Published in 1969, The Unjust Society was Cardinal’s response to Trudeau’s “just society” government system – in which Indian rights would be abolished. It is said that “The Unjust Society was instrumental in causing the Canadian government to abandon the policy of the White Paper” (source). Obviously a powerful book that connected a lot of Indigenous people across Turtle Island, as well as confronted the internal an patriarchal hate and bigotry that is, still, being bred into Canadian identity today. Reading the book, it’s language is reminiscent of the time “Indian” and “Eskimo” being used by the author reflects the times, but also the political atmosphere. It’s somewhat ironic that we are currently under yet another Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada.
Key points discussed is the idea that as Indigenous people, we need to be at the tables when Acts and policies are in in discussion that would directly affect us. Cardinal directly addresses the idea that we – Indigenous and non-Indig, have different viewpoints of the world, and that’s alright. What matters is respecting each others opinion, but that simply isn’t the case right now/or then, where the Canadian Gov’t talks and decides whats best for us.
Cardinal warns that the youth will organize and organize well, as when we gave no faith in a Canadian Government, we will seek to destroy it in changing it, and it’s better to work with Indigenous people now, before we get to that point.
I think the most startling thing in the whole book is how little things have changed.
- “Indians have aspirations, hopes and dreams, but becoming white men is not one of them” (3)
- “As Indian people attempt to organize and as Indian leaders come more vocal and articulate, the shades of bigotry which now appear in pastel will show up in more vivid colours” (4)
- “Talking an listening have been one-way streets with white men and Indians. Until very recently white men have expected Indians to do all the listening. Indians, on the other hand, have felt that the white man just couldn’t shut up long enough to listen” (11)
- “If we are to be part of the Canadian mosaic, then we want to be colourful red tiles, taking our place where red is both needed and wanted” (15)
Buy the book: The Unjust Society