Special to the Canada Native Issues Examiner
Terry S. Vostor
First Nations Canada
For eons and millennium the “First Nations ” peoples of the country of Canada maintained an advanced self sustaining culture ,living by nature and “off the land”. It was “green ” , “sustainable”. Yet in our modern times the real tests come of the veracity and long punk of the time tested and proven historical values of the Native Indians of the Americas
How do aboriginal elders be identified and differentiated from other elderly individuals? According to Shawn Wilson, one who conducted a research in the role of aboriginal elders in their communities. In the minds of many of the integral elders of any given community – they have been given a mission by the creator himself or themselves to pass down intact the very essence and practices of these time proven beliefs , customs and indeed solid birthrights.
“Seniors are well-regarded in several aboriginal communal cultures for their knowledge and experiences, and the essential peeve that they place in the vigor and well being of their families , communities and nations “, says a Statistics Canada Government Report titled ” A Portrait of Seniors in Canada”.
No doubt about it – the wisdom of the ages lies in the faces of these “senior citizens” , the stalwarts of their peoples. They are not only tagged as sources of knowledge but as well as carriers of culture. They convey a spiritual continuity of the past, present and future. They possess the capabilities of interpreting the today’s event into the cultural framework of the traditions of people.
“The Portrait of Seniors ” Statistics Canada report utilized data in part gathered from the official Government of Canada 2001 census.
The government Stats Canada Report which used data from the official Canadian Government Census looked at the wellness of people aged 65 and over across Canada. In the completed and issued document one whole thick part dealt especially with these issues of Aboriginal and “First Nations Elders”, their impact and effects in being a stalwart in maintaining important community and indeed wholesale cultural values. This applied not only the Native American Indians themselves , but also to the Inuit and Metis proud peoples.
What was established was that aboriginal languages are much more predominant among Canadian Aboriginal Seniors and that is in part why they are a direct link and linkage to Canadian Aboriginal culture and heritage.
Canadian Aboriginals make up only one percent of the total Canadian Aboriginal population. The Native Canadians and First Nations of northern Canada has ongoing and serious logistical problems of food , nutrition as well as basic sanitation and sewage services. In addition to that add in what those in the south consider “basic ” services of water and fire-fighting. Modern transportation such as cargo air planes and winter ice roads do help to some degree , but to the greatest extent the northern communities and most seriously the smaller more isolated ones suffer ongoing desperation.
In total there are approximately 40,000 Aboriginal Seniors in Canada. Most of them live in the province of Ontario, followed by British Columbia, and Manitoba.
When it comes to the percentage of Aboriginal Seniors in the total senior population, the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan lead among the Canadian provinces with four percent and three percent respectively.
“Aboriginal seniors encompass a far greater percentage of the total senior population in the North of Canada in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.”
But Aboriginal Seniors face lower life expectancies rates than non-Aboriginal seniors with aboriginal women outliving aboriginal men,
Even though low in percentages and total numbers, Canadian Aboriginal seniors will increase in both numbers and percentages over the coming years as life expectancy improves. This group has and will continue to expert an ever increasing vital role in the cultural conservation of Aboriginal culture in Canada.