As an Indigenous child growing up in the 1960s I experienced racism first hand, especially when I started going to a public school in Midland, Ontario. Name calling directed at me by non-native classmates such as dirty savage, wagon burner, scalper, rapist, mongrel, devil worshiper, pagan and heathen are just some of the names etched in my mind from fifty plus years ago.
Needless to say, I was not only hurt but shocked by those derogatory terms. They were all totally alien to me. I remember thinking that the parents of these students must be very racist.
Forgiven but not forgotten, I would have hoped that those students of that time would have learned that racism has no place in a multi-national country such as Canada. Sadly, white superiority has held its ground for many. In short, even in 2017 racism is alive and well.
Lest it be thought that I have misgivings and adversity towards my non-scone brothers and sisters from other mothers (Non-Native), such is not the case, I have come to know many non-Native people of all walks of life who have taken the time learn about the plight and struggles of the Indigenous people, and as a result support us in seeking moral justice, especially racial intolerance.
Racism in Canada? Don’t take my word for it. There is a collective denial by most of the Canadian public that there little or no racism in the country. Ask the average person on the street. Better still ask an Indigenous person if he or she has ever experienced racism or discrimination. Chances are it may have happened, either subtly or outright. An example would be first come, but last served in a restaurant.
Only after hearing or reading such testimony, you will be more inclined to believe and recognize that racism is everywhere, not only towards Aboriginal peoples but also other minorities! We don’t have an Indigenous problem; we don’t have a black problem; we don’t have an Asian problem, we have a white problem.
Racism begins at home. If the parents or grandparents are intolerant of other races, the children may follow that negative attitude. Outside the home, the education system is a little more subtle, in that it only teaches about the accomplishments of the white race; accomplishments for people of color are trivialized or simply disregarded. Promotions, in businesses, police services and military are very rarely made.
Racism can also be found within the judicial system, for examples, policing, courts, defense attorneys, crown attorneys, judges, jury selection, provincial (i.e. former Ontario Premier Mike Harris) and federal governments, (i.e. former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and more recently U.S.A. President Donald Trump), hospitals, entertainment companies, restaurants, clubs, universities, colleges, high schools, public schools, employment agencies, child care agencies, health care agencies, and corporations, to name but a few examples of systemic and outright racism.
Regarding racism within the Canadian judicial system Robynne Susan Neugebauer’s CRIMINAL INJUSTICE – Racism in the Criminal Justice System ( Canadian Scholars’ Press, Jan 1, 2000 – Social Science – 374 pages) is an excellent source to find out much racism there is in the Canadian judicial system. The book “examines racism within the process of criminal justice.The contributors to this anthology argue that the differential treatment of people of colour and First Nations peoples is due to systemic racism within all levels of the criminal justice system, which serves these dominant classes.”
“Ideological and cultural changes are preconditions for the success of anti-racist policies and practices within the criminal justice system and within other state institutions. Recommendations for transformations in justice policy and practice are provided. Robynne Neugebauer is Assistant Professor in Sociology at York University. Her research and teaching focus on criminology, policing, inequality in criminal justice, and wife assault.
It is only through open discussions about racism and collective actions by both the victim and victimizer that racism can be learned and reduced. Racism will never be eliminated. I am hoping to be one of the speakers at an Anti-racism conference at the University of Toronto sometime this spring. My focus will be on how we, in the spirit of brother-hood and sister-hood, can all help to make anti-racism work. I will keep you posted.
It’s been an interesting couple of years for me since getting elected in 2019, and then my unceremonious exit from...