Canada’s race problem? It’s even worse than America’s.


Reblog of an article in MacLean’s Magazine from January 22, 2015

For a country so self-satisfied with its image of progressive tolerance, how is this not a national crisis?

By Scott Gilmore January 22, 2015

The racial mess in the United States looks pretty grim and is painful to watch. We can be forgiven for being quietly thankful for Canada’s more inclusive society, which has avoided dramas like that in Ferguson, Mo. We are not the only ones to think this. In the recently released Social Progress Index, Canada is ranked second amongst all nations for its tolerance and inclusion.

Unfortunately, the truth is we have a far worse race problem than the United States. We just can’t see it very easily.

Terry Glavin, recently writing in the Ottawa Citizen, mocked the idea that the United States could learn from Canada’s example when it comes to racial harmony. To illustrate his point, he compared the conditions of the African-American community to Canada’s First Nations. If you judge a society by how it treats its most disadvantaged, Glavin found us wanting. Consider the accompanying table. By almost every measurable indicator, the Aboriginal population in Canada is treated worse and lives with more hardship than the African-American population. All these facts tell us one thing: Canada has a race problem, too.

How are we not choking on these numbers? For a country so self-satisfied with its image of progressive tolerance, how is this not a national crisis? Why are governments not falling on this issue?

RELATED: Welcome to Winnipeg: Where Canada’s racism problem is at its worst

Possibly it is because our Fergusons are hidden deep in the bush, accessible only by chartered float plane: 49 per cent of First Nations members live on remote reserves. Those who do live in urban centres are mostly confined to a few cities in the Prairies. Fewer than 40,000 live in Toronto, not even one per cent of the total population of the Greater Toronto Area. Our racial problems are literally over the horizon, out of sight and out of mind.

CHARTS_MAC04 Gilmore

Or it could be because we simply do not see the forest for trees. We are distracted by the stories of corrupt band councils, or flooded reserves, or another missing Aboriginal woman. Some of us wring our hands, and a handful of activists protest. There are a couple of unread op-eds, and maybe a Twitter hashtag will skip around for a few days. But nothing changes. Yes, we admit there is a governance problem on the reserves. We might agree that “something” should be done about the missing and murdered women. In Ottawa a few policy wonks write fretful memos on land claims and pipelines. But collectively, we don’t say it out loud: “Canada has a race problem.”

If we don’t have a race problem then what do we blame? Our justice system, unable to even convene Aboriginal juries? Band administrators, like those in Attawapiskat, who defraud their own people? Our health care system that fails to provide Aboriginal communities with health outcomes on par with El Salvador? Politicians too craven to admit the reserve system has failed? Elders like Chief Ava Hill, cynically willing to let a child die this week from treatable cancer in order to promote Aboriginal rights? Aboriginal people themselves for not throwing out the leaders who serve them so poorly? Police forces too timid to grasp the nettle and confront unbridled criminality like the organized drug-smuggling gangs in Akwesasne? Federal bureaucrats for constructing a $7-billion welfare system that doesn’t work? The school system for only graduating 42 per cent of reserve students? Aboriginal men, who have pushed their community’s murder rate past Somalia’s? The media for not sufficiently or persistently reporting on these facts?

Or: us? For not paying attention. For believing our own hype about inclusion. For looking down our noses at America and ignorantly thinking, “That would never happen here.” For not acknowledging Canada has a race problem.

We do and it is bad. And it is not just with the Aboriginal peoples. For new immigrants and the black community the numbers are not as stark, but they tell a depressingly similar story.

If we want to fix this, the first step is to admit something is wrong. Start by saying it to yourself, but say it out loud: “Canada has a race problem.”

21 thoughts on “Canada’s race problem? It’s even worse than America’s.

  1. Myth debunked! It has always been hard for me to believe how a country can be so inclusive for all races while most others struggle. I don’t think the stats would look great for expats from developing world either!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pingback: Canada’s race problem? It’s even worse than America’s. – The Philosophical Hack

  3. ….my father homesteaded in Alberta before it had become a Province. As German Canadians, they were ostracized during both wars for speaking German in the home, and Alberta passed anti-German laws and created ‘enemy alien’ internment camps. At the first opportunity, he left Canada (‘that racist country’) for the U.S.A., this, after taming the wilderness, turning it into the largest farm in the area, and building a new church, with my grandfather serving as a city counsellor.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I compared it with Australian Aboriginals. They are worse for unemployment rate (18.4%, 2.7x national average), income ($A23,000, 47% of national income) and incarceration rate (2,536 or 11.6x average); better for homicide rate (c.4 though 5 times higher than general rate) and infant mortality (5 or 50% higher than general rate); and much worse for life expectancy (60 or 71% of average) and high school dropout rate (53% or 3.5x national average).

    It is somewhat mixed but generally better for New Zealand Maoris. Their unemployment is 10.8% (2.2x average), median income is $NZ22,500 (79% of average), incarceration is 704 (5.7x average), homicide is 3 (2.3x average), infant mortality is 4.9 (1.3x average) and life expectancy is 75 (91% of average). I found a high school dropout rate of 23% but not a coparable overall one.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Our history with our indigenous people is a very sad one . The fact that many reservations do not have potable water is just appalling. That may seem like a minor issue relative to the residential schools etc but to me that is such a basic human right that it speaks volumes.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is a well written article. Calling out racism is something everyone can do. But it is often hidden and difficult for people to express succinctly. But nothing is hidden for long. No one can ignore racism any longer. Even though there are laws of “equality” and ” anti-discrimination” these laws do not protect minority groups, the disabled, the elderly, or people of colour. I enjoyed reading your article. Have you considered applying to The Guardian or other newspaper Editor to have it published for a wider audience? Everyone should read it. Thank you for writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Races are different. We have different tendencies. My mother is part African, I only inherited a small amount. It’s up to all of us to keep trying. We are all raised differently as well no matter what our race. Some people seriously don’t stand a chance in hell unless someone gives it to them. Most don’t care. Some will be ugly & hate filled no matter how good their lives are, no matter who helps them. I have known many people of all races my entire life & most of us all got along great, the people I would associate with were great. I have no dealings with hate filled, lazy, people with issues they wouldn’t let me help with even if I could. There will always be problems in this world. Somewhere along the line people started getting the impression that life was supposed to revolve around them. Also the media rhetoric is so far from truth that it makes people angry & feel left out, under privileged, making them act out in jealousy against others that have families that take care of one another & love one another. There will never be a cure for stupidity, hate or jealousy in our world & that’s why we were supposed to have developed a society where everyone did have a chance. Where there was justice & mercy. There was more of this when there were more Christians (real ones) before we allowed “liberal ideology” that was the last thing from liberal. It was a hate agenda & we are seeing this now more than ever.

    Like

  8. Fascinating post!

    Regarding the situation with Canada’s First Nations, I have talked to a Canadian who was an Ice Road trucker who used to deliver food to the First Nations people in the more remote and colder parts of northern Canada.

    Like

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