Racism is Canada’s Achilles’ Heel
THUNDER BAY – Growing up in Winnipeg, before moving to Thunder Bay in the 1970’s, a common theme as Canadians was that Canada wasn’t racist. Canadians pointed fingers south to the United States and the treatment of black people as a horrible example of how terribly racist the Americans were.
Canadians pointed to the contrasts of the American “Melting Pot” and Canada’s “Cultural Mosaic” and how we were so much better than our southern neighbours.
Like the old saying of pointing one finger where there are three pointing back at yourself, Canadians, for the most part, tried hard to ignore the long-standing and systemic racism in our country.
Racism in Canada in many ways has been couched in the shadows. It has been something far too often that has been ignored.
Racism against Indigenous people is far too common in Canada
Racism is Canada’s Achilles’ Heel. It weakens us as a society, as a country and shows our truly ugly side to the world.
Pretending we don’t have racism, or excusing racism because there is nothing we can do about it is not a solution.
Few Canadians actually knew of the horrors many First Nations families were suffering under the residential school system. Children were ripped from their families and shipped off to school far from home. Their language, culture, and heritage were punished away from them as a means of somehow civilizing and integrating those young children into Canadian life.
In many cases, children were the targets of sexual and physical abuse that haunts their lives to this day. Few Canadians knew, but what is worse is those who were in positions of power to effect change not only knew but in too many cases they simply ignored what was happening.
Northwestern Ontario’s Empty Seat at the Senate
I have heard teachers who taught in residential schools tell others what a wonderful experience it was for them. I have heard the claims from Senator Beyak that attempt to diminish the residential school era.
A question that Senator Beyak appears to not have the courage to explain is how many cases of physical or sexual abuse of a child is acceptable in her viewpoint.
Just how many children deserved to be abused, Senator? Do you have the courage to answer that simple question?
That is where the real issue lies, so many Canadians are not willing to really step up and work to real problems being solved.
Senator Beyak is more willing to simply try to shout down the truth and she has become the defacto leader of Canadians in their intolerance.
The real results of all those actions remain with us to this day, and sadly in too many cases are continuing.
The truth is today, we know. Changes and apologies have been made. The path forward has been started.
There should be real hope.
But sadly, we continue to see the impact of ignored racism keep coming up and hammering our society.
When incidents happen in Canada where racism appears at the base of the issue, there is still a systemic approach to ignore that it is systemic racism behind the problem and claim other causes.
The decision by a jury in Saskatchewan to find Gerald Stanley not guilty of the murder of Colten Boushie has brought racism to the surface once again.
Indigenous leaders have stated that this is just one more example of how the system is stacked against Indigenous people.
Others are claiming that the system is somehow tipped too far the other way and Indigenous people are getting away with too much.
Prime Minister Trudeau, speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, February 12, 2018, said, “When indigenous adults make up 3% of our population but 26% of our incarcerated population, there is a problem. When indigenous Canadians are significantly under-represented on juries and in jury selection pools, we have a problem. We have much we need to do together to fix the system. In the spirit of reconciliation, that is exactly what we are going to be doing.”
This court case has once again brought to the surface the real issue of racism in Canada. It has with the ease of argument on social media exposed the racist views and intolerance of far too many in our country.
The real message here is we have a LONG way to go in Canada before we can honestly stand up and proudly say we are a Canada worthy of the full respect of the world that we feel so often we are owed.
There are many steps we all have to walk to find out our lives as Canadians are all interlinked together, and that our lives all matter, and that we have a lot of work to do before we can claim greatness.