Canada Day

I have never much liked Canada Day. Oh, the fireworks were a blast but an awful lot of the celebration seemed to me to be less about love of country and more about feeling smug. Last year the celebrations were virtual due to COVID, this year they are to be muted because unmarked graves have been found at the sites of residential schools. Apparently we are to have a day of reflection.

It is precisely this sort of moral preening which put me off Canada Day. I hate to say it but we’ve all known about the residential schools and their failings for decades. “Discovering” the graves of children who went there is horrific but, again, we knew that children died in those schools. But this year we are supposed to “reflect” on this fact.

This is typically Canadian. We’re going to reflect on the fact of the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of children while, essentially ignoring the current, awful conditions on many First Nations reserves.

If this country had any leadership at all, the Prime Minister, the leaders of the Opposition Parties and all of the Provincial Premiers would sit down and figure out how to, in the next year, get potable water to every First Nations reserve in Canada. Never mind the cost. Just get this basic thing done

Reflect on history all you want but start addressing the basic needs of First Nation Canadians as a matter of urgent, national, priority.

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7 thoughts on “Canada Day

  1. Terry Rudden says:

    “We’re going to reflect on the fact of the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of children while, essentially ignoring the current, awful conditions on many First Nations reserves.”

    That’s an interesting perspective. Some of us don’t view those two issues as unconnected. Reflection on the deaths and unmarked burial of these children may lead some to do a bit of reading on the history of Indigenous/Crown relations, and perhaps to see a link between the residential schools, the decades of assimilate or ignore policy-making, and the systemic racism at play in Canada today. And that, hopefully, will increase the political will to take action.

    “Systemic racism” isn’t a cliché, by the way. I had the opportunity to work with Senator Murray Sinclair on his investigation into policing practices and governance in Thunder Bay. That reports provides a calm, impeccably documented and detailed historical analysis of the structures, policies and procedures that enabled a long string of murders in that city to remain ignored and unsolved for decades. https://tribunalsontario.ca/documents/ocpc/TBPSB_Investigation_Final_Report_-_EN-FINAL-1.pdf

    • Fred from BC says:

      ““Systemic racism” isn’t a cliché, by the way. ”

      Oh, wow. Seriously?

      Please give me an example of “systemic racism” In Canada in 2021. Please.

      Not “this guy refused to hire someone because they were (xxx)”; that’s one individual, not the system. And not educational or physical standards, either…those are not the least bit racist. Oh, and no anecdotes from 30-40 years ago, either.

      You’re a smart guy, Terry…maybe you can succeed where everyone else I’ve asked in the last few years has failed.

      • Terry Rudden says:

        “Oh, wow. Seriously?”

        Uh…yes, Fred. Seriously.

        “Please give me an example of “systemic racism” In Canada in 2021. Please.”

        If you had read the entire response, you would have noted I provided a link to an extremely well researched, well documented analysis of systemic racism within the Thunder Bay Policy Services, from the structure of the Governance system to the patterns of response to calls. The study was done by Senator Murray Sinclair and team.

        “You’re a smart guy, Terry…maybe you can succeed where everyone else I’ve asked in the last few years has failed.”

        Thanks. If you’re seriously interested, that document should do the trick, for two reasons. It actually explains what “systemic racism” means, how it works, explores its specific expression in terms of structures (both formal and informal) within a well established institution, and illustrates the impact it has had on policing in the region. Here’s the link again: https://tribunalsontario.ca/documents/ocpc/TBPSB_Investigation_Final_Report_-_EN-FINAL-1.pdf

      • Fred from BC says:

        Okay Terry…I read as much of that ‘report’ as I could stand.

        ( I really should have taken the hint when it veered off into the history of the fur trade, recognizing the obvious reasons for it, but I stuck it out)

        First there was this:

        ———————–

        Systemic discrimination and systemic racism are essentially two sides of the same coin. The terms are often used interchangeably, along with ‘institutional racism’ or ‘structural racism. All these terms describe a situation where a system’s functioning, whether deliberate or not, produces an unfair or unequal impact on an individual because of an innate characteristic.

        ———————–

        “Whether deliberate or not”, you say? How convenient. I was always under the impression that ‘racism’ was a rather bad thing, espoused and practiced by bad people…now it’s *accidental*? Please.

        Here’s were they lost me:

        ————————-

        . But what if the person working within the system applies a
        rule equally to everyone and the result is that a person is treated unfairly because he or she is a member of a group that largely cannot meet the rule? A useful example is where a police force requires all candidates to be a minimum of six feet tall and weigh at least 185 pounds in order to qualify as a police officer. People from a racial or gender group with shortness as a characteristic could never qualify regardless of their other, perhaps more significant, skills and abilities.

        ————————–

        OH HELL NO.

        Nope, not buying it, sorry. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: physical standards, educational requirements and criminal record/background checks (I left that one out, figuring it was self-evident) are NOT racism,

        (you know what else isn’t racist? Grammar. Or mathematics. Tell that to the ‘advocacy groups who are pushing that narrative…they’re making you all look bad…;)

        Lots of anecdotal evidence in that report, too…lots of assumptions made and conclusions jumped to; you must have heard, after the MMIW was made public, about the ‘terrible’ solve rate of the murders of aboriginal women, right? Did you notice the story a few days later where the RCMP simply stated that the solve rate for the murders of Caucasian women was *virtually identical*?

        Why is it that ‘advocates’ feel that they have to embellish their case so much? I’ve never met one yet who didn’t firmly believe (although they refuse to admit it when pressed) that the ends justifies the means. If someone had handed Stephen Harper a taxpayer-funded multi-million dollar report that prominently featured the words ‘deliberate genocide’, he would have laughed at them and told them to re-write it without the inflammatory, politically loaded buzzwords…or it would never see the light of day.

        And that’s the root of the whole “systemic racism” ploy” : like so many other terms that the woke SJW crowd has forced on us (homophobia ( a nonsensical term if there ever was one), Islamophobia, cisgendered, transgendered, non-binary, etc, etc), they are designed for one purpose only: to BULLY the government and general public into giving a small noisy group of malcontents what they want, at the expense of the rest of us.

        Yes, I realize that there are some good people out there who are actually *not* doing this work solely for the power or the money that it affords them…but they are a minority, sadly (I count you among them, if that matters at all). Those aren’t the people who invented ‘cancel culture’, think people should be *jailed* for not agreeing that a man in a dress is really a woman or that pre-teens should be given hormone blockers in preparation for their sexual mutilation at the hands of surgeons (who should know better, but are just as terrified of the crybullies as anyone else). They aren’t the people who are actively trying to erase our history, and they should be supported in their efforts.

        (okay, this getting too long)

        Like Jay says…fix the water quality issues and a few other things. And I’ll start getting exited about unmarked graves (which were not only mostly on reserves, so they were already known about, but were originally marked as well) when some actual autopsies are done, or even real bodies verified (GPR doesn’t do as well as you might think). Smallpox, cholera, diphtheria, tuberculosis, compound fractures and infected wounds were just a few of the things that killed children prior to 1880and well into the 1900’s…let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

      • Terry Rudden says:

        I’m sorry you could only “stand” to read the first 55 pages of the report. That means you stopped in the middle of a broad definition of “systemic racism”, and missed:
        – the summary of Supreme Court decisions defining it in legal terms, which was the foundation for our analysis and findings;
        – the entire analysis of police governance systems and practices, and the specific points of structure, policy, procedure and practice that reflect the Supreme Court’s definitions;
        – the specific, documented instances illustrating the failure of those systems.

        I assumed your question was posed in good faith, and that you were actually prepared to review a landmark case study. You were not, and I regret wasting your time and mine.

        I will, however, respond to a couple of points you raised. This document was one of the more important (and exhausting, and heart-breaking, and eye-opening) pieces of work I’ve been engaged in, so I may be taking your contemptuous dismissal too personally. But there’s a reality described in this report that I’m afraid you’re choosing not to see.

        To address some of your specific comments:

        “Whether deliberate or not”, you say? How convenient. I was always under the impression that ‘racism’ was a rather bad thing, espoused and practiced by bad people…now it’s *accidental*? Please.”

        Had you been able to “stand” a little more of the study, you might have gotten to the discussion that distinguishes between “in your face” direct, personal racism (for example, the Thunder Bay habit of cruising the streets and throwing bottles at the Indians) and instances where policies and procedures make in inadvertent (for example, the structural exclusion of Indigenous Policing Services in feeder regions from planning, budgeting or decision making; the absence of any linkages to Indigenous social services or representation organizations in the community; the report is quite detailed.)

        ” physical standards, educational requirements and criminal record/background checks (I left that one out, figuring it was self-evident) are NOT racism,”

        That is correct. All of those are and should be either screen or rated criteria for any position. They HAVE, however, been used by employers in just about every sector, to sustain prejudicial hiring practices, to exclude particular groups – women, blacks, Indigenous peoples, disabled, gays and others. In some cases, the requirements are legitimate. In other cases, they ignore the strengths of the excluded candidates. I once did an analysis of hiring practices for a government department that required CCC levels of French for a position in a Nunavut hamlet, but allowed NO points fluency in Inuktitut.

        “Lots of anecdotal evidence in that report, too…lots of assumptions made and conclusions jumped to…”

        I assume you were unable to “stand” the appendices, which provide a lengthy (but still only partial) listing of sources and media coverage and sources. By the nature of the report, much of the material WAS anecdotal; however, there is not a single theme or recommendation that was not reprised multiple times in the interviews, and usually confirmed in the interviews with the police (who were for the most part honest, forthcoming, and, in my opinion, sincere in acknowledging the racism inherent in the force and its governance, and wanting to see it change.) I’m not sure which conclusions you feel we “jumped” to, but given you didn’t actually read the critical sections of the report, it’s a little difficult to respond.

        “The systemic racism ploy.”

        Just to put things in context, Fred: that string of Thunder Bay murders was REAL. The deaths in custody were REAL. The failures of policing we identified were REAL. This report wasn’t some anonymous essay by a lobby group. It was commissioned the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, an agency of the Ontario government. It was conducted by a distinguished Judge and Senator. It was accepted by the Police Commission and by the Government, its conclusions were agreed to, and most of its recommendations have been or are being implemented.

        So forgive me if I’m a little disgusted by your reference to this work as part of a “ploy”,

        The rest of your response is a by-the-numbers dismissal of the usual bugbears. Thanks for reminding me of the futility of trying to engage in real dialogue. I really should have learned by now.

  2. Jay Currie says:

    Reading the report now.

    The issues are not at all disconnected. I suspect my point is that there are things we can do, right now, which will have a positive impact on First Nations people. We cannot “fix” the past, we can improve the future.

    • Terry Rudden says:

      Yes, you’re right about that. But speaking frankly and from an advocacy perspective, increasing awareness of the past among the electorate increases political pressure on whatever government is in power (or campaigning) to take steps or make commitments (a portion of which will be met).

      One of the problems the various conservative parties will have heading into the next election is the lack of an Indigenous policy that moves beyond the original vision espoused by Flanagan and adopted by Harper. It’s been dressed up and rephrased for the audience in various iterations, but the core points remain the same; “self government” locked in at the level of municipal powers, functions and authorities; transfer of federal authorities (and funding) for health and education to the provinces; and an end to the protection of lands held in trust by the Crown through dissolution of the Indian Act and CIRNAC. Liberal and NDP make the right noises, follow up on a sliver of their promises, and ignore the rest; but most conservative governments don’t even make the right noises.

      Have to give credit here to Brian Mulroney, though, who actually seemed to get it.

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