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.

Has Humanity Listened to the Wrong People?

A commentary on humanity’s choices

A video came across my Facebook feed recently that got me thinking. The video is from Mindfulness Ireland. Have a watch, as it will likely touch your heart as it did mine. You’re probably wondering why it moved me, and why it got me thinking. Let me (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) explain.

Growing up, I was taught that humans were the pinnacle of creation, and that all other creatures—plants and animals—are inferior to humans. The Christian church I was raised in taught that only humans have a soul or spirit that goes to “heaven.” I even had a conversation with a priest about this topic once. The Christian church has traditionally seen humans as superior to animals based on Genesis 1:26 of the Christian Scriptures, which says:

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’

Most Biblical intellectuals interpret this scripture text to mean that animals do not have an eternal soul in the same sense as humans do. The website, Catholic Answers says:

The soul is the principle of life. Since animals and plants are living things, they have souls, but not in the sense in which human beings have souls. Our souls are rational–theirs aren’t…Animals and plants can’t do anything which transcends the limitations of matter. Although some animals seem clever, they don’t actually possess conceptional intelligence. They can’t, for instance, conceive of the abstract notion of justice.

To summarize, plant and animal ‘souls’ don’t live on after death. Science conventionally says the same as explained by Dr Arthur Saniotis from the University’s School of Medical Sciences:

“For millennia, all kinds of authorities – from religion to eminent scholars – have been repeating the same idea ad nauseam, that humans are exceptional by virtue that they are the smartest in the animal kingdom…The belief of human cognitive superiority became entrenched in human philosophy and sciences. Even Aristotle, probably the most influential of all thinkers, argued that humans were superior to other animals due to our exclusive ability to reason.” (Source:  Science X).

GospelWay.com has an entire essay, Superiority of Humans to Animals in God’s Plan, that argues that  God values humans the most because animals have no spirit, no moral responsibility, no eternal destiny, and are not held accountable for right and wrong. 

I have always respected the Indigenous or First Nation’s world view. Speaking generally, Indigenous people all over the world have a deep respect for the land, the plants and the animals. Animals played a very important role in their lives, providing them with food and clothing, taught them lessons, and served as messengers and spirit guides. In Honouring Earth, on the Assembly of First Nations website, it says:

Mother Earth…bestows us with materials for our homes, clothes and tools…If we listen from the place of connection to the Spirit That Lives in All Things, Mother Earth teaches what we need to know to take care of her and all her children…First Nations peoples’ have a special relationship with the earth and all living things in it. This relationship is based on a profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth that guided indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity…Everything is taken and used with the understanding that we take only what we need, and we must use great care and be aware of how we take and how much of it so that future generations will not be put in peril.

Indigenous spirituality highlights a “connection to the Spirit That Lives in All Things.” On the Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples Blog, it says: 

Many Indigenous Peoples believe that “the Animal People have spirits and enter the human world to give their bodies to supply men with food, fur and other materials. After their flesh is used the animals return home, put on new flesh and re-enter the human world whenever they choose.”

Many Indigenous people believe animals have souls or spirits which live on after death since those animals “put on new flesh and re-enter the human world whenever they choose.” Even science is re-evaluating what it believes about animal kingdom.  Many researchers say animals have feelings and emotions, as in the articles; What Kind of Emotions Do Animals Feel? and Do Animals Have Feelings? Examining Empathy In Animals. In the first article it says:

Instead of considering ourselves [humans] so refined and rational, it’s time for us to squarely face the degree to which we–like other animals–are driven by emotions.

Animals do have emotions, and any pet owner will tell you that. Those videos showing animal affection touch the heart. The video, Unbelievable Friendship! People and Wild Animals, show convincing evidence of this: Have a watch:

Science is even admitting that animals are intelligent as the articles, Animal Intelligence and Everything Worth Knowing About … Animal Intelligence report.  This video certainly shows the intelligence of the family Corvidae of birds, otherwise known as crows and ravens. Here is the video.

I’ve personally experienced the intelligence of ravens. A number of years ago, while on a hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies, I watched two ravens hover around a table where two hikers were about to eat their boiled eggs for breakfast. Before the hikers got to eat them, they got up and left their table. Two ravens swooped down and grabbed their eggs. This was planned, as ravens and crows are strategic and plan their moves before they act. (see Crow Facts).

By now, you are probably wondering why I am babbling on about humans and animals. Here’s why. All my life, I have watched humanity claim to be the most intelligent animal, yet continually make choices that put humanity and our planet in danger. The article, 50 Reasons Why the Human Race Is Too Stupid To Survive, lists 50 stupid things human have done, and I believe there are way more than fifty.

As mentioned earlier, Indigenous people have a deep respect for Mother Earth—the land, the plants and the animals. They believe animals teach them lessons, and are messengers and guides. I have always felt the Indigenous world view made more sense as opposed to the European world view. Perhaps if the European settlers had adopted an Indigenous-Centric world view instead of keeping their Eurocentric view, with its beliefs of superiority and that the natives were inferior savages, our world would be better off. Since Mother Earth guided the indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity, there most certainly would be less, or even no bullying (#bullying #antibullying).

You see, I believe we have much to learn from Mother Earth, especially her animals. The One Green Planet article, 10 Important Life Lessons we can Learn From Animals, says there are ten lessons that we can learn from animals. Two lessons, according to this article, are ‘We’re All Connected’ and ‘We Must Stick Together.’ This is what Chief Seattle, who advocated accommodation with white settlers, meant when he 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.”

Considering the present state of our world at the moment, with all its division, power grabs, and bullying, maybe we would be wise to pay attention to the animal kingdom and Indigenous wisdom. We have nothing to lose, and much to learn. Clearly, the old ways have not worked.

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.

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.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

A commentary on weight bullying

It never ceases to amaze me the excuses bullies give for bullying (#bullying #antibullying). Back in March, I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) wrote a post titled, Really? Bullied for Loving Books, about a boy who was bullied for loving books. Well, I recently came across a story about 15-year-old Lizzy Howell from Milford, Delaware, who posted herself dancing on Instagram which resulted in the video going viral. In the 10-second clip, Lizzy is spinning on her toes, practicing a classical ballet move called fouetté turns. What caught my attention was the dancer was bullied because she did not have a typical dancer’s body.

The Huffpost’s article, This Teen Dancer Went Viral For Her Body Image, says:

Fouetté turns take a great deal of skill and years of practice to master. But it was not only her impressive execution that resonated with the public ― it was her size. Lizzy is overweight.

Here is the video I saw of her story. Lizzy speaks about her bullying experience.

Why would a bully target a victim because of their weight. I have to admit, I too have judged—not bullied—overweight people. Why? In a CNN article, Obese kids more vulnerable to bullies, it says:

“Children pick up behaviors from adults, so we always have to keep in mind how we’re modeling respect for others around multiple issues, including weight…Imagine how many signals kids get about weight just by hearing conversations by adults or seeing advertisements on TV. The messages are everywhere in terms of trying to control weight and be a different size than you are right now.”

I don’t remember my parents being judgmental about overweight people. I had relatives who were overweight, so I can’t imagine they would. However, I know this to be true, and I’ve said it in other posts before. I do believe society as a whole is to blame. The research supports this.

2017 study of females between the ages of 18 and 25 showed that greater Instagram use was linked to increased self-actualization and body image concerns, especially among those who frequently viewed fitspiration images. Those are images intended to inspire people to become physically fit through rigorous exercise and diet, usually with the goal of attaining an attractive body.

In another 2017 study, it determined that school-age girls are three times more likely than boys to consider their bodies “too fat,” and that adolescents who were cyberbullied were nearly twice as likely to refer to themselves as “too fat” as opposed to those who were not cyberbullied.

In still another 2017 study , exposure to thin-ideal media images was related to a significant increase in body dissatisfaction among young adult indigenous women.

YMCA research in 2018 found that more than half (55%) of children say they had been bullied about the way they looked. For 54% of those victims, the bullying had started by the age of 10. Researchers surveyed 1,006 young  people aged 11 to 16 across the United Kingdom (UK) and carried out focus groups in 12 different UK locations. It found that of those who had experienced appearance-based mocking, 60% had tried to change the way they looked, 53% said they became anxious, 29%  said they became depressed, and 24% said they had reduced the amount they ate. Body-shaming  is criticizing self or others because of some aspect of physical appearance.  Bullying centred on weight sometimes is referred to as “weight teasing,” but I will call it weight bullying. Weight bullying is a huge problem.

National surveys carried out in 2017 found among overweight middle-school aged children that 30% of girls and 24% of boys experienced daily bullying because of their size. These numbers doubled for overweight high school students, with 63% of girls and 58% of boys experiencing some form of bullying due to their weight and size (source: Eating Disorder Hope).

There are many reasons for being overweight. Healthy behaviours such as a healthy diet and regular physical activity verses unhealthy behaviours is a big one. People tend to base decisions about lifestyle on their community resources. For example, if stores in your community carry a lot of processed foods, that encourages overeating. Some people experience strong food cravings or addiction, especially when it comes to sugar-sweetened, high-fat junk foods which stimulate the reward centres in the brain. Plus, junk food producers are very aggressive marketers. In some areas, finding fresh, whole foods may be difficult or expensive, leaving people no choice but to buy unhealthy junk foods. Researchers believe that excessive sugar intake may be one of the main causes of obesity. Genetic factors influence how people respond to a high calorie intake or changes in the environment. High insulin levels and insulin resistance are linked to the development of obesity. Diseases, such as Cushing’s disease, can lead to a person becoming overweight or obese. Medications, such as antidepressants and steroids, can cause weight gain.  So I ask: Is it fair to bully people because they’re judged as being overweight, when we know nothing of their circumstances? As the American Indigenous Proverb says, Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.”

Some advertisers, such as Unilever who make Dove products are attempting to change attitudes about body image. In Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty, It says:

We want to redefine beauty standards and help everyone experience beauty and body image positively. We care about the future generation: helping girls build positive self-esteem through the Dove Self-Esteem Project, ensuring the world they enter is removed of toxic beauty standards.

Bustle’s article, 9 Body Positive Social Media Campaigns That Are Changing How We Perceive Beauty Both In And Outside The Fashion World, lists other companies with similar campaigns. At least some companies show compassion. All advertisers and media people need to take on this philosophy, and then maybe the weight bullying will decrease or even stop. After all, as the idiom says, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

In the The Huffpost’s article I mentioned earlier, it says, “Like all teens, she [Lizzy Howell] hates being misunderstood.” In the article, Lizzy is quoted saying, “You don’t know me, you don’t know anything about me…You just saw a video of me dancing and you are making all these assumptions about my life.” Well said Lizzy!

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.

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.