Have you ever been denied services, employment or housing due to discrimination? Do you know what systemic racism is? Are you aware that there is a Human Rights and Citizenship Commission available to us in Canada?
The Edmonton Sun recently wrote an article entitled “Crime to Be White?” by Andrew Hanon. The article documented the plight of two former Poundmaker’s Lodge workers who lost their jobs, apparently because they are White. Don’t get me wrong, my intention is not to undermine the fact that racism may have occurred, nor am I stating that it’s acceptable behavior. Racism, discrimination and prejudice is most definitely NOT ACCEPTABLE, either by Aboriginals or Non-Aboriginals. What I do want to say, is that when have you ever saw a whole page article with bold print saying “CRIME TO BE ABORIGINAL?”.
I’m sure most of my people have been vicims of racism either blunt, blatent, overt racism or even systemic racism. Most of our people have been denied taxis, hotel rooms or restaurant tables due to their heritage. I know that this is everywhere and almost never documented. I have yet to see a news report about the Aboriginals who got denied a job because they were not the right colour for the position – but it happens every day. The problem does not lie with the average everyday Joe. The problem lies in the institutions, the government, and last but certainly not least, the media.
Think about the last story we heard about our people. Was it uplifting? was it passionate? or was it a downright shame? To be honest, it seems like the only media coverage of our people happens when they need footage of homeless people, prostitutes or a blockade/protest. There are too many stories that are morbid, disheartening and not exactly factual. We rarely if ever see a positive story on our people. We never see that a Native person filed a Human Rights report when they were denies services, accommodations or jobs because of their race. Well I am here to say PEOPLE STAND UP, FILE THOSE COMPLAINTS.
I feel like we as Native people may not be aware that we actually have rights in this Country; and that we too, can file Human Rights violation papers EVERY TIME we feel we have been victims of racism. Maybe if 1000 people every week filed a complaint against discriminatory agencies we could make headway in proclaiming our rights and maybe, just maybe the corporations and institutions would actually have to make changes. This is the way to fight. I firmly believe that it is the sole fight that we can actually accomplish. We must make our voices heard, and stop allowing ourselves to be walked over and treated unfairly. In today’s day in age, there should be no reason for discrimination to persist.
The following is excerpts from the Human Rights Commission’s F.A.Q section, read on and visit their website for more information…and make a stand!