Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand it

Governments will only do the right thing if we, as Canadians, demand it

Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand itI try to be optimistic and embrace the truth that “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.” When I examine how the Canadian government treats Indigenous children, however, it’s hard not to be cynical. I began teaching my Social Justice 12 unit on residential schools by watching Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology…

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation well-intentioned but hollow

The transition from symbolism to action will be more difficult than Canadians imagine

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation well-intentioned but hollowCanada’s first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation fell far short of expectations. The continuing pandemic did not help, nor did the unevenness of the holiday/commemoration across the country. As expected, most Canadians who had a day off used it as personal time. Only a small number took the opportunity to engage with Indigenous peoples…

Burning churches, toppling statues won’t ease the pain

And may make the situation worse

Burning churches, toppling statues won’t ease the painIn July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the arson and vandalism of Catholic churches across Canada in the wake of discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential schools. After more than 1,100 unmarked graves were discovered at the sites of schools previously run by the Catholic Church in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, protests erupted. Statues…

Systemic racism is embedded in our economy

We pass laws for unjust taxes, reward unscrupulous businesses and hold money back from our children

Systemic racism is embedded in our economyIn a 2016 interview, CBC journalist Peter Mansbridge confronted children’s advocate Dr. Cindy Blackstock with this statement regarding public funding for Indigenous programs: “Billions of dollars have been spent in trying to come to grips with the situation that so many Indigenous Canadians face. And of those billions, it’s on the record that some of…

Protecting the most vulnerable from the coming energy crisis

We're deluded if we believe that the consequences will only be borne by workers in the oil and gas sector

Protecting the most vulnerable from the coming energy crisisShortly before the election was called, the federal government launched an engagement process to determine how Canadians want to implement a 'Just Transition' to a net-zero carbon economy. To the government, this means developing supports for the oil and gas workers whose livelihoods are being impacted by domestic climate policies. A 'Just Transition Advisory Body'…

If you voted for Trudeau and you’re angry about Tofino, you’re a hypocrite

Our surfer boy PM has been a national and international embarrassment since 2015

If you voted for Trudeau and you’re angry about Tofino, you’re a hypocriteWhen Justin Trudeau was first elected prime minister in 2015, there were political issues he said he wanted to tackle immediately. One of his earliest priorities was a desire to repair Canada's fractious relationship with the Indigenous community. "It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples," he told some Quebec-based First…

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliation

We must educate the many Canadians who don’t know what happened to our Indigenous neighbours

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliationI’ve been teaching high school students about Canada’s residential schools for a number of years. Indigenous content has recently been given a more prominent place in the British Columbia curriculum, and this has had an impact. Students now come to my class with some understanding of this tragic chapter in our history, and we’re able…

Five things we all need to know about reconciliation in health care

First Indigenous president of the Canadian Medical Association speaks about what it will take to overcome inequities

Five things we all need to know about reconciliation in health careOn Canada’s newly-declared National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we asked Dr. Alika Lafontaine to take stock of the state of reconciliation in health care. Lafontaine, an anesthesiologist at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Grande Prairie and associate clinical professor in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, was recently chosen as the…

How did we make reconciliation about white folks?

Many of the educational efforts associated with reconciliation are targeted at non-Indigenous peoples

How did we make reconciliation about white folks?Something strange has been happening on the road to true reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission produced clear recommendations on how the country could shed the bitter legacy of Indigenous residential schools. Yet, following revelations about gravesites near formal residential schools, the process seems to have morphed into measures designed to serve…

Exploring bee behaviour opens new career possibilities

Tianna Tanasichuk's internship was a chance to gain experience – not learn about herself

Exploring bee behaviour opens new career possibilitiesWorking in the sunshine, surrounded by the soft hum of a dozen beehives this summer, Tianna Tanasichuk couldn’t help thinking of her recently passed Métis great-grandmother. “Whenever I was working with the bees, I felt like if she was here, she’d be proud of me, knowing I took this risk, of trying to grow by…

What can we expect from our leaders on Indigenous issues?

The parties' records over the last 13 years are revealing

What can we expect from our leaders on Indigenous issues?If Canadians are as concerned as they claim about the increasing number of unmarked graves found near former residential schools, the 2021 federal election will be pivotal. Each of the major political parties displays a clear track record exposing their views on Indigenous issues, domestically and abroad. The residential school apology on June 11, 2008,…

Understanding treaties is essential to reconciliation

Indigenous peoples agreed to share the land – with conditions. It’s important that we learn and talk about what that means

Understanding treaties is essential to reconciliationMy husband and I grew up in families that hunted wild game, mainly moose, for our primary meat source. So, it is no surprise that our children grew up hunting and eating wild game. Now our six-year-old grandson is learning the importance of our interconnectedness to our four-legged relative, the moose, and to the land.…

How to be a better treaty person

No two treaty agreements are alike, but all of them offer a lot to the people who reside on treaty territory

How to be a better treaty personMost Indigenous people know that their ancestors envisioned a strong future for them through treaty negotiations, says Chelsea Vowel, an assistant lecturer at the U of A’s Faculty of Native Studies. And many Indigenous people have signed treaties, which describe how they can live together in a good way with settler society (descendants of European…

What if money is not the answer for Indigenous communities?

The feds tend to use money as a surrogate to real commitment

What if money is not the answer for Indigenous communities?The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made extraordinary financial commitments to Indigenous peoples in Canada. The number and scale of the allocations over the past few years have been staggering, both in comparative and absolute terms. Last week, the federal government and First Nations reached an agreement on water supplies on reserves, estimated…

The questions left unasked about Indigenous deaths

Including: how was it possible for these deaths to occur without anyone noticing?

The questions left unasked about Indigenous deathsMelissa Mollen-Dupuis and I don’t know each other but we appear to share similar thoughts on the journalism around Kamloops, B.C. and the discovery of an unmarked grave containing remains of Indigenous children. In an interview with Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper recently, Mollen-Dupuis was sharply critical of media response to the shocking news that ground-penetrating…
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