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Archive for March, 2019

INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END RACISM, MARCH 21

Posted by strattof on March 22, 2019

Last Friday, a white supremacist murdered 50 Muslims in a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand during Friday prayers. 48 others were injured.

Today, we at Making Peace Vigil stand in solidarity with Muslim communities in Regina and throughout Canada and the world as we remember the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack—men, women, and children who were murdered as they worshipped.

As we know, Canada is not immune to such attacks. On January 29, 2017, a gunman opened fire in the Islamic Cultural Centre in Québec City, killing six men while they were praying.

It would seem that one act of terrorism inspires another. Along with neo-Nazi symbols, the New Zealand gunman had the names of other white supremacists etched on his weapons. Those names included that of the Québec City gunman.

Today, March 21, is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Expressions of solidarity are not enough. We must also actively struggle against anti-Muslim prejudice, also known as Islamophobia, as well as all other forms of white supremacy and hate.

ISLAMOPHOBIA  

DEFINITION

A closed-minded prejudice against or hatred of Muslims and Islam.

PROMOTING HATE & BIGOTRY

Acts of terrorism against Muslims, like the Québec City Mosque Massacre, do not come out of the blue. They occur in a climate of increasing hate. Nor is it just President Donald Trump’s hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric creeping across the border. Canada has produced plenty of its own Islamophobic rhetoric. For example:

2015   The Harper government’s Barbaric Cultural Practices Act passed into law, supported by the Liberals.

2015   Brad Wall identified Syrian refugees with terrorism.

2017   Rallies were held in cities across Canada, including Regina, at which speakers dehumanized Muslims and called for the defeat of a motion in the House of Commons condemning “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism.”

2018   Canadian Yellow Vests began to rally and spread their anti-immigrant, Islamophobic message. Some Canadian politicians, both federal and provincial, attended these rallies, thus facilitating the promotion of hatred and violence.

2019   Some Canadian politicians, in their initial response to the Christchurch attacks, chose not to use the words ‘Muslim’ or ‘mosque’ or ‘terrorism or ‘Islamophobia’ and hence did not clearly identify or condemn the underlying ideology.

2019   Canada’s Border Security Minister is talking to US officials about closing “a loophole” in Canada’s border agreement with the US so as to prevent asylum seekers entering Canada from the US from claiming refugee protection.

CONSEQUENCES

Islamophobia has very real consequences, laying the ground work for anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents. 

Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada increased by 151% in 2017, the last year for which figures are available.

We are one community and everything we say to try to tear people apart, demonize particular groups, set them against each other—that all has consequences even if we’re not the ones with our fingers on the trigger.” Waleed Aly, an Australian television host, March 15 2019

ANTISEMITISM

In 2017, the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes jumped 63%.

In the 1930s and 40s, Jewish people were the main target of Canadian anti-immigration rhetoric. “None is too many” became the policy of the Canadian government toward Jewish refugees during the Nazi era. Canada was thus complicit in the Holocaust.

The way Muslims are represented today, with dehumanizing stereotypes, is similar to the way Jewish people were represented in the 20th century.

Today, Antisemitism remains a pervasive problem in Canada.

ANTI-INDIGENOUS RACISM

From the beginning, Canadian colonialism has been a form of white supremacy: a political, economic, and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and resources.

Today, white supremacy continues its reign. For example:

  • First Nations reserves occupy only 0.2% of the Canadian land mass. 99.8% of Canada is reserved for settler Canadians.
  • Through the Indian Act, first passed in 1876, the Canadian state continues to claim the right to exercise 100% control over every aspect of the lives of Indigenous peoples.
  • As demonstrated by the acquittal of Gerald Stanley for the killing of Colten Boushie, there is a lack of justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada.

NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST HATE & INTOLERANCE

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is calling for January 29, the anniversary of the Québec City Mosque Massacre, to be designated a National Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance.

To read the letter NCCM sent to the Canadian government in November 2018, google “NCCM national day.”

TAKE ACTION TO END RACISM

  1. Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you support the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) in its call for January 29, the anniversary of the Québec City Mosque Massacre, to be designated a National Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance: trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  2. Call on all political leaders ●to stand up against hate; ●to call incidents such as the Christchurch and Québec City mosque killings what they are: terrorist acts carried out by white supremacists against Muslims; and ●to distance themselves from, as well as condemn, any groups or individuals that engage in anti-immigration rhetoric or hate speech of any kind.
  3. Call out Islamophobic statements and all other forms of hate speech whenever you encounter them.
  4. Visit the NCCM website and learn more about Islamophobia: nccm.ca 
  5. Learn more about Antisemitic hate crimes in North America. Google “briarpatch new Jewish left.”
  6. Learn more about Canadian colonialism by reading
  • The Reconciliation Manifesto, by Arthur Manuel
  • 21 Things You May Not Know About The Indian Act, by Bob Joseph
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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2019

Posted by strattof on March 7, 2019

Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women’s Day. First observed in 1911, International Women’s Day is an occasion for celebrating women’s social, economic, and political achievements.

Yet it’s 2019, and we still live in a world of gender inequality. Moreover, women frequently experience multiple forms of discrimination: race, class, ability/ disability, sexuality, and religion, as well as gender.

International Women’s Day is, therefore, also a time for reflecting on the action needed for making more progress toward realizing justice in the face of the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination women encounter. There are many challenges ahead.

GENDER INEQUALITY IN CANADA: 6 KEY FACTS

Equality between women and men is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and yet:

  1. Canadian women continue to experience wage discrimination. Those who work full-time earn 74 cents for every dollar earned by men, a figure that has barely budged in the last two decades. This is the case even though women’s educational attainment has now surpassed that of men.
  2. The pay gap for racialized women, trans women, and women with disabilities is even wider. For example, Indigenous women working full-time earn 67 cents for every dollar earned by white men.
  3. At the current rate of progress, Canada will not close the gender wage gap until 2240.
  4. 65% of minimum wage workers in Saskatchewan are women. The minimum wage in Saskatchewan is $11.06 per hour.
  5. Women constitute 50.4% of Canada’s population. They hold only 26% of the seats in the House of Commons.
  6. Canada ranks 16th in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 global gender gap index—well ahead of the US, but behind Iceland, Norway, Finland, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and 10 other countries.

MALE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

  • Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
  • Saskatchewan has the highest rate of domestic violence of all the provinces.
  • Between 2016 and 2017, Regina saw a 7% increase in the rate of sexual assaults.
  • Women account for over half of all victims of violent crime in Canada, while they make up only about one quarter of all the offenders.
  • In 2018, a woman or girl was killed every 2.5 days in Canada.
  • Indigenous women make up only 4% of the Canadian population, yet they account for 24% of female homicide victims.

MISSING & MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN

“Indigenous women in Canada have historically been devalued not only as Indigenous people but also simply because they are women. It is important to acknowledge the impacts of colonization and recognize that they currently exist and affect Indigenous women and girls.” Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).

  • 2010: NWAC published its Sisters In Spirit report, documenting 514 missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls and calling for a national public inquiry.
  • 2014: Amnesty International published its report, Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada and called for a national public inquiry.
  • 2014: The RCMP published a report documenting 1,181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada between 1980 and 2012.
  • 2015: The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women released a damning report on the situation of missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women in Canada.
  • 2015: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for a national public inquiry into the “disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls.”
  • 2010 – 2015: The Harper government consistently refused demands to hold a public inquiry.
  • 2016: The Trudeau government launched an inquiry.
  • 2016 – 2019: The work of the inquiry was hindered by a narrow mandate, a tight budget, a too short timeline, and inadequate support for families.
  • 2019: The report of the inquiry is due in April.

In the meantime, Indigenous women and girls continue to experience violence, go missing, and be murdered, far more than other women and girls in Canada.

EVENTS FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

SUNDAY MARCH 10, 1 – 3 pm: WOMEN & FEMININE SPACE, MACKENZIE ART GALLERY, 3475 ALBERT STREET: Celebrate connection, inspiration, support, & empowerment. Women only.

SUNDAY MARCH 10, 3:15 – 3:45 pm: CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY ON THE ALBERT STREET BRIDGE: Everyone is welcome. If you have a red scarf, please wear it.

TUESDAY MARCH 12, 7 pm: WE DON’T NEED A VOICE, WE NEED MORE MICROPHONES, A PRE-SENTATION BY CONNIE WALKER, EDUCATION AUDITORIUM, U OF R: Connie Walker is an investigative reporter and host of the CBC podcast, Missing & Murdered. Her work on missing and murdered Indigenous women has won many awards. She is from the Okanese First Nation in Saskatchewan.

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5 MYTHS ABOUT HOMELESSNESS

Posted by strattof on March 7, 2019

There are many myths about homelessness. “Homelessness is a choice” is one example. These myths do a lot of damage.

  • They influence government policy in such a way that little or nothing is done to end homelessness.
  • They influence how we as individuals think about people who are homeless.
  • They further contribute to the stigmatization of people who are already marginalized.

In Regina’s 2018 homelessness count, 286 people were identified as homeless. That’s 54 more people than were identified in the 2015 count—a 23% increase.

These figures do not include the hidden homeless: people who are double-bunking or couch-surfing—groups that could double or even triple the number of homeless people in Regina.

We need to change the way we think about homelessness so we can end homelessness in our community.

NO ONE SHOULD BE HOMELESS IN REGINA—OR ANYWHERE!

MYTH # 1

HOMELESSNESS IS A CHOICE.

No one wants to be homeless when they grow up. Rather, homelessness is sometimes the only option in the face of circumstances such as: a job loss a rent increase a government cut to an income assistance program a relationship breakdown domestic violence.

What people who are homeless want and need is affordable housing. While apartments are currently available in Regina, for many people they are not affordable.

MYTH # 2

HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE LAZY.

Being homeless is very hard work. Survival while homeless means:

  • Spending all day getting to food.
  • Searching out a safe place to sleep.
  • Navigating the maze of social service agencies.

This is not to mention the difficulty of finding public washrooms, making sanitation an issue homeless people face on a daily basis. There is also the challenge of arranging for a shower and change of clothes.

Homeless people manage all of these things while lugging their few possessions around with them.

Homelessness is not for the faint-of-heart—or the lazy!

MYTH # 3

G E T A J O B !

Many homeless people already have a job. But Saskatchewan’s minimum wage—a measly $11.06 per hour—is too low to cover rent. In Regina, a minimum wage worker would have to work 67 hours each week to afford a one-bedroom apartment—defining affordable as 30% of a person’s income.

Besides, it is hard to find a job while homeless. Obstacles include: Lack of a permanent address Lack of regular access to a computer or a phone Lack of regular access to a shower or clean clothes Transportation challenges.

MYTH # 4

IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE!

How much would it cost to end homelessness in Canada? In 2017, the Trudeau government promised that, with $42 billion in spending, it would cut Canada’s homelessness in half by 2030.

Do the math. According to the Trudeau government figure, it would cost $84 billion to end homlessness in Canada by 2030.

It is estimated that 235,000 people are currently homeless in Canada. What kind of country would purposely condemn 117,500 of its citizens to homelessness?

How much does Canada spend on war? Right now, it’s about $25 billion annually. And the Liberals have promised to increase military spending to $32 billion annually by 2030.

We can well afford to end homelessness!

MYTH # 5

HOMELESSNESS WILL NEVER END.

Homelessness does end, one life at a time. The life expectancy of a person who is homeless in Canada is 39 years, about half the national average.

Public policy is the leading cause of homelessness. There are a number of policies governments (federal, provincial, and municipal) can adopt which, together, will end homelessness. These include providing

  • A Living Wage
  • Adequate Income Assistance Rates
  • Enough Affordable Housing
  • Enough Supportive Housing

If ending homelessness is a matter of political will, then it is our responsibility to ensure that our political leaders have that will.

Let your City Councillor, MLA, and MP know you do not want to live in a city, a province, or a country where even one person is homeless.

TOGETHER WE CAN END HOMELESSNESS!

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