dinsdag, oktober 20, 2015

While shopping for a Halloween costume this week in Edmonton, I found a large cardboard cutout of a white woman dressed in a faux-buckskin “Native American” costume. I can’t say I’m surprised. As much as I ask why this sort of racism is still a thing in 2015, this election campaign has confirmed one reason: despite this being the year of Truth and Reconciliation, neither Canadian citizens nor their politicians seem ready to vote based on the plight of indigenous Canadians.  

Let’s consider the debates. At the Globe debate, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau raised First Nations issues but mainly to say that they had not come up enough. At the Munk debate, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair spoke briefly about food security in the Arctic and the lack of concern the Harper government displayed. Trudeau then brought up Harper’s habit of aligning First Nations groups with terrorists.
Meanwhile, First Nations communities live with boil-water advisories. Meanwhile, Edmonton NDP candidate Aaron Paquette, who is Métis, allegedly had a large phallus scrawled on his family home.
Sissy Thiesson, a Sioux, Cree and Mennonite woman in Edmonton who works as a youth co-ordinator, confronts issues affecting aboriginal people daily. The underlying issue is “intergenerational trauma, where the mistreatment of aboriginal people for decades produced victims who in turn mistreated their families due to what they learned,” she said.

Last week, the Assembly of First Nations graded the NDP, Liberal, Conservative and Green platforms. Among the metrics were commitment to truth and reconciliation, language rights and strengthening First Nations communities. The NDP received full marks for their platform, with the Liberals only slightly behind, owing to their lack of plans for languages. The Conservatives pledged to focus on programs to fight gang violence and on bursaries. 
The Truth and Reconciliation report calls for reducing the number of indigenous children in foster care and closing the gap between funding for First Nations communities on and off-reserve. But a legacy of residential schools makes education more complicated than access. As a tool of assimilation, education is a sensitive issue for many indigenous people. Closing the gap on federal funding is an essential step toward healing.

Faux-Indian costumes mirror the faux-concern and lip service paid to indigenous issues.

In 2014, Harper said an inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women was “not on his radar.” It would seem ‘not-on-the-radar’ is an appropriate way to describe where First Nations people have been in this election.
Danielle Paradis (@Daniparadis) is an Edmonton-based writer and education advocate.

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