Racism

Sick to my stomach

Today has been a roller coaster ride for me. My stomach has ended up in knots several times already and the day is not even done. **Must. Remember. To. Breathe.**

I made the wrong decision to open up a link in my classroom today. Bad idea. It was a link to soonet.ca, an online forum for my home town. On it today was a post by an individual who posted something rather racist. You can view that HERE.

Ideas and thoughts like those are because of lack of education, experience and just straight up ignorance.

Anyways, it was a bad decision to open it up and read it because I knew what I was going to read. This is not the first time I have read something like this from this site. In fact, I read posts like this so much and even responses to posts like this that just made me so sick to my stomach that I just stopped going to this site. That was back in high school. 10 years ago. Today, it still has not change.

I took a look at the membership guidelines and it is clear that this individual has not read those guidelines but then again who really does? I mean I will admit that I have joined many things without reading those guidelines but be it with common sense, I know that posting anything hateful, discriminatory, racist is usually against any membership guideline. However, the site does a “nice” job of protecting itself from responsibility by stating that

Considering the real-time nature of this community, it is impossible for The Soonet Bulletin Board System’s Staff and Volunteers to review all messages or confirm the validity of information. Vianet Internet Solutions and any of the Vianet Internet Solutions family of companies, and affiliates do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message.

No offense but if it keeps happening over and over again, just take the site down. This site isn’t a forum for sharing or a forum for enlightenment. It just a forum that breeds hate and allows one to share their racist ideologies and gain support.

Seriously…

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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.

My experiences at The University of Western Ontario

Note: Please keep in mind the nature of this blog…Experiences of an Aboriginal Female in Canadian Society. I write from my point of view, and I still realize that there are other groups that still face troubles. I do not make an effort to say that I have it worse off or that I deserve better treatment. I just write about my experiences.

First, my experiences at The University of Western Ontario have been great. I have been involved and wanting to be even more involved. I have met great people, both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal. I have met some great people who are/were on Social Science Students Council. I met some great friends in class. I also met some great people through volunteering at various events and with various committees around the school. These experiences and these people, along with the understanding and supportive professors, are what make my UWO experience enjoyable.

Second, below is an article that was sent to me by another student at UWO. This article made me sick to my stomach. This article reminded me of this one incident class. In this incident in class, we were talking about Human Rights and if we should be concerned about Human Rights or lack thereof in other countries, those outside of North America. This made my stomach turn because of what some of my peers were saying. I then raised my hand and I asked the class:

Why do we care about Human Rights issues/violations in other countries when we have Human Rights violations here in Canada? Like that of lack of clean water, or education not available to everyone.

I paid special attention to make sure this discussion in class did not go into the direction I was afraid it might go into: First Nations issues. I made sure that I never mentioned First Nations, Aboriginal, or Indians or any reference to this group. I did this because the issues that surround First Nations are complex. Nevertheless, the discussion went from Human Rights in Canada, to clean water, to First Nations. Someone responded to my question or concern with this statement:

….We should not be giving the Chiefs hand outs….

My stomach literally turned over in class. I wanted to respond but I knew if I were to respond, the “right” thing would not come out. I didn’t respond to that comment. What I did I wish I had said was this: That Chiefs of each First Nation don’t get the “money” directly. The money actually goes through layers of organizations before it ever reaches the citizens of Canada that actually need it: the members of First Nations (excluding Chief and councils).

I did not say that. I wish I did. Rather, I just say there in my seat, quiet, anxious, wanting to bolt. After class was let out, I cried. I didn’t know how to handle this. I was angry. If it weren’t for Indigenous Services and the people there that day, I don’t know what would have happened? A panic attack? I don’t know I can’t predict what would have or could have happened and I don’t think I want to now.

When I read this article that was forwarded to me, the same feelings went through me. These feelings existed because literally the same thing was being read, when it was said in class, but this was written AND published in the school newspaper. Here is the article:

UWO Gazette Article Dated November 2005UWO article. To see the direct link to this article click Here.

I know everyone has a right to their own opinion. I do not deny anyone’s opinion in any situation. However, it amazes me that some people who attend such a well-known university, can actually be thought of as “higher learners” when things like this are said. I know these statements are filled with ignorance, in other words lack of education. So what is the solution? I am not sure. I do know that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission suggests putting the REAL Canadian history in school curriculums.

I emphasize this: Not all Aboriginals choose to live and stay on reserve–if they do want to leave some of them don’t even have the resources to leave. Like I said before, the issues that surround First Nations people, are very complex.

But to read this article dated 2005, and to be in class in 2011, there seems to be no change in thought from two very different students. The only thing that alarms me is that, one opinion was actually published! That is what concerns me most.

It makes you wonder why and where people get the idea that Aboriginals get everything for free or that we have it better off, or that we can just get up and leave our reserves (reserves that were created in an effort to “get rid of the Native problem”).

Finally, here are some present statistics about the current state of Aboriginals in Canada:

  • 2010: Infant mortality rate amongst Canadians 5.3 live births per 1000 versus 19 live births per 1000 amongst Aboriginals
  • Number 1 cause of death of Aboriginals between ages 1 and 44: Suicide
  • Suicide rate amongst Aboriginal youth is 5 to 6 times higher
  • 98% of residential school survivors have a mental illness
  • Rates of suicide in Aboriginal communities where no protective factors (Control over land/Band controlled schools/Cultural facilities/Control over health care, fire, police) are present: 137.5 per 100,000 (where the national average is 14 per 100,000)

These statistics are not from the 1960s or the 1970s. These numbers are from 2009 onwards.

It makes you wonder why this group experiences these situations at a much higher rate when compared to the rest of a country, a country that is supposed to be credited with its level of equality, human rights, justice…. Well, it may not make you wonder but it makes me wonder. To read a different viewpoint on this issue of Aboriginals, check out my post titled, It’s Not All About You.

In the end, I hope that one day people can stop making ignorant statements against Aboriginals, and other marginalized groups as well. I plan to work towards this equality and educating non-Aboriginals about situations that Aboriginals still face today in present-day Canada.

One day.

You can read other posts I have written about Aboriginal youth, Suicide amongst Aboriginals, and another post concerning The Gazette by clicking on the tags below.

NO NATIVES ALLOWED

Going through drafts in my blog and found this draft. Enjoy my gorgeous readers!

On facebook today a friend posted a picture of a Fish and Chip place located in Lakefield, Ontario that had a sign posted in its window that said: No Natives. I found the article online titled “No Natives” sign taped to restaurant’s door.

I thought to myself: What does this business mean by Natives?

So, I looked up the definition of Native.

Noun: inhabitant, resident, local; citizen, national; aborigine, autochthon; formal dweller. Antonym: foreigner.

What does this sign mean? The place doesn’t want locals, citizens, or residents at the business?

I think the business is severely limiting their customer base only wanting to serve foreigners. Maybe there is an over abundant of foreigners in Lakefield, Ontario… I don’t know. Any Lakefielders out there that can explain to me the logic behind this sign?

Gays/lesbians vs. Races

A question was asked in class: Do you think intrinsic religions are more intolerant toward gays/lesbians or different races?

I said race because you can’t tell someone’s gay or straight by looking at them; race is obvious. 3 others answered gays/lesbians. All three who replied were caucasian. I wanted to ask if they ever experienced racism. I know racism is prevalent for all races including caucasian but not so blatantly out there. I wanted to ask them that question because I wondered if they experienced racism and if that would have changed their answer.

Pie Face

In my grade 12 English class, I chose to do my “book report” on a Native Canadian Playwright: Tomson Highway.

I read two of his plays and a book by Heather Robertson called “Reservations are for Indians.”

I can’t really remember much about my actual report/paper part of the project. What do I remember is my presentation.

To start off my presentation, I showed the class a clip from a movie called “Smoke Signals” which is one of my favorite movies! The non-Aboriginal students didn’t get it. The Aboriginal students somewhat giggled in the back of the room (you know the shy, quiet giggle).

Even before showing the class the movie clip, I had them wear name tags. On these name tags I pre-printed racial slurs commonly thrown at Aboriginals, young, old, present, past…

I remember one girl didn’t want to wear the name tag. Her name tag read “pie face.” Her friends laughed at her. She said she didn’t “feel comfortable wearing a racial slur.” I replied, “Imagine being called that just by being who you are.” Another girl giggled at “blanket bum.” I explained the history behind “blanket bum.” She stopped giggling. Apparently, when I researched the racial slur “blanket bum” and “pie face” this is what was found:

1) Blanket bum: The “white man” infested blankets with small pox and distributed them to the Aboriginals for them to use and sleep with. Aboriginals frequently used blankets to sit on. Hence the term “blanket bum.”

2) Pie face: This represents the shape of the face. Some Aboriginals have “flat” faces.***

The information presented in this post relating to the racial slurs is what I remember reading in my research; I did not come up with interpretations/explanations. There could be many different interpretations/explanations available for either “slur.”

Sometimes, I just wish people can understand the effects of throwing a racial slur at someone, especially if they cannot change who they are (because they were born that way). Something like a racial slur sticks with a person forever.

***Please note that this is the information I found at the time. I would love to know if this information/article, which I remember word for word, I found then has any truth behind these racial slurs. Leave a comment to correct any information posted here.

Crime Stoppers

I thinks it’s interesting when police give descriptions of suspects. I see this trend a lot: If suspect is white, no race is given. However, if suspect is non-white: race given. Is the public supposed to assume a suspect is white if no race is given? The problem: that would leave room for assuming a whole slew of potential suspects! I only write this after watching a crime stoppers commercial and a video screen shot of the suspect was shown. The suspect looked white. To me anyways. He did have on ski goggles, hood, hat and could barely see him but based on his build and skin colour I assumed he was white. He might have been asian, maybe native. Who knows. I wonder if the suspect was a particular colour, if the description would include the race. I know using race as a description would help locate the suspect. However, there is a lot of stigma attached to using race as a description, which indefinitely contributes to racism and stereotyping.

Globe and Mail

It always so frustrating to see some of the stereotypical/ignorant/lack of education comments on such prominent newspapers articles, like that of the Globe and Mail.

It is even more frustrating that people don’t understand that what goes on in Canada, poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of education, lack of health care, unbalanced budgets, suicide, welfare issues, happens on First Nations but ten times worse.

Read this article and the comments posted.

People need to change the way they speak about any opposing culture, religion in order to avoid ignorance, racism, discrimination. EDUCATION IS THE KEY!