Callous governments compound racism

Callous governments compound racism Open letter to MP Ryan Leef: I am ashamed and appalled at the Canadian government's lack of response to the issues brought forward by the Idle No More movement. Across the country and around the world, people from all

Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:

I am ashamed and appalled at the Canadian government’s lack of response to the issues brought forward by the Idle No More movement. Across the country and around the world, people from all walks of life have gathered in support of the indigenous people of Canada and the treaties that were signed in good faith and friendship.

Our prime minister blatantly tweets about Homer Simpson’s bacon addiction, while not far from his mansion, an aboriginal woman leader is starving in order to stimulate a meeting between national First Nation leaders and the federal government to talk about the treaty promises that have not been kept.

Our country has grown fat and wealthy on the land and resources that First Nations have willingly shared, while in return they have received substandard living conditions and assimilation processes designed to “kill the Indian in the child.”

I am humiliated that our MP from the Yukon Territory, whose First Nation constituents make up roughly 25 per cent of his riding, would publicly invoke concerned protesters to go to the prime minister with their concerns, when the prime minister himself told First Nation people to go to their MP. It is clear that your government has no interest in taking responsibility for its actions or has any idea about who should be responding to these concerns.

It is true that First Nations within the Yukon Territory did not sign the historical treaties that have taken the forefront of media attention in the Idle No More movement. However, within the Yukon Territory, there are many issues within our communities that echo the state of First Nations across the country.

These issues are wide-ranging and complex. They will take creative solutions and partnerships. But the overarching issue is a culture and atmosphere of racism, ignorance and misunderstanding that have governed the way that Canada and Canadians have interacted with our indigenous population. It is obvious in the way the Yukon government recently passed legislation removing veto rights that were guaranteed to protect the rights of First Nations which had chosen not to sign land claim agreements.

South Africa’s apartheid system was modelled off Canada’s reservation system. I am a product of the apartheid as my family fled those racist policies, and so now I choose to hold my Canadian government to account for having the same policies that they have been so quick to renounce.

I entreat you to stand with this movement that has been started by First Nation women and youth. I entreat you to personally meet with Chief Theresa Spence and show your support for her struggle. We all need to work together on this and it is time for us all to rise to the highest levels of compassion for our neighbours and stand together to combat racism and poverty.

Sarah Newton


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