Posts Tagged ‘racism’

Winnipeg, June, 5, 2015: At the Manitoba Legislative Building, Maeengan Linklater answers journalists questions about his proposed Manitoba Indian Residential Schools Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day Act. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Winnipeg, June, 5, 2015: At the Manitoba Legislative Building, Maeengan Linklater answers journalists’ questions about his proposed Manitoba Indian Residential Schools Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day Act. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Now that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has completed its work, and the major federal political parties have have adopted predictable positions, what can ordinary folk do to make sure Justice Sinclair’s message isn’t lost between now and the election this fall?

I’m rather taken with a draft Act that was made public yesterday on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature that would set aside one day a year, called  Manitoba Indian Residential School Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day, to reflect on and reaffirm our commitment to truth and reconciliation.

According to Maeengan Linklater, the proponent of this resolution, adopting the Act would help achieve the following:

  1. Continue the healing for those survivors, families and communities;
  2. Reaffirm the safety and protection of Aboriginal children from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse;
  3. Reaffirm, recognize and acknowledge Aboriginal people and governments as self-governing and nation-to-nation in their relationships with the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba; and,
  4. Educate all Canadians about the Indian Residential School experience.

The use of the word “genocide” makes this is a provocative name for a provincial holiday. It is precisely the provocative nature of the word that makes it so valuable. Most Canadians are in a state of denial regarding the injustices perpetrated against indigenous peoples and badly in need of some straight talk.

I recorded Maeengan’s launch of the Act, following him through the halls of the Manitoba Legislature to capture the responses of representatives of four political parties. I’ve also (see below), published the draft Act. I hope the Manitobans reading this post will get behind it and get in contact with their Members of the Manitoba Legislature.

Wouldn’t it be cool if Canadians in other parts of the country tried to beat us to the punch and get similar laws enacted in their provinces?

Manitoba Indian Residential School Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day Act

WHEREAS between the years 1870 and 1996, 150,000 Indian, Metis, and Inuit children in Canada were removed from their families and communities to attend residential schools.

WHEREAS, the ‘Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’ (adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948, includes “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group,” and the actions taken to remove children from families and communities and to put them in residential schools meets this definition of a “genocide”.

WHEREAS the goals of the Indian Residential School system were to “remove and isolate children from the influence of their home, families, traditions, and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominate culture”.

WHEREAS the Government of Canada recognized that many of the children experienced emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, lived in conditions of neglect, and were forbidden to learn, or practice, their culture, and to speak their language.

WHEREAS on June 11, 2008, the Government of Canada made a Statement of Apology – to former students of Indian Residential Schools to initiate healing and reconciliation between the Aboriginal community and Canada.

WHEREAS efforts have been launched nationally to lead to reconciliation including the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

WHEREAS on June 2, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada recognized the establishment and operation of residential schools was a central element of assimilative policies that can be best described as cultural genocide.

WHEREAS the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.

WHEREAS setting aside one day a year for such a day will provide an opportunity to focus on understanding and reconciliation including to:

a. Continue the healing for those survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities;

b. Reaffirm the safety and protection of Aboriginal children from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse;

c. Reaffirm, recognize, and acknowledge, Aboriginal peoples and governments as self-governing, sovereign, and nation-to-nation, in its relationship with the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba; and,

d. To educate all Manitobans about the lessons of the Indian Residential School system, and its continuing impacts in today’s society.

WHEREAS the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba is committed through legislation and education, to support the revitalization of Aboriginal communities that enable Aboriginal people to reach their full potential, and to bridge efforts of reconciliation of Aboriginal people and the people of Manitoba.

WHEREAS on June 2, we will remember, for we must never forget.

THEREFOR HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative of Manitoba, enacts as follows:

Manitoba Indian Residential School Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day

  1. In each year, June 2, to be known as Manitoba Day for Understanding and Reconciliation in Relations to the Indian Residential Schools.

Churchill MP Niki Ashton gave an impassioned speech at the July 11th Winnipeg rally for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. In addition to posting the video, I’m providing a transcript because it neatly sums up this ongoing tragedy and the Harper government’s decisions that have served only to make matters worse.

Winnipeg, July 11, 2012: Churchill MP Niki Ashton speaking at a rally in support of provincial and national inquiries into missing and murdered aboriginal woman in Canada. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Our message is clear. There is an epidemic of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.

Let’s look at those statistics. Over 600 aboriginal women missing. One aboriginal woman is three-and-a-half times more likely to experience violence than a non-aboriginal woman. A young aboriginal woman is five times more likely to die from violence than a non-aboriginal woman in Canada.

But this isn’t about the statistics. It’s about the daughters, the sisters, the mothers, the grandmothers, the friends that have gone missing. It is about the broken families and the broken communities and the people that are grieving. And it is time to recognize that we need action. We need a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

International organizations have spoken out. Amnesty International — even the United Nations – are beginning to understand and have said they understand the magnitude of this issue.

But where is our federal government? Not only have they failed to recognize the magnitude of this tragedy, they have cut the programs that would help to be part of the solution — the loss of Sisters in Spirit, the cuts to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the loss of the National Aboriginal Health Organization, the loss of the Women’s Health Network, the loss of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the loss of the First Nations Statistical Institute.

We need action and we need to find out what’s going on. We need an inquiry that will look into the underlying causes of why aboriginal women face so much violence.

The debilitating impact of a residential school legacy, crushing poverty, Third World living conditions on First Nations, overcrowding in housing, the lack of access to education and health care —

My message to Stephen Harper is: “Mr. Harper — if you’re not part of the solution, YOU are part of the problem.”

But in this darkness there is hope. There is hope that, with an inquiry and a call for action and a commitment to that action, we will be able to prevent this violence from continuing to take place. And more importantly, there will be an ability to bring justice to the memories of the women that have been missing, that have been murdered — to their families, to their communities.

So we are here and we are not asking. We are demanding that there be a national response to a national epidemic. We are demanding a national inquiry. And we will not rest until we hear from the federal government — until there is a national inquiry to finally put an end — so that no aboriginal woman — no woman — dies because she is an aboriginal woman — in a country as wealthy as Canada — in the year 2012 and beyond. Thank you. Meegwetch.

More: Video: Manitoba’s Grand Chiefs demand provincial, national & international inquiries into missing & murdered women

Winnipeg: July 11, 2012: Three of the several hundred demonstrators who marched through downtown Winnipeg demanding public inquiries into the the deaths and disappearances of 600 hundred indigenous women in Canada. Photo: Paul S. Graham

More than 600 indigenous women in Canada are believed to have gone missing or been murdered in recent years.  The slowness of governments to act and the lack of progress where governments have acted have spurred Manitoba’s aboriginal organizations to demand full-scale provincial and national inquiries.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Southern Chiefs Organization have written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging that he hold a national inquiry that would look at all aspects of the issue.

The Chiefs have sent a parallel request to Eric Robinson, Deputy Premier of Manitoba and Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs. Both letters are available on the web site of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

So far, Manitoba’s and Canada’s governments have shown no interest in public inquiries. Manitoba’s Justice Minister, Andrew Swan, claims he does not support an inquiry because it could “get in the way of a criminal investigation” that led to the arrest of Shawn Cameron Lamb on charges of killing three aboriginal women in Winnipeg.

The Chiefs hope that will change if their efforts to have the United Nations become involved bear fruit. Says MKO Grand Chief David Harper, “The province will not inspect itself, Canada will not inspect itself . . . We’re going to the United Nations.”

The AMC, MKO and SCO held a rally in Winnipeg on July 11, 2012. Several hundred Winnipeggers marched from the Forks National Historic Site to the TD Centre near the corner of Portage and Main in support.

Here is some of the video I shot at this event. Featured in this video clip are Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, respected community elder Mae Louise Campbell and David Harper, Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.

In this clip, Winnipeg City Councillor Ross Eadie makes an impassioned plea for justice for Aboriginal People, declaring “We are all Treaty People!”

As a part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012 in Winnipeg, Paul Burrows and Cheryl-Anne Carr discussed the impact of colonialism on the indigenous peoples of Canada and Palestine. The similarities are disturbing and striking.

The event was sponsored by: