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 “Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.”

-EMMA GOLDMAN, Anarchism and Other Essays

Celebrating Canada’s ‘nationhood’ seems a little trite and ephemeral to me.  Woo, ethnic cleansing, woo cultural genocide and the rest of the checkered past gets layered under the cheers drunken yahoos happy to have another excuse to get pissed out of their minds while waving the Canadian flag.

Meh.

I choose this day to bring attention to something that Rachel Notley and the NDP Alberta Government chose to do, not too long ago.

“Premier Rachel Notley delivered an emotional apology for Alberta’s failure to take action against the residential school system on Monday and joined a growing call for a public inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women.

The announcement came nearly three weeks after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that almost a century of abuses at residential schools funded by the Canadian government amounted to “cultural genocide.”

    Native Canadians have been marginalized and forgotten in Canadian society.  We are aware of the stereotypes and misconceptions, but too often we choose to feed them and not try to reform ideas like “the lazy drunken Indian”.  News-flash here friends – if people like your own ethnicity had been forcibly removed from their homes, put into schools where abuse and torture were the norm and punished for speaking your native language or performing your cultural practices, your generation – let me assure you – would be pretty fucked up.

  residentialschools Canadians approved of the residential school system and thought *somehow* that the 1960’s Scoop was a good thing.

  It wasn’t.

  Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has finally addressed the issue:

“We were shocked and at times rendered speechless as we learned of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit children forcibly removed from their homes,” Ms. Notley said in the Alberta legislature.

“Although the province of Alberta did not establish this system, members of this chamber did not take a stand against it. For this silence, we apologize.”

  A small, but very important first step.  The last residential school closed in 1996, so 19 years is way overdue for the government and people of Alberta to step up and recognize the trauma inflicted on our First Peoples.

   Hope.  For such a long time I have not associated that word with our governance.  The apology would have been enough, but Rachel Notley continued:

“I want the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women to come out of the shadows and be viewed with compassion and understanding in the clear light of day,” Ms. Notley said. “The silence that once was, has long since passed. We will not fail these women. Not this time. Now is the time for their voices to be heard.”

    I might be persuaded that this government has interests other than the oil/gas industry if this sort of thing keeps up.  Of course, switching levels of governance, one can always find the dark cloud to the silver lining; case in point being Stephen Harper and his merry band of shit-lords that happen to be running the Federal Government:

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper has so far rejected calls for an inquiry, saying that authorities are already taking the proper steps to combat the issue and a further inquiry is not necessary.

In 2008, Mr. Harper issued an apology for residential schools and said at the time that the abuses inflicted by the system helped contribute to lasting social problems in First Nations communities.

According to an RCMP report, 206 of Canada’s 1,017 female aboriginal homicides between 1980 and 2012 were in Alberta. The report also noted that 28 per cent of Alberta’s female homicides between 1980 and 2012 involved indigenous women.”

   Yah, these fine Conservative individuals need to be voted out of office in the upcoming federal election and a government like Alberta’s NDP that cares about people rather than profit, needs to be installed.

   So there ya go.

Happy Canada Day!

ca-native

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.

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