Racism a problem in Canada, too


Like everyone else, I sat in front of the television and on Facebook watching with horror what was happening in the United States. Like everyone, I was sitting and watching the almost unbelievable videos of young black men being gunned down by police and then watching the police being shot in Dallas. I say “almost unbelievable” because it has happened so often now and without a doubt it will happen again.
It’s easy to sit here and be appalled at the violence and racism in that country and if I see one more meme on Facebook saying All Lives Matter, I will scream. Of course all lives matter, but the reality is for a vast number of people in both the United States and Canada, all lives don’t matter. The reality is that police don’t gun down white people like black and brown people. We don’t get carded (asked for ID) every time we are walking through our own community.
The one meme I did like read: “Black Lives Matter — more that white feelings — call out your racist friends.” To keep saying all lives matter is dismissing the problem and negating the issue.
You can’t tell me that racism isn’t a problem in Canada when First Nations peoples are incarcerated at rate 10 times higher than of the national average. Over the years, different inquiries have clearly stated that racism in a huge issue in our justice system. The Ipperwash Inquiry, for example, found cultural insensitivity and racism was not restricted to a few bad apples in the OPP, but was more widespread.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson admitted there were racists in the RCMP and he didn’t want them there. The most recent inquiry in Thunder Bay on the deaths of seven First Nation’s students shone the light on the blatant racism in that community.
We complacently and continually watch as First Nations peoples live in third world conditions with no clean drinking water, no appropriate housing, lack of medical care and education, and the list goes on. If these issues were happening in a white community, how long do you think it would continue? That’s racism.
The inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women will predictably repeat some of the same issues that have been raised in other inquiries, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. It needs to happen not just for the families of the missing and murdered, but for police forces across this country and for all of us.
Will it be easy? Of course not and it shouldn’t be. As Dawn Lavell Harvard, the president of the Native Women’s Association said: “It is going to get ugly, but we have to have the courage to stick with this. Once the lid is taken off the box, you can’t put it back inside or pretend it isn’t happening.”
The only way we can confront our own racism in this country is to open it up to the light and acknowledge it. Then perhaps we can affect some meaningful change. We don’t have to be an either or society. Let’s show the world that we can support everyone in this struggle to eradicate racism; we need to support First Nations, Black Lives Matter and yes, even police forces, if they show us they are willing to come to terms with their own biases and prejudices.
We can’t continue to just sit back and say nothing when we witness racism. As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Ruth Farquhar is a freelance writer based on Manitoulin Island.

Source http://www.thesudburystar.com/2016/07/10/racism-a-problem-in-canada-too

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