Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Racist Bigotry in Canada


"Racism and intolerance exist in every community, but we do have a problem in Winnipeg. Instead of shrinking from the challenge, we need to rise up and we need to do better as a community."
"Winnipeg has a responsibility right now to turn this ship around and change the way we all relate."
"My wife is [of] Ukrainian heritage. My family is Metis. I want my boys to be as proud of both of those family lines."
"We're here together to face this head-on as one community."
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman

"I'm not here to pacify racism or to provide a politically correct statement on the reality of racism within the institutions that we function within every day."
"I guarantee that right now somebody's having a racist experience in a restaurant, or on the streets in Winnipeg somewhere. I'm not here to pacify that or to say that it's OK. But what I am here to do is I'm here to acknowledge the great work of people who get up every morning of every day to challenge racism in this city."
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, head, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"I have a right to be different. If we as a society make that a basic principle -- that all human beings have a right to be different -- we'd go a long way to solving the intolerance that many people experience."
"Instead of putting each other down, we should be trying to lift each other up."
Ovid Mercredi, former national chief, Assembly of First Nations
'The Manitoba capital is deeply divided along ethnic lines. Its Native citizens suffer daily indignities and horrific violence,' the Maclean's article alleges. (CBC)

Canada's news magazine, Maclean's, has published a new issue creating aa newly-controversial argument that Canada has a larger race-relations problem than does the United States. And, it states, the face of that bigotry exists in Winnipeg. Where racial discrimination is alive and raw. Where Native Canadians are held to be uniformly of sub-par intelligence, whose culture and heritage is not worthy of respect. It isn't hard to find statistics showing that First Nations people are over-represented in Canada's prisons.

Pan-handlers surfing the streets, aboriginal women who are drug-addicted and working the streets. Petty criminals of aboriginal background. Alcoholism a problem of staggering dimensions. Reserve councils misappropriating tax-paid funds meant to improve the lives of their tribal dependents. High unemployment among aboriginals. And along with all of that the contempt that some segments of Canadian society holds them in; worse, the depredation of sociopaths on Native women.

It's hard sometimes to figure out where the primary responsibility for the social well-being of First Nations lies. People do have to be responsible for themselves. Other groups have traditionally experienced the wretchedness of oppression and deprivation owing to their status in society, held to be inferior to the majority populations. Yes, the damage to self-esteem and human nature's ability to rebound is severe, but there is also inner resilience that must be called upon.

Simply put, there is no reason why First Nations people cannot be as deliberately capable of more responsibility for themselves, leading inevitably to improved outcomes for succeeding generations. There is an enormous responsibility residing within the prevailing larger populations to ensure fairness, but there is also the need for First Nations leaders to take stock of their own deficiencies and to lead their people toward a place of greater self-respect.

That it is incumbent upon themselves to raise their families by healthy nurturing, and to eschew alcohol and drugs and social-welfare dependency rather than imprint them on their children's evolving values. The inequities facing aboriginals in Canada are undeniably existent. There is no reason for Native Canadians not to be proud of their heritage, but pride should lead to striving for an exemplary lifestyle, not one of dependency on social welfare, drugs and alcohol.

There are more than ample role models from within the First Nations communities for young aboriginals to look up to and emulate. Those who have achieved an advanced academic eduction and who now equal any other ethnic groups in the professions of education, law, medicine, architecture, the humanities and the arts and sciences, demonstrate more than amply that there is no deficit in intelligence quotient, their success illustrates the ambition to achieve success for their futures.

What some can do, others can strive toward, and however far they advance themselves they can take personal pride within. But it does take determination and effort and the desire to achieve a set goal. As for those within society who prefer to believe stereotypes have the last word, and who view First Nations people as somehow inferior to themselves, what they are succeeding in doing is diminishing themselves through their own lack of intelligence.

Winnipeg's new mayor, himself of aboriginal descent, defended his city, declaring the universality within Canada of racism. He plans to lead his city away from its current well-earned reputation as a place where First Nations disrepute is to be found, aspiring to see that Winnipeg can "lead the nation" in the eradication of racism. Racism is a damningly dire pathology that afflicts human nature and it will never be entirely eliminated.

But the effort to decrease its effect on society through education and a focus on leading people to a better place for themselves on either side of the spectrum of polarized mistrust is the path that must be taken to make Canada a better place, one fully respective of a Native history, heritage and culture that is an integral part of the country. At the same time, First Nations people must themselves work at improving themselves, as we all must do.

The city's chief of police is black. Chief Devon Clunis has stated he doesn't believe Winnipeg is the only city trying to come to grips with racism in Canada. "We need to have a difficult conversation in our city respective of race. I think you are seeing who is starting that conversation today", he noted.

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