What is Aboriginal lateral violence?

Editor: Lateral violence has a domino effect that causes animosity from our leaders and employees who have control.


Aboriginal lateral violence and what it is.

Lateral violence is a cycle of abuse where previously oppressed people begin to direct the oppression to a group of people or individuals who are powerless to fight back. Lateral violence is a learned behavior therefore with particularly aboriginal people it stems from:

1. Appropriation: or having our lands, waters and our way of life taken away from us.

2. The Indian Act: since 1867 allows the government to control Indian status, land, resources, wills, education, housing band administration etc. So for now the oppressors are those people in power.

3. Unresolved grief: caused from intergenerational trauma due to residential schools, discrimination and racism where the government of Canada, objective of the residential school, was to “kill the Indian child.” The first residential school was opened in 1820.

4. Relocation: we were the first inhabitants of North American however in the 1700s European explorers arrive and begin to establish claims.

5. Culture shock: 1923 aboriginal people are legally enforced to attend residential schools and are forced to abandon their language, cultural practices, beliefs and way of life.

6. Poverty: or horizontal violence which many leaders have developed whether they are first or second generation residential school survivors. In other words our leaders, children of residential school survivors, continue the cycle of lateral violence. The oppressed begin to oppress their people.

When some of our leaders don’t acknowledge that they have a problem they will exhibit lateral violence behavioral actions such as not hiring fully qualified people, nominating and voting for family members who have little or no education (nepotism), not having band meetings, not sharing resources, writing policies designed to discourage higher education, employment and economic development. Other symptoms or behaviors of lateral violence is when employees or chief and council do not return phone calls, emails or text messages or simply just don’t answer, not having an employment policy or implementing it. As a result jobs are appointed to someone thus not properly posting the job, providing incentives to family members only, allowing and condoning band members (outside encouragement) to vote for people who would support the pipeline and gas company projects.

Lateral violence has a domino effect that causes animosity from our leaders and employees who have control. However lateral violence is a learned behavior and the good news is that it can be unlearned.

Jean Sam