Human Rights Tribunal Affirms Well Known Truths

The recent decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal regarding the unfair treatment of Aboriginal children and their families by under funding of programs by the Federal government affirms what us in the Aboriginal world have known all of our lives.

We’ve been and continue to be treated like dirt by the Canadian government and our fellow Canadians.

Quick history lesson:
-Indians were rounded up and placed on plots of land, all other lands were taken from them
– Permission required to leave the reserve
– Children taken away and robbed of everything that made them people
– Having religion forced on them
– Being barred from hiring legal council
– Being barred from selling and buying goods from non-aboriginals
– Being banned from poolhalls
– Not having the right to vote federally until 1960
– Not having the right to a representative jury (the first Aboriginal juror served in 1972.)
– Sexist status policies robbed thousands of Aboriginal women of status whilst granting non-Aboriginal women “Indian” status
– Unfair funding cap put in place 20 years ago (looking at you Jean Chretien!)
– Over represented in prison populations, violent crimes and soup kitchens
– The findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission showing that non-Aboriginals were taught the same slanted and hurtful lessons about Aboriginal peoples

And now the Human Rights Tribunal has found that the previous HARPER government (feels good to write that) underfunded Aboriginal child welfare programs in the range of 22-34 per cent compared to non-Aboriginal children in care. These are innocent children remember.

Chip on my shoulder? No. The few items I mentioned above are just the superficial wrongs which most Canadians know, or at least should know, before they collectively shrug their shoulders while saying to themselves “meh, happened along time ago…” I’m not even going to get into the deeper racism which exists in our world and in my opinion played out very well during the OKIB/CN rail line debacle of 2015, but that’s another letter for another day. Let’s just say that the leaders of the Okanagan Valley can look to the coast for how to build meaningful relationships with Aboriginals.

What next?

I am holding out for the implementation of the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which Prime Minister Trudeau has committed to following through on.

I’m also holding out for Aboriginal leaders to show up to the table ready to do some of the heavy lifting. The capacity to provide the necessary services has to come from our own communities, from our own people.

It’s time for Canadians, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to take a long look at ourselves in the mirror.

I’m often told, “I didn’t do anything to you, it was someone else.” Yes, you’re right, and when you ask aloud why some Aboriginals get their post secondary education paid for (also underfunded,) my response to you will be “Well we didn’t do anything..it was someone else.” I bet the majority of Aboriginals would’ve given up the free education part…had we known that it meant generations of our children would be subject to sexual abuse and systemic murder at the hands of the Canadians responsible for the Residential Schools.

Apology not accepted by the way, still in the cooling off period.

We’re stuck in this hostile holding pattern because since Confederation, Canada has treated Aboriginals as the junior partner. Our education system relegated us to the margins of history books, our governments deny our colonial history and if internet comment boards are any indication, at least 31.9 per cent of Canadians don’t think there’s a problem at all and if there is one, it’s not Canada’s.

Well I’m here to tell you it is Canada’s problem and until we air out this 150-year-old dirty laundry, reconciliation will never happen and the stink of racism will never go away.