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Archive for January, 2017

STOP ISLAMOPHOBIA

Posted by strattof on January 19, 2017

DEFINITION

Islamophobia, also known as anti-Muslim racism, is hostility toward Islam and Muslims or discrimination against or fear of Islam and Muslims.

RECENT EXAMPLES

  • In June 2016, a Muslim woman was punched and spat on while she shopped with her four-month-old son in London Ontario. 
  • In the summer of 2016, the soldiers of Odin, an anti-immigrant street patrol group, began patrolling the streets of Regina. 
  • In November 2016, a man showed a noose to two Muslim women waiting at a transit station in Edmonton and sang “O Canada.” 

ISLAMOPHOBIA: MORE EXAMPLES

INTERNATIONAL

  • The banning of the full-body bathing suit or burkini by a number of French municipalities
  • Donald Trump’s call for all Muslims to be banned from the US
  • Britain’s Brexit vote

NATIONAL

  • The Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, passed into law by the Harper government and supported by the Liberals: It’s still law.
  • The online Care2 petition, which garnered 50,000 signatures, asking the Trudeau government to “stop resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada” 

LOCAL

  • Talk show host John Gormley’s tweet encouraging the murder of Muslims
  • Premier Brad Wall’s identification of Syrian refugees with terrorism
  • Hateful online comments posted to a story about the arrival of a Syrian refugee in Regina

CANADIAN VALUES?

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has proposed to apply a “Canadian values” test to potential immigrants. Which Canadian values will she be drawing on?

Racist values that led to policies such as the following?

  • 1876 – 1996: The genocidal residential school system
  • 1914: The turning back of the Komagata Maru, a ship that arrived in the Vancouver harbour carrying 376 Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim passengers
  • 1939: The turning back of the St Louis, a ship that arrived in the Halifax harbour carrying 739 German Jewish refugees, forcing the ship to return to Europe where many passengers died in Nazi concentration camps
  • 2010: The detention of 492 Tamil asylum seekers who arrived on the BC coast on the MV Sun Sea
  • Ongoing: Underfunding of First Nations child welfare services

Is there any chance that Kellie Leitch is referring to the values upheld in the ongoing struggle for justice in Canada?

ISLAMOPHOBIA: CONSEQUENCES

ANTI-MUSLIM HATE CRIMES

Islamophobia has very real consequences, laying the ground work for anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents. A 2016 Environics Institute survey revealed that 35% of Canadian Muslims have experienced discrimination and unfair treatment in recent years.

ENDLESS WAR

Endless war against Muslim countries is another consequence of Islamophobia. Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria–Canada has now been at war in Muslim countries for 14 years without a break.

2 ISLAMOPHOBIC STEREOTYPES

  • The inherently violent Muslim man: Like most non-Muslim men, most Muslim men hold ordinary jobs and value family and friends. They are not any more violent than non-Muslim men. Much of the violence in the world today is directed at Muslims by non-Muslims. 
  • The oppressed Muslim woman: “While the demonization of Islam and Muslims as exceptionally oppressive [of women] certainly advances the cause of racist stereotyping, it does little to benefit the women in whose interests these sometime champions for equality claim to speak. On the contrary, Muslim women bear a heavy part of the burden of violence and hatred generated by these stereotypes.”—from a column in the Ottawa Citizen, signed by 20 prominent Muslim-Canadian women.  

TAKE ACTION

  1. Learn more about Islamophobia. Visit the National Council of Canadian Muslim’s website online map of anti-Muslim hate-crimes and incidents: http://www.nccm.ca/map/
  2. Here are the names of four prominent Muslim-Canadian women: Zarqa Nawaz, Monia Mazigh, Rukhsana Khan, Sheema Khan. Are you familiar with them? If not, do a google search.
  3. Read the whole column in the Ottawa Citizen written by 20 prominent Muslim-Canadian women: Google “Ottawa Citizen Islamophobic feminism.”
  4. Read the National Council of Canadian Muslim’s Charter For Inclusive Communities and consider signing it: http://www.nccm.ca/charter/

 

 

 

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PEACE IN 2017

Posted by strattof on January 15, 2017

ENDLESS WAR

Canada has been endlessly at war since 2003: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria—Canada has been or is there making war.

WAR IS A CATASTROPHE

War inflicts suffering on soldiers and civilians alike. It is a catastrophe for everyone it touches.

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or under the holy name of liberty or democracy?”—Mahatma Gandhi

DEATH & DESTRUCTION IN SYRIA 

SUFFERING IN SYRIA

The war in Syria is now well into its sixth year. The suffering of the people of Syria has been terrible.

  • Over 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the war.
  • 9 million Syrians have become refugees.
  • 5 million Syrians are internally displaced.
  • Nearly half of the affected people are children.

WHY HAS THIS WAR LASTED SO LONG?

A key factor has been the intervention of the US and Russia, with Russia supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the US determined to topple him. The result has been an escalation of the fighting. Syria has become a new cold war battleground.

A CHANCE FOR PEACE

  • On December 30th, an agreement, brokered by Russia and Turkey, calling for a ceasefire and peace talks in the war in Syria, went into effect.
  • The following day, New Year’s Eve, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution supporting the efforts of Russia and Turkey to end the conflict.
  • As of yesterday (January 11), the ceasefire was mainly holding.

A FRAGILE PEACE

  • The December 30th ceasefire was the third ceasefire declared in Syria in 2016. The other two collapsed, one of them in a matter of days.
  • The US was not included in the ceasefire discussions.
  • A number of groups considered “terrorist” by all the main participants in the conflict (Russia, the US, and Assad), were also not part of the ceasefire agreement. These include Daesh (ISIS) and Fatah al-Sham.

CANADA IN SYRIA

MAKING WAR

Canada is part of the US-led coalition making war in Syria:

  • March 2015: The Harper government expanded Canada’s military mission in Iraq into Syria, committing six fighter jets, a refueling aircraft, two surveillance aircraft, and 69 soldiers. 
  • February 2016: The Trudeau government extended Canada’s military mission in Syria until March 2017. While it pulled Canada’s fighter jets from the war, it left the refueling and surveillance aircrafts—proxy bombing some have called it. The Trudeau government also tripled the number of soldiers to 207. 

MAKING A KILLING

The war in Syria is fueled by arms from the west. Canada is the world’s second largest exporter of arms to the Middle East.

War is big business. Canada is making a killing off the war in Syria.

“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicous….It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”—Major General Smedley Butler

PEACE IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE

War is neither necessary nor inevitable. Peaceful alternatives always exist, but they need to be worked at.

Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict; yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes ecourage, it takes strength and tenacity—Pope Francis

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

CANADA FOR PEACE

  • Tell Prime Minister Trudeau you want Canada to stop making war in Syria and to start making diplomatic peace-making a top priority: trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.
  • Send the same message to Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan: Sajjan@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-7052.

PEACE SYMBOL CONTEST

Enter the 2017 Peace Symbol Contest. Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a snowbank; a sidewalk using chalk; a piece of clothing; a cake using icing. Take a photo of your peace symbol and email it to makingpeace@sasktel.net  You will, in return, receive a peace gift and become eligible to win a major peace prize. The deadline is midnight August 31, 2017.

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CANADA’S 150th BIRTHDAY: WHAT ARE WE CELEBRATING?

Posted by strattof on January 5, 2017

The year-long celebrations of Canada’s 150th birthday have already begun. There were musical performances, cultural events, and fireworks displays in 19 cities, including Regina, across the country on New Year’s Eve.

According to the federal government’s Canada 150 website: “From local and community events to national celebrations in 2017, there will be plenty of ways to get involved and celebrate all that makes us who we are as a country.

What seem to be missing from the proceedings are events that acknowledge the process through which Canada became a nation: the colonization, displacement, oppression, and genocide of Indigenous peoples. This is the history that in large part “makes us who we are as a country.”

Many of us, especially those of us who have white privilege, don’t know this history. Let’s make Canada’s 150th birthday a time to learn it.

JOHN A. MACDONALD: FATHER OF THE NATION

We will hear a lot about John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, during the year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. His legacy includes:

  • Negotiating Canadian Confederation in 1867.
  • Overseeing the completion of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.

As a result of these accomplishments, Macdonald is often hailed as father of the Canadian nation.

GENOCIDE—MACDONALD’S OTHER LEGACY

They are not, however, Macdonald’s only legacy. Almost erased from history are his racist and genocidal policies against Indigenous peoples. 

CLEARING THE PLAINS

In 1878, Macdonald implemented a policy of starvation, with-holding food from First Nations living in Canada’s vast resource-rich prairie region until they moved onto reserves. In Macdonald’s words: “We are doing all we can by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation.”

The goal of the policy was to clear the plains of First Nations so as to make way for the transcontinental railroad and make the plains available for white settlement.

Thousands died as a result of this genocidal policy.

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS

Macdonald was a passionate advocate for residential schools. In 1879, his government founded a publicly funded residential school system. In 1884, it made school attendance compulsory for all First Nations children. Thousands of children died from neglect, abuse, malnutrition, and disease while attending these schools.

Genocide, as defined by the United Nations, includes:

  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.

Canada’s residential schools, the last of which closed in 1996, constituted genocide.

COLONIALISM TODAY

Why bring up these disturbing truths about Canada’s founding when we are supposed to be celebrating?

We need to know our history because it forms the basis of on-going white settler privilege. In health, child welfare, education, housing, employment, the justice system—indeed, almost everywhere in Canadian society—whiteness is still an advantage and Indigenous identity a disadvantage. For example:

HEALTH

The health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada, set-off by Macdonald’s starvation policy, persists.

39  Incidence rate of TB per 100,000 people on Saskatchewan First Nations, compared to 7.5 cases per 100,000 people in the province as a whole

52  Community Well-Being Index for Saskatchewan First Nations: Scores can range from a low of 0 to a high of 100. Most non-Indigenous Saskatchewan communities score above 80.

CHILD WELFARE

  • First Nations children on reserves receive 22% -34% less funding for child welfare services than non-Indigenous children receive for child welfare from the provinces.
  • The result: There are more First Nations children in care today than there were in residential schools in the 1950s.

In terms of policies toward Indigenous peoples, how different is Canada today from Macdonald’s 19th century Canada? 

TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

What Canada did, and continues to do, to Indigenous peoples is genocide. Hard as it is to accept, this is the truth. Knowing and accepting this truth is a first step toward reconciliation.

KAIROS BLANKET EXERCISE

The Kairos Blanket Exercise is a way of helping us to understand and accept this truth. “A tool to share the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada,” the Blanket Exercise would be a perfect way to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.

Learn about the Blanket Exercise: http://kairosblanketexercise.org/

TAKE ACTION

  1. Please use this pamphlet as a jumping off point for a conver-sation about colonialism, racism, and genocide in Canada.
  2. Let Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Brad Wall, and Mayor Michael Fougere know you want them to mark Canada’s 150th birthday by sponsoring the Blanket Exercise in Regina. The Legislative lawn, Victoria Park, and the area around the Peace Fountain in front of City Hall would all be good locations. trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253; mayor@regina.ca or 306-777-7339; bradwallmla@sasktel.net or 306-787-9433
  3. Learn more about Canadian history.

The following books are available at Regina Public Library:

  • Clearing the Plains, James Daschuk (2013)
  • The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King (2012)
  • Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, Arthur

Manuel & Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson (2015)

  • The Comeback, John Ralston Saul (2014)

The following articles are available online:

  • “When Canada used hunger to clear the West,” James Daschuk, Globe and Mail, July 19, 2013.
  • “What Canada committed against First Nations was genocide,” Phil Fontaine and Bernie Farber, Globe and Mail, Oct 14, 2013.
  • “Old Macdonald,” Stephen Marche, Walrus, Jan – Feb 2015.

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