Posts tagged ‘racism’

Gill nets, check. Time to turn our attention to combatting a more pressing issue: Racism..

racismNow that a solution to the Lake Nipissing fishery is in motion, it’s time to turn our collective efforts towards addressing the other, more significant issue that came about during the Lake Nipissing fisheries crisis.

On a regular basis, First Nation people in Nipissing First Nation have faced blatant, hard-hitting criticism and racism arising from the fisheries debate. Racism has manifest itself by becoming socially acceptable in everyday dialogue and among users of social media.

The health of Lake Nipissing is a serious issue and addressing the fishery needs to happen. But this issue pales in comparison to the issue of racism, discrimination and hatred. This has far greater negative impact on our society and on our people.

Racism in any of its forms is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with. There is an urgent need for a focussed anti-racism initiative in North Bay to address the fall-out from the fisheries issue and bridge the gap between the Anishinaabe community and our neighbours.

We need to build on the good work that has already taken place and address this heinous monster that has reared it’s ugly head.

Don Curry, Executive Director of the North Bay Multi-Cultural Centre and Maurice Switzer, a renowned Mississauga public educator, have done a commendable job in exploring the topic a few years back. I was proud to be a part of the important work that was done to analyze the issue of racism targeting Anishinaabe people. However, specific and comprehensive follow-up to their study has not taken place, mainly due to funding constraints.

I feel that a new, and focussed anti-racism initiative should encompass Treaty education, Canadian-Aboriginal history, a cultural exchange and focussed and wide-spread Anishinaabe awareness training. It should be integrated in the schools, as well as with businesses and community organizations. It should focus on healing and fostering understanding between our communities. It should also involve feasting and celebrating – and the best parts of Anishinaabe culture.

The youth and Elders should be a part of such an initiative. The initiative should be based in the culture and values of our people – so that we may share the beauty or our ways of life to all people in our area.

We aren’t just spears and gill nets. We don’t let our fish rot and we don’t waste fish. We are a kind, generous and hospitable people, wanting to share with our neighbours.

We have a lot to share, including the realities and facts about Aboriginal law and our perspectives on our rights.

Aboriginal and Treaty rights are as inalienable as the right to free speech, the right to religion and the right to liberty and freedom. They’re rights that come from the Creator and are very sacred to us.

But on a regular basis during this fisheries crisis, we’ve seen finger pointing. We’ve seen people calling for the arbitrary elimination of our rights. We’ve seen our neighbours generalize about our people using contemporary stereotypes and highly racialized commentary.

The sad reality is that many of these people don’t understand or don’t care that Aboriginal and Treaty rights are legal rights. They are a part of Canadian law, defended in the Supreme Court and protected by the Constitution.

The subject of eliminating the legal rights of another, by arbitrary act of an oppressor, is not and should not be acceptable commentary.

I’m very concerned that such commentary and unchecked racism is becoming wider spread, socially acceptable and is reinforcing intolerant attitudes in the community.

If you hear something, no matter how heinous, over and over again, it starts to seem okay. It seems acceptable to use disparaging comments on a public Facebook page, or in the online comments section. Everyone else is doing it, so others feel they can vent their vitriol, ignorance and hostility of First Nations. I find this unacceptable, offensive and hurtful. It is wrong.

Anishinaabe children hear that they are the cause of “a slaughter” on the Lake. They open Facebook and read that they are “raping” the Lake.

These are words from the very people organizing on social media. These are also the people on stage, at the front of the crowd, inciting action from dozens of angry residents. If this were the south, fifty years ago, they would conclude their rally by marching into Duchesnay Village looking for someone to make a example of.

All Canadians and all local residents, need to stand up and say something about such racist commentary and attitudes. People shouldn’t sit idly by and be complacent when seeing and reading this kind of racism.

We need to learn from history.

For a generation, people on the outskirts of Brantford watched, day-after-day, First Nations children marched into the Mush Hole (a residential school) and didn’t say anything.

During the war, people in eastern Europe seen trainloads of Jewish people, being shipped off in railway cars bound for extermination camp, and didn’t do anything.

Today, thousands of social media users, right here in our area, see and read these comments, week after week. And didn’t say anything about it.

It’s not right. It can’t be right. But it’s happening right here, right now, in our area, by our neighbours. We all have to do something about it.

I wish to say a heartfelt ‘chi-miigwetch’ (big thank) to those social media users and good neighbours who stand up for what is right and say something about racism. There are still a lot of good people out there.

When it comes to the fisheries issues, we are all on the same side. We want to find out who is responsible for these offenses and bring them to justice. We want to see our Lake flourish and see the walleye restored to abundance and health. There are many of us are happy to see our First Nation ban gill nets and see the commercial fishery curbed. But none of this should come at the expense of our rights or the dignity of Nbisiing Anishinaabeg people.

Open Letter to Canada’s Federal Parliamentarians


Dear Federal Parliamentarians:

Rt. Honourable Stephen Harper, Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
Mr. Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party of Canada
Honourable Thomas Mulcair, New Democratic Party of Canada
Ms. Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada



Re:      “April 12th – An Annual Day of National Dialogue on Ending Racism in Canada – a Path toward Healing”

(To be carried forward by Carol Hughes MP: NDP / Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing):

“That a Motion and Private Members Bill be brought forward promptly forthwith in the House of Commons to set aside “April 12th as an Annual Day for a National Dialogue on Ending Racism in Canada

Further; that a bill be introduced and put forward, in this 41st Parliament, as a way to institutionalize a Government of Canada commitment toward the eradication of Racism in this country.”

In this Twenty-First Century, Canada is known to many as a very beautiful, safe country in which to thrive and raise families. Another reality experienced by far too many, is the corrosive and complex anomaly: Racism.

Racism is often overlooked and underrated as a major societal ill. It has plagued this country for decades. There is no argument; racism must be eradicatedAs much as racism is evidenced by its destructive impacts, there currently exists no national strategy to deal with this malady. All citizens and visitors to this land deserve a society free from racism.

Background: it is clear that racism takes aim at all ethnic groups in this country. In fact, this being Black History Month in Canada, we are reminded that racism is a reality that is often ignored. In a recent article on February 6th 2015, Huffington Post contributor Adriana Addai describes:

“We like to think that racism is only a problem south of the border; one that “enlightened” Canadian society has moved past. We often fail to address Canada’s bleak history of slavery (which did in fact exist in this country for upwards of 150 years), and the implicit and systemic racism that many Afro-Canadians encounter today.”

Truth be told; many cultures and ethnic groups that seek to affix to the mosaic of Canada’s multi-culturist society, face racism on a daily basis and have faced it for many years.

What complicates racism in this country is that its effects are often compounded by attitudes and values that re-enforce the violence of racism, making worse issues such as gender inequality and discrimination in institutions.

The call for an Inquiry to the Issues of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womenis just one glaring example that could prove to be one of Canada’s ugliest forms of racism stemming from decades of ‘systemic’ and ‘institutional racism.’ It is commonly known by experts that definitions of racism fall into one of the five categories – biology, ideology, culture, structure and power. It is highly suspected that these categories will have a role in coming to a clearer understanding as to why 1,181 Indigenous women and girls have went missing or have tragically turned up dead in Canada.

First Nations and the History of the Indian Act: written and oral history in Canada tells us of a time after contact when Europeans and the Indigenous Peoples co-existed through the treaty-making process. Prior to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, Peace and Friendship Treaties would historically set an important under-fabric on what is now known as Canada and the British North American Act, 1867 and the Canadian Constitution of 1982. The time period of treaty-making between 1763 and 1923 became very corrupted by the development of the only “race-based” legislation known to Canada; the Indian Act, 1876. Various policies as well as state and church initiatives that were focused on dealing with the “Indian Problem” focused on the Indian Acts primary objective – to assimilate the “Indian” into Canadian society.

This segment of Canada’s history takes place at a time when “nation building” was at the forefront of this country’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A MacDonald. In a Friday January 9, 2015 Toronto Star story by Laura J Murray, she publishes the following:

“That famous railroad? Macdonald engaged in rampant graft to get it through. His government starved aboriginal people on the prairies into submission to get it through. His government treated Chinese immigrants like dirt to get it through, and then came up with a head tax so more people of that “semi-barbaric, inferior race” couldn’t come to Canada.”

This letter is not intended to recount the lengthy history of racism in Canada and the treatment against land’s Indigenous Peoples. We can all agree that racism exists in Canada, and to deny this is the put our heads in the sand. It should be stated that this petition is not only made legitimate by the historical treatment against First Nation people, there also exists a number of systemic policies, programs, imposed legislations and institutional violations that are characteristic of racism.  In an excerpt from the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society of Canada Annual Report 2011/2012;

In February of 2007, the AFN ( and the Caring Society filed a human rights case against the Government of Canada (Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada or AANDC), alleging that child welfare funding inequities in First Nations child welfare amounted to racial discrimination. The case was filed as a last resort. First Nations had worked with Canada for over a decade to document the inequality and its related harms to First Nations children and families and to develop solutions to fix the problem.

This is just one issue among a long list of grievances that First Nations currently have in the media, in petitions for equitable funding, and before formal tribunals, courts, and international forums mandated for the protection of human rights. Canada, it is time to address racism as the common denominator  in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples., Racism is still alive and well, especially in light of the fact that Canada’s Indian Act 1876, continues its function in Canadian society; to segregate a race of people on lands with administrative and colonial controls over their lives.

A New Narrative is an obvious goal where Canada and Indigenous Peoples could convene a “National Dialogue on Ending Racism in Canada – a Path toward Healing.” This would begin the important work of re-setting the relationship that is consistent with that of “The Peace and Friendship Treaties,” and ultimately bring a stronger nationwide focus on strategies to begin the arduous task of affecting the root causes of racism and its effects. Recognition of the role of Indigenous People in this process would also formally bring into focus other important elements to the broader solutions like Indigenous languages, jurisdictions, and a shared expression in the Nation-to-Nation relationship with Canada as full treaty partners.

There is much work and coordination needed on a number of levels; however the focus is to begin the process. Federal Parliamentarians are being asked to support this call and support it unanimously. Leading up to April 12, 2015, which is the preferred annual day to be set-aside for an “Annual day for a National Dialogue on Ending Racism in Canada,” a team will be established to work directly with those parliamentarians who will be responsible for advancing this Private members Bill and associated Motion.


Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini
Serpent River First Nation

Council of the Federation
Assembly of First Nations
Aboriginal Organizations in Canada

Zara shows leadership, apologizes, removes offensive product

Zara_NativeAmerican_BeddingSetI have received a response from ZaraHOME regarding my concern over the sale of their “Native American Bedding Set”.  It was send corporately from their Customer Service Department but they do want to speak to me in person.  The produce is still online, but they did commit to removing it.  To me, this is a very encouraging response from a company who appears to care about the views of their customers.  I wish that was the case with other companies.  When I speak to them, I will also talk to them about point of sale tax exemptions, and perhaps working with First Nations designers.

Please resume shopping with Zara.  Making changes, one company, one person at a time.  Miigwetch for your support on this campaign.

Here is our e-mail exchange:

From: Goulais, Bob
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 12:19 PM
To: Zara Home Canada
Subject: Zara Home Case ID:874 (#8629-424627490-2867)

Good day:

Thank you do much for your reply and kind consideration. I really appreciate you listening to my views and the concerns of some of our First Nations people. I certainly appreciate that your designers and buyers may not understand of appreciate why our people take such offence to these kinds of products that depict our people in such a stereotypical way. It is truly hurtful, especially for our children. Your ability to apologize, reach out and take action is admirable and the right thing to do. Your action of removing the bed linen collection shows you respect your customers and our culture. Please pass on my personal thanks and appreciation to your management team. Your leadership in this matter is exemplary.

Miigwetch (thank you).

Bob Goulais
Nipissing First Nation
(416) 770-8567

From: Zara Home Canada
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 11:16 AM
To: Goulais, Bob
Subject: Zara Home Case ID:874 (#8629-424627490-2867)

Dear Mr. Goulais,

Thank you so much for your email. Customer’s opinions like yours help us to improve constantly. And in this case let us thank you for sharing your opinion with regard to this bedding collection of Zara Home.
As you say in your kind email, the collection aims to be a celebration of the beauty heritage of America, and let us add in a very naive way. First Nation is an integral and important part of your history and culture. The designs wanted to be a tribute to the First Nation people and a symbol of the America history. The images try to show the music, traditions and culture of the First Nation people – let us insist on this, in a very naive and warm way for children. We deeply apologize if it has been misinterpreted or if it could be perceived as offensive. We would be pleased to contact you by phone personally, should you allow us to reach you. We would call you to a number that you could kindly indicate us to share with you these point of views about what the designers had in mind with this Zara Home Kids Collection.
Having said that, we really appreciate your opinion so we are proceeding to remove the bed linen collection you referred from our website and stores.

Please do not hesitate in contacting us should you need anything from us.

Best regards,

Customer Service Department


RESOLVED! I was shopping online for a kids bedding set… & you wouldn’t believe what I found at Zara

UPDATE May 21, 2014 – This issue has been resolved.  Please see the response from ZaraHOME.

Our good friend Saga was doing some online shopping tonight and came upon the Zara Canada website.  Zara is an emerging retailer in Ontario.  They launched their Zara Canada online in 2013, and opened their flagship store at Yorkdale in Toronto.  The Spanish company has hundreds of stores worldwide.  As Saga was going through the Zara Home Kids section, she came upon the bedding section.  Her reaction, my wife’s reaction and my reaction were all the same.


The “Native American Bedding Set” is the most offensive, stereotypical item I have ever come across. It is on sale at Zara Home Kids.

OMG!  That’s unbelievable!  Shock!  Anger!  Sadness!  That is patently offensive! Did you have the same reaction just now?

Don’t believe me?  Here’s the link.

This “Native American Bedding” set, marketed to parents for their innocent but trendy children, features caricatures of the most negatively stereotypical nature. Cartoon representations of indigenous people in various states of pre-colonial dress, depicted in various activities.  The bedding set features totem poles, feathers, drums, Indians dancing around fires, riding horses, complete with headdresses, dreamcatchers, teepees, bows and arrows, tribal symbols and a sacred bird or two.

It absolutely makes sense that this is bedding because it sure seems like some slapping-the-mouth war-hoot, Sal-Mineo-Indian Brave, stereotyping nightmare of unmatched proportions!

To make matters worse, it’s intended for the enjoyment and delight of children.  CHILDREN!  What in the blazing, banana #&%$ are some people teaching their kids????  It’s mortifying.

I have no doubt in my mind that the kids that grow up with this bedding set will not to have any real respect or appreciation of our beautiful culture or see First Nations as persons, families and nations.  They’ll grow up thinking how great it is to “honour” us by wearing their Cleveland Indians ball caps and Washington Redskins NFL jerseys.  They will be the same people that debate our rights amongst themselves and write anonymous comments under online newspaper articles.  Sadly, they will also raise more kids with the same outlook and regard as their parents who bought them the Zara Native American Bedding set. Don’t let your kids miss out on appreciating various beautiful culture by using bedding sets from Zara. Follow the url and get the best review on mattresses to be able to make an informed decision.

They don’t realize that we are real people with real feelings.  I am a Anishinaabe. Hath not a Anishinaabe eyes? Hath not a Anishinaabe hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons?

My feeling quite hurt right now.  I’m have genuine pain lamenting on how far we haven’t really come in 500 years.  That there are people in this world that just don’t understand that stereotypes and ignorance of this kind is wrong.  That is it hurtful.

I’m envisioning the proud little owner of this sheet set, so happy and thrilled looking at the little Indians playing on his bed-linens.  His imagination takes him to a time, long ago, where his little Indian friends danced, in sight of cowboys and buffalo on the great plains.  As he readies for bed, he turns to his  visiting friend that he invited for a sleepover. It took some time to choose mattress for the guest. A little Anishinaabe, Onkwehonwe, Cree, Mi’kmaq, Dene, or Dakota boy.  He might be your son, grandson, nephew, little cousin or the boy next door.  He’s proud of his heritage but afraid to say anything – confused about why he’s feeling ashamed…

Something has to be been done.  See here.

We have to hold these retailers, manufacturers and designers to account for the decisions they make.  This type of imagery no longer has a place in our society.  It certainly has no place in our children’s bedrooms.

Don’t just boycott Zara.  Let them know how you feel.  Write them a letter or e-mail.  Stop by the Zara store and voice your concern with the manager.  Share this blog post with your friends.  Leave a comment.  Make it abundantly clear that this kind of stereotypical product is offensive and absolutely not acceptable.

Please write:

Maribel Santos, Managing Director
Zara Canada
200 McGill College Av., Suite 1550
Montreal, Quebec
H3B 4G7

Phone: (514) 868-1516
Fax: (514) 868-1522

Click here to send Zara a note.

Racism on the TTC

“Circle the wagons.  The Injuns are comin’.”

Those seven words set off a cascade of feelings like a row of neatly placed dominos, toppled one after another.

My experience yesterday took place on the TTC.  The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has to be one of the most diverse environments in the city.  From TTC employees to TTC riders – an Anishinaabe can get lost among the beautiful brown faces.  It’s certainly not the place where one would expect to encounter an overtly racist comment – from a TTC employee no less.

But there I was – rushing to get to work and running a little late.  I bound down the stairs at Yonge-Bloor Station just missing the southbound subway.  I have about a minute before the next train arrives so I walk down to the end of the platform.

I stroll briskly down the platform thinking about the Billy Joel interview I had just heard on the Howard Stern Show.  Needless to say, I’m in a great mood.

As I cross the half-way mark down the platform, I hear two things.  First, I hear the train nearing the station behind me.  Second, I hear the laughter and carrying on from two uniformed TTC platform monitors.  These are the guys in the big burgundy TTC coats and the reflective safety singlet.  They are responsible for my safety and well-being.

Then I hear those seven words, from the white guy to his buddy, in a faux-southern drawl of a cowboy:

“Circle the wagons.  The Injuns are comin’.”  Then some laughter from the two men.

My immediate reaction was to smile and keep walking.  Then I make the realization of what I experienced.  Racism.

As I make the realization – I have to make the choice.  Do I shrug it off and keep walking?  Or do I stop, cause a scene and make a complaint?  I am already late for work.  So I decide to shrug if off.  After all – he was just trying to be funny.  We are subject to racial humour everyday – on TV, film even the aforementioned Howard Stern Show.  Besides, he was carrying on with his TTC buddy – who is laughing in hysterics.

I get on the train.

As the subway door closes, it immediately starts gnawing at me.  I regret my decision.  I’m riding the train looking at all those around me.  All those beautiful brown faces – who probably didn’t hear what I heard.  I’m thinking they are probably subject to their own forms of racism and everyday comments.  As I pass station-to-station, those thoughts and feelings fill my chest.

I should have said something.

But isn’t that always the case?  I’ve experienced similar situations and comments in the past.  Sometimes I choose to address it and correct it. Other times, I’m consumed by my own conflict and fear.  Sometimes I’m just not brave enough to say something.  Sometimes I’m more concerned about the offenders… getting them in trouble, or fired and what-not.

Later that morning, I arrive at Queen’s Park for the Louis Riel Day commemoration.  Ironically, the ceremony takes place in front of an official monument commemorating Ontario’s participation in the Northwest Rebellion and the various battles against the Métis resistance.  Speaker after speaker talk about racism, stereotypes and inequality.  A young Métis woman speaks about the shame that is still harboured in her family for being Aboriginal.  I’m so moved by her words, I blurt it out my experience to my friend Saga and then to her colleague Tamar.

At first there is laughter.  But then the stark realization of what it is.  They are mortified over the incident.  The fact that it was a TTC employee demands that it should be reported.  Unfortunately, I chose to leave hurt, beaten, regretful, angry… a victim among a sea of victims.

Those seven words, uttered for comedic affect, have such a profound effect.  Quite different from the seven words that we should all be living by:  Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, Truth, Wisdom.  These are those gifts provided to us by the Seven Grandfathers.

Racism is alive and well.  Those of us in the minority are well aware of it.  Even in a multi-cultural environment of the great city of Toronto.  Deep in the bowels of the TTC – is an ugly monster that so many choose to ignore.

Why I’m an angry Native

By Jessica Lee

Right now I’m owning the title/stereotype/image/whatever you conjure up in your mind about “angry Natives” because along with the usual colonial-type affronts to our people and communities, there are some notable racist extremities happening across Canada as of late. Initially I felt like there was just way too much going on to even write a single post about – but I thought to at least round up a few of the points of why I’m so flippin’, screaming, ANGRY that may shed light on what some of you may not be aware of yet. And we also need y’all to do something about this stuff in your communities too:


  • The continuous denial of racism towards Aboriginal people in the education system. A new study from the Canadian Teacher’s Federation interviewed 59 Aboriginal teachers teaching in public schools throughout the country. The teachers reported a disregard for their qualifications and capabilities, a standard lowered expectation from Aboriginal students; and general disparage of the long-lasting effects of colonization.
  • The “Free Native Extraction Service” placed on the (of course taken down now) advertising that it could “get rid of those pesky buggers with extraction services to relocate them to their habitat.” To top it off they actually illegally used a photo in their advertisement from the Native Lens Film “March Point” which I wrote about here some months back – which is, incidentally, a film about environmental justice and what Native youth are doing positively in our communities.
  • Tuberculosis is 185 times higher in the Inuit population than in the rest of Canada. I repeat 185 times the national average – according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.  The recently released data from their Tuberculosis in Canada 2008 publication shows these appalling numbers contributing factors include “inadequate housing, as a result of both overcrowding and construction ill suited to the Arctic climate, and immune systems severely compromised by a general lack of healthy, affordable food’.”
  • Harmonized Sales Tax or HST coming to the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario. Not that the government ignoring treaties is news by any stretch of the mind – however this is a big one to throw out the door of rights. The imposition of HST means that instead of seeing 8 per cent provincial Retail Sales Tax (RST or PST) and 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST), consumers will pay a combined 13 per cent HST. Yet for the first time since the introduction of the provincial sales tax, HST means status First Nations will be subject to the 8 per cent portion of the tax. This is a total and blatant violation of our treaty rights, not to mention the Canadian Constitution. This is a good article to find out more and you can go here to do something about it.
  • Massive cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, along with other insulting highlights from the Throne Speech, which is essentially an outline of the Canadian federal government’s budget. (Sign the online petition to reinstate funding here.) The Aboriginal Healing Foundation has provided support to residential school survivors and their families for a decade, in addition to funding major projects in communities across the country. My colleagues and friends at the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal and Inuvialuit Regional Corp in the Northwest Territories will have to axe some of their most necessary programs like health promotion and community wellness worker certification. In total it means 134 community projects across Canada will no longer provide culturally-based healing services to Aboriginal people. Oh sure Harper said he was “sorry” for residential schools in 2008, but just last year he said that Canada has no history of colonialism, so I guess this is right in line with the$199 million promised to address the legacy of residential schools not being committed to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. But don’t worry, in this same speech they said that Canada thinks the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women is a “pressing criminal justice priority.” Uh-huh.
  • All of the racist garbage  and lateral violence people are spewing on the internet and in person about the proposed changes to Indian Status which would restore treaty rights to about 45 000 people. This decision is based mostly off of the Sharon McIvor court case, which addressed the specific gender discrimination of the Indian Act where even after the laws were changed in 1985 to restore status to Native women who lost it if they married a non-Native man, it didn’t extend past the children of those unions.  However the new changes would now extend to grandchildren. I definitely don’t think the government should be able to regulate who is and is not considered “status”, but I don’t anymore appreciate the internalized racism that we are doing to each other by adding extra jumps and hoops to go through within the community for who is really recognized as having rights on reserve and who is not.
  • These are just some of the latest oppressive occurrences against Indigenous people in Canada. On the regular I suppose I’ll also mention since it was International Women’s Day week last week, I didn’t find it any easier to get chastised by white women at the many events I spoke at when I brought up the mostly white academic industrial complex that mainstream feminism still lies in, and really doesn’t appear to care about the origins in Indigenous societies or the realities of Indigenous women for that matter – up until now (well, sort of) since we’re all of a sudden making the media with the thousands of us being murdered and going missing.

But it’s been going on for the last 500+ years, anyways.

Another racist video from northwestern Ontario

Yet another cell-phone amateur video has surfaced from northwestern Ontario that features, not only lateral violence against First Nations, but the racist face of malicious youth.

The videos depicts First Nations people, some poor and homeless in Kenora, and also features a video of an inebriated man being arrested by Kenora police.

The video is tasteless and shows the underlying racism of the youth videographers and quite possibly, their hatred of their First Nations neighbours.  The videographers feel superior to their filmed subjects.  Plain and simple, the video is meant to degrade all First Nations people and humiliate and ridicule some innocent, vulnerable people.

The video was obviously made by youth as it features one of their stars, a teenage skateboarder doing tricks.  The people taking the video seem to be known to the community, due to the reactions they get from seemly normal folks on the streets of Kenora and outside the local shopping centre.  (They are ‘flipped the bird’ twice during the course of the short video.)

It brings to mind the Fort Frances video.  It was almost two years ago when a half-a-dozen, equally bright girls from a local hockey team, decided in their wisdom to upload their parody of sacred Anishinaabe dancing to YouTube.  The underage girls, drunk as skunks, were forming their version of pow-wow dancing for the world to see.

But this is much more personal for those people depicted in the video.

These people may very well be at lowest points of their lives.  Some are dealing with the demons of addictions – others are poor and homeless.  They needn’t be ridiculed or filmed without their permission.

But it isn’t just the homeless.  Some are just people walking down the street or hanging out together.

One Anishinaabe man is simply enjoying a bag of popcorn for God’s sakes.  But because he’s Anishinaabek, he is being ridiculed for no apparent reason.  That easily could have been me.  Would the video be so funny if it was a middle-aged white man was walking, content and carefree, eating his popcorn snack?  I don’t think so.

This leads me to believe that they weren’t targeting the homeless, they were targeting First Nation people.

This is infuriating.

There isn’t any question, we are dealing with racism.  Even the name of the Youtube member “like9jews” may be anti-semetic.

The authorities need to find the producer of this video and their cohorts and investigate them for any hate crimes.  Have these people gone further in their hate for First Nations people?  Should they be exposed so the community knows who they are and can protect themselves from this type of lateral violence.

It’s when racism become overt, like in the case of these YouTube videos, that it becomes concerning.  When does lateral violence become actual violence?  In addition to their cell phone, do they have AR-10 rifles in their truck?

The local First Nations should step in and take the producers to court, no matter their age, to hold them accountable for the hurt they are causing these individuals who are depicted and the pain they are causing the broader Anishinaabe community.

Racism is a learned behaviour and it isn’t taught at school.  Let me place the blame where it belongs – the parents.  Perhaps these parents need to know where their kids are and what they’re doing – just like the parents of the infamous Fort Frances girls.  However, these youth appear a little older than the teenie-bopper racists.

As I stated two years ago, this is a symptom and a greater problem in the Kenora and Fort Frances areas.  First Nations are subject to racism quite often.  To their credit, the local Council and First Nations governments have taken steps to raise awareness and counter these types of situations.  But there is a still a lot of work to do.

Racism is no longer socially accepted and very often lies dormant.  But it manifests itself in contemporary stereotypes, ignorance.  Believe me, I will get many e-mails and responses in defence of youth, the videographers and their parents.  Many will deflect the issue and even accuse me of racism.  All are symptoms of underlying, dormant racism.

It’s in those private conversations, at home, with their spouses and children, at the dinner table or before bed, where the real racism will show it’s ugly head.