So there was this CBC-Angus Reid poll. You may have heard about it, or at least seen it while scrolling through your social media feeds this week. It was called the "Canadian Values" poll and it found, according to the original CBC headline, that Canadians want minorities to do more to 'fit in.' This poll made news because it revealed 68 per cent of Canadians thinking minorities should be "doing more to fit in" with mainstream society instead of keeping their own customs and languages. But what I found out after contacting Angus Reid was that 87 per cent of those respondents were white.
Organized sport played an important role in the residential school system, which means that sport is implicated in Canada's history of cultural genocide. How we move our bodies, the values we attach to those movements, and the resources we provide to support certain types of movements and not others are political decisions.
It's not easy being Leonardo DiCaprio. While preaching that fossil fuel use is triggering a global climate catastrophe, Leo hops around the world on fuel-guzzling private jets. "If we do not act together, we will surely perish," he tells the United Nations. I'll say it again: Leo has a hard time aligning his message with his actions.
Pope Francis' statements are a testament to the immeasurable and enduring damage that colonialism and transatlantic slavery had on Africa. But Pope Francis' covert finger-wagging to African leaders for their role in what the pontiff called 'new colonialism' seems like an apt distraction from the 'old colonialism' the Church has yet to answer for.
Whether our numerous interventions are justified or not, we cannot continue to let our self-imagined grand delusions make us blind to the fact that our actions abroad can come back to haunt us here at home. The problem with this admission, however is that it forces us to look in the mirror to confront our very own imperfections. Yet until we're able to do so, peace in our times will continue to remain an elusive fantasy and the carnage is destined to continue.
India may have thrown off the yoke of colonialism over 60 years ago, but we continue our own oppression. It's easier to point the finger, or show the finger, when the 'other' is distinctly different in terms of geography, skin color, language, and culture. It's more difficult, and perhaps more shameful, to accept ourselves as the oppressor and the exploiter.
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.
Scholars, lawyers, and governments will no doubt weigh in on whether or not the residential schools experience in Canada officially constitutes a cultural form of genocide. In the meantime, it is important to create a cultural and intellectual climate in this country that is flexible and sensitive enough to recognize the depth of suffering experienced by traumatized people and their children without ranking it on a destructive hierarchical scale.
Canada's colonial reality means Aboriginal people here face challenges where non-Aboriginal people enjoy opportunities. But I believe that through the hard work of many activists, leaders, and thinkers, Canada is slowly decolonizing. In the spirit of optimism that rings in a new year, I'd like to focus on some of the events that signal this gradual shift, even while recognizing that, in the words of Justice Murray Sinclair, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this work will not be completed in our lifetimes.
In the annals of human evil, Rwanda's genocide takes a special place. With a kill rate of about six people a minute for more than three months, it's likely one of the fastest mass slaughters of humans in history. Most were hacked to death by machete, partly because the perpetrators found it cheaper than using bullets.
I find it appalling that the NFL who has a whole team -- I repeat a whole team -- that is named after a racial slur against First Nations peoples, the Washington Redskins, is all of a sudden in the business of "politically correctness." In terms of the Redskins, the NFL finds all kinds of excuses on why they should keep the name.
The phenomenon of black women dismissing their own natural hair didn't happen overnight: the social control and economic exploitation of an entire race could not be ensured only through physical violence (whipping, branding, torture, rape etc.), but necessitated psychological and psychic violence to "convince" Africans that they needed to be "civilized" into the cultural, moral, social and yes, corporeal ways of the European.
Racialized working-class communities, individuals and Indigenous peoples in North America know the daily reality of police violence and containment. We do not need the intervention of civil liberties organizations, critical criminology courses or the exposure of police violence at a G20 Summit to know that police are not protecting us.
If the world was like The Walking Dead then it would be a world where nearly everyone alive speaks English, nearly everyone is white, and male. The biggest failure of the show is to have the audience rooting for a society that preaches tired principles of violence, lack of community, selfishness, capitalism, patriarchy, and shoot-first mentality.
Centuries of racism and neglect have spawned a righteous anger amongst Canada's native people. The Idle No More protesters are simply asking that we respect the treaties signed with our First Nations. Damned if I can see how any Canadian can be against keeping our promises to the people who were here first.
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.
Seven-year-old Ruby wanted to do a class presentation about Indian residential schools, but was informed by her teacher the topic was inappropriate. Ruby's parents sat with their daughter and talked about what happened. Ruby usually loved school, but she started saying that she didn't want to go back.