The Real Pandemic

A commentary on the affects of pandemic fear

I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) was recently sent a song video called ‘Covid 19’ that, in my opinion, speaks of the real pandemic.  There is a line in the song that says “fear is the real pandemic.” A line that jumped out at me is “Let’s kill the fear that the news spreads.”  Here is the song I am talking about.

What I find most interesting is that the mainstream media is focused on Covid and the alleged deaths caused by the virus, when there is a far worse pandemic happening. Covid restrictions and government control is mentally harming people. The truth is, fear is causing suicides, drug overdoses, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, and bullying which all kill more people than the virus. The song refers to a pandemic of fear; that is the real pandemic. Let’s address how this media fear mongering  is affecting the masses.

First, there is a huge increase in bullying (#bullying #antibullying). I’ve written about this in previous posts. Most recently relates to the mask debate where masking is dividing people into two groups: Those who feel safe when they, and those around them, are wearing masks, and those who want the freedom to choose. The differences of views between these groups results in bullying. Check out some of my previous posts for further clarification.

Second, is the increase in drug overdoses. CBC News’ article, B.C. records highest number of fatal overdoses in a single month, with 170 deaths, reports that British Columbia’s (BC) Coroners said May had the highest total ever recorded for a single month in provincial history, and more people have died from drug overdoses than from COVID-19 in B.C. all year. The article has a graph comparing Covid deaths to drug overdose deaths in 2020. It is quite striking to see the comparison. Partnership to End Addictions’ July article, Drug Overdoes Increasing and Accelerating During COVID-19 Pandemic, says this about the US:

…suspected overdoses soared 18% in March compared with last year, 29% in April and 42% in May, according to the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, a federal program that collects data from ambulance teams, police and hospitals.

The US director for the Center for Disease Control, Robert Redfield, says, “We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.” (source)

Another CBC article, Pandemic worsens Canada’s deadly opioid overdose epidemic, says Alberta, BC and Ontario have all seen increases in overdoses. It makes sense. When the media spreads fear, people become stressed and anxious, and use more substances to cope.

Third, is the increase in drug and alcohol use during Covid.  Forbes’ article, Covid-19 Is Helping Make 2020 A Record Year for Cannabis Sales; a headline that says it all. The University of Southern California has an article, Pandemic drives alcohol sales — and raises concerns about substance abuse, which again isn’t surprising because fear perpetrated by the media drives people to use drugs to cope with the stress. 70 per cent of Australians report drinking more alcohol than usual since the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia (source). More than 1 in 5 Canadians who drink alcohol and have been staying at home report drinking once a day since the beginning of May (source). Clearly, Covid is causing a substance abuse problem, and substance abuse gradually kills.

Fourth, is the suicide problem. National Review’s article, Lockdown Suicides on the Rise, quotes CDC director Robert Redfield as saying,

“There has been another cost that we’ve seen, particularly in high schools. We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID.”

Another article, Suicide deaths higher than COVID-19 deaths amid lockdown, CDC chief warns, says the same thing. Mr. Redfields is quoted saying, “We’re seeing far greater suicides’ and ‘deaths from drug overdose’ than deaths from COVID, and prolonged school closures may be more dangerous than coronavirus.”

New York Post’s, California doctor claims he’s seen more deaths by suicide than coronavirus, validates what the CDC director says.

An August research paper titled, Projected increases in suicide in Canada as a consequence of COVID-19, conducted an analysis of suicide and unemployment rates between 2000 and 2018 in Canada. Suicide mortality in 2019 was predicted using the 2019 unemployment rate of 5.7%. Suicide mortality in 2020 and 2021 were projected for three scenarios of change in unemployment rates: no change (i.e., 5.9% in 2020 and 6.0% in 2021 as published in the 2019 Federal Budget), moderate increase (i.e., 7.5% in 2020, 7.2% in 2021), and extreme increase (i.e., 16.6% in 2020, 14.9% in 2021). Clearly, with all the unemployment happening because of Covid lockdowns, Canada’s suicides will increase.

Fifth, is the increase in domestic violence. The Foundation for Economic Educations has an article titled, Domestic Violence More Than Doubled Under Lockdowns, New Study Finds. The National Bureau of Economic Research,  an American private non-profit research organization, released a paper which analyzed government-mandated lockdowns in India. It found evidence of a 131% increase in complaints of domestic violence in May 2020 in “red zone districts, which are those that experienced the strictest lockdown measures, relative to districts that had less strict measures (“green zones”). Canada’s Globe and Mail News outlet reports that at least nine women and girls were killed in domestic homicides in Canada during the pandemic as of May 12 (source). I’m sure that number has increased since.

From Flicker

The Medical Press says the COVID-19 pandemic has led to higher levels of depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and psychological trauma among American adults during the early months of its spread; that’s according to three new studies published by University of Arkansas. The article also says;

“Fear is a pretty consistent predictor…What we found is that fear, coupled with a range of social vulnerabilities, consistently and significantly predict a range of mental health outcomes.”

The Star’s article, COVID-19 having ‘profound effect’ on Canadian lives, especially psychologically: survey, says Canadians have anxiety about their loved ones’ health, fears of Canada’s hospital system becoming overwhelmed, and an alarming number of women (one in 10) are afraid of violence erupting in their home.

A RedState article says the head of CDC admits lockdown is killing way more Americans than COVID. This is the real pandemic. If this is indeed true, which seems to be the case according to my research, then why is the mainstream media solely focused on Covid numbers as opposed to the psychological trauma that Covid restrictions are causing. Do they have an agenda? Is there intent to spread fear, and if so, why?  Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Is that what is happening? One has to wonder if the virus is as deadly as the media wants us to believe. It seems to me that the real pandemic is one of fear; a pandemic that is killing and harming more people than the Covid virus.

As the song says, “Let’s kill the fear that the news spreads.”  It is very simple; STOP WATCHING THE NEWS,  because as long as the mainstream news spreads its fear–the biggest bully of all–society will continue to become more mentally unwell. That leads to more people experiencing bullying because people are pitted against one another, and some people die because of it. Suicides, drug overdoses, alcohol and drug abuse, and domestic violence are all on the increase, and even the CDC is admitting more people die from the fear spread by the news than the virus itself. Why aren’t we hearing more about this in the news? This is the real pandemic!

The Great Debate of 2020 Continues

A commentary on masking

The Washington Post recently had an article titled, Unlike the United States, more and more countries are making masks mandatory. The article says that France has made face coverings mandatory in all public enclosed spaces, and England is set to begin enforcing new rules that make masks compulsory inside supermarkets and other shops. Many cities across Canada are implementing mandatory mask bylaws. Many US states require mandatory masks in public spaces.

Along with those mandatory masking laws, I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) am reading more and more reports of “covid mask bullying” (#bullying #antibullying).  In a Washington Post article,  a lady wearing a black mask is described who ambushed a California couple with a can of mace, scolding them for not wearing face masks and eating at the Dog Park. Another article by the Sun Sentinel describes a Walmart shopper who was charged with pulling a gun during mask dispute.  Newsweek reports on a Florida man, who wasn’t wearing a face mask,  who assaults a Walmart staff because he was denied entry into the store. Every day there seems to be a new article describing “covid mask bullying.”

The problem is the push for masking is dividing people into two groups: Those who feel safe when they, and those around them, are wearing masks, and those who want the freedom to choose. In my last post, I questioned the studies supporting masking. The data is pretty clear when it comes to physical distancing and frequent hand washing. They do reduce transmission. For masking, the data is not so clear. I wondered if I was wrong, so I set out to find definitive proof that masking is effective. I looked only at the most recent studies (June 2020 or later) and I only looked at the research papers themselves as opposed to the news article discussing them. News Media can misinform and mislead because of biases.

One study I looked at was updated June 15, 2020. It said in its conclusions:

Societal norms and government policies supporting the wearing of masks by the public, as well as international travel controls, are independently associated with lower per-capita mortality from COVID-19.

That sounds convincing, but then in its background it says:

There is wide variation between countries in per-capita mortality from COVID-19…Determinants of this variation are not fully understood.

I discussed in my last post the problems with comparing countries as every country uses different criteria for determining a covid death. This study’s background information seems to agree with me. For that reason, this study is not convincing.

In another study, dated August 2020, it says

The study suggests that community mask use by well people could be beneficial, particularly for COVID-19, where transmission may be pre-symptomatic.

There is one of those words again: ‘Could.’  That means possibly or might. That is not convincing. Moreover, at the bottom of the paper is a heading: Conflict of Interest. It says the researcher has received funding from 3M, an American multinational conglomerate corporation, more than 10 years prior for face mask research. For me, that makes the research bias and unreliable.

In yet another study published in June, it says:

In summary, our modelling analyses provide support for the immediate, universal adoption of face masks by the public.

It may provide support, but it hasn’t provided proof. Furthermore, this study uses mathematical modeling, a process of developing a mathematical model. A mathematical model is a description of a system using mathematical concepts and language.  According to Wikipedia, the complexity of a mathematical model involves “a trade-off between simplicity and accuracy of the model… While added complexity usually improves the realism of a model, it can make the model difficult to understand and analyze, and can also pose computational problems, including numerical instability.”  For me, that makes this study unconvincing.

In an article by Brigham Young University updated July 25, 2020 and titled, Making sense of the research on COVID-19 and masks, it says:

Researchers from hospitals, universities, the private sector, and government agencies have concluded that masks could be one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools to stop COVID-19 and accelerate the economic recovery. There is universal agreement, however, that masking alone will not be enough to stop the pandemic. Masking is most effective when combined with physical distancing, frequent hand washing, rapid testing, and coordinated contact tracing.

There is that word again: ‘Could.’  That means possibly or might. That is not convincing.

Furthermore, in a Health Cloud article titled, Are Statistics Reliable? it says most people think that statistics are truth. When you see a study that quotes a percentage in its findings, which many masking studies do, it is natural to believe it to be accurate. The truth is, statistics can be very misleading and are easily manipulated. Here is a simple example. Being bald increases your risk of cardiovascular disease by 70%! The risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age, and so does baldness.  However; this does not mean that baldness and cardiovascular disease are linked. That’s misleading!

I set out to find proof that masking works, yet, I am still no more convinced as I was before starting this post.  Studies saying masking may or could save lives simply are not convincing, and have no definitive proof. Mandating something without the proof that it is effective, especially when causing ‘covid mask bullying’  is wrong, plus it gives people a false sense of security. Enforcing physical distancing and insisting on hands washing makes sense because it has been shown to be effective. Any policy that pits people against one another, that is, those who feel safe when they and those around them are wearing masks, and those who want the freedom to choose should not be mandated.  It only escalates tensions between the two groups and causes ‘covid mask bullying.’

Before accusing me of being a conspiracy theorist, understand that I’m not saying masks fail to protect us. Of course they provide some protection since they are barrier to droplets released from someone. There is not enough convincing evidence that face mask decrease transmission to force people to wear them. Wearing a mask should be an individual’s choice.

The Great Debate of 2020

A commentary on mandatory masking

I (#blogger #blog #YA #authors) have been away camping for the past two weeks, and so I wasn’t able to check the news. I have to say, it was nice to be away from the sensationalized news stories, especially about covid, and the stories of civil unrest on our planet. Upon my return to civilization, I’ve learned that a debate is raging over mandatory mask wearing.  I was struck by the CBC News headline, OPP shoot man dead hours after mask dispute leads to alleged assault. The story says a man refused to wear a mask,  allegedly assaulted a grocery store employee, and then drove away. A police officer saw the car, followed it to the man’s home, and outside the home the two police officers fired their guns after some sort of “interaction.”  Another news article reports that an Ohio county launched a hotline to report people spotted without masks (see hotline). There were numerous stories about wearing masks. These are really stories about bullying (#bullying #antibullying) in my opinion; stories about masks verses no masks.

All across Canada there have been protests against mandatory mask wearing (see CTV News). Protests are occurring in the US as well. “Experts,” whoever they are, are telling us masks  protect us and those around us. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that healthy people wear masks over their mouths and noses when leaving their homes and entering places where physical distancing is difficult. The World Health Organization (WHO) released a list of recommendations, in early June, suggesting the most appropriate types of masks to wear in a variety of settings, including the use of non-medical masks in crowded places and on public transport. Now I’m hearing of city councils debating whether mask wearing should be mandatory in enclosed spaces.

I’ve seen social media posts arguing that making the public wear masks is no different than making wearing seat belts mandatory. I disagree, as this debate is not that simple. Statistics clearly show that seat belts save lives (see Seat Belt Statistics). Regarding mask protection, the experts don’t all agree. In other words, the research on mask usage doesn’t provide definitive proof that they work.

The news media sites many studies claiming to show that masks are effective. One such study in The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, says in its findings that “transmission of viruses was lower with physical distancing of 1 metre or more, compared with a distance of less than 1 metre.” Now I can accept that as the data shows definitive evidence. Then it says “face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection, with stronger associations with N95 or similar respirators compared with disposable surgical masks or similar.” The problem I have with this statement is its use of the word could. The word ‘could’ means ‘possibly’. That is not definitive proof.

In Science Focus’ article, Coronavirus: Will face masks reduce transmission? it says in a “study which looked at coronavirus deaths across 198 countries found that nations which had policies favouring mask-wearing had lower death rates.”  Now that sounds convincing, but when I did research for my post titled, An Opportunity, Or Back to the Same?  I learned that what counts as a covid death varies, depending on the country. In my opinion, that makes this study misleading and unreliable. 

In Wired’s article, The Face Mask Debate Reveals a Scientific Double Standard, it says, “There are no large-scale clinical trials proving that personal use of masks can prevent pandemic spread.”  It sites a study on influenza where it states in its findings,

These findings suggest that face masks and hand hygiene may reduce respiratory illnesses in shared living settings and mitigate the impact of the influenza A(H1N1) pandemic.

There is another one of those words: ‘may’. The word ‘may’ means ‘possibly’. Again, this is not definitive proof.  In another study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it says:

We concluded that household use of masks is associated with low adherence and is ineffective in controlling seasonal ILI (influenza-like illness).

The data fails to show that masks are effective. Furthermore, one needs to look at how the study was done. How big was the test group? Was there a control group? Did the study follow strict scientific protocols? Who funded the study? As a retired science teacher, I taught the importance of doing science properly.

I’ve seen posts on my social media claiming masks may dangerously reduce oxygen levels. In USA Today Fact check, it quotes the Center for Disease Control (CDC) saying:

The CO2 will slowly build up in the mask over time. However, the level of CO2 likely to build up in the mask is mostly tolerable to people exposed to it … It is unlikely that wearing a mask will cause hypercapnia (Carbon dioxide toxicity).

There is one of those words again: ‘unlikely.” That means possibility. This doesn’t convince me.

The CDC told the international news organization, Reuters:

“The CO2 will slowly build up in the mask over time. However, the level of CO2 likely to build up in the mask is mostly tolerable to people exposed to it. You might get a headache but you most likely [would] not suffer the symptoms observed at much higher levels of CO2. The mask can become uncomfortable for a variety of reasons including a sensitivity to CO2 and the person will be motivated to remove the mask. It is unlikely that wearing a mask will cause hypercapnia.”​

There is that word again: ‘unlikely.” That means possibility. This doesn’t convince me either.

There are many arguments against mandating masks, such as, face masks can be uncomfortable. I haven’t worn them a lot, but when I have, I have found them to be uncomfortable. In fact, I tended to touch my face more with a mask on, which apparently is a “no no.” Another is face masks restrict airflow, or make breathing more difficult. That is true for me. Masks cause glasses to fog up, and I have personally experienced that. Masks force people to unintentionally draw closer to others during conversations. I would have to agree with this one as well, as I have a difficult time hearing what people wearing masks are saying as their words are muffled. Masks could foster a false sense of security. I have to agree, as I have yet to see a study saying masks are 100% effective against viruses and bacteria, but mask wearers may think they are 100% protected. Plus, people may think they are safe and take risks. Another argument is cloth masks could spread disease if unwashed. Let’s face it, walking around with a dirty face mask isn’t doing anyone any favours. Masks can cause skin irritation. I recall seeing lots of news articles showing health care workers with skin irritations back in March when covid numbers were raising, so that is true.

In light of what I have learned, do I think masks should be mandatory? No. I’ve not been convinced with what I’ve learned. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying masks fail to protect us. Of course, they would provide some protection since they are barrier to droplets released from someone. Will they slow the spread of a virus? Possibly. Many anti-maskers oppose it since it infringes on their freedoms, and it does. In fact, The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is closely watching the development of orders and regulations in some jurisdictions which mandate the use of masks in all indoor public places, saying “mandatory masking requirements represent an interference with personal autonomy” and may even violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms depending on the situation.

The truth is, making masking mandatory is not the same as making seat belts mandatory. Wearing seat belts have been proven to save lives. Wearing masks may or could save lives. That is not definitive proof! When mandating something without definitive proof causes bullying and divisiveness, it should not be done. Any policy that pits people against one another, especially when it is without definitive proof, and promotes bullying, is unethical and therefore shouldn’t be directed.

Is Canada the Best Country in the World?

A commentary on Canada

On July 1st, Canada Day, Prime Minster (PM) Justin Trudeau, with his wife Sophie, tweeted a video of them talking about Canada. He also tweeted the words, “What makes Canada special is not that Canadians know that this is the best country in the world – it’s that we know it could be. We know our work together is not yet done.” Here is the video:

Our PM received criticism for his comments, which isn’t unusual as he, like most world leaders, are criticized for anything they say. However, the disapproval was because he implied that Canada wasn’t the best country in the world. Now this got me (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) thinking; Is Canada the best country in the world, and if it is, why? In 2020, US News ranks Canada as the second best country in the world (see Overall Best Countries Ranking).  In WorldAtlas,’ Most Loved Countries In The World, Canada is ranked number one in 2020.

Asia Pacific Immigration Service, which offers expertise in immigration-related procedures and policies, has an article titled,  7 Reasons Why Canada Is The Best Country In The World, which says:

Canada is a wonderful example to the world as a leader in cultural diversity, tolerance, peaceful society, and safety. They legalized same-sex marriage in 2005 (4th country to do this), and they keep their citizens safer with the lowest crime rates that continue to decline thanks to a fair justice system, strict gun control laws, and community policing.

Could this be the reason? I set out to find evidence to prove or disprove this argument. In a report issued by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Policing the Pandemic Mapping Project, is says:

Numerous individuals who got in touch with CCLA and self-identified as racialized felt that they had been targeted by law enforcement because of their race, and multiple investigations in various jurisdictions have been launched after allegations of discriminatory actions on the part of bylaw officers. The pandemic has also been used as a justification to increase the ability of a variety of law enforcement officials to stop individuals and demand that they provide identification, a practice also known as “carding” which has been used disproportionately against people who are Black, Indigenous, who have mental health disabilities, who are experiencing homelessness, and who are otherwise racialized and marginalized

That sounds like systemic racism or systemic racial bullying (#bullying #antibullying) to me. That would disqualify Canada as “a wonderful example to the world as a leader in cultural diversity, tolerance, peaceful society, and safety.”

Alberta First Nations members from Treaty Six and The Blackfoot Confederacy have called for Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney’s speechwriter to be fired after the discovery of an article he wrote in 2013 calling residential schools a “bogus genocide story.” Other articles with controversial remarks about transgender people, women, people of colour and the homeless community have also surfaced increasing the pressure on Jason Kenney to fire his speechwriter. (see Kenney speechwriter and More controversial articles).

Is Kenney’s speechwriter right? Are residential schools a “bogus genocide story?” Ohio State University and Miami University’s Origins, who provide historical insights on current events, has an article titled, Canada’s Dark Side: Indigenous Peoples and Canada’s 150th Celebration, which says:

Canada’s intention to eliminate any separate Indigenous identity was official Canadian Indian policy for a long time…Duncan Campbell Scott, Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Canada (1913-1932), put it bluntly in the speech he gave in 1920: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem. … Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department”…Scott’s tenure was marked by particularly coercive policies and damaging legislative constraints for Canada’s Indigenous peoples, especially in terms of cultural repression and educational subjugation.

Here is the primary source of Scott’s words: The Indian Solution. I assure you as a person who taught history for 30 plus years that residential schools are NOT a “bogus genocide story.”

The Beaverton in its article, Jason Kenney: My racist speechwriter doesn’t speak for me, merely writes the words I speak, quotes Mr. Kenney as saying in a press conference:

“Mr. Bunner does not make policy, his job is to manipulate language to present policy in a certain light, there’s simply no way his own worldview could possibly affect how he goes about doing that…I want to assure Albertans that if and when I say bigoted things, it’s because I sincerely believe them, not because some speechwriter tells me to.”

Kenney also pointed out that many of the UCP’s [United Conservative Party’s] elected officials and hired staff have long histories of espousing prejudicial views and that hasn’t had any effect on how they govern the province. Wow! Our premier admits his speechwriter is racist and that many in his government are as well. That is disturbing! I have to wonder; Is Alberta  being governed by racists? Sounds like it. That would disqualify Canada as “a wonderful example to the world as a leader in cultural diversity, tolerance, peaceful society, and safety.”

A CBC News article, Nursing student in civil suit against RCMP says wellness checks need to change, describes what was seen in an apartment surveillance video. The video shows a  nursing student being dragged by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer down a hallway before being stepped on during a wellness check. A wellness check, or welfare check, is an in-person call from local law enforcement to someone whose behaviour has become suspicious in some way. Ms. Wang , an Asian Canadian, says she has history of anxiety, and that she was having a panic attack. She had been in contact with her boyfriend, but when she stopped responding to his texts, he got worried and called emergency responders to check up on her. Is it normal for police officers to drag and step on people during a wellness check? I doubt it. This sounds that racial bullying to me. That would disqualify Canada as “a wonderful example to the world as a leader in cultural diversity, tolerance, peaceful society, and safety.”

When PM Justin Trudeau tweeted, “What makes Canada special is not that Canadians know that this is the best country in the world – it’s that we know it could be. We know our work together is not yet done,” he is right. Canada is presently NOT the best country in the world. Canada’s work is not yet done. Racial bullying has NOT been eliminated.

Are We Canadians Really That Naïve?

Another commentary on systemic racial bullying

In my June 7th post, I asked the question: Does Canada Have a Systemic Racism Problem?  In that post, I mentioned that Stockwell Day, Doug Ford and Rex Murphy, all prominent Canadians, denied that systemic racism existed in Canada. It seems this trend has continued. The Guardian’s article, Canada urged to open its eyes to systemic racism in wake of police violence, refers to Quebec’s premier, François Legault, who refused to acknowledge the systemic nature of racism;  the biases, policies and practices entrenched in institutions. Canada’s RCMP commissioner, Brenda Lucki, said: “I think that if systemic racism is meaning that racism is entrenched in our [the RCMP] policies and procedures, I would say that we don’t have systemic racism.” The Globe and Mail’s article, Alberta watchdog questions benefit of collecting race data, says:

The agency that investigates serious incidents involving police in Alberta says it is unclear what would be gained if it tracked data on the race of people killed or injured by officers, arguing such statistics would do nothing to address systemic racism.

Why are so many prominent Canadians denying that systemic racism is a part of Canada? I wanted to know. The 2017 article, White Supremacy: An Illness Denied, by Huffpost says:

The late Dr. Frances Cress Welsing said in the Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors, “that ‘racism is a system.’ Racism is white supremacy, and white supremacy is racism, she said. White people live in fear that they will lose their power, and so they perpetuate racism and white supremacy, all the while denying it…White supremacy is so ingrained in the minds of white Americans – no matter their geographic location – that it has become wearily accepted as something that ‘just is’…They are taught that black people are inferior, not equal to whites…

In the Now article, In Canada, white supremacy is the law of the land, Indigenous leader and activist, the late Arthur Manuel, said:

Canada, as a society, is still in denial about its historical and current colonialism when it comes to Indigenous peoples, and how the country is still largely based on the white supremacism of its founding document, the British North America (BNA) Act…  I know, calling Canada a white supremacist country sounds controversial to some, but it shouldn’t. Blacks and Asians were systematically excluded from Canada until well after the Second World War and the few allowed in were here for very specific reasons – cheap and expendable labour to build the transcontinental railway in the case of the Chinese and as domestics or railway porters in the case of Blacks.

As a former History teacher, I (#blog #blogger #YA, #authors, #somseason) know this to be true, and I have to agree with the Huffpost and Mr. Manuel. It explains why so many prominent Canadians deny systemic racism in Canada.  The answer to the question: Why are so many prominent Canadians denying that systemic racism a part of Canada? is that white supremacy is ingrained in the minds of white Canadians, that we’re taught that Indigenous, Asian, African Canadians, or any visible minority for that matter, are inferior, and that most Canadians deny Canada’s historical and current—yes colonialism is still happening today—colonialism.  Although there are various definitions of colonialism, essentially it is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another.

Now if you’re doubting that we’re indoctrinated to believe that visible minorities are inferior, watch this video:

The fact is, Canada is a country founded and built on white privilege and systemic racial bullying (#bullying #antibullying).  Just how does white privilege and systemic racial bullying work in Canada. Allow me to give you a concrete example.

The Edmonton Journal reported in its June 6th article, Northern Alberta chief accuses RCMP of beating him, ‘manhandling’ his wife over expired licence plate, that Fort McMurray Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation accused Wood Buffalo RCMP of beating him, and pushing around his wife outside a Casino in March. According to the chief, the incident happened in the parking lot when officers noticed his truck had an expired license plate. Chief Adam says he had not realized his registration had expired. The Indigenous chief left the vehicle and confronted the officer when he wasn’t allowed to leave. At that point, a second officer who was not part of the initial stop ran over and tackled Chief Adam to the ground leaving his face bruised and cut. While Adam’s wife was released without charges, Chief Adam spent the night at a Wood Buffalo RCMP detachment and was released the following morning. He was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. Here is a video of the incident.

The video is rather disturbing, and granted, Chief Adam did become confrontational at times, but not enough to warrant the treatment he received in my opinion. The treatment of the RCMP was excessive. Don’t take my word, be your own judge. Watch the video.

I wondered if this was normal behaviour for the RCMP. I found a news article in the Global News titled, Tickets for expired vehicle registrations spike in Alberta. This article came out in 2017, just after April 2016,  when the government, as a cost saving measure, no longer sent out a letter in the mail reminding Albertans to renew their driver’s license or vehicle registrations . This article describes how a 32-year-old white male from Sherwood Park, Alberta, was pulled over by police. The police, as per normal procedure, checked to see if the driver had a valid driver’s license and vehicle registration. The Sherwood Park resident’s vehicle registration had expired because he had forgotten to renew it as he never received a reminder in the mail. He was fined $310. There was no manhandling or beating involved.

What struck me was how different the treatment of the white male was compared to the Indigenous man.  Both men had expired vehicle registrations. Both men said they didn’t realize their registration had expired.  The white male was fined and left alone, but the Indigenous man was beaten, arrested, and charged with assault. Why wasn’t the Indigenous man fined and left alone, like the white male in Sherwood Park?  Instead, a RCMP officer tackled him while the other officer was manhandling Chief Adam. Of course the Indigenous man was resisting. Who wouldn’t. Could systemic racism be a factor here? Was Chief Adam reacting to him being a constant target of racial profiling ? Racial profiling is the use of personal characteristics or behaviour patterns to make generalizations about a person. I wonder.

This sounds like systemic racial bullying and a case of white privilege to me. If you disagree with me, that is okay, but I have to wonder. Are you are disagreeing with me because you were taught that Indigenous people are inferior making it is okay for them to be treated disrespectfully? If I were hassled on a regular basis, I’m sure I would become bitter, angry and confrontational too.

I Didn’t Know That!

A commentary on Canada’s systemic racial bullying

I (#blog #blogger #YA, #authors, #somseason) recently read an article titled, Anti-racism march in central Alberta postponed after angry backlash, in the National Post. It’s tells of a person planning to hold an anti-racism march in a small town in Alberta, the province I live in. The protest was postponed following what its organizer calls a “bigoted backlash.” What caught my attention most was in the article, it quoted a man who wrote, “I will not welcome this to our town, the entire thing insinuates we have some sort of racial problem which we do not.” This exposes the fact that at least some Canadians believe Canada is not a racist country.

It got me wondering just how bad racial bullying (#bully #antibullying) is in my country. A CTV News’s article, Racism not a big problem? Activist says survey shows Canadians ‘in denial,’ discusses a 2019 survey which says, 8 in 10 Canadians believe race relations in their own communities are “generally good” with the largest majority of positive views held by white respondents (84%), and the smallest among Indigenous respondents (69%). The survey also divulges that Canadians were more likely to view racial discrimination as the attitudes and actions of individuals, and not a systemic issue embedded in Canadian institutions. Two-thirds of respondents said people from all races have the same opportunities to succeed in life.

If most Canadians believe all races have the same opportunities, is that the truth? The Canadian Human Rights Commission says:

“The roots of anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination in Canada run deep. They are historically embedded in our society, in our culture, in our laws and in our attitudes. They are built into our institutions and perpetuate the social and economic disparities that exist in everything from education, to healthcare, to housing and employment.”

The article, “White Privilege, Systemic Racism” BUILT INTO Society: Canadian Human Rights Commission states:

Canada is a racist nation steeped in perpetual white privilege. The descendants of the colonial founders of our country have racism and bigotry “built into their brains…Canadian society is intrinsically anti-black, not to mention anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh, anti-Jewish, as well as haters of homosexuals. PM Justin Trudeau has informed society that white Canadians are genocidal toward First Nations peoples.

Wow! That hurts. I was one of those Canadians that actually believed Canada was less racist than the USA. My eyes were opened when I started learning and teaching about Residential Schools in Canada. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Canada’s racial bullying of Indigenous peoples. After all, I was a history teacher.  Then I read in the Globe and Mail’s, When Canada used hunger to clear the West, which says:

…medical experimentation [was done] on malnourished aboriginal people in northern Canada and in residential schools. Rather than feed the hungry among its wards, government-employed physicians used pangs of hunger to further their research into malnutrition.

The article explains that for years, government officials withheld food from aboriginal people until they relocated to their allotted reserves, forcing them to trade freedom for rations. Once on reserves, food was placed in ration houses and was intentionally withheld for so long that much of it rotted while the people it was intended to feed fell into a decades-long cycle of malnutrition, suppressed immunity and sickness from diseases such as tuberculosis, resulting in thousands Indigenous people dying.

Now that sounds like genocide to me. Residential schools were a deliberate attempt at a cultural genocide, which I knew and taught about, but was there an attempt to deliberately starve Indigenous people?  Seems like it to me. What shocked me more was to learn of the shameful experimentation on Indigenous people in the residential schools. This was new information to me, and I taught history for most of my career. How could I be a history teacher, and not know this stuff. I knew nothing about African Canadians, since there were few in Western Canada where I grew up. I taught about the US’s history of slavery, but was slavery  a thing in Canada?

Ricochet uses journalism which seeks to illuminate the cultural and political diversity within Canada.  Its article, A forgotten history of slavery in Canada, says:

Institutionalized for 206 years, slavery occurred in Upper Canada (now Ontario), New France (Quebec), Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, and at least 4,000 people were its victims. French colonists initially bought slaves from U.S. colonies, and also brought them to New France from the West Indies, Africa, and Europe… “In my engagement with African Canadian history, I have come to realize that Black history has less to do with Black people and more with White pride,” writes Afua Cooper in The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal. “That is why slavery has been erased from the collective consciousness. It is about an ignoble and unsavoury past, and because it casts Whites in a ‘bad’ light, they as chroniclers of the country’s past, creators and keepers of its traditions and myths, banished this past to the dustbins of history.”

That fits with what I said in my last post, Does Canada Have a Systemic Racism Problem?  In that post, I said history is a story or tale of what has happened, or may have happened, in the past. It seems to me that we Canadians have been told a tale; a myth; the myth that we are morally superior to the US.  I was never taught about slavery in Canada, nor was it a part of the school curriculum. As the article says, “Too many stories have been ignored, exaggerated, or capitalized on in Canada’s history.”

It astounds me how I can grow up not knowing about the Residential Schools and Slavery in Canada until in my 50’s and later. I learned when I  visited a residential school, which is now a indigenous university, just north of where I live, where a speaker told us that residents in the nearby town of St. Paul were completely oblivious as to what was happening in a school just a few kilometres outside their town. This part of our history was hidden from us.

We Canadians claim we embrace diversity and human rights as the foundation of our democracy, yet systemic racial bullying is prevalent in our country. In the article, A forgotten history of slavery in Canada, which I mentioned earlier, it states:

It is no longer racism which is the problem– it is “systemic racism”–a much more potent variety for the cultivation of punitive damages toward European-Canadians.

In my last post, I mentioned a definition of White Privilege as, “Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because you aren’t personally affected.”  Those of use of European heritage must stop believing the myths we’ve been taught, start doing our own research, and realize that Canada has a dark history. Our history books fail to tell us the full truth of our past. Open your eyes, fellow Canadians! Systemic racism, or systemic racial bullying, is part of our past. It is hypocritical to condemn racial bullying in the USA when we have a racial bullying problem ourselves.  It says in Matthew 7:5 of the Christian Scriptures; You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” It is time for Canadians to “get our heads out of the sand” and admit the truth that we too have a systemic racial bullying problem, and start dismantling it.

Does Canada Have a Systemic Racism Problem?

A commentary on systemic racism

The Beaverton, a weekly satirical Canadian news show, recently had the headline: Country [Canada] responsible for the Indian Act, Chinese Head Tax, Komagata Maru, Africville, “None Is Too Many,” Japanese Internment Camps, Sixties Scoop, Residential Schools, Oka Crisis, and MMIWG declares itself not racist. This headline is based on prominent Canadians such as Stockwell Day, Doug Ford and Rex Murphy claiming that Canada is not racist. Stockwell Day is a former Conservative politician, a person I met with when he was a member of Alberta’s Legislature. Doug Ford is presently premier of Ontario, and Rex Murphy is a Canadian commentator and author.

These three prominent Canadians have all argued that Canada is not a racist country. Mr. Day resigned from several roles, such as a Telus board member, after being called out when he denied the existence of systemic racism in Canada on CBC’s “Power Play.” Here is a link to his comments (see Power Play).  Doug Ford drew strong criticism when he claimed that Canada doesn’t have the same “systemic, deep roots” of racism that the United States has. (see Doug Ford’s comments on racism ignore history of black trauma in Canada).  The National Post’s article; Rex Murphy: Canada is not a racist country, despite what the Liberals say, has the commentary by Mr. Murphy where he says:

“…Canada is a mature, welcoming, open-minded and generous country. It would be helpful if these Liberals kept the full story of this country in mind when discussing racism, and not leap so reflexively to grim characterizations of a country that, while not perfect, has been doing its best to be tolerant and welcoming.”

Canadians are watching the events of our southern neighbour and comparing them to Canada.  I (#blogger, #blog, #YA, #authors, #somseason) taught Social Studies for many years and I taught about the Indian Act, Chinese Head Tax, Africville, “None Is Too Many,” Japanese Internment Camps, Sixties Scoop, Residential Schools, Komagata Maru, the Oka Massacre, and MMIWG. I’ve provided links should you be interested in learning more about these Canadian events.  Most of us Canadians like to see ourselves as “mature, welcoming, open-minded and generous,” but the truth is, our history reveals that Canada’s past is filled with racial bullying (#bullying, #antibullying). The Beaverton’s list proves that. Systemic racism is just as much a Canadian problem as it is a USA problem, and likely a worldwide problem.  Systemic racism is all of the policies and practices entrenched in society that harm certain racial groups and benefit others. Canadian history books rarely, if ever, talk about the systemic racism, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

The problem is, most people read a history book thinking it is fact. My students did until I taught them that history is an interpretation of the past, so it is not necessarily factual. Here is a social studies lesson.

What do I mean by past? It refers to primary documents; records created in the past that have survived into the present. Historians use a wide variety of written records, from personal diaries to statistical records kept by government departments, as the basis for their historical investigations. Historians even use non-document records, including photographs, moving pictures, the spoken word, architectural plans, or botanical (plant) inventories to find clues about how people lived in the past. All of these primary documents are the “raw materials” that historians work with as they attempt to figure out what happened in the past.

So, what is history? History is a story or tale of what has happened, or may have happened, in the past. Historical interpretation is the process by which we describe, analyze, evaluate, and create an explanation of past events. History involves debate, discussion, and conversation. Hugh Trevor-Roper wrote in 1957, ‘history that is not controversial is dead history’.

The Magazine, History Today, has an article titled, A Question of Interpretation, that says:

“Yet the truth is, if you take a group of historians working on the same problem, writing at different times and in different places – even if they all use their evidence in a scrupulous, honest, critical and informed way – the conclusions they reach may differ.”

The reality is, a historian’s belief system, values, biases, prejudices, and experiences, all influence how a historian interprets the past. Dan Brown, in The Da Vinci Code, wrote “History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?” There is truth in that statement.

With my students, I always gave a concrete example, so let’s use 9/11, the alleged terrorist attack on the US.  I say alleged because there are many who question if we have been told the full truth. For example, Reader’s Digest has an article, 12 Questions People Still Have About 9/11, with questions that have not been given convincing answers. The Foreign Policy Journal’s article, 9/11: Finally the Truth Comes Out? Says;

Every informed person is aware that elements of the US government were involved either in the perpetration or a coverup of the 9/11 attacks

I certainly have questions about 9/11. The article, 737 Passenger Plane Possibly Struck and Damaged by Drone on Landing, shows damage done to a plane by a drone. This video shows a plane going through a twin tower.

My question is: How is that possible, when a drone can do that much damage to a 737 and when jet airplanes are made of light materials, like aluminum, can go through a tower designed to withstand the impact of a commercial jet airplane? My point is, the past (9/11 event) is open to interpretation. Anyway, enough about 9/11 questions. I’m starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist.

Returning to 9/11 as an example of historical interpretation. After the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, George W. Bush, president of the U.S. at the time, said; “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.”  Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the terrorist attack, said; “America has been hit by Allah at its most vulnerable point, destroying, thank God, its most prestigious buildings.”  Same past event, but two very different interpretations.

Does Canada have a systemic racism problem? Based on our past, I would say yes. We have legislative documents to prove it. In last week’s post, I mentioned a meme I saw that defined White Privilege as, “Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because you aren’t personally affected.” Perhaps those with white privilege, and those who aren’t personally affected, choose to see our nation the way they want to. They choose to deny that racial bullying exists in this country. It is time to wake up and take a closer look at our country folks! We’re not as innocent as we like to think.

Has the World Gone Mad?

A Commentary on the worlds rage over George Floyd’s murder

Jerry Holt/Star Tribune

Just when I think 2020 can’t get any worse, I (#blogger, #blog, #YA, #authors, #somseason) witness the United States fall into Chaos as rage spread across the country over police brutality of African Americans. The rage is expressed in the form of protests and riots resulting in destroyed businesses and damaged landmarks. Protests also occurred around the world, with people gathering in solidarity with protestors in Montreal, Vancouver, Jerusalem, London, Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen, Rio de Janeiro, and in 140 American cities. (See ‘We Are All George Floyd’: Global Anger Grows Over a Death in Minneapolis). World leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Beijing criticized the U.S’s rapidly eroding moral authority on the world stage.

This Chaos was sparked by racial bullying, (#antibullying, #bullying) with a police officer murdering George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis.  Racial bullying is a type of racism where someone’s bullying focuses on race, ethnicity or culture. George Floyd’s friends and family referred to him as a “gentle giant,” and say he never made an enemy. Mr. Floyd is just the latest of a growing list of African Americans whose deaths have sparked outrage and protests across the nation.  Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in February in Brunswick, Georgia, by two white guys while he was out jogging. (See Ahmaud Arbery) Other victims of racial bullying are Breonna TaylorSandra BlandPhilando CastileEric Garner. Trayvon Martin.

People across the world are enraged with racism on the planet. We Canadians like to see ourselves as non-racist, but truth be known, it is a problem here as well. CBC News’ article, Thousands rally in Toronto to protest racism in wake of the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, reports that thousands of people attended a peaceful rally to protest racism around the world and to demand answers in the death of 29-year-old African Canadian Toronto resident Regis Korchinski-Paquet. In the case of Korchinski-Paquet, her mother had called for police assistance after a domestic conflict, requesting that her daughter be taken to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Regis’ family has accused Toronto Police of pushing her off  of the balcony, while the police claim that she was on the balcony when their officers arrived, and that she jumped from the building.

In the article by The Guardian, Black Toronto residents 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police, study says, it reports that black people made up 61% of cases where police used force that resulted in death according to the Ontario human rights commission. In another CBC News article, Canadian police must acknowledge racial bias to fix it, Indigenous advocates say, it states there are numerous cases involving police use of force against Indigenous people. The pattern is police physically abuse Indigenous people, but rarely cause deaths unlike the U.S. Racial bullying is an issue in Canada, just as in the U.S.

Bullying of any kind, including racial bullying, is a learned behaviour. If it is learned, then it can be unlearned. Penn State University has an article, Racism is Learned at an Early Age, where it states:

Learned racism is the outcome of how often an individual is personally exposed to how dissimilar cultures and races of people interact with one another…improved relations and withheld judgments may occur if a child observes positive interactions and attitudes among diverse groups.

A huge part of racial bullying has to do with White Privilege. Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, (ACLRC) at the University of Calgary, defines White Privilege, or White-Skinned Privilege, this way:

“The unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed upon people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it. Examples of privilege might be: ‘I can walk around a department store without being followed’; ‘I can come to a meeting late and not have my lateness attributed to my race’; ‘I can turn on the television or look to the front page and see people of my ethnic and racial background represented”

I can say, as a Caucasian, that I have never been followed around in a department store. Any time I’ve been late to a  meeting, my lateness was never attributed to being white. That cannot be said for Indigenous people or those of African heritage.  The vast majority of shows I watch on television are actors of my ethnic and racial background. That is not true for Indigenous people. Having white skin bestows benefit and privileges that white people often do not grasp. On the other hand, many people of colour, and Indigenous people, are likely highly aware of these privileges because they are denied them on a daily basis. Check out McIntosh’s “White Privileges” checklist in the ACLRC article and see if you answer yes to them as a Caucasian. I answered yes to them all.

I recently saw this quote in a meme: “Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because you aren’t personally affected.” That about sums it up. Those of us with White Privilege must understand that the outrage happening in the U.S, and around the world, is because African Americans, African Canadians, and Indigenous people have less privilege (less access to education, jobs, etc.), are labelled (lazy, unethical, etc.), are regularly bullied, and can’t even go for an evening walk in their neighbourhoods without fearing racial bullying. Caucasians must recognize their part in maintaining and benefiting because of white supremacy.

So long as White Privilege exists, and racism or intolerance is modelled to our children, this problem will exist. What is happening in the U.S. is very disturbing, but understandable. It’s a wakeup call for the human family to stop, reflect, and decide what type of world we want to live in. Do we want to live in a world where compassion is the norm, and true equality exits? Our political documents say we are all equal, but the reality is, this world lacks equality. As George Orwell’s Animal Farms says, “Some are more equal than others.” Like the pandemic, this is just another wakeup call for the human family. These protests are call for a better world, and we the people must demand it.

I’ve said many times in previous posts, there is a very simple solution to bullying, and that is following the Golden Rule which says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and it’s true. If only it were that simple.