Wake-up call to Canada

I’m certain that a lot of my readers know this, but some probably don’t. I am Aboriginal, Metis to be specific and while I was not solely raised according to this heritage, it is a part of who I am, it is part of my identity, my culture, and my family. It pains me to see that discrimination based on heritage, culture, ethnicity still happens every day in Canada (and many parts of the world) and that it is happening by our governments, the groups of people who are elected to protect and guarantee basic rights.

People have been talking about the failures of the Canadian government with regards to the Aboriginal population for longer than I have been alive. We have the extensive crisis in Attawapiskat regarding education, housing, water, and so much more. There is also Kashechewan where there have been numerous evacuations, boil water advisories for years (this is one of 100 First Nations communities with extensive long-term water problems), a housing crisis, and in one month alone this community of 1700 people lost 21 to suicide. In Manitoba, rather than send the appropriate tools to deal with flu outbreaks (i.e. hand sanitizer) a community was sent body bags. Let me guess, you probably haven’t heard of most of this? It has been a fairly invisible crisis to the rest of Canada and the rest of the world, remarkably hidden and that received extremely limited news coverage. Why? Because these things happen so frequently within Aboriginal communities, human rights transgressions (at the fault of the government) are so commonplace that they have become normalized.

And that’s just the beginning.

So is it really any surprise that Canada received a failing grade for human rights by Amnesty International? As said in the report “By every measure, be it respect for treaty and land rights, levels of poverty, average life spans, violence against women and girls, dramatically disproportionate levels of arrest and incarceration or access to government services such as housing, health care, education, water and child protection, indigenous peoples across Canada continue to face a grave human rights crisis.”

What are we going to do about it? What commitment do you make as a Canadian to improve the status of human rights in Canada? If you are not Canadian, what will you do to protect and improve human rights in your nation (or abroad)? As Canadians who do we think we are? Why do we erroneously believe that we can push for, represent, and speak on behalf of human rights around the world when we haven’t the common sense or decency to guarantee those same rights within our own borders?

Those of us who have had free, equal, unlimited and fully realized human rights for years cannot become complacent in the misplaced belief that this does not affect us. Because it does. When we become complacent or apathetic about the human rights of others, we are complacent about our own rights and freedoms. My rights, my education, my freedoms mean nothing to me if I am exercising them at the sacrifice of other’s rights.

And just because I’m a decent human being.


6 responses

  1. Are you forever expecting a handout instead of helping yourselves by getting an education, learning to work hard and making your own way like the rest of the world has to? By continuing to complain that the government must HELP YOU, makes it sound like all you want to do is get get get, What about helping each other. Get a job in the real world, become part of society. If you want to live as you once did in the 15th century, then don’t take any money from the government and live off the land without electricity, liquor, drugs and houses built with government money. Countries have been taken over since time began, gt over it and live.

    • Hi Maggie,
      I noticed that you didn’t actually click on any of the links I suggest in the post and I suggest you do.. I also suggest that you read up a little bit more on what is actually happening right now. I can’t speak from the experiences of others, but I can tell you that I (and my family) have not received – and probably will not receive any type of government assistance. I can also tell you that I, and many members of my family, have either received at least a Bachelor’s degree and are in the process of doing so, and the only government assistance was in the form of provincial loans.
      And I was lucky to be able to do that. I lived in a town that had schools, I could go to elementary school and high school while living with my family, I didn’t have to board with strangers. I’m not sure if you’re Canadian, but if you are, I suggest you read through Bill C-45 – it affects everyone and was technically passed illegally. In Canada we have this wonderful thing called public consultation, required for major environmental bills/projects and the like. It means that the government/project undertakers must consult with all potentially affected parties prior to passing the bill/approving the project. This was ignored.
      I also don’t know if you have bothered to read through/learn about any treaties, but they are law, as in legally binding. It is not asking the government for any handouts, its asking that existing treaty rights be respected and followed. The current situation would be like the USA saying ‘yes you have the right to bear arms, just not buy them, or trade them’ which would result in no one having access to what they need to practice that right.
      I don’t even know how to continue to respond, but please take the initiative to learn more about the people you’re insulting; there’s more to it than you know, and the information is readily available. I’m not trying to offend you or insult you, but please read more about what is happening, this affects all people as Canadians. For specific information on Idle No More, go to idlenomore.ca

  2. Thank you for writing this post. We can never slack in the push for the rights of people. In Canada, the way First Nations and Metis have been treated and marginalized is an embarrassment to all with a conscience.
    I am neither aboriginal or Metis but have worked with and come to know many of both cultures. It is true that the white controlling population can point to many incidences where First Nations people have failed themselves but, this does not negate the responsibility to live up to the promises made by treaty and the obligation to protect their rights and dignity.

  3. Pingback: #idlenomore | finding development

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