What are the differences between the world views of First Nations people and the European immigrants who settled Canada, and how have those differences created misunderstandings between the two?

Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The world view of the First Nations peoples can best be summarized by the First Nations themselves:

"First Nations worldview representes a unique perspective of the world and the interconnectedness to one another in the circle of life.  Each Nation has their own ceremonies, protocols, and ways of relating and living this perspective.  The main element of the worldview is to live in harmony with all created things and to ensure that all is in balance with one another.  The worldview considers all things of the natural world to have a spirit, equally valued and that we cannot live one without the other.  We experience worldview through oral traditions, ceremonial practices, stories, and dance.  There is a balance of the spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual self.  First Nation peoples acknowledge the Creator as the giver of life." [treaty6education.lskysd.ca/bigideas_worldview]

The worldview of the First Nations people is vastly different than that of the European immigrants who settled Canada, ultimately at the expense of the native peoples.  Native American culture is far more spiritual in terms of how one views the world than that of most Canadians of British and French heritage.  While some early settlers, including trappers, understood and respected the ways of the indigenous peoples, for most the ways of the First Nations were anachronistic and paganism.  The First Nations were obstacles to be overcome, and their land exploited.  There was no abiding sense of responsibility to the earth or of man's place as part of a larger ecosystem, and there was certainly no sense of spirituality beyond the basics of the Catholic and Protestant Churches.  The Sufis of the Muslim world have more in common with the First Nations peoples than did the British and French settlers.

The current Canada is a modern member of the industrialized world, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and contributor to many United Nations peacekeeping missions, and a partner to the United States in the defense of the continent.  Its treatment of its indigenous population, however, has been abysmal, evident in the commitment of human rights groups and the United Nations to investigate the treatment of Canada's Native Americans by the British/French majority.  Canada's world view is one with the United States, Great Britian, France, Germany, and other advanced societies in Europe.  It has serious differences with its larger, more powerful neighbor to the south, but, in terms of world view, it is closer to the world of Caucasians than to that of its indigenous population.