Canadian Outrage

>> Monday, December 13, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, in one of my classes, we watched a film called American Outrage, about the Dann sisters, elderly Shoshone women whose animals got in the way of a gold mine. The US government subjected them to repeated harassment, charging them with trespassing (on SHOSHONE land as per the Treaty of Ruby Valley) and rounding up and stealing their stock, and spending millions of dollars in their campaign against them. The Dann sisters fought back - took it all the way to the Supreme Court and the United Nations....and even though they won - over and over again - nothing much has changed. Almost 30 years of fighting for what is RIGHT. Ludicrous.

I wish I could say that such things don't happen in Canada. After all, we Canadians have apologized to our native peoples, eh? So we must be ever so much better than the U.S. right?


We apologized...but that doesn't mean that we have stopped behaving badly.

How long before we apologize for depriving the Algonquins of Barriere Lake of the money the Canadian government has been withholding since 2001? For once again imposing our will on them and engaging in deliberate attempts to undermine them at every turn?

When are we going to apologize to our missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada? We cut the funding for the Sisters in Spirit Initiative research - do you know why? I do. The same reason we are ending the long form census in Canada.

The Canadian government does not want us to know how many Aboriginal women go missing, or how many children live in poverty, or how many Canadian women work without wages or....

If we don't know about any of the problems they do not exist. The Harper government strategy for everything. Vanish the statistics. Ta dah! Problem solved. Magic!!!!

We can point to the apology that Harper made to our Aboriginal peoples all we want - it means NOTHING if the abuse does not stop.

It is not enough to close the residential schools and apologize if we turn around and find other ways to abuse our Aboriginal peoples. Five new prisons! And Aboriginal peoples are the fastest growing population in our prisons - a trend that we EXPECT to continue according to everything I have read.

Why do we expect it to continue? Why is it so acceptable that even the Human Rights Commission, in their 2005 report "A Matter of Rights", just presents it as fact, without even questioning it, or, gee, I don't know - maybe suggesting that THIS IS A PROBLEM?

Aboriginal people are already over-represented in our prison populations - and now we're planning to build new prisons to lock up more of them and that's okay cuz hey, we only promised to end residential schools.

We can talk about decolonization all we want - it is only talk. And it is an outrage.


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