Thunder Bay – As Canadians, we often have what could only be called a smug feeling of our standing in the world. Throughout my lifetime I have heard people explain that Canadians are not racist, as they point fingers at Americans.
I have heard and seen people do terribly racist things. Here in Thunder Bay our city struggles constantly with racism.
In the United States a lot of the racism is directed at Black people. In Canada and the United States a lot of racism has been directed at Asian people especially lately with the COVID-19 pandemic which started in China.
After the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Edmonton Oilers in the National Hockey League playoffs, Ethan Bear, and Indigenous member of the Oilers has become the latest target of racist and hateful slurs.
"I'm here to stand up to this behaviour… I'm proud of where I come from. I'm proud to be from Ochapowace First Nation. I'm not just doing this for myself. I'm doing this for all people of colour & for the next generation."
Ethan Bear's statement in response to racist comments. pic.twitter.com/3CK6DENnHC
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) May 26, 2021
Here in Thunder Bay, Indigenous people have been the target of trailer hitches, eggs, hot coffee all thrown at them from vehicles.
Verbal slurs are commonplace.
The City on an official stand, has its Anti-Racism Committee, and Indigenous Relations Manager, and created the ‘Walk a Mile’ Project.
Yet at the International Friendship Gardens, there is no recognition of the Indigenous people. At the Spirit Garden at Marina Park there is a place for a sacred fire, but the grate on that fireplace is locked.
We have a monument to Residential School on Arthur Street, but we really don’t have a full and total understanding of the full and continued impact that former students and their families are still going through.
Canada-wide, we have had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the report of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and an official apology from the Government of Canada over the shameful efforts to “Take the Indian out of the child” through residential school.
We have a long way to go. “Many miles before we sleep”, as poet Robert Frost wrote.
There is sadly a long ways to go before some people will start to figure out that blood in the same in each man, woman, and child on this little blue and green planet.
Ethan Bear is just the latest target of hate. He fortunately has the resources to stand up and fight.
Most of the people hit with hate do not.
Canadians need to be taking time to reject the status quo, break down walls of hate and racism.
We can do it.