Work Ethics in a Developing British Columbia
Inventing the Lazy Indian
One of the reasons that Aboriginals were considered to be shirkers is that they did not have to put up with low wages and harsh working conditions. They had alternative, more traditional ways of making ends meet. When employers complained that they could not rely on Aboriginal workers, what they meant was that the Aboriginal workers were not dependent on the white economy. Lutz makes this point by comparing Aboriginal people to British Columbia’s immigrant Chinese population. The Chinese were discriminated against in many ways, but in the work place employers invariably found them to be more industrious and reliable than Aboriginals.
What this meant was that because of their marginal social situation with few ways to make a living, Chinese workers accepted starvation wages and terrible working conditions. In the eyes of their employers, this made them ideal employees, unlike the Aboriginals who could, and did, walk away from jobs they did not like.