London Free Press

Fleming Drive

So I tried my best to stay away from writing about this but I just couldn’t after I read THIS lfpress.com article.

The landlords complaining about being targeted? Honestly, I am thankful for my CURRENT landlord. He is nice, courteous, and even let me in after I locked myself out at 11:30 pm after studying all day at school. I am not as nerdy as I sound. I like to let my hair down once in a while like any other person my age.

How does this relate to Fleming Drive incident? I also used to live on Thurman Circle which is quite close to Fleming Drive. Well, okay, I lived there only for one month. I moved out after I realized that the girls I was living with partied EVERY SINGLE DAY! Yes, that’s right: there was a party on Thurman Circle EVERY SINGLE DAY and not just my house.

Correction! The landlord kicked me out after I complained about these girls who partied every day, and left the house in a mess (like gross, rotten food mess). She said I wasn’t a “good fit.” Oh, I am sorry that I didn’t party every day, leave the house in a mess (like GARBAGE EVERYWHERE), and punch holes in the wall like the other girls. My landlord, before I moved in, told me the girls were “great” and “didn’t party.”

My friend who lived with me responded on my Facebook with this comment to the above link: I know right… they were unbearable… and she didn’t even do anything about the noise level… those kids were super messy too and had very little respect for other peoples property…… by the way did you get an email from the alumni association … apparently they are “trying” to save the image of the school so our reputations arn’t tarnished by it…HA yea right

I did feel bad for my friend, who was completing her last semester there and I suggested she move in with me. I had two semesters left and moved out after my landlord gave me the news. On that St. Paddy’s day, the whole street had a party. Fleming had a party and there were cops there on the street right around noon. I remember seeing the pictures and I remember my friend telling me about it. That was in 2010.

In 2011, the same thing happened.

The police frequented the area when I lived there for the whole month that I did live there. In fact, the police were at my residence (not for me *lol*) a total of two times in 4 weeks and I saw them frequent the area during the day, during the night. In addition to that, the cabbies wouldn’t even drive me into my street if I came home from a night out. Not because I didn’t pay or whatever, but because of their past experience with other people who lived in the area (remember the cabbie being taunted and rocked in his car that one year??).

Partying on St. Paddy’s day isn’t anything new. I don’t know why there was better planning for this area that is KNOWN for partying. Yes, even university students go to party there! Yes, that’s right Western students go there *SMH*

We are not all perfect little angels and when we all point the finger at each other saying “it’s that person’s fault” or “it should be this organization’s fault.” NOTHING and I REPEAT NOTHING gets done.

I noticed that I am reading a lot of “all students should be charged.” You know what, let the police handle that. People have suggested expulsion, suspension, etc. You know what, let the school handle that.

But I will give you my opinion having lived there, having graduated from that school, and with experience of the criminal justice system:
– Let the police do their job
– Let the police handle each case based on the individuals who are charged and on their past criminal record
– Let the police decide who to arrest
– Let the courts decide how to handle those who are charged
– If the school decides expulsion, they should plan to prevent this from happening in the future! Perhaps security in place that lives/monitors the area (oh wait, the police already do that).
– If we all just charge everyone and anyone who is seen in a picture, you have to realize that these young people will be living with a criminal record for the rest of their lives (okay, well except those that receive conditional or absolute discharges). Even if they are charged and sentenced to whatever type of punishment (fines, restitution, probation, etc), they will still be affected by having a criminal record. You want to say “well they deserve to pay!” well let the courts decide that.

But honestly, the last thing I would want is for a bunch of young people with criminal records or suspensions/expulsion from school. That type of punishment affects them in the long run. Will they be able to get a job? Be able to apply to another school? You say that was their decision to commit the crime. Honestly, in the long run, as tax paying citizens, we still have to pay if we all decide to commit to the idea that they should all be charged and expelled from school. When we just give up on our young, good or bad, we give up on our future.

Attawapiskat, Munsee-Delaware, London

What do these three places all have in common?

Housing issues.

If these places were to be placed on a continuum Attawapiskat would be at one end, London at the other and Munsee-Delaware Nation somewhere in the middle.

Attawapiskat, which I wrote about in a post over a YEAR AGO, is still facing the same issues they were a year ago. The difference? The media. Everyone wants to help which is good. However, what about Munsee-Delaware… what about them?

Munsee-Delaware is just west of London ON. They are facing a housing crisis too. LFpress wrote an article on this community’s issue on the same day another article discussed that London ON City Council would move “$1 million from London’s affordable-housing reserve to hold the line on taxes won’t cause problems for most Londoners.”

London ON is surrounded by many First Nations.

To view map, click HERE.

London ON actually reported the highest First Nations population numbers in the 2006 census.

In 2006, the total Aboriginal population was 3.8%. In Ontario, the total Aboriginal population was 2.0%. The total Aboriginal population in 2006 made up 1.4% of the city’s total population. From 2001, the Aboriginal population grew by 10% (the First Nations population grew by 4% and the Metis grew by 38%).

The Aboriginal population is young.The median age of Aboriginal population in London was 26.6 years, while non-Aboriginal population median age was 38.6 years for 2006. Nearly half of the Aboriginal people were under age 25 (48%), while only 32% of the non-Aboriginal population were under the age of 25. The Aboriginal population over the age of 65 was 3% of the total city’s population; meanwhile, the non-Aboriginal population over the age of 65 was 13%. Nearly 3/10 Aboriginal people in London were under the age of 15, compared to 18% of their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

The unemployment rate for Aboriginal people was 8.5% compared to 4.5% for the non-Aboriginal population. The occupied mostly sales and service jobs (jobs considered less stable and having less benefits). The unemployment rate was even higher for Aboriginals aged between 15-24 years. That rate was 19.8% for First Nations youth aged 15 to 24, 22.7% for Métis youth, and 13.5% for non-Aboriginal youth.

Aboriginal children under the age of 14 were most likely to be living with a lone parent.That means only one income coming in. Aboriginal children were more likely to live with a lone mother (43% vs 16%), a lone father (6% vs 3%), a grandparent (with no parent present) (1.4% vs 0.3%) or with another relative (1.4% vs 0.5%).

The Aboriginal population were less likely to be employed full-time with only 33% of the population employed full-time. While 40% of the non-Aboriginal population were employed full-time.

The houses that Aboriginal people lived in, 1/8 of the homes needed major repairs and 1/3 were living below the LICO line.

These rates are for the CMA for London ON.

Check out the full map, HERE.

No doubt that there is a housing issue in London ON alright. There is also a housing issue just west of London ON and a housing issue north of London ON.

If you want to care about Aboriginal issues, then care about Aboriginal issues, and not just the issues that get you the most face time in the media or the most public recognition for caring.

Racism in Canada

Racism doesn’t discriminate. Racism can affect anyone and the proof is in this article written by Glen Pearson, co-founder of Canadian Aid for Southern Sudan, co-director of the London Food Bank and a former MP.

This article is titled “Prejudice, even here in London

It was sad to read this article because someone decided to voice their opinion in a way that was unsuitable and in my opinion should have not been said at all. It was sad to read about this 2 men being verbally attacked by someone else in a public space. What is sad is that this sort of thing happens all the time and it shouldn’t.

I thought I would share this article in hopes that people will soon realize that prejudice, racism, stereotyping … all things discriminatory, do not discriminate: it can affect anyone, any place, any time.

Writing this I am reminded of an incident I witnessed. An organization who had claimed to be creating a project with partnership between itself and Aboriginal communities, it’s own employee had openly ridiculed one of the Aboriginal communities in it’s own office. What was even more sad about this, is that this person was considered “the face of the project” and had been described as a “visible minority” herself. It made me sad when I learned that she only had said this discriminatory comment out of frustration and it was just swept under the rug.

Just because you don’t say something racist, discriminatory, marginalizing or oppressive to someone who doesn’t hear it or who you can’t look directly in the face, does not make it (for lack of a better word) “correct.” Even individuals part of a visible minority group can discriminate or have discriminatory words or behaviours towards another visible minority group (which is sometimes even worse–the oppressed further oppressing another oppressed group.)

So please, next time you open your mouth to voice your opinion whether you think you are right or not, or whether it is out of pure frustration or not, does not make it right. Remember: All things discriminatory, do not discriminate: it can affect anyone, any place, any time.

London’s East Side

After searching for another article completely unrelated to drugs/drug-use, I came across this article in the Globe and Mail search results titled “On London’s east side, OxyContin is King”

One of the reasons brought up as to what caused this drug to be “king” is that well… it is being over-prescribed.

“Through over-prescribing, the public-health system is actively, if inadvertently, creating thousands upon thousands of drug addicts. And it’s flooding the streets with the pills to feed those addictions.”

Simple enough answer. Blame the public-health system.

There are some suggestions that Deb Matthews brought up in the article to tackle this drug issue. Some of the things she suggested are:

Education:

  • Enlighten health professionals on what they’re dealing with
  • set clear guidelines for when and how much to prescribe and dispense
  • then trust them to make the right decisions.(Don’t we already “trust” the healthcare professionals to make the “right” decisions presently?!)

Then it was brought up that the problem could be the persistence of the addicts themselves. But that’s what everyone does already–blame the addict.

Then further in the article it was mentioned that the “integrated addiction strategy seems to have strong support from the municipal government.” The strategy offers everything from shelter, to counselling, to harm reduction. Oh but wait, there is still lack of support from the federal and provincial levels. Then, spots in rehab-clinics are rare because of certain rules that one must abide by before even entering (even if it is just for one night). And the lack of support for mental health services or affordable housing.

This article is good in a sense that it talked about everything that is wrong except for one thing–it is much easier to get drugs than it is to get any of the other services that an addict wants to use to get clean.

Have to be clean for 72 hours before sleeping in an overnight bed? That’s 3 days. 3 days in Candy Land is a pretty long time.

Have to have no criminal record or be using illegal drugs to use out-patient mental health services at Old Vic hospital? And, that’s only if you make it past the screening process (See no criminal record and no use of illegal drugs–but sometimes isn’t that the cause of mental health issues–illegal drug use?). Oh can’t forget, most importantly, that’s only if you can make it to your initial appointment.

And to have issues like the girl mentioned in the article — prostituting in East London. Taking abuse from Johns. Being angry with her doctor. Sucked back in through her circle of friends. For some drug use helps to make certain pain or emotions disappear. For others, it is the only thing they know. For some, they don’t want to know any better.

So really, what is the problem with “London’s East Side” … even when the London Police Services (with its fancy-schmatsy new building) is right at the heart of London’s East Side.

Maybe it is an array of all those problems listed in the article, and maybe its few confusing solutions (Education? For what–to trust our health-care professionals to make the correct decisions–something that we are supposed to trust them to do already). Or maybe, some people just fail to realize that yup, drugs are easy to get and a drug addict can and will get drugs where ever and when ever they can. Sure some will do whatever it takes to get the drugs. But what about the fact that some of the solutions already put in place, are that much more difficult to attain or acquire access too (Like those 24 hour beds, wherein someone has to be 72-hours clean).

In reality, for some, the door and desire to get clean sometimes is a small one and can close very quickly. In my opinion, the problem exists not only with lack of services (ie-mental health) but the abundance of tape that one must cut through just to even get help… even if it is only for 24-hours.

Look at the whole picture: It’s not all about you & it’s not all about me.

So this evening/AM, I am unable to sleep.

I have been thinking about a lot of stuff lately, especially my Letter to the Editor. I know that I would receive some personal emails and viewpoints that I would not agree with. It’s kind of stressful, but I am dealing with it. I am just glad that nobody blatantly said something racist or racial (because that stuff really does hurt).

I did receive one letter in which the writer explicitly stated: I don’t want to pay for anything that happened in the past.

Today, I was fortunate enough to meet with someone today at school from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. During this meeting, it was brought up that foreigners/outsiders to Canada see this country with three characteristics. These three characteristics are:

  1. Nature
  2. French
  3. Aboriginals

In response to this letter, I said to this writer:

It has nothing to do with me and you, it has to do with Canada and how the rest of the world views Canada. I just had a meeting today with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade: I was informed of three characteristics in which foreigners view Canada:

  1. Nature
  2. French
  3. Aboriginal

So these social supports in place, are there to make Canada look more attractive to outsiders. Outsiders see Aboriginals in Canada. If they see them being mistreated by years of injustice, (injustices that have been committed before you were ever born and that continued until I was born and still today), then they wont be likely to come Canada. When you begin to look at the picture as a whole, and not just me and you, you will realize it has nothing to do with you or me.

Yup, I should have just said Thank you for your letter, but I couldn’t. It bothers me that people can’t look at the whole picture. It’s not all about you and it’s not all about me.

Comments to Letter to Editor

Well today I was able to view my comments today from my letter to the editor at LFpress today. The link provided brings you to the letter with comments directly.

In one of the comments, one person asked questions or proposed that I think about why don’t Aboriginals have it best?

Well, that is a very simple question with a very complicated answer. I know that any answer I give him will be further questioned with even more simple questions with even more complicated answers.

Submitting my letter to the editor I know that not everyone will agree with what I have to say. I don’t want everyone to agree with what I have to say. I believe that if everyone agrees with what everyone is saying, you will never change, or improve.

Anyways, I replied to this person. I don’t know if my reply will get posted. I did however refer the individual to the R. v. Gladue appeal decision. Found here.

I hope that the person who asked me why not, knows that I have asked myself that over and over again. Why? The answer is too complicated to discuss in one post and too complicated to even present in a simple way.

I hope the one individual is able to find the answers in the link I provided so that he may believe what the BC Appeal Court Judges have written because even not even my post or answer to the question will ever satisfy the typical Canadian. People need people with formal knowledge, and not real life experience to answer difficult questions.

London Free Press and First Nations Youth

This post is in response to an article titled Siblings Jailed After Fatal Stabbing..

When I first read this article, I was thinking to myself, “Why would a news source announce that these youth were First Nations?” Then I read the readers’ comments, and it made more sense to me now.

A bit of background information (This information is available through the LF press news articles): This occurred last year in August. Both offenders are First Nations. One is a 22 year old mother of three, the other is 18 years old. Both pretty young. One received 2 years (the mother) and the other sentenced to 17 months.

In the Criminal Code of Canada, Section 718.2(e) states the following:


718.2 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

(e) all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.

The interpretation of this section was conducted during an Appeal to the decision made in R. v. Gladue. That decision can be read HERE.

It must be highlighted that this section of the Criminal Code of Canada does not give special consideration to Aboriginal peoples but in reality acknowledges the fact that many of them occupy prison systems. Harper’s Truth in Sentencing Act was seen as a step back because it failed to acknowledge this state of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. This Act removed the 2-4-1 sentencing, where time already served would not be acknowledged in final sentencing. Further exacerbating the rate at which Aboriginals populate prison systems.

Now, I won’t comment on the sentencing and the length that they received but it must be highlighted some of the factors that court’s consider when sentencing.

Some of these include:

  • First Time Offender?
  • Present Situation: education, family, employment
  • Social background: family life, childhood, etc.

In the case of these two individuals, they were both young, one was obviously drinking underage, and one already had three children before reaching the age of 25. This is what life is like in Canada for most Aboriginals. There is alcohol abuse, young parenthood, violent environments (Wasn’t one already carrying a knife…who carries a knife around if they are in a “safe” environment).

I am not promoting bad behaviour or violent behaviour among Aboriginal youth in any way. I am just attempting to address the comments some of the readers had in the article which can be read HERE.

They ask why was the term First Nations used? Why did that have to be mentioned? And one even states that using this term contributes to stereotypes in society. I thought the same thing.

But then I read a comment that said:

Look at the bright side, if you’re a white male, you’ll get at least 15 years for the same crime.

Hmmm, but race is not the case here. What is the case is that Aboriginals are over-represented in the Criminal Court system, including prisons. You say that still is dealing with race. No, it is dealing with the social situation that Aboriginals presently face. The decision in the appeal in R. v. Gladue highlights this.

Within this decision, it states:

  1. This section does not mean that judges should pay more attention to Aboriginal offenders, but attention to their unique characteristics.
  2. That Aboriginals are over-represented in prison systems.
  3. “The unbalanced ratio of imprisonment for aboriginal offenders flows from a number of sources, including poverty, substance abuse, lack of education, and the lack of employment opportunities for Aboriginal people. quoted @ para. 65.
  4. “It arises also from bias against Aboriginal people and from an unfortunate institutional approach that is more inclined to refuse bail and to impose more and longer prison terms for Aboriginal offenders.” quoted @ para. 65.
  5. Aboriginal people who suffer from systemic and direct discrimination are then both offenders to society and fall victim to society.

With the above, I tried my best to grasp the most important points, although this case is significantly important in every which way as it pertains to Aboriginals who enter the criminal court system. I guess by mentioning that the two offenders were First Nations, the news source may have been acknowledging the fact that Aboriginal people still face great disparities when it comes to society.

Relating to this LFpress article, this situation is nothing new to Aboriginal people in Canadian Society–violence amongst its young or its young going to jail, leaving behind futures and children. The thing that I am most annoyed with in this article is the fact that the comments just focus on “First Nations” and fails to acknowledge that some Aboriginal people face huge disparities in comparison to other groups within Canada. Not one comment, showed concern for the 3 children left behind or showed concern for young person who chose to throw their life away.

In the end, some people might respond to this post and say, “Well, who cares? That is their fault.” No, this isn’t their fault. Some Aboriginal people lag behind in education, employment, and some even live in poverty… despite having social supports. These are the inter-generational effects of colonialism, displacement of culture, loss of identity, and most importantly the effects of the Residential School system.

I hope more people begin to understand that Aboriginal people do not have it the best in Canada, and that we don’t get everything “for free.”

Read my post titled I get everything for free! and also my post titled Tax Exemption.

I hope this post changes one individual after reading it. Not everyone. I am content with one 🙂