What is most telling is that even given the divisive and downright xenophobic campaign the Conservatives have run thus far, they are still within striking distance to form government. This carefully crafted U.S.-style Republican narrative has set Canada on an extremely dangerous course, and one that only Canadian voters can steer back to the right path. From "old stock Canadians" deserving of greater government benefits, to the ridiculous niqab debate, to the absurd hotline dedicated to reporting "culturally barbaric" practices, the Conservatives are pulling no punches in their quest to mobilize their voter base.
Mr. Harper gave an eloquent apology for the truly disastrous and racist policy of forcing First Nations children into residential schools, but the government never followed those words with the actions that would show any seriousness of purpose. For all the rhetoric about nation building, the unresolved relationship between indigenous people and other Canadians and their governments stands out emphatically as nothing less than our national shame.
A national election is months away, but campaigning has already begun. While party leaders talk issues of economy and security, no one is asking the big question: what kind of society do we want? Canada is no longer one of the top five countries for integrating immigrants, a European think-tank announced in May. For decades, we've heard that Canada is a "just society" -- based on equality and freedom for all upheld in laws. We've built our just society, but is Canada becoming a less compassionate one?
You simply cannot live in Canada and ignore the past. It's a pretty strong statement but reading the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Aboriginal residential schools, that's the conclusion I've come to. The truth may be out but the reconciliation is going to take a while. So just as all Canadians share accountability for what is past, we also share a responsibility for making things better.
As Cree youngsters in the north, we are taught the tradition of how to walk on the land and in the bush -- with each foot fall carefully and quietly placed so as not to disturb the food sources that have always meant the difference between thriving and starvation. When young people began returning from residential schools, it is fascinating that what struck those who lived off the land the most is that these "students" had to be taught how to walk all over again. Not with the harsh heel strike they had learned in the towns and cities but with the gentle foot fall of their early childhoods.
Last week, we hosted the first of two joint Summits in Vancouver between our organizations, The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) and The Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC). Both Summits focus on board governance, kick starting a critical national dialogue about the merits of strengthening these communication lines between Corporate Canada and aboriginal business leaders.
The children of these women are almost forgotten. Our half-hearted national conversation on the ongoing racialized violence against stolen indigenous women barely acknowledges their existence. If there is even an estimate of the number of children affected, please let me know. And yet, the surviving children's loss is unimaginable. They lost mothers, sisters, aunts and cousins. You don't need to be a psychiatrist to understand that the grotesque violence aboriginal women suffer affects the mental integrity of the children they leave behind.
It is unclear why the Chiefs of these 44 communities are choosing to withhold this information from their electorate and Canadian taxpayers. It is particularly peculiar that two of these communities, Weenusk First Nation and Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation, previously published their audited financial statements and have now reversed course. That brings up the question: why are these 44 Chiefs afraid of an informed electorate?
According to new research presented at the first Indigenous Health Conference last week, colonialism causes diabetes. Colonialism is alive and well throughout Canadian society, and the health care system is no exception. In fact, the health care system broadly speaking is a principal way that Canada continues to colonize Indigenous people.
How do we make police, governments, institutions, and one another care more about Aboriginal women, even if they do things that some among us may find unseemly, like drinking, or using drugs, or selling sex? This is precisely the question that those demanding an inquiry into missing and murdered women hope to see answered. An inquiry would help us identify the culprits and, hopefully, stem this epidemic. Not just the epidemic of murder, but the epidemic of seeing Indigenous women as worthless.
The "Action Plan" tabled in the House of Commons this week does nothing new to actually "Stop the Violence" against indigenous women and girls. Unfortunately the Prime Minister sees the overwhelmingly disproportionate number of indigenous women and girls facing violence, who go missing or who are murdered, as nothing more than crimes that should be investigated by the police after they happen.
In the wake of the Vancouver motion, municipalities across the country now have a clear path laid out before them: building relationships and engaging respectfully leads towards reconciliation. But, Reimer cautions, there's a lot of groundwork to be done first. "I wouldn't have my opening salvo be a motion recognizing unceded territory. I think you'd want to have some process that led up to it.
I understand that PETA brings in about $30 million annually, the Humane Society of the U.S. collects more than $100 million and their executives make six-figure salaries. They and other groups like the International Fund for Animal Welfare are clamouring for this easy target. Who could blame them? After all, it is good money in a competitive charitable market.
Nations have a narrative that explains their culture, their common shared experiences, beliefs, rituals, symbols and stories. Now the Palestinian people want a defined border for their nation. But, in my opinion, they don't seem to have a story, a narrative specific to them. They have been seconding the stories of others in an attempt to make one of their own.