The way we have treated aboriginals in Canada is our great shame. This week confirmed to me that they are collectively more forgiving and forward thinking than our previous governments' racist policies. I am not new to these stories. While working in youth protection, I saw the pain in families torn apart by the legacy of residential schools. A little known fact about the residential schools is that when they were built, these were the only schools in Canada that included a cemetery to bury the children that would die. This is our legacy.
In Canada, the term assimilation is especially unpopular. It's associated with painful events in the country's history. But the country's proponents of forced assimilation often underestimated the inevitability of resistance on the part of their targets. The lessons of our history seem lost on many Canadians as it's surprising to learn how many endorse making "others" like "them." Paradoxically, several Canadians that continue to fear assimilation are amongst those most apt to believe that their own cultural survival depends others assimilating.
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.