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Poverty Issues Faced in Indigenous Communities Across Canada

By Saeyon Ramraj

Contributing Author

Poverty is a worldwide issue that affects people of all kinds. However, the unfortunate reality is people with different backgrounds can be more susceptible to poverty. Some of the communities that are being impacted the most are the Indigenous communities in Canada. As you can see from the map below, True North Aid shows that the poverty rates of Indigenous children are significantly higher than Non-Indigenous children. There are a lot of factors that go into these outcomes, primarily ones that stem from policies and practices created by the government. This is a subject we should all be aware of because it has devastating effects on many families. Once you open your eyes to the challenges being faced by the Indigenous communities in Canada, you will want to help them.

Throughout Canadian history, Indigenous peoples have been oppressed by the Canadian government on various occasions. A prime example of this is the Indian Act. Back in 1876, the Indian Act was created with the purpose of assimilating First Nations peoples into Euro-Canadian culture. The Indian Act was amended on various occasions. One of the most notable changes was forcing First Nations children to attend residential schools and ruling it illegal for them to practice their religion. There were also many instances of the government making it more difficult for First Nations peoples to make land claims and even keep their status as Indian.

Later, in 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau suggested that all First Nations people lose their Indian status. However, this was the first time the backlash against restricting First Nations peoples was so prominent that the government did not pursue this idea. This was when awareness started to spread about First Nations. Soon after, in the 1980s, high-profile organizations such as the United Nations Human Rights Commission believed that the Indian

Act violated human rights. Since then, the Indian Act has been reformed to give First Nations peoples more power, but several components of it still cause harm today.

There are multiple reasons why Indigenous communities have such high poverty rates in comparison to their Non-Indigenous counterparts. One reason is that they are often being stripped of their land and relocated to areas that are less rich in resources, which means their economy is constantly taking a toll. In addition, these communities receive much less government funding than they deserve. This has the most impact on the quality of their education, which directly correlates to their high unemployment rates. Also, Indigenous peoples face a lot of discrimination in the workforce. This prevents them from getting jobs or promotions.

We can all play a role in being fair towards Indigenous communities. A report released by the United Nations stated that there were cases of governments denying the existence of Indigenous peoples and their discrimination within their borders when that was the reality. We all must realize Indigenous peoples are being mistreated, so we can take steps to improve. We should be accepting of their practices and not try to change who they are. You can join initiatives or start your initiative that raises awareness about the problem Indigenous peoples are facing. Supporting these communities with donations is also very beneficial. When we all stand together, our voices become stronger, and we will make a greater impact. Indigenous peoples need our help more than ever, so now is the time to make a positive change.


“‘Doctrines of Dispossession’ - Racism against Indigenous Peoples.” United Nations,

“First Nations Poverty in Canada.” True North Aid, 18 June 2020,

Parrott, Zach. “Indian Act.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 16 Dec. 2020,

“Poverty and Child Welfare: Poverty in Indigenous and Racialized Communities.” OACAS Library Guides,

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in the blog posts are those of the contributing author. Rising Sun Food Drive Foundation makes every effort to provide space for young people to advocate and voice their thoughts, research, opinions and ideas that are inspired by our mission but may not reflect on the organization's services and operations.

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