We've all heard it. The saying goes, "all Canadians are immigrants expect native Canadians." The intent of this statement is to conflate everyone who is not native Canadian into an immigration narrative as if the first European settlers and the next batch of immigrants to arrive tomorrow are one and the same. This view is too simplistic and it is superficially true but the issue is more complex than that albeit not hard to understand.
Simply put immigrants today are coming to a country that is, for the most part, different from the one they left. (This isn't entirely true since too much immigration from too few source countries has created what are de facto colonies on Canadian soil. We give them cute names like Chinatown or Little Italy but they are extensions of foreign nations into Canadian territory due to the anti-assimilated behaviour of those who arrived. It is colonialism, at least culturally, but we give these immigrants/colonialists citizenship which allows us to pretend colonialism isn't happening.) This isn't too dissimilar from what the first European settlers experienced when they left their native countries and arrived in Canada. They arrived and entered into a host society constituted of the indigenous peoples who populated the land. As the European presence grew it eventually overshadowed the indigenous host society only to replace it and itself become the host society that we, and the world, have come to be familiar with. That host society is a European presence in a North American context.
That host society is what immigrants today are entering into and since the vast majority of immigrants to Canada today are from what are called non-traditional sources, meaning non-European sources, history seems to be repeating itself. What we have is the mass introduction of a people, predominately Asian, into a host society dissimilar from itself. This mass introduction, if history truly repeats itself, will overwhelm the host society and eventually replace it creating a new majority and new national identity, a "new Canada" if you will (what was wrong with the old one?)
There are those who object to this prospect (such as myself and I believe the majority of Canadians as well) and this is where native Canadians become a useful tool to deflect opposition. You see, if we are all immigrants (except native Canadians of course) then who are Canadians, especially white Canadians in whose faces link Canada to its historical settler foundations, who are they to complain when non-European immigrants do what their European forefathers did: settle and colonize indigenous lands? If Europeans settled on "stolen lands" then why not Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Pakistanis, Nigerians, etc.? Immigration is colonialism's legacy; it is colonialism just expressed in another word. If we are all immigrants (and if no one is illegal) then the next person to immigrate to Canada is a colonizer since he or she have every intention to settle on stolen indigenous lands.
The great hypocrisy in all of this is that those who justify their presence in Canada by invoking the native Canadian card are often from countries who have suffered from colonialism as well; a negative period in their histories from which many nations have not yet recovered. Yet, they see no parallel in what they are doing here in Canada. You see, colonialism is only bad when it's happening to you. When you're the one doing it and have a lot to gain from it then that's different.
In this vein immigration isn't population growth but population replacement; it isn't immigration but colonialism. This is doubly true for immigrants today who are not only colonizing "stolen" indigenous lands but are contributing to the colonization of the host society that replaced the indigenous one that preceded it. And this is done with tacit government approval in the guise of multiculturalism.
Since Canada was founded on "stolen land" it is odd to hear immigrants (even the children of immigrants and aren't we all children of immigrants?) accuse Canada of being an apartheid state. I have heard this hypocritical nonsense before from Arab and Palestinian rights groups operating on Canadian universities. Their arguments are made bankrupt by the fact that they make these statements while benefiting from the fruits awarded to them by the alleged apartheid state of Canada simply by living here. By immigrating to Canada immigrants express their approval of the colonization of "stolen lands" (as long as its not theirs) and wish to be apart of it. If the rights of indigenous Canadians are really a concern for them the only way they can be taken seriously is if they pack their bags and make their denouncements from the lands of their ancestors. However seeing how the individual in this case, one Chadni Desai, is south Asian then maybe she should get her own house in order first before moral grandstanding here in Canada.
Any way you look at it immigration is colonialism if you are native Canadian. And they are still losing out because of it. In this SaultStar article First Nations chiefs attack the immigration system as a disservice to Canada's indigenous peoples.
First Nations chiefs slammed the federal and provincial governments Monday for efforts to attract and to educate immigrants in light of education and other funding shortfalls faced by natives in this country.
"It has been been mentioned here many times how many millions of dollars they are pouring into bringing people to this country when we've got the demographics of a young population that's a ready workforce that needs the capacity, that needs the education," Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee told a crowd at an education rally Monday that stopped traffic east of the city for a little less than two hours. "We could take advantage of the energy sector, we could take advantage of mining, forestry."
Madahbee complained that during a recent hospital visit he saw no Anishinabe people working in higher-paying jobs.
"If there's any Anishinabe working there at all, they're working in custodial positions. Where are they in the labs? Where are they as doctors? We need education," said Madahbee.
This dismay was expressed in response to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's intention to "spend $30 million over the next four years to provide scholarships to international students completing doctorates at Ontario Universities."
The moral exhibitionists who make allegations that Canada is an apartheid state oftentimes harbour liberal views regarding immigration as if the two points of view are not connected in some way. If there was any sincere concern for the issues facing Canada's native community then advocating lower immigration targets and forcing the government to look to Canada's indigenous population to satisfy labour shortfalls would be prominent. This would help lift them out of their third world status. But aside from us racist immigration reformers this option is never made by those who pretend to care. Indeed, immigration pushes native issues further and further off the political radar because as a political voting block they do not matter compared to voter rich urban centers where the majority of Canada's immigrants reside. And I don't see this changing anytime in the future. For native Canadians it's more of the same: more immigrants, more colonialism, the beat goes on.
But does anyone even truly care about native issues? It seems when First Nations chiefs speak no one cares to listen. Perhaps it's because when they do their responses are uncomfortable. What good is immigration to native Canadians when it continuously displaces them from jobs that they could be trained for? What good is immigration if it marginalizes native Canadians politically and removes their concerns from mainstream discourse to make room for hijabs, and kirpans, and silly Chinese superstitions? What good is immigration to native Canadians at all if ever? It's easy to dismiss white Canadians who disagree with immigration. It's not so easy when even the indigenous population sees no benefit to the immigration system as well so we'll ignore them, just like we always do.