 92% of the twelve-year schools in 1951-1962 did not graduate; in February 1969, only 5% of the 12th-grade Indian students in Saskatchewan schools were in school and only 3% in Northern Saskatchewan. In terms of living conditions, at the end of 1967, more than half of Indian families in the reserve lived in low-standard houses, most of which were short of water or without sanitation, while the national average rate of low-standard houses was only 9%. In terms of health care, the average life expectancy of Indians was only 34.71 years in 1963, while that of Indian women was 33.31 years, compared with 60.5 years for whites and 64.1 years for women. Almost double the difference.

Such a great disparity in economic, social, and educational development levels makes Indians distrust the white government and the enthusiasm of the society for building a civil society with equal opportunities for all. They don’t believe that the white-dominated government will provide them with ‘equal and comprehensive’ opportunities to participate. They don’t believe that Indians who give up their ethnic identity and culture will become as ‘prosperous and rich’ as white Canadians. In the eyes of many Indians, the so-called equality of citizens in the white paper is just a cover. Its real intention is to assimilate and absorb Indians into Canadian white society by means of citizenship.


At present, it seems that neither the federal government of Canada nor the indigenous peoples should be confined to the classic theory, governance mode, and appeal mode of citizenship or national self-determination, but to seek the balance between them, based on the protection of autonomy and national development and social governance. The federal government should guarantee the autonomy of indigenous peoples according to law, and at the same time, implement flexible policies to indigenous peoples, and increase support for their infrastructure, economic development, and social services. If indigenous peoples can benefit from the social and economic development policies and reduce the development gap with other Canadian peoples, this will relieve their predicament and self-governance ability Both improvement and sustainable development are very beneficial.

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Ideas of Pierre Trudeau on Just Society: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from
“Ideas of Pierre Trudeau on Just Society: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Ideas of Pierre Trudeau on Just Society: Analytical Essay. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2023].
Ideas of Pierre Trudeau on Just Society: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 May 29]. Available from:
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