Today is the World Day of Social Justice. Who among us would disagree with such a concept? The term social justice has become commonplace and tends to go down pretty easy. But what if it goes down a bit too easily? Do we just hear the word, make a mental check mark, and move on? Are we more concerned with saying the right things than actually changing our actions? As citizens of a democracy, we have both the right and responsibility to make a difference in the policies and actions of our government.
Recently I had an awesome opportunity to go to Australia and speak about GMOs for the Uplift Festival. After our 23-hour flight, it finally hit me. We're really here. My life may be changed forever. It was so refreshing to be around other like-minded youth who believe you are never too young to change the world!
Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela is a global icon. His legendary ascension from prisoner to President is the stuff of fairytales. In this time of international mourning, our leaders should wipe their crocodile tears and reflect upon their actions, or lack thereof, in fulfilling the promise of racial equality which Nelson Mandela stood for. Mandela may no longer be with us, but his legacy, his message and his estimable struggle live on. They reside inside all of us who acknowledge that the pursuit of integration and equity belongs not in the apartheid past in a foreign land but in the bosom of our beloved nation.
In the orgy of celebration of the War of 1812, the true legacy of Shawnee warrior Tecumseh has been badly (and perhaps, conveniently) miscast. Far from being ignored, he is now being appropriated by white society and cast as a "good Indian" - brave, heroic, co-operative, and at the ready to do the bidding of his British brethren. He is being placed aside Issac Brock, and the Canadian militia as the great defenders of Canada. His historical role has been reduced to Laura Secord with a feather. A more thorough reading of Tecumseh's life and influence tells a very different story.
Many Canadians hold the misconception that First Nations are against any form of development or resource extraction within their traditional territories. But the simple truth of the matter is that First Nations are very cognizant of the bigger picture and forward thinking in terms of sustainable development.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children reported that 50 per cent of First Nations children are living in poverty. I chose to focus instead on what the data didn't capture. I said that I am optimistic, because these changes are taking place. The desire for change is undeniable, and it's happening now.
Statistics Canada has finally released its 2011 pseudo-long form census data. Of the 29 visible minority MPs, half of them are in the NDP. The Conservative Party is a close second, which is a testament to the inroads the party has made to court the so-called "ethnic vote." The Liberal Party, self-styled "inventors" of multiculturalism, is dead last in diversity as the caucus stands today. As the third-place Liberals renew and rebuild, they might be wise to emulate the nation's demographic self-portait.
It is not uncommon for a perfectly well-meaning person to blow off some steam online. And sometimes, spewing inexact information to support one's frustration can occur on the internet. In fact, there is general misunderstanding on the plight of Aboriginals and the "other" official language of Canada. For whatever reason, misconceptions fester with the goading of inadequate school curricula and general lack of knowledge. Like a cancer, these tall tales spread until they are addressed head on.
Fed up with the double standard of aboriginal leaders who want more funds yet seem incompetent and irresponsible in their own management, many Canadian have simply shut down listening to Idle No More. How might we deal with a dismissive reaction all too instinctive to many watching this situation unfold?
There is a small but vocal fringe in the Idle No More movement which advocates for the deportation of said "settlers". This unfortunate sentiment has turned potential friends into foes -- especially in the black community where it's a chilling reminder of the first time Africans were forced to traverse the Middle Passage. The similarities between aboriginals and black Canadians abound: both were oppressed people, both were driven/captured from their homelands by mostly Europeans. Both were dehumanized and denigrated as wild, suspicious and uncivilized.
Canada is guilty of one of the most elemental colonial sins: trying to destroy aboriginal culture and assimilate aboriginal people. That's why Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike matters. This time, our first peoples won't be placated with an apology in parliament, This time, the revolt is for real.