Racism, colonialism continue to guide Canada in their relationship with First Nations

From TheTorontoStar.com

The problem isn't aboriginals as Stephen Harper suggests. It's us: Siddiqui

The Harper government is behaving in colonial ways towards our indigenous peoples.

Author John Ralston Saul's new book, The Comeback, looks at the rising legal, political and social power of Canada's Aboriginal Peoples.


Author John Ralston Saul's new book, The Comeback, looks at the rising legal, political and social power of Canada's Aboriginal Peoples.

By:  Columnist, Published on Sat Nov 29 2014

"When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with his parents who are savages; he is surrounded by savages and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write."

That was our first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, speaking in the House of Commons in 1883, rationalizing the residential schools where aboriginal children were consigned to be cleansed of their Indian-ness.

Of the 150,000 who suffered that fate, many were sexually abused. Many were starved to be used as guinea pigs for nutrition experiments. Not until 2003 did Ottawa acknowledge the horror. In 2008 it formally apologized. More than 100,000 former residents have since been compensated from a $1.9-billion fund. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been hearing from survivors and examining 3.5 million documents, earlier withheld by Ottawa.

Thatgenocidal practice was but one element of a vast infrastructure of racism designed to keep "the white people, pink people, at the top," writes John Ralston Saul, author, philosopher and Canada's pre-eminent public intellectual.

"Canadians of European origin decided that 'Indians,' 'half-breeds' and "Esquimaus' were among the destined losers when faced by our superiority, our Darwinian destiny. And so we set about helping them on their way to oblivion."

The 1876 Indian Act deemed First Nations people as legally inferior. Later amendments banned them from leaving their reserves without permission, wearing aboriginal clothing off-reserves or performing the Sun Dance or the Pot Latch ceremony of feasting and gift-giving, or hiring lawyers (so they would not pursue land claims). They weren't allowed to vote until 1961. Of the 60 indigenous languages, today 45 are in danger, a national tragedy.

Yes, our treatment of its aboriginals "cannot be compared to the war, violence, massacres and slavery seen in the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, or even Australia. But there is no honour to be had from those comparisons," says Saul, in his new book, The Comeback.

The title refers to the rising legal, political and social power of the Aboriginal Peoples, as seen in the 2012-13 Idle No More protests across the country against the policies of the Stephen Harper government.

The book is the most powerful indictment I've read by a non-aboriginal person of our ongoing indifference to Ottawa's refusal to settle "the single biggest unresolved issue" of our time.

Saul calls the book a pamphlet, at 180 pages an afternoon read. Yet he pricks your conscience so much that you pause often and think long and hard about how we, as citizens, are complicit in Ottawa's still colonial behaviour towards our indigenous peoples.

The media tell us only about alcoholism, glue-sniffing, Third World poverty, aboriginal over-representation in jails, the unsolved murder or disappearance of 1,180 aboriginal women, and the profligate ways of some chiefs, which the Harperites publicize to suggest that's the norm among Indian leaders.

"Did anyone bother to compare the percentage of overpaid chiefs with the percentage of overpaid CEOs in the private sector? Or corrupt and incompetent mayors? Or badly behaving lawyers?" asks Saul.

The problem is not the Aboriginal Peoples. It is us.

We are either indifferent to the indigenous peoples or sympathetic to them. But they do not want our sympathy. They want their rights - as spelled out in the treaties between them and the Crown.

Those "permanent nation-to-nation agreements" are what made Canada possible on the triangular foundation of aboriginals, Francophones and Anglophones. The indigenous peoples gave massive tracts of lands in return for a permanent partnership of equals.

Yet "we pretend that we do not have partnership obligations. We criticize. We insult. We complain. We weasel: Surely, these handouts have gone on long enough. But the most important handout was to us. "

What's to be done?

Stop fighting land claims and wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money. The Supreme Court and lower courts have repeatedly ruled in favour of the aboriginals. Yet "you and I are paying government lawyers to ... act like rapacious divorce lawyers."

Gut the federal Department of Indian Affairs, which "has neither ethical nor moral credibility." Cut out the federal Justice Department lawyers. Settle the land claims. "No aboriginal is saying you have to leave your home in Mississauga." As for the resource-rich lands up north and in the interior of B.C. and elsewhere, those are best managed by those who live there and feel strongly about, rather than greedy corporations whose few dozen directors sit in Toronto or New York.

Give Aboriginal Peoples on-site jobs in resource extraction - and equity that will give them "the influence to introduce different business models." The new wealth would help tackle poverty and other ills.

Allocate federal resources, the way Ottawa did for Quebec, starting in the 1960s, to turn English-French relations around. "It took 30 to 40 years of painful work to set that right."

Set up several commissions, tribunals and panels of prominent aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians to handle land claims, education, infrastructure, resources/exploration, etc.

Force federal and provincial governments to "let go of their paternalistic mindset. Aboriginals are not wards of the state. They don't need charity. They want the power that our own history says is theirs by right."

Failing all this, expect years of conflict ahead. "Aboriginal frustrations are reaching dangerous levels. In five to 10 years, the outcome will be out of control - we don't know what that outcome would be. It could be violence. It could be non-cooperation with corporations wanting their resources."

If we don't come to terms with the Aboriginal Peoples, the issue would be "increasingly problematic for the existence of Canada."



From RawStory.com

'Racism without racists': White supremacy so deeply American that we don't even see it


Woman with hands over eyes (Shutterstock)Woman with hands over eyes (Shutterstock)DON'T MISS STORIES. FOLLOW RAW STORY!

White supremacy is so deeply ingrained in American life that institutionalized racism doesn't even need racists to persist.

Most Americans understand that racism is considered wrong, but many white people fail to see more subtle forms of racial prejudice that are more readily apparent to blacks and other minorities.

"The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits," Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a Duke University sociologist, told CNN. "The more we assume that the problem of racism is limited to the Klan, the birthers, the Tea Party or to the Republican Party, the less we understand that racial domination is a collective process and we are all in this game."

Bonilla-Silva calls this "racism without racists," which is also the title of his book on American white supremacy.

He told CNN that the discussion about the fatal shooting of Michael Brown and the grand jury's decision not to charge Officer Darren Wilson shows a need for Americans to update their language on race.

Many whites like to claim they "don't see color," often pointing out that they don't care whether a person's skin is green or purple - colors not commonly associated with human beings.

But research shows that's simply not true.

Babies show a preference for their own race by about 3 months old, according to the book Everyday Bias, and another study showed white NBA referees call more fouls on black players while black refs call more fouls on white players.

"Human beings are consistently, routinely and profoundly biased," said the book's author, Howard J. Ross.

Another study he highlights in the book asked participants to look at photographs of a fight between two white men - one armed with a knife and the other unarmed.

Then the researchers showed a photo of a white man armed with a knife fighting an unarmed black man.

Most participants correctly identified the white man holding the knife in the first photo, but the study found most people - black and white - incorrectly said the black man had the knife in the second photo.

"The overwhelming number of people will actually experience the black man as having the knife because we're more open to the notion of the black man having a knife than a white man," Ross told CNN. "This is one of the most insidious things about bias. People may absorb these things without knowing them."

Another study found job seekers with white-sounding names, such as Brendan, were 50 percent more likely to get invited to interviews than applicants with black-sounding names, such as Jamal.

Most of the people who called Brendan instead of Jamal would probably deny their decision was racially motivated, said a UCLA researcher who has studied racial bias.

"They're not lying - they're just wrong," said researcher Daniel L. Ames.

These unseen biases might even be more destructive than overt racism, he said.

"They're harder to spot, and therefore harder to combat," Ames said.

White supremacy is hiding in plain sight, but it still carries the power to shock - as Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson did when he leveled the charge against former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Racism carries such a stigma that it tends to end conversations, rather than start them, so it sometimes softens the blow by referring to racist behavior as racial bias.

But that can be problematic, said Crystal Moten, a history professor at Dickinson College.

"Do you want to lessen the blow or do you want to eradicate racism?" Moten said. "I want to eradicate racism. Yes, I want opportunity for dialogue, but the impact of racism is killing people of color. We don't have time to tend to the emotional wounds of others, not when violence against people of color is the national status quo."


From LeanneSimpson.ca


Leanne Simpson's Blog - NOVEMBER 28, 2014


Like many others on Tuesday night, I watched the live stream of Missouri Prosecutor Robert McCulloch delivering what was clearly a public relations campaign, justifying the grand jury's decision not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the murder of 18 year old Michael Brown. While few were surprised at the decision, McCulloch's orchestrated performance contributes to the systemic expression of anti-Blackness that began on Turtle Island when Afrikan peoples were violently stolen from their Indigenous homelands and brought by white people, to ours. An anti-Blackness that is intrinsically linked to the genocide, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy and colonialism used to maintain the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from our homelands on Turtle Island and to erase our bodies from Canadian society. An anti-Blackness that is just as real and alive in Canada as it is in the United States.

As Black communities respond to the Ferguson decision in cities across the United States this week, their rage resonates with me in a familiar way because it comes from a similar place as my own. On the streets that night and in the days that have followed, rage. I have seen an expression of tremendous Black love for children and family, a tremendous Black love for culture, body and people, coupled with a tremendous outrage with a colonial system that is designed at its core to destroy Black and Indigenous love. This same fertile ground birthed the so-called "Oka Crisis" and the Idle No More movement. This same ground compels the ongoing resistance of Indigenous women and Two Spirit peoples to all forms of colonial gendered violence.

In watching the mainstream media's coverage of these events it seems difficult for Canadian and American society to see that love and rage are justified-to see Indigenous and Black peoples as fully human. I am repeatedly told that I cannot be angry if I want transformative change - that the expression of anger and rage as emotions are wrong, misguided and counter-productive to the movement. The underlying message in such statements is that we, as Indigenous and Black peoples, are not allowed to express a full range of human emotions. We are encouraged to suppress responses that are not deemed palatable or respectable to settler society.

But the correct emotional response to violence targeting our families is rage.

We have survived 400 years of racialized gendered violence designed to remove us from our lands and assimilate us into the colonizer's agenda. The idea that we should all remain positive and calm, while 1200 Indigenous women and girls are disappeared in Canada, while Black people are gunned down in the streets by white police officers, security guards and vigilantes every 28 hours, while the legal system will not even provide a trial to the perpetrators of violence, is unfathomable.

I've asked myself more than once this week, why is there more outrage in American and Canadian societies over property damage than toward the state sanctioned violence that is normalized in the everyday lives of Indigenous and Black peoples? I believe that our lives matter more than a burnt police car even if the state and other narratives do not.

I was reminded over and over this week that Black and Indigenous communities of struggle are deeply connected through our experiences with colonialism, oppression and white supremacy. Indigenous and Black peoples are disproportionately attacked and targeted by the state and, in fact, policing in Turtle Island is born of the need to suppress and oppress Black and Indigenous resistance to colonialism and slavery. Indigenous and Black women are consistently de-centered from our communities and targeted by four centuries of gendered violence and Black Queer and Indigenous Two-Spirit communities are targets of multiple sites of oppression, violence and erasure. Black and Indigenous children have been stolen from their families throughout colonial history through the institutions of slavery and residential school, the child welfare system. We are interconnected through systems of oppression that would prefer us not to exist unless it can exploit us as commodities for labour.

In both our communities of struggle, however, youth are brilliant leaders in resistance and resurgence. The work of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and the Dream Defenders -just two of many for youth by youth organizations-remind me to nurture our relationships to each other by creating decolonial constellations of resistance and love as a mechanism to ensure we are no longer complacent in the oppression of each other. These young leaders are showing us through their lives that by collaborating with each other we can build collective power and grow mutually caring communities of support and resistance.

I was also reminded that my liberation as an Indigenous women is linked to the liberation of Black women, and the Two Spirit and Queer community, and I've learned by listening to Black feminists like Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Luam Kidane and Hawa Y. Mire that resurgent Indigenous and Black feminisms are the spine of our collective liberation. #BlackLivesMatter, is "an online platform developed after the murder of Trayvon Martin, designed to connect people interested in learning more about and fighting back against anti-Black racism" created in 2013 by three Black Queer women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tomet. I am grateful to them for the platform, discussion and action their work as inspired, because it is a clear reminder that in the face of a system that seeks to also erase us, #IndigenousLivesMatter too.

To me, Ferguson is a call not only to indict the system but to decolonize the systems that create and maintain the forces of Indigenous genocide and anti-Blackness. I have a responsibility to make space on my land for those communities of struggles, to centre and amplify Black voices and to co-resist. We both come from vibrant, proud histories of mobilization and protest, and it is the sacrifices of our Elders and our Ancestors that ensured that our communities of struggle continue to exist today. They believed in their hearts that there is no justice and no peace until we are all free, and so must we.

Thanks to Jarrett Martineau, Tara Williamson, Glen Coulthard, Eric Ritskes & especially Luam Kidane for comments on previous drafts. Image curtsey of http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com