In my last column, I made reference to the tie between organized religion, be it “traditional” Catholic (which includes the Anglican and United Churches) or “evangelical” in origin, and the persistence of political parties molding policy to suit these beliefs, thus feeding and nurturing the systemic racism imbedded within these teachings.
For instance, we tend to whitewash our prejudices by comparing “Christian” beliefs to the violent scriptural interpretations of ISIS adherents, who deny the passivity of the Prophet Mohammed, as well as Islamic recognition of Jesus also as prophet.
To me, democracy should embrace the secular aspects of an individual’s citizenship, so long as such expression is not used to impose that belief upon others. Such principles are imbedded within the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and are upheld in Canada by their inclusion in our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In so declaring, these rights and freedoms then become the philosophical tenets injected into international law.
When the UN passed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 so as to define “the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being” of Indigenous peoples, the United States refused to support this resolution. The Harper government, already nervous in voting to incorporate such rights into Canadian law, as they could potentially result in First Nations having greater say over land management and resource-based revenues, seized the moment and voted with the American government.
Even before the days of John Munro being the “voice of Indians” in Parliament, Liberals have always shined on Indigenous leaders into believing that they “have their backs” in terms of legislation the leaders felt necessary to support. However, the party’s behaviour more resembles that of garter snakes in the mating season, where it uses its pro-Indigenous female “scent” to signal its support, only to later implement policy that runs counter to its stated principles. Shortly after approving UNDRIP in principle, the Trudeau government approved expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on disputed territory. Their rationale? Roughly “translated”, it was “Who cares? Indigenous peoples aren’t given any veto power under UNDRIP”
Locally speaking, PAGC chiefs who were entertained in 2015 by former Prime Minister Paul Martin have been “had” by the government’s actions such as this. Even now, Indigenous staffers within Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett’s office are mired in controversy, as their voices are being marginalized, and told to “Get over it” whenever the government chooses to take issues to court, rather than accepting negotiated settlement of rights and obligations expressed in treaty law.
Nothing, however, has done more to antagonize racial feelings in Saskatchewan than the eight year uttering of contempt that regularly spewed from the mouth of our former premier, Brad Wall. Mr. Wall’s favourite tactic fuelling this antagonism was to refer to his non-Indigenous supporters as “taxpayers”, despite the fact that the 70% of status individuals working off reserve lands are subject to Canada’s taxation policies. Wall also never missed an opportunity to express his contempt for Indigenous groups seeking funding to fix provincial infrastructural concerns, gleefully asking whether or not that group had first submitted their funding “request” to Cameco. Wall’s successor, Scott Moe, has changed nothing, in particular joining Manitoba in being one of the only two provinces failing to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, particularly in the areas of social justice and criminal law reform.
The Saskatchewan Party’s “do nothing” approach towards Indigenous issues, along with its failure to deal with drunken racists maligning the province’s medical officer in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, has now emboldened white supremacists to spread the Trumpian-inspired racial rot of the American right into our own racial reckonings. For over a month now, we have been alerted to the discovery of now thousands of Indigenous children’s graves found near former residential schools. However, instead of our citizens using these findings in order to come to some understanding as to how our governments have trampled upon the good will of our Indigenous neighbours, for some reason or another the politics of the “Black lives matter” movement in the U.S. are being used so as to deflect and DENY that OUR ancestors, “white” or not, and their religious leaders, to impose genocidal policy upon our nation’s founding peoples.
Twenty clicks east of Prince Albert, and mere days since we were praising Muskoday First Nation Chief Ava Bear for having reserve members hang 215 pairs of shoes on the Muskoday Bridge to honour the first batch of children’s graves found near Kamloops, BC, a cowardly man replaced those shoes with his own message of hate: “White lives matter, too. Who else is gonna work so you can sit on your ASS!” Two weekends ago, a local Indigenous leader was forced to wait for service in a large Prince Albert store so that two employees could “share” the sentiment of another bigoted twit, who described the outburst of sentiment emanating from the discovery of still more graves as an attention-seeking device, claiming that “now they (Indigenous People) go around saying, look at me, poor me, feel sorry for me.” Who ARE these mindless Neanderthals, anyway?
We’re talking about the discovery of hundreds of CHILDREN’S grave sites, brought to their deaths by governmental policies instituted by an alcoholic Prime Minister – AND supported by church groups who willingly marched to the beat of their apparent zeal to drive the “savagery” out of children as young as three years of age. Praise the Lord!!!!
What’s the problem here? Have our public sensitivities vanished so much and our collective guilt at this historical restatement of our own failures so embarrassing that we must reject its meaning and pretend that these deaths are not of our concern? WHERE in GOD’s NAME are these hordes of so-called “evangelical Christians” and “charismatic Catholics” professing to support “right to life” principles, supporting the “absolute right” of one male gamete to survive to birth – and then left to fend for itself, without concern?
I’m sorry; I forgot that these children were only born ONCE, to loving mothers and welcoming homes in a society where the concept of “abortion” was unknown.