In British Columbia only fifty percent of Aboriginal students received their graduation certificate compared to seventy four percent of non Aboriginal students according to the Aboriginal “How are we doing?” report (31). As a whole, young Aboriginal people have many barriers and challenges, however being an Aboriginal women has many more added challenges. They face intersectional discrimination and oppression which keeps them at a disadvantage in our society. Politicians and Canadian leaders should be fighting against this oppression and helping to break stereotypes however not all public figures have done so. In an advertisement in the First Nations Drum newspaper Joyce Murray congratulates all First Nations high school graduates. In the context of the newspaper this seems like a good congratulatory message for Aboriginal students but her message doesn’t stop at congratulations. The advertisement continues on to say “sobriety, education, and hard work lead to success”.
This advertisement conveys the stereotypical and racist image that many people imagine when thinking about First Nations people. Sobriety, hard work, and education can all lead to success but when it is in the same advertisement as congratulating First Nations high school students there is clear racial biases. Many young Aboriginal people struggle with addictions but so do many other Canadians. Aboriginal women may want to succeed but family abuse and trauma can often get in the way of their hard work. Some Aboriginal communities don’t have high school and have to leave their families to go to school. When an Aboriginal woman has to choose between staying in her community or continuing her education it is no longer a simple decision to succeed. I think that this advertisement needs to be more culturally sensitive and recognize the effects of colonization and systemic oppression in our Country. Aboriginal students deserve a proper congratulations without any racism or stereotypes.
Congratulations to all 2015 high school graduates. Education and hard work lead to success.
I removed some words from this ad to make it inclusive to all Canadians. I feel that all Canadians should be congratulated and that there is no need to congratulate certain groups of people at certain times. I also removed the sobriety part because i felt that when congratulating all high school Canadians that sobriety isn’t something that gets brought up. Aboriginal women should be congratulated without feeling discriminated against at the same time. The new advertisement is culturally appropriate and accepting. In a congratulations i don’t think the person needs to recognize all of the struggles and oppression that person has gone through and I believe the same for when congratulation Aboriginal people. Even though those women have most likely experienced abuse, and hardship there is no need to put that in an advertisement. I hope in the future when an advertisement is published, especially from a public figure, that they are culturally appropriate.
Image taken from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/joyce-murray-first-nation-newspaper-apologize-for-sobriety-grad-ad-1.3153724
Aboriginal Report 2010/11 – 2014/15 How Are We Doing? (15, November). Retrieved June 23, 16, from https://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/reports/pdfs/ab_hawd/Public.pdf