The Pass System

On Wednesday, February 28th our group met for lunch and to view the documentary “The Pass System.” Below are the responses the students had after our viewing.

As an indigenous individual watching Alex William’s video “The Pass System”  just expanded my education on this harsh topic.  All I could picture was a family with low faces getting stripped of their identity and living unfreely.  I could hear the anger and sadness of not being allowed to leave off reserve without a permit. I can also hear the indigenous nation saying “We are treated like Gemini pigs or like we don’t know anything,” while they treated like inmates in jail. With my indigenous perspective my insight is still that indigenous peoples live unfreely in society today and that colonization made that happen, that’s just the reality of Canada. I can’t help but ask myself throughout the video “Why?” over and over again. Such as why did this system last that long? I do have hope that as people we can try educate ourselves on this topic and many others so truth and reconciliation can happen. So as the next generation, How can we educate ourselves about this topic and advocate to move forward? Just a question for you to ask yourself and talk about at the dinner table.


Watching and understanding about the pass system and how it works frustrates me personally; while having family members who have been involved with a lot of the racist history in Saskatchewan. this topic causes a lot of anger and regret for my family, this feeling is common for ALL first nations.


The law is made to protect.
The law is made to protect the citizens?
The law is made to protect the system.
Obey the law and reap the benefits?
Obey the law that strips your benefits.
To some the law, a suggestion.
To the rest a leash they call “protection.”
A hold around expression,
No four walls, nonetheless detention.

Never diverting their attention,
until now.
Still clasping wrists instead of joining hands.
Giving out passes,
turns to asking for passes,
but your books were burned long ago.


I think this shows how strong and resilient Indigenous people are. Our oppressed past has made it a struggle for grasping our culture and identity, but it also shows we will never disappear; we are grounded.


I wonder what Canada would look like if imperialism hadn’t occurred. The oppressive nature of the European settlers caused pain, a loss of culture and meaning for the Indigenous people of Canada.Would all those indigenous women still be alive?

Would freedom take on its full meaning?

Would residential schools have opened?

The pass system would not have been passed if the voices of Indigenous peoples were heard.


blog post on the past system_Meagan_Hong


Politicians and educators must make the choice to teach the real truth, not the idealized version. Even though it is heavy, it is what happened and not teaching it contributes to the ongoing racism and ignorance in the school system.


Why did people and why do people still do horrible things. Is it human nature? Or is this a learned behavior? Can people from the past be held to today societal standards?


The Pass system, was part of the Canadian history I was never taught. It brought into light how dark our Canadian history was.  It is time for action and we all need to be apart of the change.


Little known fact about Canadian reserves: they used to be prisons. Even littler known fact: South African officials studied the Canadian reserve system when they were planning how to implement apartheid.

I know this comes off as a bit aggressive, but it’s the truth.

It’s the sort of truth that we as Canadians needs to accept in order to move forward. That’s not to say that we ought to feel shame because of it. Nobody is blaming today’s people for past injustice. All that is asked is that reality be accepted.

The Alex Williams Documentary titled “The Pass System” serves to enlighten Canadians about their history, and does so extremely well. The most striking moment in the film was when some sort of government PSA claiming that residential schools were some sort of paradise of civilisation. I immediately thought of a scene from “The Boy In Striped Pajamas” where a nearly identical PSA has been created that showed concentration camps.

Ultimately what matters is that we all make the effort to learn, as the way forward is always education.



pass 2.JPG



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