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 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.


Letters to the editor

The Kamloops Daily News has had a new editor for a few months.

His name is Robert Koopmans and I really enjoyed his work as a columnist writing about justice and his work covering court.

When he started as editor in September (me thinks?) he implemented a rule about increased civility on the KDN website. I thought it was a good idea because the comments had been getting out of hand.

I’ll admit that I would often insult the intelligence of others. As I usually try to talk about things I’ve taken the time to read and learn about..if I was presented with opinions that were unlettered and full of “feelings” rather than verified facts, I would trounce the anonymous troll with belittling statements.

I stopped doing that a couple of years ago because I realized that it wasn’t really helpful.

There are a few members of the KDN forums that tend to use really unnecessary language while talking about others and making strange assertions about people that they disagree with.

Like if you disagree with something the BC Libs or federal Conservative Party of Canada does, you’re a rabid left winger.

I personally think it’s intellectual laziness to simply peg someone as a leftist for disagreeing with a government policy. I digress.

Just today an article appeared by Koopmans stating that anonymous comments will no longer be allowed on letters written to the editor. The reasoning behind the decision is consistent with the letters policy of the KDN. If you want your opinion to be heard on a subject, let’s have your real name and a way to contact you.

Much of the commentary below the article is by anonymous people with “clever” handles. They are crying foul about not being able to exercise their free speech and are calling the KDN hypocrites etc etc.

Cry me a river.

One comment caught my eye about the quality of letters being printed. That they are so poorly researched that they should not be printed.

Sure a lot of letters to the editor are poorly researched and are full of malarkey but that’s what makes it fun to respond to them.

Here’s one of my favourite letters and my response to it:

Bernice Williams wrote a letter talking about her time working in an Indian/Eskimo hospital (I don’t think she means the football team.) She talked about how the Indians would line up on treaty day to collect their money and that they probably didn’t spend it wisely. Read it here.

I knew that there are very few treaties covering B.C. and that the treaties that covered the rest of Canada were not signed with any thoughts to the future and the rise in the cost of living.

So I found out how much money Indians from the area she spoke about in her letter received and responded. You can read it here.

I’ll admit that I usually respond to letters about Indians, queers, teachers, immigrants and other people in Kamloops who may not have a strong voice. If you choose to write about these topics, do your homework.

If you want to have your opinions heard by the masses and remain anonymous, get a blog.

Before I go..

I have had a few exchanges via the letters page with former teacher Chris Kempling about homosexuality and a woman’s right to choose. He didn’t believe that my name was actually Joey Jack. I don’t know if he still does, but he used to drive a bus here in Kamloops and one day I was pleased to show him my ID to prove my name is actually my name.

One day I decided to stop signing my name Joey Jack..I used my proper name Joseph Jack and very quickly received an email from my grandma telling me the story of Joey Smallwood, the first premier of NFLD. It was a great email and she finished it by saying “if it’s good enough for him, it should be good enough for you.” I’ve been Joey Jack ever since.

I did want to tell my grandma to never refer to me as Joey “smallwood” ever again though.



Talking to Canadians

I took an outlaw journalism class last year. We watched a Rick Mercer, talking to Canadians clip and our teacher wanted us to do something similar.

I wrote a satirical piece responding to a man that said quite racist things to me without even knowing it.

I thought it would be interesting to do a “Talking to Canadians,” bit and my teacher suggested I ask people to comment on the fact that Indians were going to receive free Tim Bits via a land claim settlement. I created two crude looking jpegs that appeared to look like the CBC website and asked people to read the stories and give me their comments.

The second “story” outlined the agreement reached between the Metis and the feds. Free WIFI, cable and cell service for all!
I put the photos on my tablet so they looked like I was connected to the internet.

It was a really fun assignment and only one person called me a liar.


Some people’s children…