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Something to ponder

Manifest Destiny is a concept invented by John O’Sullivan in July-August 1845. It refers to the view that the expansion of the U.S. over the American continents was morally right and bound to happen. Such beliefs have likewise exerted a substantial influence on Canadian history, molding the nation’s policies and perspectives regarding territorial expansion and Indigenous peoples. In Canada, this ideology had a role in shaping the colonial mindset that rationalized the displacement and marginalization of Indigenous populations, resulting in significant and enduring adverse consequences.

The Canadian counterpart of Manifest Destiny arose from the British colonial ambition and subsequently the national policies of the Canadian government. The ideology was based on the conviction that European colonizers were fated to spread throughout North America, introducing civilization, Christianity, and advancement. The expansionist mentality was seen in a range of policies and actions designed to assimilate Indigenous populations and exploit their territories for economic profit.

Since the beginning of European colonization, Indigenous territories have been highly sought after due to their valuable resources and strategic importance. The Royal Proclamation of 1763, issued by King George III, recognized the land rights of Indigenous peoples and provided procedures for negotiating treaties. Nevertheless, this policy frequently faced disregard or subversion from settlers and colonial authorities who were anxious to acquire property. During Canada’s westward expansion, the government aimed to obtain extensive territory occupied by Indigenous peoples through treaties that were often unjust or forceful.

The numbered treaties, which were negotiated between 1871 and 1921, played a crucial role in facilitating Canada’s growth towards the west. These agreements were intended to be bilateral agreements between independent states, but in practice, they were frequently utilized as means of confiscation. Numerous Indigenous leaders engaged in treaties with the notion that they were partaking in the sharing of the land, rather than relinquishing it. The Canadian government, on the other hand, perceived treaties as a method to terminate Indigenous ownership and facilitate the utilization of land for colonization and progress. Indigenous communities suffered severe consequences due to the loss of land and resources, which resulted in economic difficulties and social breakdown.

The assimilationist practices of the Canadian government exacerbated the adverse effects of manifest destiny. The Indian Act of 1876 consolidated authority over Indigenous concerns, placing stringent regulations on governance, land utilization, and cultural customs. A very harmful component of this strategy was the residential school system, which sought to eradicate Indigenous culture by forcibly separating Indigenous children from their families and communities in order to teach them according to Euro-Canadian norms. These educational institutions were locations where there was a prevalent occurrence of mistreatment and disregard, resulting in a lasting impact of psychological distress and a sense of being disconnected from one’s cultural roots. To this day, the NCTR and TRC have documented 4,117 deaths of Indigenous children in residential schools across Canada, but Commissioner Murray Sinclair has estimated that 6,000 or more Indigenous children may have died due to abuse and neglect in residential schools.

The concept of manifest destiny in Canada was also evident in the exploitation of natural resources on Indigenous lands. The extraction of minerals, oil, and gas, as well as large-scale agricultural and forestry enterprises, frequently occurred without the agreement or advantage of Indigenous peoples. This exploitation resulted in the deterioration of the environment, the decline of traditional means of making a living, and the increased exclusion of Indigenous groups. The deterioration of the ecosystem has also disturbed the cultural and spiritual rituals that are closely intertwined with the land.

The enduring consequences of manifest destiny in Canada persistently influence Indigenous communities in the present day. The colonial heritage gives rise to enduring problems such as land conflicts, economic inequality, and social concerns. Nevertheless, there is an increasing acknowledgement of these inequities and a trend towards achieving harmony and resolution. Efforts to recognize and rectify past injustices encompass land claim settlements, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and endeavors to rejuvenate Indigenous languages and cultures.

The notion of manifest destiny, while not openly referred to as such in Canada, had a profound impact on the nation’s history and its interactions with Indigenous populations. The conviction in the inexorable growth and supremacy of European colonizers resulted in policies and actions that deprived, marginalized, and inflicted suffering upon Indigenous communities. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of this historical background is of utmost importance in order to effectively tackle the persistent obstacles encountered by Indigenous communities and progress towards a fairer and more impartial future.

Volunteers needed at the Indigenous Health Centre of Tiotià:ke!

You can find the sign-up form here.


On July 1st, 1883, the residential schools were authorized and on July 1st, 1997, Grollier Hall was closed, marking the end of the residential school system in the North that lasted over a century.

Save the date

There are a few UN World Days coming ahead in the first half of July: July 11, World Population Day and July 15, World Youth Skills Day.

Food for thought

How do you think the concepts of Doctrine of Discovery, terra nullius, and Manifest Destiny continue to influence land and law in Canada today?

Resource: Home on Native Land, a ten-week course from Raven

A reminder

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Resources for dedication of Mohawk Bible Many Mohawk Bibles have already been delivered to individuals and communities of faith, with more on their way. The Living into Right Relations Leadership Circle has developed some ideas to help communities of faith dedicate their copies of the Mohawk Bible with respect and gratitude, including liturgical resources, video clips of Harvey Satewas Gabriel reading from the Mohawk Bible and other resources about the significance of this translation.

Download resources: Ohiatonhseratokénti, The Holy Bible in Mohawk (DOC) or (PDF)