Canadian indigenous people have been described as "ghosts of history," spectres lingering in the background, haunting our legacy. This refers to the fact that indigenous people have been ignored to a great extent in Canadian history, yet Canadians are fully aware that indigenous people were here long before the arrival of the Europeans.
It has been a year since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its final report, "Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future." It seemed like we finally had a government in Ottawa ready to listen and act. In the year since, we have seen the listening. Now we need to see the action.
Our society has come to a fork in the road: we must decide the core values that will drive social policy in the future. Ontarians have big ideas and want bold approaches to address persistent human rights problems, and we agree. Our work has the most impact when we amplify the voices of the most marginalized people, and when the public echoes our human rights message and demands action.
There's a new cadre of indigenous chefs who are part historian, part cultural ambassador. Piecing together recipes long passed down orally, Chef David Wolfman helps people find a sense of history and identity through food. For many experiencing the residual effects of residential schools, food provides a link to a culture they didn't even know they were missing.
The justice system is clearly flawed, and it proves that police officers can get away with virtually anything. Instead of serving justice to the survivors, the system is openly protecting the perpetrators. It's also troublesome to see officers from the provincial police force launch a large lawsuit against Radio-Canada. Since when is it acceptable to go after journalists for uncovering the truths that plague our society?
Before Gord, Mike Downie and Pearl (Chanie Wenjack's sister) got on stage at WE Day, I knew about the conditions of the indigenous communities, but like most Canadians, we weren't taught what a residential school was and why both the truth and reconciliation is so important to not only the indigenous community.
Everybody knows Trudeau is a brilliant campaigner, inspiring Canadians through a personal brand that emphasizes empathy and fairness, but his inaction on the First Nations file directly contradicts the inspirational sound bites and calls into question his government's integrity. In fact, it isn't a stretch to say that his handling of this file is as bad as the Harper government who backburnered these issues for a decade.
Advocates say there are more than 1200 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, but these stories seldom garner national press. And Indigenous women in the provinces report a rate of violent victimization that is about 2.5 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous women. We spoke with two Indigenous advocates and experts about what we should be talking about when it comes to sexual violence and Indigenous communities.
Time and time again the issue of the First Nations housing crisis makes it into the media. And every time I see it I ask myself why things aren't done right the first time. The mouldy, boarded up, plastic-covered shacks are literally third-world, yet they are considered housing rather than something to be bulldozed.
This group thinks Aboriginal Peoples are getting a free ride with status cards and tax exemptions (limited, and specific) and they want in on it. Do these people not realize that Aboriginal Peoples do pay taxes? If not, it is unlikely they have thought further about the history of cards and tax exemptions.
I told him that Indigenous people fear the police because of many instances of abuse and the feeling that it was an institution designed to oppress Indigenous people. He told me that wasn't true. I told him their actions say something different. And that was that. It was only a few weeks later, walking with my then girlfriend (and future and present wife) late at night on Adelaide outside her apartment that the cruiser pulled up beside us. They shone the spotlight on me and ordered me to face the wall.
Though Canada Day has come and gone, there's still a good reason to keep the good feelings alive. On July 9th, Nunavut will be celebrating its 23rd birthday and the rest of our country is invited to join in the festivities. Not only will it mark a special day for our youngest territory, but it will also laud the people who have lived the longest in this great land.