Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

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.
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