Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for December, 2017

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR THE CITY OF REGINA

Posted by strattof on December 28, 2017

In four days’ time, it will be 2018. A new year is a time for new beginnings.  

Let’s reflect on the changes we need to bring about in our city to make life better for all Regina citizens.

MAYOR FOUGERE: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION 

End homelessness in Regina.

In the 2016 municipal election, Mayor Fougere ran on a platform of ending homelessness. In his words: “We need to provide more housing and we need to end homelessness. Those are the major things I want to see happen.” These are encouraging words.

The Mayor’s preferred solution to Regina’s homeleness crisis is Housing First, a program that finds permanent housing for people experienceing homelessness and offers them support. The trouble is the Mayor refuses to put any money into Housing First.

Currently, Regina’s Housing First program only receives federal funding—a mere $1,200,000 million annually. As a result, the program has only managed to house 53 people. Meanwhile, the list of homeless people keeps growing.

In August, Mayor Fougere brought a motion before City Council to develop a plan to end homelessness. There has already been an overabundance of such plans: ●the 2007 Regina Community Plan on Homelessness ●the 2013 Regina Comprehensive Housing Strategy ●the Mayor’s two Housing Summits ●the Mayor’s Housing Commission. Did nothing come out of these?

Now is the time for action, not more planning!

Here’s a motion on ending homelessness Mayor Fougere could make at the first 2018 meeting of City Council: that the City of Regina commit to allocating $1,250,000 annually to the Housing First program until there are no more homeless people in Regina.

$1,250,000 is not an arbitrary figure. It is the total of the amounts City Council recently awarded to sports facilitites: $1.2 million to the Brandt Centre to support hosting the 2018 Memorial Cup; $50,000 to the Saskatchewan Volleyball Association to support hosting the 2019 Volleyball Canada National Championships.

Even in hard times, there does always seem to be money for sports facilities. Let’s demonstrate the same concern for eliminat-ing the suffering and misery that is homelessness in Regina!

Let Mayor Fougere know there have been more than enough plans to end homelessness in Regina and you want the City to take concrete action: mayor@regina.ca or 306-777-7339.

BOARD OF POLICE COMMISSIONERS: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

 Start defunding Regina Police Service.

In 2017, the operational expenses of Regina Police Service (RPS) saw a 7.2% increase over the 2016 level and the RPS budget consumed a whopping 17.7% of the city’s operating budget. How much of the City’s 2018 budget will the RPS consume?

Police spending keeps increasing, yet nothing changes. Money needs to be taken out of the RPS and invested in reducing the social causes of crime.

Ask Board of Police Commissioners chair, Mayor Fougere, to begin defunding the RPS. How about reducing its budget by 7.2%  for a few years. The money saved can be put into Regina’s Housing First program. As studies show, reducing homelessness is an effective crime reduction strategy. Such an investment would also help Mayor Fougere keep his election promise to end homelessness: mayor@regina.ca or 306-777-7339.

REGINA PUBLIC LIBRARY: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

Encourage all Regina citizens to use the library.

Central Library has removed the benches that used to be on the Lorne Street side of the Library to the 12th Avenue side, where nobody wants to sit on them. Central Library also seems to have implemented a new policy of banning people from congregating in the Library lobby.

These changes suggest that the Library wants to discourage people who fall into one or more of the following categories from being in the vicinity of the Library: poor/Indigenous/youth.

Tell Regina Public Library Director, Jeff Barber, you want the Library ●to return the benches to their original location on Lorne Street and ●to stop banning people from congregating in the Central Library lobby.

Also ask Mr. Barber to wave Library fines as a New Year’s gesture of goodwill. Many Library patrons cannot afford to buy books or subscribe to Netflix: jbarber@reginalibrary.ca or 306-777-6099.

REGINA BOARD OF EDUCATION: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

Rename Davin School

Davin School was named after Nicholas Flood Davin, the author of the 1879 Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds. In this report, Davin urged the government of John A. Macdonald to establish residential schools in Canada.

The 2015 Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission highlights the role Davin played in implementing the residential school system—a system it labels “cultural genocide.”

Tell Regina Board of Education chair, Katherine Gagner, that we cannot continue to have a school named after the man who laid the groundwork for the genocidal residential school system: katherine.gagne@rbe.sk.ca or 306.585.6601

Advertisements

Posted in peace activism | Leave a Comment »

RACISM IN SASKATCHEWAN

Posted by strattof on December 6, 2017

Kudos to the Roughriders for locking arms during the playing of O Canada at several games in Mosaic Stadium They did the right thing in showing their solidarity with NFL players and their protest against racism.

Protests cross borders. Racism too is a cross-border phenomenon. There is plenty of racial injustice in Canada to speak out against.

In Saskatchewan, anti-Indigenous racism is especially prevalent, embedded in every aspect of life in our province: justicechild welfare education income employment elected representation. It even affects life expectancy.

A first step in combatting racism is to recognize and acknowledge its existence. Only then can we take the next step: standing up against racism both as individuals and as a society.

THE COLTEN BOUSHIE CASE

Colten Boushie, a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation, was 22-years-old when, on August 9, 2016, the car in which he and four friends were travelling had a flat tire and they pulled into a farmyard near Biggar. Colten was shot and killed.

The property owner, Gerald Stanley, has been charged with second-degree murder. He has pleaded “not guilty.”

The case shines a light on racism in Saskatchewan.

PRESUMED GUILTY

When the RCMP went to Red Pheasant Cree Nation to inform Colten’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, of his death, officers behaved as if Colten’s family members were criminals.

  • RCMP vehicles surrounded the family trailer.
  • Officers then searched the surrounding area and the home, rummaging through the family possessions. Some of the officers had their guns drawn.
  • An officer ordered a grieving Baptiste to “get it together.”
  • He also asked Baptiste if she had been drinking.

MORE RACISM

  • The RCMP’s first media release linked the news of Colten’s death to a recent surge in thefts in the area—providing, as FISN Chief Bobby Cameron put it, “just enough prejudicial information for the average reader to draw their own conclusions that the shooting was somehow justified.”
  • In the days following Colten’s death, a flood of racist comments appeared on social media, many of them promoting violence against Indigenous people.
  • In January 2017, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities voted 93% in favour of an expansion of property owners’ rights to defend their property.   

PRESUMED INNOCENT

  • The RCMP has laid no hate-speech charges against those who posted hate-speech online following Colten’s death.
  • Earlier this month, in an internal investigation, the RCMP cleared itself of any wrong-doing when its officers visited Colten’s home immediately following his death.

RACISM IN SASKATCHEWAN: 6 KEY FACTS

Systemic racism constitutes a huge barrier for Indigenous people in Saskatchewan.

  1. Saskatchewan has an Indigenous child poverty rate of 50%, compared to a non-Indigenous rate of 13%.
  2. 85% of Saskatchewan children in foster care are Indigenous.
  3. The unemployment rate for Indigenous people in Saskatche-wan is 12% compared to 3.8 % for non-Indigenous people.
  4. The mayors of Saskatchewan’s nine biggest cities are all white. Many of those cities, including Regina, have all-white city councils. 99 of the province’s 101 judges are white. Indigenous people make up 16% of Saskatchewan’s population.
  5. Indigenous people in Saskatchewan are 33% more likely to be incarcerated than their non-Indigenous counterparts and to be sentenced to more than twice the jail time.
  6. The life expectancy of Indigenous people in Saskatchewan is 6 years less than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts. 

MINISTER OF EDUCATION

According to Saskatchewan Education Minister, Bronwyn Eyre, there is too much “infusion” of Indigenous history in the school curriculum. In fact, if we are ever going to root out the racism and the impoverishment it systemically creates for the vast majority Indigenous peoples in our province, there must be an even greater “infusion” of Indigenous history into the school curriculum.

How many of us who have been celebrating Canada 150 know

  • That Canada’s first Prime Minister John A. Macdonald used a policy of deliberate starvation of Indigenous peoples in the area that is now Saskatchewan, to force the chiefs to sign treaties, giving up their land to save their people from starvation?
  • Or that many Treaties, including Treaty 4 that takes in most of southern Saskatchewan, including Regina, promised a school on every reserve. Instead, the Canadian government implemented the genocidal residential school system?

STAND UP AGAINST RACISM

  1. If you see something, say something. Speak up when you see racism occurring and interrupt in a safe way.

I would encourage Canadians…when they hear a racist story or joke… to challenge it, and to not accept it. That’s how you’re going to put an end to racism and discrimination in Canada.” Perry Bellegard, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, comment about the Colten Boushie case

  1. Tell Saskatchewan Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre to implement Call To Action #62 of the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: “Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students”: eyre@saskparty.com or 306-477-4740.
  2. Tell federal Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale that an independent civilian oversight board, and not the RCMP, should conduct investigations of the force and its members: goodale@parl.gc.ca or 306-585-2202.

Posted in peace activism | Leave a Comment »

WANTED: FAIR BANKING

Posted by strattof on December 6, 2017

Many low and moderate income people use extremely expensive payday loans to meet their monthly budget. In Saskatchewan a one week $100 payday loan could cost $23.  That amounts to a yearly interest rate of over 1100%, much greater than the 19% to 28% rate credit card users typically pay.

Some low income borrowers get caught in a debt trap – taking a loan they cannot afford and then extending the loan or taking another loan to pay off the original loan.

This week Making Peace Vigil joins a national campaign aimed at ending predatory lending practices. We are encouraging credit unions and chartered banks to make mainstream banking fairer and improve their services to low and moderate income Canadians.    

PAYDAY LENDING IN SASKATCHEWAN

A payday loan is a high cost, small, short term loan provided without security. The loan can be up to $1,500 and has a term of less than 62 days.

Loans are payable on or after the next regular pay date and agreements are to be in writing. The provincial government limits lenders to charging no more than $23 in fees for every $100 advanced.  For example, if you are short $300 until payday, a loan could cost $69.  Defaulting on payment could cost additional interest at a 30% annual rate and an additional fee of up to $50.

In February 2018, the provincial government will be lowering these fees to $17 and $25. However, even these reduced fees are exorbitant.

As of July 2017, there were 58 licensed payday lenders in the province, with 14 operating in Regina. Those without bank accounts may come to rely on these very expensive payday loans.

BANKING PROBLEMS: LOW & MODERATE INCOMES

  • Limited or no access to banking: Many people with low incomes are unable to cash cheques except at payday lenders.
  • Inadequate identification to open an account.
  • Lack of access to a secure computer.
  • Low or no access to affordable and safe loans and financial services.
  • Holding cheques until funds clear banking system.
  • Not sufficient funds (NSF) charge of $45. 

MAKING BANKING FAIRER

THE BANK ACT

The federal government is currently reviewing Canada’s Bank Act with changes scheduled for 2019.  Changes to make banking and financial services more accessible and affordable for those with low and moderate incomes include the following.

Mandate banks and credit unions to:

  • Provide access to low interest credit for emergencies.
  • Provide low interest overdraft loans for times when you need money but have none in your account.
  • Eliminate holds on cheques so funds are deposited in your account when you cash a cheque.
  • Reduce NSF fees from $45 to $10.
  • Create a national anti-predatory lending strategy.
  • Make it easier for people with low incomes to open accounts. 

POSTAL BANKING.

With over 6,000 post office locations across Canada, having banking services at post offices would make banking more accessible, especially to those in small towns, rural areas, and Indigenous communities. And financial products for low income earners would offer a genuine alternative to payday lenders.

Postal banking has been a success in many countries. It’s time to bring postal banking to Canada.

WHAT WE CAN DO

  1. Send emails to Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau demanding fair banking for all Canadians: justintrudeau@parl.gc.ca; Morneau@parl.gc.ca

Further information and an online form for a letter are available  at the Acorn Canada website: https://www.acorncanada.org/take-action/fight-fair-banking

  1. Talk to your MP and encourage him to support fair banking and postal banking in Saskatchewan and Canada.

Regina ‒ Lewvan: Erin Weir, 306-790-4747

Regina ‒ Qu’Appelle: Andrew Scheer, 306-332-2575

Regina ‒ Wascana: Hon. Ralph Goodale, 306-585-2202

3. If you have concerns about a loan you have made contact Saskatchewan’s Consumer Credit Division at 306-787-6700. They may be able to help you.

The Fair Banking campaign is organized and sponsored by Acorn Canada: Uniting Communities for Justice.   https://www.acorncanada.org/

Posted in peace activism | Leave a Comment »