Marginalized Native Canadians protesting for radical reforms; like School!

I’m not sure where Al Jezeera was going with this piece but I do find it interesting to get a non-official look at how we treat our Native Canadians.

“In 2007, the Mohawk community at Tyendinaga, 200 kilometres east of Toronto, blocked the trans-continental rail line and Canada’s largest highway in protest at the government’s failure to address land rights and basic issues of survival within First Nations – including safe drinking water, which the community lacked.

That episode was a hint of the leverage indigenous peoples in Canada possess, as hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo was stalled by simple barricades placed across a rural stretch of the Canadian National railway’s mainline between Toronto and Montreal.

They are referring to the standoff at Oka, I did not realize that it qualified Canada to become home of insurgents.

“In recent years in particular, Canada’s indigenous communities have shown the will and potential to grind the country’s economic lifelines to a halt through strategically placed blockades on the major highways and rail lines that run through native reserves well outside of Canada’s urban landscape.”

You tend to forget about things that are not happening directly to you.  I was stirred by the power of Shawn Brant’s words:

“The message resounded,” said Shawn Brant, a high profile Mohawk activist involved in the 2007 blockades.

“We are not going to live in abject poverty, to have our children die, to have our women abducted, raped and murdered without any investigations. We are not going to live with the basic indignities that occur to us daily. We would bring them to an end.”

Yah, good ole’ Canada.  We keep our Native Canadians in a deep dark memory hole, we bring them out to apologize once and awhile, but once we are done with them; back to the hole.

Oh and while you are in the hole, we will forget about nasty little statistics like these:

“These root causes, these abysmal conditions for some of the aboriginal people are serious.”

There are more than 800 outstanding native land claims held against the Canadian government. And in many First Nations communities there is deep crisis, with poverty, unemployment and overcrowding the norm.

According to figures from the Assembly of First Nations, more than 118 First Nations lack safe drinking water and some 5,500 houses do not have sewage systems.

Almost one half of homes on native reserves are in need of “major repairs”, compared with 7 per cent of non-native homes.

Natives suffer a violent crime rate that is more than 300 times higher than Canada’s non-native population, while natives represent 18.5 per cent of the male prison population and one-quarter of the female population, although natives only constitute 4 per cent of the total population.”

If my people were being systematically mistreated like this, I would be mighty annoyed as well.  The sad thing is that I’m betting most Canadians have little idea what life is like for many Native Canadians.  The lack of information or curiosity is a hallmark of imperial populations who are fed only the happy news about their great empire and how amazingly benevolent they are.

Hurrah for privilege! Hurrah for the subtle racism that continues to marginalize our Native Canadian populations!

Hurrah for the invidious status-quo indeed.