Canada prides itself on being a country of fairness in human rights issues. How fair is a country when the majority of incarcerated people are indigenous?
How fair is Canada when they need international compulsion to conduct an inquiry into the high number of missing or murdered indigenous women?
How does Canada fare when you examine the recent two cases that exonerated two white men who shot and killed First Nation men?
Colten Boushie and Jon Styres were First Nation young men. Historically, young Indian men were mentored by their communities and encouraged to pursue specific skills to support their families and their people.
What can be done in this mainstream dysfunctional system where the historic teachings of the original people have been thrown aside? What can be done when mainstream puts indigenous men in jail or kills them?
Both of these cases involved alleged theft. In Boushie’s case, he was asleep or past out in the front seat so there was no self-defence but the magic misfire theory was born. In Styres case, there are clear discrepancies.
The original people are asked to “trust” in the justice system. Statements were made in mainstream media stating that “race” was not an issue.
Hilarious. If race was a “non-issue” then why was the jury “asked” if they would have trouble deciding if race was a factor? Now it is up to the indigenous and other people of colour to write academic pieces on how white people measure the racist proclivities of other white people. Great. First, this has to get past a panel of white academics in a white institution.
In law school, I studied one case of bias. It was when a black judge handed down a decision because this judge understood the circumstances of the case and had insight into police dealings with underprivileged communities. This judge’s decision was quickly reviewed and became taught as the textbook case of “bias”.
Why is it that when a non-native – basically an old white male has insight or experience, he is revered as an “expert” but when that same light is applied to a marginalized person, expertise suddenly becomes bias?
Racism is part and parcel of mainstream’s system. You can’t separate racism by asking some carefully crafted questions looking for a nervous eye twitch! Racism in Canada is far more subtle than overt. It can be seen in the moving of white high school students to another table when an Indian student joins them. It can be seen in the limited playing time of an Indian hockey player on an all white hockey team. It can be the prolonged delays behind the counter of bank tellers when an Indian gets to the front of the line.
These scenarios are not imagined, in fact they have happened to my family and myself. What is the solution?
For one thing, listening as an all white panel discusses racism (or the real issue which is property) is lighting the powder keg of Indian discontent. The more mainstream tries to explain how they are “stopping” racial bias, the angrier First Nations will become. They are angry because they are listening to an explanation of how they are “not’ treated badly on a daily basis. This is not true.
Mainstream media bombards the global audience with negative news about the original people. They report “current” news when they lack a historical understanding of First Nation oppression in Canada. There are no detailed reports of racism or “follow ups” of “isolated events” by mainstream media. There are concerted efforts to deny that racism exists in Canada.
Shortly before the decision in the Khill shooting, the new Supreme Court Chief Justice stated that there are too many or a disproportionate number of incarcerated indigenous compared to non-natives. Why is this?
Simply put, because the system is racist. They system does not allow for fighting for the “we” over the “me”. That is why we have a charter of individual rights and freedoms. The original people are a collective people with complex protocols and kinship systems that place the whole above the individual. This worldview is not translating to Canadian governments, institutions or its citizens.
The system does not promote giving over taking. If the original people hold ceremonies to “give away” they are stopped, outlawed or questioned because it does not make sense to a system that promotes taking, hoarding, and is greedily possessive. The original people were able to sustain themselves for centuries because they took only enough for their people. At different times, the people were able to take a little more to practice the “give away” or to provide for the whole community. This practice built up the people’s selflessness because the give away was an honourable practice.
If the original people stand against corporations bent on environmental destruction, they are targeted as terrorists with accompanying legislation immediately put into place or not rescinded by consecutive governments. In any action that threatens the almighty dollar, there is a national rallying cry “its all our money” PR campaign. You can literally see the millionaires selling one or more properties and going down to two servants or less when they are forced to economize. There are many documented quotes from the original people at treaty or when the non-natives were attempting to appropriate land- stating that we are part of this land.
Finally, on the defence of property, here there is much needed clarification. In 2012, Canada was asked by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to produce a document that deeds or gives them title to the lands of “Canada”. They have yet to produce this document.
Therefore, Canada and their accompanying systems are squatting on Indian Land. In Canadian law, property rights are a legal fallacy because the “crown” owns the underlying title. That’s something to think about. How can one citizen have property rights or the defence of these property rights, if the state of Canada has not yet proven they have actual “ownership” of this land?