Canada has been absorbing this week the revelation of the burials of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential Schools, many of them completely undocumented in our past, and mostly completely unknown to most Canadians. In an important sense every one of these children is a crime victim, the least of which is neglect the most serious of which is genocide. Worst of all, most of us had no clue that this burial ground even existed, although that’s just a little too convenient an excuse.
This week thousands of articles have been written on the subject, news stories broadcast on radio and television. There is much hand wringing and guilty statements about Settler privilege.
What I haven’t heard enough of, or even any of, is the genocide underway in Canada today across the country. Every day children are still being taken away from aboriginal families and forced into “care” where they are neglected, abused and abandoned, with many of these children dying while in care, or shortly after “aging” out of foster care. These kids are removed from families, single parent moms mostly, because of a system that still sees “drunken indians” instead of struggling people who have been largely dispossessed from their tribal history and context by colonial exploitation and continuing subjugation by the settler cultures.
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?
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.
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.”
During this coronavirus I have been pretty much contributing very little or better said, nothing, to the blogosphere about the pandemic, and how it is affecting my life, or for that matter, how it affecting anybody or anything.
It’s not that I don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation. It is that this thing is a really, really big deal, and I don’t want to diminish its importance to anyone by failing to reflect just how important it really is, to me, and to the world around me.
To those out there who believe that the government is overstating the dangers of Covid 19, and they can cheerfully go on about their business without changing anything, well, thanks for less than nothing, since your ignorance may already be having a serious effect on the lives and well being of thousands of people, some right in your own neighbourhoods, some physically a long ways away. Like maybe even in other countries or even continents.
Like it or not, failing to self isolate yourself is reckless endangerment, and potentially, mass suicide/murder.
You see, normally I’m a skeptic when it comes to government health warnings, and generally dismiss most as merely propaganda to serve the interests of an overbearing nanny state.. Not this time, not now and not ever. This virus kills people, lots of people, including people like me, with immune deficits that mean infection will mean a ferocious battle for my very life.
If I’m really lucky, most people in my own area, Vancouver, British Columbia and Metro Vancouver will have been helping the Provincial and Federal governments by isolating themselves at home as much as is humanly possible, and help slow the disease so that by the time I get it, there will still be hospital resources available, and I’ll get whatever it is I need from medical treatment whether it includes Intensive Care, Respirators or other devices. Hopefully there won’t be so many of us sick at one time that the system simply collapses after being overwhelming by the demand created by our citizens being unwilling to do what it takes to flatten the curves, or plank it.
Because isolating ourselves doesn’t necessarily mean that people like me who are vulnerable in the extreme won’t get it. It might, if I get incredibly lucky, and it passes me by. But most scientists believe that eventually this virus will infect somewhere between 50 and 70% of people in the world. The only real question is whether or not society can slow down the spread to give medical professionals and researchers the time to effect solutions that will reduce the numbers of us that are going to die as a direct result of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Even if everybody does everything right, and socially isolate themselves, a lot of people are going to die from this disease. No matter what we do this is true. All ordinary people can do is take whatever precautions are available to allow treatment by skilled professionals to those of us who catch this damn thing, under circumstances that increase the odds of finding an effective treatment and a vaccine that stops it dead in its tracks.
Neither of these is guaranteed, but we have a hell of a lot better chance if we all follow the best advice. Stay at home and socially isolate yourselves. Help our front line defensive workers, like nurses, doctors, researchers survive and get their work done for all of us.
Don’t be stupid. Wake up. Sometimes you just have to listen, and do whatever the hell somebody who knows a lot more than do you, tell you. Now.
I was listening to a CBC podcast the other night, and there were a couple of people talking about their feelings about various famous authors and musicians. The conversation was really about whether or not our judgements about the behaviour of artists should influence how we feel about their art, and if we should decide to like or not like their art because we don’t agree with the conduct, opinions or morality of the artist.
My political opinions are progressive within the Canadian meaning of that word meaning that I tend to share and support the politics of liberal leaning parties, and instinctively tend to feel sympathetic and supportive of anyone who self identifies as an outsider, whether as result of ethnicity, race, gender, ethical, sexual and religious views, appearance, etcetera. Which generally means that I’m somewhat judgemental about other people who I perceive as judgemental against all those people I’ve previously mentioned. So I’m inclined to be pretty judgemental about myself, since I know perfectly well that my own behaviour over my life has failed at times to live up to my own ethical, moral and social standards.
So the questions being raised are important to me. Is it safe for me to listen to music I like or even love, if it has been created or performed by someone I judge to have behaved badly? Say, like Michael Jackson, who now appears to have been a pedophile. Should we erase all of our collective memories of his music and dance, and never moonwalk again? Should we ban any mentions about Sir John A. MacDonald, who, in addition to being a drunk, a racist about first nations peoples and their rights, an outright unapologetic sexist. The fact that our nation exists because this man, and other similarly flawed men founded it continues to be true, even if I don’t like it. History is made by flawed men and women. Music is sung by creepy assholes. Great classical art was drawn by perverts we wouldn’t allow in our living rooms.
Should we hide the Mona Lisa, because her painter was a narrow minded bigot who was probably gay but denied homesexuality over and over again to gain social acceptability, not to mention contracts that paid for his work and allowed him to survive in times we can barely imagine.
I found it fascinating that these two commentators came to the conclusion that excluding people from your life because they happen to have been flawed, made terrible mistakes in their relationships, or even committed heinous crimes, should not necessarily mean that you deny the value and beauty of their art as fruit of the poison tree. Doing so would deny human beings the ability to grow, to make amends and try to do and be better than their worst selves. Doing so could remove the incentive for people to change and reflect on their worst behaviours, and thereby learn something.
Should I forever hate my father because of what he inflicted on me as a child, even in the certainty that he committed himself to looking after my younger sister for most of his life after she became a quadriplegic in her early twenties. He did bad things when he was younger, but did amazing things that made her life possible when it had become impossible. So I try to hate the behaviour I judge offensive and admire his enormous contributions to my sister. So I will never forget either, but I judge him to have been a deeply flawed man who showed the capacity for love. I love my father, but see him clearly for all that he was in his life, not just those things that harmed others but also those things he did that contributed.
Which is how I think we should look at historical and living people alike. We should make every effort to be our better selves, no matter how damaged we are or have been in our pasts. We should be as transparent as we can be, without expecting it of others. Fight for equality, justice and freedom, but make allowance for human frailty, both for ourselves and for others.
Sometime today I had my 2000th reader Follow me on WordPress and 750th Follower on social media outside of WordPress. Wow! Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog, as well as to the many people who have responded to my blog with numerous “Likes” and even more views. 2750 Followers as of today’s date.
Blog Statistics January 1st, 2019 to January 15, 2020
TOTAL POSTS 60
TOTAL COMMENTS 472
AVG COMMENTS PER POST 8
TOTAL LIKES 4,194
AVG LIKES PER POST 70
TOTAL WORDS 44,081
AVG WORDS PER POST 734.68
When I first started writing this blog in 2011 I expect to have only a very few followers, likes and views, and didn’t really take blogging all that seriously until spring of last year, when I started to blog about the health challenges I am currently facing, as well as about various strategies related to a lot of different issues. Still, it is currently focussed around health issues, with a subtext running through about the story of my family and my romantic relationships.
So my blog is being read by a lot of you, and I really appreciate your genuine responses and comments over the past year. You’ve given me a lot to digest, and have made me feel both heartbroken, from time to time, and inspired, from other letters and comments. Your courage at facing real physical and emotional health problems inspires me to continue with this blog. If the information the blog conveyed gives anyone comfort knowing that they are not alone, or inspiration to take action to improve their situation, or simply education that allows them to understand someone with these problems, then I have done a service.
I am a true believer in the concept, “Tu Um Est”, which roughly means, It is Up to You! which is the motto of my undergraduate university, The University of British Columbia. I’m also a strong believer in lifelong learning, and acknowledge that while knowledge and information are purely temporary, changing moment by moment in ways we can’t even begin to anticipate, learning is an abiding, persistent process resulting in our constant evolution as human beings.
This blog celebrates these processes, and are in themselves evidence of constant change in my understanding of life today. Diseases thought to be incurable are now cured on an everyday basis. Things we thought were immutable truths have been proved false, or, if not totally false, incomplete. As I write into the future I will continue to seek out new ways to improve the quality of my life, through sharing the wisdom of others, passing on the things I’m learning as I go, and hopefully continue to illuminate and educate my followers, casual viewers, and fellow readers.
Once again. Thank You. It is humbling to realize that people appreciate what I’m writing, and are kind enough to say so.
The Pain Mastery Institute, which I’ve been blogging about for a couple of months, is shutting down due to financial considerations. Their courses have been useful to me but not nearly as useful as if they had survived long enough for me to get through the whole program.
The main thing I learned from the courses is that much of what is available for mastering chronic pain is drawn by observed people as they take actions or make decisions which assist them in managing their pain, or ameliorating the amount and intensity of pain.
While the course is gone, and the Institute website shut down, this doesn’t mean that I’m abandoning my pursuit of effective pain management strategies. So keep watch for my blog because I will coming back with a new approach soon.
Update on Intermittent Fasting
Starting on Monday this week I began a five day fast, which so far has been a bit frustrating and challenging. The second day and the third day I found myself absolutely starving, which is odd because up until now, fasting for three days a week, 36 hours, I have never been really hungry.
It takes a bit of a different strategy for longer fasts, like a five days on, four days off, but I’m learning and will be putting together a new primer based on somewhat longer fasts.
This has been a really sad and horrific week for me, and for many Canadians. 147 Canadian residents and citizens were killed this week by an airline shot out of the sky by Iran, either by mistake or by design. Either way, we have all lost so much and I can’t really even begin to make any sense of it. I am just sick over it, and I didn’t know anyone personally on the plane, although I do know some family members.
The Prime Minister of Canada has been highly visible in his demands for accountability for this disaster, both from Iran and the United States governments, who put into play the violent altercation that led to these deaths, whether by misadventure or by malice.
I don’t know whether to rage or to cry, or both. I’m not expecting any closure any time soon. Iran is virtually certain to lie through their teeth on this, and Trump will do no better. This is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved in the flight, and all of their country mourns their loss.
FIRST / PREVIOUS / NEXT For as long as I can remember, the Polyamory community has had a strangely sex negative segment that was largely born of the desire to distance themselves as much as possible from the widespread assumptions by people outside of the community that polyamory was all about fucking around indiscriminately. It’s […]
Happy Frigg and Freya’s Day Disclaimer: The topics covered in Freya’s Chambers include serious discussions of sex, sexuality and related issues. If it isn’t your thing; you can move along, otherwise enjoy and feel free to discuss. Given the nature of some subjects be prepared for nude images as there may be some. I avoid […]
b : an offense violating the dignity of a ruler as the representative of a sovereign power
2 : a detraction from or affront to dignity or importance
Lèse-majesté (or lese majesty, as it is also styled in English publications) comes into English by way of Middle French, from the Latin laesa majestas, which literally means “injured majesty.” The English term can conceivably cover any offense against a sovereign power or its ruler, from treason to a simple breach of etiquette. Lèse-majesté has also acquired a more lighthearted or ironic meaning, referring to an insult or impudence to a particularly pompous or self-important person or organization. As such, it may be applied to a relatively inoffensive act that has been exaggeratedly treated as if it were a great affront.
For most of us, living in Canada or most western countries, think that criticism of our government is a fundamental human right, acknowledged and supported by our laws and courts. Within some limits, defying authority or calling authority into question is one of the most crucial of our human rights to the maintenance of democracy.
This fundamental human right is not so fundamental if you live in Thailand. To most Canadians Thailand is just a great place to go on a vacation, not a place where human rights take a backseat to the monarchy. In Thailand, criticizing the government comes with very real consequences, including long jail terms.
And you don’t have to be the author of the criticism, just ask Chanoknan “Cartoon” Ruamsap, who made the mistake of “sharing” a controversial Facebook entry. A pro-democracy activist, Chanoknan “Cartoon” Ruamsap fled into exile on Sunday, ahead of arrest by military order for sharing on her Facebook account a BBC profile of His Majesty the King.
But in the end, it’s me who made the decision. The time I spent to decide was so short and quick. I had less than 30 minutes to decide whether to stay or to leave. What is difficult is the fact that I won’t return after this journey. Then I went to say goodbye to dad and mom. Everyone was shocked but agreed. No one wanted me to be in jail for five years merely because sharing a BBC news story. On the first day I arrived here, I only cried because I saw no way out. Everything seems puzzling and confusing. I didn’t know how to deal with them. I kept asking myself a question whether I made the right decision to seek refuge or I should go back, and I can meet family and friends as usual after serving the jail term. But I got the answer that I couldn’t backtrack now.
And lest you think that these laws are unique to Thailand, with its backward government and oppressive system of administration of justice, think again. There are current laws in Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, and Spain, in Europe against insulting the crown, and committing lese majeste, under which an offender could also spend years in jail, or face significant fines or other penalties. Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well as the African nation of Morocco, and the Asian nations of Malaysia and Cambodia all have similar laws on the books, which are various enforced in modern times.
So why would a modern nation, like the Netherlands, or Denmark, maintain what seems like something out of medieval times. Don’t they understand civil rights, and the right to speak out to authority? Well, it turns out, not so much. Both of those countries, as well as Thailand, do allow criticism of the government, or of government policies. What they don’t allow is insulting and gratuitous attacks on the crown, or on the government leadership.
In Canada there are no lese majeste laws, as such, but even in Canada it is important to frame critical comments against the government or the crown in language that is not personally insulting to her majesty, the Queen or her family. But not because there is laws against it, but because it is unnecessary to personalize criticisms against the government or crown.
It’s fine to attack the monarchy, if you would prefer a republic, for example. Just do it with class and reasonably good manners. Most Canadians would be quite unhappy to hear someone committing lese majesty, even if its not illegal.
Even in countries like Canada or the United States freedom of speech has some limits.