There is Something Wrong in Canada

Former Residential School in Alberta, Canada

In early June, News from Kamloops shook Canada when the remains of 215 children on a former residential school site in Kamloops, British Columbia (BC) were found. A week later, 751 unmarked graves at a former Saskatchewan residential school were located. The Marieval Indian Residential School site was operated by the Roman Catholic Church from 1899 to 1997 (source BBC). On June 30th, once again, First Nations in Cranbrook, BC reported 182 unmarked gravesites discovered near the location of a former residential school site close to the former St. Eugene’s Mission School (source CBC). I’m sure there will be more remains discovered.

Like most Canadians, I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) was outraged by this news, since these deaths resulted from bullying (#bullying #antibullying) by the governments of the day and Christian churches who ran the schools, half of which were Catholic Churches. However, I was surprised by the level of anger. It seems that Canadians either forgot about the revelations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or didn’t pay much attention to it. ­In the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, in a document titled, Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials, it was recommended that a study be done to identify the location of cemeteries and gravesites in which students were believed to be buried. The project was to collaborate with communities to identify options for commemoration, ceremony, and further community-based research. In 2009, the Commission requested the government cover the cost of this research, but the request was denied. I have to wonder, was the Canadian government trying to cover this up? The Commission revealed that there were many children buried in unmarked graves on former residential school sites.

Since the discovery of over 1000 unmarked graves, church vandalism in Canada has exploded and “suspicious” burnings of Christian (mostly Catholic) churches became widespread.  The US is experiencing similar events (see Catholic churches have been torched and vandalized in the US). From June 21 through June 26, four Catholic churches located on tribal lands in British Columbia burned to the ground. Nova Scotia RCMP report suspicious fire at Catholic church in First Nations community. An Anglican church burned on June 26, but was extinguished with minor damage. In the province of Alberta, a fire was extinguished in the early morning hours of June 28 at the Siksika Nation Catholic Church. One June 30th,  Alberta woke up to the headline, Century-old Catholic church in Morinville, Alta., destroyed by fire, a church I visited years ago. These fires appear to be intentionally set, and these attacks on churches continue. These attacks are hate-crimes directed towards the Christian community, and some even argue this is a war on Christianity (see Rebel News). I have to wonder why it took Canada’s prime minister 11 days to condemn attacks on christian churches (see Trudeau denounces church burnings, vandalism in Canada) when the October defacing of the mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta, provoked Trudeau to denounce it the next day.

Since the discovery of unmarked graves, a debate brewed in June over whether to hold Canada Day celebrations. According to the article, Cancel Canada Day: ‘Nothing to celebrate’ amid unmarked graves, many Indigenous community leaders and advocates have promoted the cancelation of celebrations, instead, asking for the day to be one to reflect on the real history of Canada and to support Indigenous people. Many communities across Canada have heeded to that call (see Timeline).

Another debate also erupted: What should Canada do about the statues that regard the very men who started the schools where these children died? Many institutions and local governments are acting to remove statues of Canada’s first prime minister, and other politicians, plus renaming streets and schools of those directly connected to Canada’s residential school program. Statues, including Religious statues, in Canada are being vandalized like the Six religious statues beheaded at Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Sudbury, Ontario. Vandalization of Catholic churches is rampant with at least 10 Calgary churches defaced with red paint on Canada Day. Not all Indigenous leaders agree with what’s occurring since some Indigenous chiefs and leaders decry church burnings and vandalism.

The level of reaction to discoveries on former residential school sites is unprecedented. Don’t get me wrong, the reaction should be strong. It’s a collective call for justice, and a call for all Canadians to be united with Canada’s First Nations people. The question is: Does justice mean burning churches, removing statues, vandalizing, and dumping Canada’s national day?

Sheila North, the former Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) says;

“These things are perpetuating the racism and perpetuating the hatred towards Indigenous people without even realizing.”

I have to agree! The ways Canadians are directing their anger is only keeping division alive. Such activities do nothing to further reconciliation. They are actions of revenge which divide us by perpetuating hatred towards Indigenous people, catholics, or some other group.

Not everyone thinks residential schools were bad. An Indigenous person once told me that she felt she benefited from residential schools. There are even some who believe residential schools were a good thing as a Priest under fire after sermon on the ‘good done’ by Catholic Church on residential schools. Personally, I fail to see how any good can come from government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. How can any good come from an estimated 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children who were isolated from their culture, and who suffered abuses in the form of excessive physical abuse and sexual predation?

I understand the anger. I stand with the First Nations people and it saddens me the way our European ancestors treated them. There needs to be justice and reconciliation. However, Cancelling Culture—the phenomenon of “canceling” people, brands, shows, and movies due to problematic or offensive remarks, ideologies, and branding—is not the answer. In the article, What is the Cancel Culture Movement, it says:

One of the biggest problems with cancel culture is that people are quick to cancel, but never so quick to forgive…It ignores the idea that people can pay for their mistakes, and insists that we should all be perfect beings who have never – and will never – make a mistake. The problem is that humans aren’t infallible. Who hasn’t made a mistake in the past?

Our history should never be cancelled, instead, it needs to be studied so mistakes of the past are never repeated. We need to forgive past leaders for the damage their decisions caused, and right those wrongs. Statues should not be torn down, but serve as reminders of people who made mistakes. To cancel history doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Cambridge Dictionary defines justice as “fairness in the way people  are dealt with.” Most Canadians and Americans would agree Indigenous people were treated unfairly. Canada’s prime minister is calling on the Pope to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools, and is urging Canadian Catholics to demand action from their church.  Churches should take responsibility, but why isn’t our government taking responsibility, since all residential schools were mandated by them? Did the PM forget that Pierre Trudeau, his father, was Prime Minister (PM) of Canada from 1968 to 1979, and during that time, the maintenance of residential schools were run by his government?

Yes, the Catholic church and governments need to apologize, but NOT just words. Apologies require actions to correct the wrongs done to survivors. PM Justin Trudeau promised to end all long-term boil-water advisories within five years during his 2015 campaign. If the PM really felt First Nations people were wronged, then he would keep that promise. Instead, Indigenous Services minister says Trudeau government won’t end boil-water advisories by March 2021. Actions speak louder than words Mr. PM.

Adam Soos from Rebel News says:  

Reconciliation is a vital conversation that we must have, but please, for the sake of any progress that we have made on the path towards reconciliation, do not associate these hate crimes with progress or justice for the tragedies of our history. This is not justice. This is just the start of another dark chapter in Canadian history.  

I couldn’t agree more. This must be a time to unite with our Indigenous people, to reconcile with our history, and to start acting as one people. Mahatma Gandhi says, “Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.” It is time to respect and understand First Nations people, their culture, and what they endured. It is time to accept them as equals, and appreciate Indigenous people for who they are. Let’s stop this nonsense that Canadians are inherently racist as Critical Race Theory would have us believe. This theory reasons that racism is systemic, is inherent in much of the American or Canadian way of life, and paints “white” people as racist. Racism is learned, and is designed to divide us. As I said in Does Media Mirror Culture, or Create Culture? “We humans are innately good, naturally cooperative, and instinctively altruistic.” It is time to start being who we truly are.

Does Media Mirror Culture, or Create Culture?

A commentary on media

I’ve (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) noticed that the term ‘woke’ is being tossed around on television lately. Wokeness is a term that refers to the awareness of issues that concern social and racial justice. That is not a bad thing, but is it being taken to the extreme? Even the Toronto real estate board dropping ‘master bedroom’ term and replacing it with the word “primary.” I’ve also noticed Gender-neutral language being used in the media. This is language which avoids a bias towards a particular sex or social gender. For example, mailman is no longer “politically correct,” but mail carrier is. It got me wondering why.  Is this a way to normalize wokeness and gender-neutral language? In researching for an answer, I came across the opinion piece, The Woke Revolution Is Powered by the Elites, which argues that the woke revolution is not a grassroots movement, but instead is powered by well-connected and guilt-ridden elites. Could this be true?

I recall having a discussion in one of my classes. I asked the question: Does media (the internet, magazines, television, motion pictures, etc.) reflect the world we live in, or create the world we live in? Another way to phrase it: Does media mirror culture, or create culture? I remember it being a lively discussion, but I don’t recall if we reached a consensus.

In the article, How Do Movies Impact our Societies, it says:

The power of audiovisuals has been manifested and exploited politically, socially, and economically throughout history. Leaders such as Adolf Hitler, for example, successfully used films as propaganda tools during World War II. Facts like these show the raw power of film.

Could movies be used as propaganda tools? On debate.org, the question: Is television brainwashing us? one person says:

What is seen on TV is generally not accepted in society, but the more it’s seen, the more people begin to accept it. Often, this is done through humor or through exaggerated behaviors. As we watch these again and again, we can become desensitized to them–things like violence, swearing, and other behaviors that our grandparents would have raised their eyebrows over.

This makes sense to me. When I was a kid, you never heard swearing on a television screen. Now “F-bombs” are commonplace. Nowadays, graphic murder scenes are normal. This wasn’t the case when I was a kid. Is media desensitizing us, indoctrinating us or brainwashing us? I think so. For many years, I’ve wondered why violence, bullying (#bullying #antibullying), marital infidelity, sexual promiscuity, and selfish behaviours are so prevalent on TV and in movies. Now I realize it is to normalize it; to make people believe they’re normal human behaviours.

When I taught religious education as a teacher, I taught my students that humans were innately good, and I still think that. Humans are naturally altruistic. Psychology Today defines altruism as acting to help someone else at some cost to oneself. This is especially evident when tragedies happen as people never think twice about helping another. Most of us have heard the stories of a stranger running into a burning building to rescue someone. Teaching in a Christian school, I used the Christian scripture Colossians 3:12 to support my argument. It says; “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…

There are many science articles supporting this claim. The Scientific American article, Scientists Probe Human Nature–and Discover We Are Good, After All, sites studies carried out in 2012 which found that a human’s “first impulses are selfless and that we are predisposed to act cooperatively, to help others even when it costs us.” The article, Scientists find evidence that human beings are born with an innate desire to help others, sights studies from Harvard University saying that young children and babies are innately sociable and helpful to others. Most TV programs and movies lead us to believe that humans are selfish, yet the Greater Good Science Center has an article titled, The Compassionate Instinct that says:

Compassion and benevolence, this research suggests, are an evolved part of human nature, rooted in our brain and biology, and ready to be cultivated for the greater good.

Studies support my claim that humans are innately good, yet A 2018 new global Ipsos MORI study found that three in four people (76%) on average across 27 countries think society in their country is divided. Most of us agree, the world feels very divided, especially now. The question is: Why?

The article, Divided People Divided Politics Divided Nations: Why is the World so Divided Today? says:

Politicians always used fear and divisions in society to gain votes, there is nothing new to here…Our opinions are being shaped and divided. The cohesive fabric of the society is being torn and divided…If we allow our minds to be programmed by artificial intelligence controlled by vested interests, then it will lead to divisions and strife.

In April of this year, former NBA star Charles Barkley expounded during March Madness that political parties and elites “divide and conquer” Americans in order to “keep their grasp on money and power.” (see Barkley)

Could this be what is happening? Do elites want us divided? Are we mind controlled to be divided? “Divide and conquer” has always been used as a way of distracting and controlling the non-elites. When television and movie productions repeatedly portray humans a selfish, bullies, violent, and racist we begin to believe it. In essence, we are being indoctrinated or brainwashed to think that is normal human behaviour. The truth is the opposite! We humans are innately good, naturally cooperative, and instinctively altruistic. We know this unconsciously when we get out of our head, and move into our hearts.  Or as Albert Einstein puts it; “Don’t let your brain interfere with your heart.” Rumi says:

Love is not written on paper, for paper can be erased. Nor is it etched on stone, for stone can be broken. But it is inscribed on a heart and there it shall remain forever.

The late Steve Jobs once said:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Steve Jobs is absolutely right, especially his words; “Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”  When we follow our hearts, and not the brain—which is usually filled with indoctrination garbage or dogma—then we become loving, compassionate and benevolent, which is our human nature.  The heart is where love resides, and where our instincts or intuition reside. The bottom line is we are divided, violent, racist, selfish, bullying, because our ego is programmed or indoctrinated by media to be so. The solution is to stop filling our minds with untruths, release false beliefs, and to follow the heart where truth is!

The late English singer-songwriter, George Michael once said:

 “You’ll never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart.”

What Did You Learn From 2020?

A commentary on the lesson of 2020

In December, Time magazine declared 2020 to be the worst year in history with most people agreeing. Last year I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) have seen many Internet memes such as, “It feels like the year has been going on forever,” and “Can we uninstall 2020 and re-install it? This version has a virus.” My favourite however is:  

These memes reflect how the majority of us feel about the past year. Most people couldn’t wait for 2020 to be over in hopes of a better 2021. Recently I saw this meme.

I don’t disagree with the lessons it listed, and the New Year is a time for reflection. Since New Year’s Day, I have reflected on what I learned, and come up with my own list. These lessons are my truths, or my lessons, they may not be yours, and that is okay. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from 2020.

  1. I’ve learned not to trust the Mainstream Media (MM) whose purpose seems to be to instill fear in the masses. MM have provided a relentless narrative of an alleged pandemic for 11 months now. I’ve talked about this in previous posts.
  2. I’ve learned not to trust medical leaders and politicians. Our legislators and medical “experts” mislead us, lie to us, and also promote fear. They do not appear to have our best interests in mind. They don’t follow their own rules which they’ve forced upon us. True North lists all the Canadian politicians who broke their own COVID restriction rules. Even MM is talking about it (see CTV News).  Newsweek lists American politicians who did the same. Here is a story of one of Canada’s senior public health officials breaking the rules (see TNC). Clearly our leaders aren’t afraid of the virus. If our governments did have our best interests in mind, they would do something about the suicides, drug overdoses and the mental health issues caused by lockdowns. (see 2020 to be deadliest year). True North (TN) reports Mental health of Canadians reaching “tipping point,” evidenced by a quadrupling of people accessing treatment services. TN also has a news report titled, Rise in childhood eating disorders an “unprecedented crisis,” reporting that SickKids says there is an increase in the number of eating disorders among Canada’s youth as result of the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns. If our governments really cared about our health, which is why they say they must implement lockdowns, then they would be promoting fitness and healthy diets to encourage good mental health, instead of closing gyms and spas. In its place, they keep fast food drive through restaurants (a source of unhealthy foods) open.
  3. I’ve learned how easily we humans are manipulated and controlled by fear of a virus that has over a 99% recovery rate. It seems people are willing to give up freedoms such as visiting their loved ones, closing their businesses, and compliantly wearing masks because our governments say so, without questioning decisions like; why corporate stores have never been ordered to shut down.
  4. I’ve learned how easily we humans give up our freedoms. We willingly give up liberties guaranteed by our constitution, just like what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1940s and Russia in the 1960s.
  5. I’ve learned that we really aren’t allowed to speak our truth, even though our constitution says it is our right. I say this because Big Tech companies (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) censure by removing any truth that doesn’t align with their narrative (see Big Tech).
  6. I’ve learned how easily people are divided and incited to attack one other. There have been many attacks—even physical attacks— on individuals not wearing a mask. I’ve seen people belittle others on social media, and in videos, because someone thinks differently, calling them names and accusing them of being conspiracy theorists. This discord may be intentionally triggered as explained in the NY Post article, It’s our elites who are driving America’s divisions.

These are the obvious lessons for me, but as I reflect, I realize there is something more profound I’ve learned. Before I reveal what that is, I would like to preface with some indigenous wisdom.

The Indigenous, or First Nations people, have always spoken about the interconnectedness of nature, and the importance of community. Chief Seattle, who pursued a path of accommodation for white settlers said:

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

Indigenous people learn by observing nature. The National Forest Foundation has an article titled, The Amazing Connections Beneath Your Feet. Here is a bit of what it says:

Underneath the forest floor, intertwined with the roots of the trees, is a fascinating microscopic network of fungus…In healthy forests, each tree is connected to others via this network, enabling trees to share water and nutrients. For saplings growing in particularly shady areas, there is not enough sunlight reaching their leaves to perform adequate photosynthesis. For survival, the sapling relies on nutrients and sugar from older, taller trees sent through the…network.

Who knew trees help one another. The indigenous people may not have known about the relationship between trees and fungus, but they knew about the connection of all things. They know their choices affect others. Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), a Santee Dakota physician, writer, and lecturer once said:

“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome…Children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving…The Indians in their simplicity literally give away all that they have—to relatives, to guests of other tribes or clans, but above all to the poor and the aged, from whom they can hope for no return.”

Mr. Eastman clearly knew the importance of community because that was his culture. 2020 has been a year unlike any other. Never in my life have I lived in such a divided world where people are kept apart from their loved ones due to Draconian restrictions imposed by governments. Never before have I witnessed law enforcement using brute force to remove freedoms guaranteed by our constitution. Never have I seen people turn on one another, physically and verbally attacking each other because someone disagreed with them. I cannot condemn them as they are fearful. This past year has been a year of bullying (#bullying #antibullying) which is why I have deemed it “The Year of Bullying.”

What 2020 taught me the most is, I must never contribute to this bullying or divisiveness. Instead, I must become an example of kindness. compassion, empathy and most of all, love and light. The reality is, we are all navigating this chaos together, each with our own beliefs, thoughts, and fears. We are each having our own unique experiences. I must never judge someone, declaring them wrong. As some unknown person put it:

“Before you judge my life, my past or my character. walk in my shoes, walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrow, my doubts, my fear, my pain and my laughter.”

What I’ve come to realize, because of 2020, is that I am not defined by the external; by what others want me to believe, think, or do. I am sovereign and free, just like you. I decide what I believe, think, or do because I am an autonomous individual and I have choice. I give my power to someone else only if I consciously or unconsciously allow it or choose it.

As indigenous wisdom and nature teaches, we must realize that we are all human brothers and sisters and that everything is connected, so we must treat each other with respect and love regardless of what that person believes, thinks, says or does. I have learned that I must never judge another because I have not walked in their shoes. I am never right, and others are never wrong because right and wrong are relative. Spiritual writer, Gian Kumar, says: “There is no such thing as right or wrong, it is just you who matters; If you are right, you will not see wrong. If you are wrong, you will only see wrong.” That is the biggest lesson for me, and hopefully for us all.

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.

It is Time to Get Serious, People

A commentary on the importance of following pandemic rules

PM Trudeau giving COVID-19 update

Global News reports that Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said in March that the federal government was/is considering invoking the Emergencies Act to help keep the Canadian economy afloat as the  COVID-19 spreads throughout the country. This act was created to provide a legal framework for power to be temporarily consolidated with the prime minister and cabinet to issue executive orders during national emergencies. It was only used three times in Canadian history. The War Measures Act—the act before 1988—was invoked during the first and second World Wars, as well as during the October Crisis of 1970 when members of the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ), a terrorist group in Quebec, carried out kidnappings. (see October Crisis).

The point is, the Emergencies Act allows a great deal of power to the prime minister and cabinet. They would have the right to take over property, public utilities, provide special services and special compensation, regulate, prohibit public assembly, and prevent travel anywhere within the country, among other things.

This Act infringes on our individual rights, such as restrict travel in our own country, and dictate who we can and cannot see. The Megan Meier Foundation, a foundation working to create a world without bullying and cyberbullying, defines bullying as “an aggressive behaviour that involves an imbalance of power or strength.” One could argue, that Emergencies Act is aggressive and involves an imbalance of power, since governments would have all the power, thus making an argument that leaders are bullying their citizens to comply with their demands.

The Boston Globe has an opinion piece titled, A civil liberties pandemic, which debates the toll being taken on Americans’ freedom and constitutional liberties by the unprecedented restrictions that have been imposed to enforce physical distancing. The Military Times even has an article titled, Will coronavirus lead to martial law?  Martial law is the replacement of civil rule with temporary military rule in a time of crisis.

NPR is a media organization founded on a mission to create a more informed public. Their article,  Life During Coronavirus, reports that Chinese citizens are financially rewarded for reporting those who fail to follow quarantine orders reflecting a decades-long history of social control, which has been mobilized on an unprecedented scale for the COVID-19 crisis.

The Boston Globe’s opinion piece, A civil liberties pandemic, which I mentioned earlier reports that in Israel, the government has ordered a round-the-clock curfew and deployed anti-terrorist technology to track down people suspected of violating the coronavirus restrictions. In Norway, anyone caught violating isolation rules can be fined $2,000 or jailed for 15 days.

Even in Canada, most provincial governments have issued stay at home orders,  implemented fines for anyone returning to Canada and not self-isolating for 14 days, or not practicing social distancing (see Provinces inpose fines). The purpose of these measures is to avoid overwhelming health care systems and reducing the spread of the Coronavirus.

I have not heard, or read, anything, about any such debate occurring in Canada about civil liberties (freedoms to do certain things without restraint from government), other than the occasional meme on social media saying (paraphrased): “Stay at home or risk losing more civil liberties.”  No one that I have spoken to—via technology, of course—has mentioned any concern about their civil liberties disappearing, unlike the U.S. That doesn’t mean things couldn’t change. Our Prime Minister has not invoked the Emergencies Act as of yet, but if enough people don’t respect the stay at home orders and practice social or physical distancing, then more civil liberties could be removed. Our governments have warned us of that.

Yet, there are still a number of people who are not respecting the pandemic rules. CBC News has an news article, Grocery store staff fed up with ‘social’ shoppers who flout pandemic rules, reporting that customers are chatting and getting too close to others in grocery stores. Some employees say they have been yelled at, cursed at, and accused of overreacting as they try to enforce physical distancing measures put in place by their employers.

I’ve heard of “Snow Birds,” (Canadians who winter in warm places like Arizona or Mexico) returning to Canada after the Canadian Government advised all vacationers to return to Canada. In the town where I grew up, I’ve heard of Snow Birds ignoring the 14-day self-isolation rule by going into the post office to collect their mail. Local papers told of Snow Birds in a nearby town going in the grocery stores upon their return. Urban Dictionary coined the term “convidiot” for those misbehaving during the coronavirus pandemic. Its definition:

1. A stupid person who stubbornly ignored ‘social distancing’ protocol thus help to further spread COVID-19

2. A stupid person who hoards groceries needlessly spreading COVID-19 fears and depriving others of vital supplies

I am very willing to give up my civil liberties if it means keeping my family and me safer. I felt that way during the October or FLQ Crisis in 1970 as well. But the thing is, we don’t have to give up our civil liberties if all people followed the advice of the health professionals, and took this pandemic seriously. Or, to use Urban Dictionary’s word, stop being a convidiots. To me, it is all common sense. Perhaps the French writer and philosopher, Voltaire, was right when he said, “Maybe Common sense is not so common.” The bottom line, we will all get through this much faster—in theory—if everyone followed what the experts tell us, that is, follow the pandemic rules.

There is a post circulating on social media. It reads:

History repeats itself. Came across this poem written in 1869, reprinted during 1919 Pandemic. This is Timeless….It was written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara:

And people stayed at home

And read books

And listened

And they rested

And did exercises

And made art and played

And learned new ways of being

And stopped and listened

More deeply

Someone meditated, someone prayed

Someone met their shadow

And people began to think differently

And people healed.

And in the absence of people who

Lived in ignorant ways

Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,

The earth also began to heal

And when the danger ended and

People found themselves

They grieved for the dead

And made new choices

And dreamed of new visions

And created new ways of living

And completely healed the earth

Just as they were healed.

NetFlix docuseries Pandemic

What is the truth around this poem? There was a Cholera pandemic that spread throughout the Middle East and was carried to Russia, Europe, Africa and North America, but according to Oprah Magazine, the poem was actually written by a Kitty O’Meara. Magazine editors contacted the author in her home outside of Madison, WI. Remember, not all you read on social media is fact!  Nonetheless, the message of the poem tells a truth. I’ve seen evidence that people are beginning to think differently. My hope is that there will be an absence of people who live in ignorant ways; who are dangerous, meaningless and heartless. When this is all over, I dream of people making new choices, having new visions, creating new ways of living, and ultimately healing the earth, just as the poem says. As I’ve said in other posts, maybe this virus is trying to teach the world, and more specifically each of us, to live differently. I also mentioned that we humans are slow learners!

Remembrance Day, a Day to Yearn for Peace

A commentary on war and peace.

It amazes me how fast annual events come. Once again, November 11th Remembrance Day is upon us. It is the day of the year that marks the anniversary of the official ending of World War I, and in Canada Remembrance Day is a public holiday and federal statutory holiday with a notable exception of Nova Scotia, North West Territories, Ontario and Quebec. All Commonwealth Nations—an organization of 53 member states that were mostly territories of the former British Empire—observe this day as a day to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty.

Since visiting Vimy Ridge and the Normandy Beaches in France four years ago, my wife and I have a much stronger appreciation for all soldiers and the sacrifice they made to maintain peace and freedom in our world. Visiting both WWI and WWII military cemeteries was a humbling experience to say the least. What shocked us the most was the age of many of the soldiers, some as young as 17 years old. We now attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies with much more gratitude and appreciation for all soldiers.

We Canadians, as well as all world citizens, must consider Remembrance Day an important day to observe. It is essential that we remember the soldiers who have lost their lives or put their lives on the line to protect the rights of its citizens.

Having said that, I began to wonder why we don’t have days that honour those who work towards peace. Why not a national holiday devoted to the promotion of peace. To my surprise, such a day exists. Why have I never heard of it? The United Nations (UN) International Day of Peace, or Peace Day, is observed around the world each year on September 21st. The UN established this day in 1981 with a unanimous United Nations resolution, and “Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace” according to the International day of Peace website.

A Culture of Peace News Network survey in 2019 found internet reports concerning more than 655 celebrations of the International Day of Peace from 103 countries around the world. These included 280 events occurring in all states of the United States and 6 provinces of Canada, 144 events in Europe, 54 in countries formerly part of the Soviet Union, 53 in Africa, and 53 in Latin America and the Caribbean. There were 50 events in Asia and the Pacific, and 21 from Arab and Middle Eastern countries.

Only 6 provinces in my country held events? When I checked, the province in which I live, Alberta, did nothing. Is peace not a goal for Albertans? Every country, every state, and every province should be holding events on Peace Day. Let’s be honest, our world is at one of it’s most divided times in history. The potential for another world conflict is once again high. The idea of a planet getting along peacefully, respecting the planet’s diverse cultures and peoples, and living in harmony is badly needed. Every country on this planet, and every citizen living on this planet, should be excited about a day for peace that would promote a more peaceful existence.

There are always those pessimists who say, “peace will never be possible.” With that attitude, they’re probably right, but perhaps a global day to celebrate peace could change the attitudes of pessimists.

New Internationalist is a leading independent media organization dedicated to socially conscious journalism. It has an article called, 10 steps to world peace, which outlines a plan; a plan that I believe has merit.

  1. Stamping out exclusion. When corrupt elites prevent a decent life for the majority of people, an injustice occurs.
  2. Bring true equality between women and men. The larger a country’s gender gap, the more likely it is to be involved in violent conflict, according to research.
  3. Share wealth fairly. According to a World Bank survey, 40 per cent of those who join rebel groups do so because of a lack of economic opportunities.
  4. Tackle climate change. Ecological stress from global warming is proven to worsen conflicts over natural resources.
  5. Control arms sales. Promotion of arms sales and heavy military spending heightens global tensions.
  6. Atonement for past aggression on the international stage. The conditions forced upon Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, WWI’s peace treaty, were severe and widespread and set the seeds for WWII. I would also suggest reconciliation for past aggression on indigenous peoples must also happen.
  7. Protect political space. Across the world public dissent must be defended from repressive tools such as unplanned administrative regulation, misuse of anti-terrorist measures, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, torture and murder.
  8. Fix intergenerational relations. Much conflict can be understood as a youth revolt against established corrupt systems run by, largely, older men. Recent climate change activism led by Greta Thunberg is a example of this.
  9. Build an integrated peace movement. International Day of Peace could be a way to achieve this.
  10. Look within. Peace starts with you and me.

There is no question that some countries are more peaceful than others. In fact, according to Global Finance’s article, The Most Peaceful Countries In The World 2019, the

most peaceful nations also enjoy lower interest rates, a stronger currency and higher foreign investment—not to mention better political stability and stronger correlation with the individual level of perceived happiness.

According to the 2019 Global Peace Index compiled by the international think-tank Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) covering 163 independent states and territories that are home to 99.7% of the world’s population, the most peaceful country in the world is Iceland, followed by New Zealand and Portugal. I’m happy to say that Canada was ranked 6 out of 163 countries. The USA was ranked 128th. To create a peaceful world, peace starts with individuals, then peaceful nations.

Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India, once said, “Peace between countries must rest on the solid foundation of love between individuals.”  Unless humanity can reach a point where diversity is celebrated, respect is the norm, and love is the motivating factor, world peace cannot happen.

Really the answer to achieve world peace is very simple. Leaders of countries must live by the Golden Rule. This Rule is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated. The Golden Rule is found in most religions and cultures. In some religions, the Golden Rule is considered an ethic of reciprocity. This rule appears in the positive or negative:

  • Treat others as you would like others to treat you (positive)
  • Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated (negative)
  • What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself (empathetic)

This principle is found in the Christian scriptures in Luke 6:31 which says, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (New American Standard Bible). If all people followed this rule, peace would occur and there would no longer be a need for soldiers.