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SourceChengmaiNewsNetwork    Updated2020-06-06 06:01:14


  Talk show host Gao Xiaosong complained online that his online TV episode on Canada's First Nations had been "delayed indefinitely" due to "strong obstruction" from Destination Canada, a government-linked group that promotes Canadian tourism, and which says it was a co-sponsor of the show. The issue has triggered heated discussions online and aroused the public's curiosity about aboriginal Canadians.

  Given historical oppression and their extensive populations, the First Nations are a sensitive topic that is cautiously handled in Canada. Each province has different-sized reserves for aboriginal Canadians, and local civil servants are unwilling to comment on Canada's ethnic issues, including First Nations, for fear of misunderstanding.

  The Canadian media tries to be positive and objective in their coverage of First Nations. To avoid worsening prejudices on affirming negative stereotypes, some media reports on aboriginal Canadians have not been followed up, given the complexity of the stories. However, this does not mean that the Canadian government remains hands-off on the issue.

  First Nations citizens are legally privileged in Canada in an attempt to remedy past oppression and continued discrimination, and their reserves enjoy a higher status than other Canadian provinces. This makes the issue even more sensitive. Apart from the equal rights shared by all ordinary Canadians, First Nations citizens residing in the reserves enjoy tax-free tobacco and alcohol. Local Canadian police authority is limited when dealing with the reserves. In addition, First Nations citizens benefit from alternative action.

  By treaty, the reserves are semi-independent "ethnic nation" in Canada. Tribal chiefs have higher status and theoretically more power than provincial governors in their areas, and have the ultimate say over who stays in the reserves.

  Aboriginal Canadians face real challenges from continual prejudice and the high suicide rate among young people. Many reserves are located in remote areas and isolated from cities. Aboriginal Canadians' employment is thus greatly influenced by the economic performances outside the reserves. The Canadian government attempts to properly handle the issue so as to offer First Nations citizens more job opportunities. The issues of human rights are in fact livelihood issues that perplex many countries.

  Gao's talk show has been obstructed because Destination Canada felt the issues were overly sensitive and might be misrepresented. Objectively speaking, it is not only human rights issues that have kept Gao off the air. Chinese and Canadians should fully respect each other's feelings on sensitive issues and have friendly communications to improve the China-Canada relationship.

  The author is a Canada-based PhD candidate at the School of International Studies, Peking University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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