A PASSIVE listener of CBC radio as I am (it is on when my partner is home, and off when she isn’t), I first heard of the Government’s surveillance of native youth advocate Cindy Blackstock via the program The Current.
Tag Archives: Canada
As Tibet Burns
I‘LL WAGER that you weren’t informed of it by the media, but it happens that yesterday was the Global Day of Action undertaken by the International Campaign for Tibet. I was on Parliament Hill in Ottawa when a large crowd assembled and marched down Elgin Street in a desperate effort to raise awareness here in Canada of China’s official policy of slow-motion genocide.
Canadians need to educate themselves about indigenous peoples
TOMORROW MORNING I will get on an airplane and fly to Halifax, where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is hosting its latest gathering. Already the event has produced headline material, derived from the statement yesterday of University of Manitoba President, David Barnard. Toronto Star Reporter Louise Brown characterizes this apology to Aboriginal people “an unusual move,” and so it is. Yet Canada’s universities, and indeed the entire education system, have good reason to feel the bite of conscience. Please allow me to expand upon that theme.
Watch Yourself, Canada
ABOVE THE fold of October 4th’s Globe and Mail there was featured a piece by the fine journalist Steven Chase, “Military intelligence unit keeps watch on native groups.” A more candid and accurate phrasing (Chase, not a writer given to mealy-mouthing, is not responsible for the headline) would be “Canada is spying on indigenous people.”
Linda Sobeh Ali and the Mediocrity of Palestinian Leadership
IT HAPPENS that I today regard the sudden retraction from Canadian soil of Linda Sobeh Ali, the Palestinian chargé d’affaires, as someone who has spent a number of years working in communications and public relations. In my profession — which has among other things interpolated me between and among differing cultures — I’ve had to pay due attention to protocol. I like to think I’m reasonably good at this delicate work and that I can smell from a distance those who are not. And at this moment I rather detect the aroma of amateurism on the air.
Commemorating The War of 1812
THERE IS a debate these days in the Canadian media over the Harper Government decision to spend a yet-undetermined sum (I’ve come across an amount of twelve or-so million dollars) commemorating the War of 1812. I expect the Americans will overlook this bit of their history, but I’m unable to imagine any Canadian government ignoring the two-hundred-year anniversary of a war that could have converted Upper and Lower Canada into the coldest states of the Union.
Remembering Jack Layton: 1950-2011
I WAS INFORMED of the death earlier this morning of Federal New Democratic Party leader, Jack Layton, by Twitter. There, in an uninterrupted chain of entries numbering in the dozens (and perhaps into the hundreds: I gave up counting) were expressions of sorrow. Never have I seen such universalism of sentiment, such spontaneous participation in a mood which appears to have touched everyone, really everyone, down to a person.
How to Look at Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Archive
Photo: Rupert’s Land Indian Industrial School / later St. Paul’s Indian Residential School, 1901. Library and Archives Canada PA-182251.
WITH VERY few exceptions, the men and women who created and sustained Canada’s Indian Residential School System believed that the policy of “aggressive assimilation”* was benevolent and forward-looking. The absorption of the Indian into Canadian society, necessary to possess land and resources and to build a nation-state, was the desired outcome of policies and the final solution of the Indian Problem envisioned by Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott. The policy of assimilation neither began nor ended with the Indian Residential School System. The program of assimilation continues to this day, for the simple reason that nation-building, from sea to shining sea, continues.
The Harper Government: Merchants of Death
LOOK OUT the window of my Elgin and Albert Streets office, one block south of Parliament Hill in Canada’s Capital, and you will see before you a building in part reduced to rubble. The reason is that this Government of Canada edifice contains asbestos, or as it is now more commonly known, chrysotile. Across the city and the nation, this poisonous stuff is being extirpated. And, at the same time, the current Prime Minister of Canada is actively abroad promoting its sale, in what are euphemistically termed developing countries. If that in itself is of insufficient force to turn your stomach, please do yourself the favour of reading on, for there’s more.
John Baird Raises His Red Lantern
It appears (to me at least) that the Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, is learning about the world and its localized histories in public and in real-time. On the first of June, he admitted as much to Canadian Press journalist Bruce Cheadle, saying he was “hazy on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
In Which I Lose My Passport and Very Nearly Also My Mind
I discovered some days ago that my passport wasn’t where I was certain I’d put it. I had just moved one and-a-half miles, crossing the border between Hull, Quebec and Ottawa, Ontario. I needed that passport to transfer my life (car registration, driver’s licence, and other various bits of ID) to my new-old place of residence. No ticket, no laundry. Thus begins what is for me a too-familiar recurring scene, in which yours truly is cast into the leading role of the identification theatre’s latest production.
Continue reading In Which I Lose My Passport and Very Nearly Also My Mind
The Derelict Honourary Chief of the Blood Tribe
It’s been more than a few years now since my afternoon Calgary chat with a Kainai (Blood) acquaintance, but I do remember a bit of the history lesson I received that day. One thing I recall above all else is a sensation of correspondence: the Haudenosaunee have the largest population within Canada’s borders, the Kainai the largest land base; the Haudenosaunee are known to be of an independent cast of mind, so too I gathered from my interlocutor the Kainai. (The name is pronounced “Ken-Eye,” and fittingly means something like Many Chiefs.) I left the conversation that day rather feeling a sense of kinship, which is unusual for me in most any social encounter.
Continue reading The Derelict Honourary Chief of the Blood Tribe
Indian Affairs Gets a Gender Reassignment
I now have unchallengeable objective proof that I’ve lived too long in Ottawa, and it’s this: I caught myself today wondering how the bureaucrats are going to say the new acronym AANDC, the stand-in for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. For over a century, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (known also as the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs) was Diane or Diand, or even at times Diana. Now I imagine it will be Andy or Andick, both of which lead me unavoidably to the conclusion that gender reassignment has taken place and The Man now really is that.
So What If Quebec Separates?
In an astute article of today’s (April 23) National Post, “Liberal remedy to Layton is to look in the mirror,” Kelly McParland writes,
In 21 elections between 1921 and 1993, when the Liberals won it was because of Quebec. They took the overwhelming majority of Quebec seats in every winning campaign, and only once were they popular enough in the rest of the country to have won without Quebec (and even then, in 1935, it would have been iffy). The Liberal party was about keeping Quebec happy; that’s where power lay. It all changed when the Bloc Quebecois came along and stole their meal ticket. Since 1993, when the Liberals win it’s because of Ontario, yet the party has never put the effort into pleasing Ontario that it did into Quebec.
The Sponsorship Scandal Still Matters
One of the very few politically insignificant legacies of the Sponsorship Scandal is that ever since I have been of a sympathetic disposition toward the then Minister of Human Resources Development, Jane Stewart. She more than any politician — and here I include Paul Martin, who clearly was designated by the early-retiring Jean Chrétien as the bag holder — was bespattered by the ill-will which finally brought to an end what seemed the inevitability of Liberal rule in Canada.