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Is Change Coming?

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

It isn't often where we see the global community come together over issues such as the systemic racism occurring in the United States. People all over the world have backed up this movement, yet the question remains whether the momentum it has gained this week will carry on enough to create change.

The message of last Tuesday was to #BlackOutTuesday and #AmplifyMelanatedVoices - so I was one of many who took the week away from posting on social media to observe and listen, as well as do my own research into the realities faced by so many people today.

The first thing I noticed were how many accounts that I follow that are white people; my account was covered in black squares. I'd like to share a few of my favourite accounts I've followed this week, so that hopefully if you're looking for more accounts to follow, you can explore these:

Below are some of the "quick facts" I learned. I still have much more to learn and I know that I will never understand the injustices faced by so many people today, but wanted to provide some resources for people who are looking to learn as well.

Quick Facts - After hearing about how the President of the US and police delt with the protests this week, I wanted to learn about if this was mainly a continued issue in the US or if it also was occurring here in Canada. These are what I have chosen to highlight below, not to diminish what is going on in the US, but to remind people from Canada that there are issues here as well.

  • One thing I already know from having grown up in Canada, going to post-secondary, and living in various places across the country, is that our schools haven't done a great job of telling the whole truth of history. Currently, I teach in BC and I think we are beginning to do a better job in education, but when I grew up, I never learned about Japanese Internment Camps or Residential Schools - the textbooks did a really good job of telling a biased side of history. But the reality is, even though the system has changed in the last twenty years, there is a lot that still needs to be improved. For instance - this month is National Indigenous History Month (I only learned that this week) and all of the information in the Canadian government website seems to be missing key parts and voices in the history of indigenous people in this country.

  • This week in Canada, a few situations have come to light where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have used violence against indigenous people in inexplicable circumstances. One took place in Nunavut and involved an RCMP officer who hit an Inuk man with the door of a moving truck. The second, was a young First Nations lady who was shot five times by the police when they were conducting a wellness check on her in the middle of the night. It's disappointing that many situations like this have come to light and taken place across the country this week.

  • In Canada, race and ethnicity aren't included in records of police use of violence incidents. However, some news stations have done research and came up with some statistics.

  • Toronto: Black people are 20 times more likely to be killed in an encounter with police.

  • Halifax: Black people are 6 times more likely to be carded by police.

  • Ottawa: Black drivers are stopped 2.3 times more often than the general population

  • Winnipeg: Indigenous people make up 10.6% of the population, but 60% of people killed by the police are Indigenous

  • Between 2007 and 2017, more than 1/3 of the people shot to death by RCMP were Indigenous

Above are only statistics relating to a couple of the injustices First Nations and Black people face. This doesn't include all of the other plainly observable racism and more subtle disadvantages various races and ethnicities in Canada face every day. For instance, take this site, that updates where there are unsafe water conditions in communities - every single day First Nations communities have boil water and do not consume advisories. This is but one example that shows how a couple of facts does nothing to inform people about the system as a whole; it's only the very beginning. I've included links to all the sources I got information from. Below are a few graphs and an incredible resource put together by Black Lives Matter.

These two graphs are from from when CBC compiled a database of every person killed during police intervention, including data on race and ethnicity.

Hopefully the momentum of this movement will continue until real lasting and equitable change has occurred!

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