Headline to Headline; Let’s Play

Big day in Canadian news today and this makes it a good day to play, which headline is real?

“City of Victoria To Remove Statue of Depraved, Racist Drunk and Canada’s 1st Prime Minister”

or

“Sports Officials Unable to Find Non-Indigenous Team Names, Despite Entire Universe”

If you said neither, you’d be wrong. Well, almost wrong. Headline one is all truth, but only part of it was actually published. You can probably guess they didn’t print the “Racist” part or the “depraved” and “drunk” parts either. However, Victoria, BC did elect to take down the statue of John A. MacDonald, with the city’s Mayor explaining, ‘Indigenous people do not need to walk past this painful reminder of colonial violence each time they enter the doors of their municipal government.’  See the story details behind this move at “RECONCILIATION AND REMOVAL OF JOHN A. MACDONALD STATUE FROM STEPS OF CITY HALL“.

Of course, reaction to this event is fairly predictable. Outrage about ‘erasing history’ and insult to Canadian history, which might have deserved a hint of sympathy if actual history hadn’t of course, already been erased and ignored. Particularly the parts about the brutal terrorism and murder committed by MacDonald in the name of cleansing the “Indian problem” from the landscapes of their home in favour of European settlers looking to escape the tyranny of their own homeland.

The United Nations have a name for these acts that many Canadians are unable to accept for the black mark that it is, because it firmly rests upon their ancestors. It’s genocide, and just that one word alone is enough to cause shudders of distaste from the capital city that’s removing the statue, to the cliff edges of Newfoundland. If pushed, these people will make some allowance instead, for the term: Cultural Genocide.

In the end, as far as the descendants of ongoing traumas are concerned, the Indigenous Peoples, semantics do little for the scars of the policies then or the ones still being created in the name of “Reconciliation” today. That there are some Canadians who recognize their own real history and want to begin anew in how to present it and make amends, I raise my glass and hands to them.

No one, in the name of decency, wants to venerate genocidal sociopaths. The real history is that it took that kind of person to build Canada’s foundation. If Canada wants to change its historical record to the decency it claims world over, recognizing this is a start. Desires to instead teach Canada’s history from a realistic place in a real effort to uplift the marginalized and defeat repeating history, are the real heroics of this story.

The second headline is from one of my favorite Indigenous satire news magazines ever, Walking Eagle News!  Read Tim Fontaine’s take here, on our ongoing efforts to inform North America that it’s long past the due date to retire the remaining team names, logos, & mascots depicting caricatures and stereotypes of the Indigenous/Native Americans.

This work began in the 1950s, but it has only been since the advent of social media that we’ve been able to make a dent in the social consciences of both Canada and the U.S. I encourage you to read more in detail at the Change The Mascot organizationThe American Psychology Association has published several reports on how these images perpetuate harm to both Indigenous people and the communities that surround them.

To anyone who recognized both headlines are the truth, you win. Spread the word.

RL

 

Because He Was Brown

Like most Indigenous paying attention to Canada’s recent handling of two murder cases – 22 yr. old Colten Boushie, shot while he was asleep in the front seat of a vehicle and Tina Fontaine, 15 yr. old, 72 lbs, killed and thrown into a river – I held both expectations of hope for justice and resignation that the likelihood was slim.

Canada’s record of injustice for the Indigenous speaks for itself in a long line of documented reports. Then, in this era of “Truth & Reconciliation”, Canada lived up to its ability to crush that hope & affirm our worst expectations. Both murderers were fully acquitted, helped by incredible systemic failures and incredulous inept investigation and court service.

We were further leveled with the announcement on March 7th, that the expected call for an appeal in Colten’s case was flatly rejected. The Saskatchewan Attorney General sat in front of news cameras and gave his clipped announcement that their legal system worked as intended; they could find no wrong with the way their system was employed and then he bolted from the table. This was despite weeks of lawyers across Canada detailing the reasons why there was a miscarriage of justice that merited an appeal.

My heart aches for Colten’s mother, for Tina’s family. There’s no level of sympathy I can offer that will do justice to what they deserve. My head aches for all their loved ones struggling to grasp all the realities those verdicts delivered to them.

I can’t work my way through the pain in my heart when I go over in my mind the last week of Tina’s life and the last senseless moments of Colten’s, and that their families will live with this forever.

I struggle with them & I empathize, but even in that I know I’m two layers insulated from their pain. I’m devastated and ashamed in the knowledge that I can take relief too, even within these hideous, tragic events. My fears of losing my boy are eased from their reality because of one huge fact and that is, he looks white.

It’s horrifying to know that this is an actual life-saving truth in Canada. I won’t have to worry about some racist reflex that’ll see my boy shot in the back of the head; then abandoned while the killer sits in his kitchen having a coffee, just waiting for clean-up on aisle: driveway, as did Colten’s murderer.

I can feel this fury, but I won’t have to absorb the darts shot directly into the heart that only their babies have heard on the inside. I won’t have to feel the cuts of gleeful cretins rejoicing in the system that allows one of their own to get away with murder.

…because the victim lacked regard as a valued human being – because he was brown.

I can cry deeply in empathy, but I won’t have the agony of knowing my son would still be with me if only he wasn’t brown, or brown & drinking, or brown & screwing up in the same way white boys have for centuries…

I’ve always worried about my child’s safety. I’ll always pray for his journey to be in ease and peace, but I get to know, in this insidious, despicable way, that the only reason he’ll be that much safer is because his draw in the DNA colour lottery came out white.

I can’t change a thing for Colten’s mom. But I will stand with her, and with every brown mother that has had to feel the pain of that senseless, useless, unnecessary terror that is real for her babies, and used as an excuse for execution by white people.

I will remind any & all the (former) Prime Minister Paul Martins who phone me to lecture that Canadians are not racist, that they’re being willfully blind. I will never stop letting white people know this is their work to undo. I will never stop fighting for justice & defying inequities. And neither will my son. Neither should you.

Heather is one of the finest people one could ever hope to meet. She doesn’t deserve this fear. None of us do.

RL

I Looked For You

 

 

I wondered and waited for you…

I wondered who would show up, I wondered who would stand.

I wondered if my words or calls for help would bring you to us. I worried my anguished voice would just fall flat.

I looked for you; I searched through the faces to see if there was someone, that one unexpected person to stand with me because they see and despise the injustices too.

I looked for someone to say, I heard you.

I looked for you to hold my hand while I cried about our babies being shot or strangled, then tossed away like litter.

I willed you to come to my side while we spoke about the broken promises and horrors that are inflicted on all my relations because we refuse to die off for the convenience of Canadian business moguls.

I silently begged you to show up for every possible reason I could think of, but mostly… mostly because you wanted to stand for and do, what’s right.

I waited for you to come to me to say you are part of our community and we are part of yours.

I watched for you to speak up and say, this isn’t my Canada. We will change a country that would treat anyone this way because we cannot, we will not, call a country that treats people like this, good enough.

I watched and waited and wondered about you.

…I looked for you…

RL

Nice Folks 2.0

This is the follow-up story to the article “Nice Folks” which was published on March 9th. These stories are about a gang of seemingly average folks who are taking over multiple Facebook groups, in the guise of free speech, in order to push what very much looks like an anti-minority agenda.

Following the publishing of the first story, despite all pleas in contrary to the story by these people, that they are only exercising free speech of tastelessness – no real foul, they persisted in harassing people as usual. I was one of the people they contacted in an attempt to intimidate me into haranguing the AuntieThis writers to take down their story. True to their historical form, they seemed to pointedly revel in harassment toward people of color, in particular Indigenous women.

It was rather interesting to watch this reaction of concern for themselves, considering their own direct and very public harassment was seen by hundreds for sure, but more likely by thousands. In any case, there is nothing within these story details that has not been put out in the public realm by themselves and their friends.

I find it interesting that people continue to allow these people to fly with their vitriol. I have to wonder if this is in fear or with the view it’s cheap entertainment. Whatever the motives for sitting back, I am very glad to know there are other groups of people willing to step up and counter these growing voices of prejudice.

RL

auntiethis

Nice Folks 2.0
Last week we had a conversation about one of those “Nice Folks” problems: the kind you have when Nice Folks say the things that run around in their head out loud – and are surprised when people get mad.  Surprised and confused; cause they’ve been talking like that for years, and nobody said much about it.  If you need an update, you can find it here

Long story short: Margo pulled herself off-line; was in tears for days; worried about her kids – a lot; and went to the police.  Or not.

Because she stayed online the whole time – under one of her “alt” profiles, and just kept playing for attention; was laughing about it the day it happened – and ultimately had this to say:

Margos Wish

Because, ultimately, it was all about getting the attention.

What Margo was doing was using hate-speech to get attention; and that’s a big…

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Nice Folks

A very worthy read; a must-see to the end: when “Nice Folks” act on racism… This could be Anytown, North America. I see the comments featured in this story every day on social media in various groups, within news story comments, even within the legislative assemblies of our allegedly finest citizens, as happened yesterday when one of Canada’s Senators let it be known in chambers that the horrific residential schools that tore Indigenous / Native American families apart and subjected them to the same horrors and deaths as the Jewish encampments, were ‘good for the children’ and why aren’t the ‘positive stories being the focus’?

I won’t expand on that now, but you can follow this link to read that story.

This story is about your everyday folks, healthcare workers, school volunteers, your neighbourhood mom and dads. These are the people that support the most vile of society, who desire to revel in racism in the lowliest ways to work at reinforcing their need for a sense of superiority… Oh, and they’re your neighbours too…

PostScript: Following my sharing this auntiethis blog story, and applying a comment to it, I was contacted on Facebook privately and publicly by members of the group featured. They insulted, denigrated and attempted to intimidate me into taking this post down and removing my share on Facebook. They threatened to use my public photos for their nefarious purposes to implying they would sue. The only reason I am caught up in this one is, the auntiethis blog republished about 4 or 5 of my previous articles and these Sherlock Holmes deduced that since I’m noted on their past publishing, I must be ‘the writer’ – of this story and of the auntiethis blog. I am neither, but I would have been proud to put my own name on the story. My response to their harassment is, I can’t wait for the next installment of their story to come out.

RL

auntiethis

Nice Folks

Nice Folks are a problem: usually because their greatest aspiration is to be nice.
To be “nice”, they are specialists in “going along to get along” – or is that “getting along to go along”?  They’ll literally join any crowd; go in any parade; accept anything that’s going on around them to – well, to simply make sure they don’t stand out.  They just run their lives based on something called “Common Sense”; which they think means the same thing as “Reality”, and practice like a religion.  The fact that their common sense is simply a mix of myths and legends that they learned in school – or the movies – or on TV – doesn’t seem to intrude on them.  Common sense is easier that Google, and serves them to get through their lives; walking with the herd; not getting into any kind of trouble.

The picture above is…

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So, The Right Honorable Paul Martin Called Me Up On Calling Him Out On CDA’s Racism

Revised June 8, 2018

2016 AvatarFormer Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Paul Martin called me in response to an email I sent him in reply to his comments made in a May 12th CBC story headlined: “Canadians not racist but Aboriginal issue ‘invisible’ to many, says Paul Martin”. While I’d assumed he was calling in some effort of support, I was disheartened at the realization he actually wanted to correct me on what Canadian racism is, or rather, isn’t.

While Mr. Martin did strongly point out in that and subsequent stories, the various awful inequities thrown at the Indigenous that cause significant and terrible consequences, I could not let that one sentence go.

“Racism isn’t the culprit, but that doesn’t change the fact that the challenges faced by Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples have long remained out of sight and mind to many”, says former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin.

I was stunned. Not only because the very fact that we still have an active piece of legislation called the Indian Act, which is all about the business of managing the Indigenous, but every day we read stories of the examples of racism in action.

Every day I see other examples such as a recently posted widely-watched video put out by a very stridently racist Vancouver woman that compared AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde to Hitler, demanding that the AFN members be arrested for treason, and complaining that all “natives are obsessed with white people”.

This is all enough to question just the idea that Canada is not racist, a country built upon the lies of trade and/or conquering as most Canadians believe, but to have had that statement come from a high profile public servant widely seen as a friend to the Indigenous?

It was incredible to me.

So, I wrote Mr. Martin.  I noted the points above, of others and attached the link to the despicable video.  I wrote to say I was disheartened along with outraged because his background as friend to the Indigenous was precisely why it was especially important to not let stand yet another whitewash of history to make Canadians feel better, despite the fact they have all benefited from taking the lion’s share of Indigenous resources.

I admit I had no expectation of a response as I’d yet to get one from any of the fine members of Canada’s upper echelon in all my years of writing to them about Indigenous issues. However, 24 hours later I received an email asking if I would like to speak with Mr. Martin.

Stunned for a second time in 24 hours! Of course I said, yes, and within minutes my phone rang.

I was a little surprised by the opening of the conversation.  I found Mr. Martin to initially be quite defensive, not quite ready to recognize why I could be upset. He said it was hard to accept that people wouldn’t be able to see his message’s point, especially given his personal record of working to undo the wrongs against the Indigenous over all these years of service. This ignores the point that it was he who implemented the annual 2% funding spending cap for INAC in 1996 that imposed harsh consequences on the ability of Indigenous communities to thrive since.

He asked if I watched the actual interview, and I admitted I did not, however there was no video linked to the story. He specifically mentioned crafting the Kelowna Accord with Indigenous leaders that former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, crushed the minute he came into office.

Of course I am aware of Mr. Martin’s efforts; I absolutely acknowledge Mr. Martin’s role in that Accord and I would note I have used that Accord as an example in several conversations on the potential for moving forward (and it’s the third reason I came to despise Harper as PM). But, again, that’s precisely why I took especial exception to his words.

To get to his point, he said the Indigenous problem with Canadians is based in ignorance, a lack of history knowledge moreso than racism.  I said I do understand that as in large part, I believe racism is ignorance, however we have to be careful of how we state things too. I sensed this thought wasn’t particularly appreciated.

It was at this point he had to go and his final comment was that he feels that calling Canadians racist will not help in the work to help the Indigenous.

After we hung up, I thought about all the people my friends, acquaintances, and anti-racism workers encounter on that daily basis.  I thought about all of those who, like that racist video creator, remain fully and willfully ‘ignorant’ of facts, I wondered about the rest of the Canadians who actually are aware of the inequities, the injustices, the utter horrors of their country’s history.

I wonder what Mr. Martin would say about them, and how would he’d reply to questions such as:

What happens once the ignorance is dispelled, are these same Canadians then standing up for us?  Do they protest the inequities?  Do they even just move out of the way of progressing forward?  How many of these same good people are still exercising their right to indifference?

How is inaction or indifference not complicit racism then? Isn’t that what Edmund Burke was speaking to when he said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”?

I mulled the conversation around with my aunt, Elder Maureen Kennedy.  She said, “Yes, we have our own hard work to do to get over and through everything, but they have their own hard work to do too”. I agree with my aunt, except I’d say I don’t agree that they should be expecting our comfort for them on top of it all.

Mr. Martin also sits as board member for the *Canadians For a A New Partnership (CFNP) – a group of prominent leaders from both sides of the equation to “build a new partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada”. I envision the Indigenous partners having to dance around the elephant in the room while seeking justice.

…And do Canadians really need to ‘feel better about themselves’ before they do the right thing?

RL

*In early January 2018, Paul Martin quietly closed the doors of the CFNP, the only announcement appearing to be an email to their website subscribers. Shortly after that, he created his own private charity foundation, ostensibly in support of Indigenous education. He requested funding from the Canadian government. They responded with a $30 million cheque for him.

June 8, 2016 – 87% of Canadians believe aboriginal people experience discrimination: survey

An Indigenous perspective on the realities of racism:

Wab Kinew On Canadian Racism, Relocating Attawapiskat, And The ‘Criminal’ State Of Aboriginal Education

Martin email exchange

 Paul Martin reply May 16, 2016Email 1 to Paul Martin May 15, 2016 Email 2 to Paul Martin May 16, 2016

I Was Hacked, & By Friendly Fire Too

Unfortunately I was hacked and a post was put up on my page without my involvement today.  Although I am in support of the knowledge contained in the report that was posted, I will not support the tactics used to place it on my page.

I am a strong supporter of Indigenous issues and I speak out regularly on various platforms often and proudly, but I’m sorry that someone felt that placing their view, even if well-intentioned, without my permission would be a viable method.  I will ask for help if I have trouble finding my own words.

I appreciate someone else wanting help in spreading the word about the incredibly uninformed and racist views of Conservative candidates, but ask for my assistance, do not impose your will on me, the way Canadian policies were imposed on our ancestors.

I am aware of these candidates, I speak out about them, I encourage people to seek out the backgrounds of who they may be voting for, but most of all, please use the hard-earned right to do so.

RL