Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

RACISM IN REGINA

Posted by strattof on October 2, 2011

Last month, a man drowned in Wascana Lake. The probable cause of death was racism.

The man had gone swimming in the lake. When he disappeared from sight, his friend approached a number of people in the park, asking for their help. But because he was poorly dressed and Aboriginal, his calls for help were met with suspicion.

It was not until he approached a group of Aboriginal people that the man’s friend found someone willing to place a 9-1-1 call. Emergency services arrived in about two minutes, but by that time 30 minutes or more had passed since the man had gone missing in the water.

The following day, Darlyn Boyd Johns’s body was recovered from the lake. To his family, we extend our sympathy for their loss.  

SYSTEMIC RACISM

Racism is not only hateful attitudes and racially discriminatory behaviour. It is also a system of advantage and disadvantage involving institutional policies and practices.

Every social indicator, from education to life expectancy, reveals the advantages of being White and the disadvantages of being Aboriginal.  

EDUCATION

Schools on reserves are funded by the federal government, while non-reserve schools receive their funding from the provinces. The federal government typically provides less money for schools and education than the provinces provide.

  • A child who attends school on a reserve is funded between $6,000 and $8,000 less than a child in a provincial school. That’s a lot of money!

The consequences of this built-in inequality include:

  • Schools that are in poor condition and present health concerns, including overcrowding, extreme mould, high carbon dioxide levels, sewage fumes, frozen pipes, unheated portable. According to former Prime Minister Paul Martin, “Most Canadians would not send their children to school on reserves.”
  • A high school dropout rate of 60% for on-reserve students, as compared to 8.5% for students in provincial education systems. 
  • A lower education level: Only 7% of First Nations have a university degree, as compared to 23% of non-Aboriginal Canadians.

In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to First Nations people for the residential school system. That was a good first step. However, offering First Nations children and youth an unequal education just because they are First Nations and living on a reserve is also a form of discrimination.

According to the website of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada,The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Aboriginal peoples enjoy the same education opportunities as other Canadians.”

Let Stephen Harper know you want the Canadian government to live up to this commitment: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.

Send the same message to Federal Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, John Duncan: Duncan.J@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-2503.

EMPLOYMENT

  • In 2006, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal people in Canada was more than double that for non-Aboriginals: 14.8% compared to 6.3%.
  • The 2010 figures for Saskatchewan show an even greater disparity: 16.5% compared to 5%.  

HOUSING

  • On-reserve housing is the Canadian government’s responsibility based on treaty agreements. As of February 2011, 44% of on-reserve housing was in need of major repair; 15% required outright replace-ment; and 85,000 new units were needed to alleviate over-crowding.
  • Comprising only 3.8% of the Canadian population, Aboriginal people account for 15% of Canada’s homeless people.  

 PRISONS

  • Aboriginal people account for 20% of the federal prison population, while making up less than 4% of the Canadian population.  
  • The situation is even worse in the case of Aboriginal women, who constitute 33% of the federal prison population.
  • Because of excessive police surveillance, Aboriginal people are more likely than non-Aboriginals to be arrested on minor drug-related offences. There is no evidence that Aboriginal people are more likely to use drugs than non-Aboriginals.
  • According to the Office of the Correctional Investigator, in comparison to non-Aboriginal prisoners, Aboriginal prisoners are released later in their sentence; are routinely classified as higher security risks; and are over-represented in segregation populations.  
  • The legacy of the residential school system and the built-in inequality of the current education system are also associated with Aboriginal over-representation in the prison system, as are poverty, unemployment, and discrimination.
  • It costs about $344,000 to incarcerate an Aboriginal woman for a year. For the same amount of money the government could fund almost six students in a full-time, three-year university program. 

OMNIBUS CRIME BILL

Even though Canada’s crime rate has been falling steadily for the past 20 years, the federal Conservative government has brought before parliament an Omnibus Crime Bill as part of its US-style law-and-order agenda. If passed, this bill will put more Aboriginal people in prison for longer periods.

Tell Stephen Harper you would rather spend your tax dollars on education, employment training, and housing. 

MURDERED AND MISSING ABORIGINAL WOMEN

Young Aboriginal women in Canada are five times more likely than other Canadian women to die as a result of violence.

  • Since 1980, over 600 Aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada.
  • 84% of homicides against Caucasian women in Canada are solved, compared to only 53% of cases involving Aboriginal women.

You are invited to attend a vigil to remember the lives of Aboriginal women and to call for justice and action from the Canadian government to ensure the safety and protection of Aboriginal women.

TUESDAY OCTOBER 4, 2011, 6:30 pm, VICTORIA PARK

Sponsored by Amnesty International

LIFE EXPECTANCY

  • Life expectancy for Aboriginal people in Canada is five years less than for non-Aboriginal Canadians. 

 

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One Response to “RACISM IN REGINA”

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