Are Aboriginals Unfairly Treated by Our Legal System? StatsCan vs. SIU Study

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UPDATE Jan 23/10: Dr. Frances Widdowson, author of ‘Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry,’ has posted an interesting article on this topic:

This post was inspired by a comment sent by ‘Rob’ who expressed his belief that – based on Stats Canada info – Aborginals were over-represented in our prison population. (I’ve already addressed his other points in my reply to his original comment.)

With all due respect, I would like to put an alternate viewpoint to you in regards to Native people receiving different treatment under the Canadian Judicial system. I firmly believe that they do receive different treatment than members of the dominant society, but it is in a punitive fashion. Stats Canada provides some interesting figures to support this idea:

1. Although aboriginal people make up 4.4 percent of the adult population of Canada, they represent over 18 percent of the incarcerated population of Canada.
2. In the Praries, Aboriginal inmates account for between 40 and 60 percent of the inmates.
3. Many individual cases of injustices perpetrated against Aboriginal people exist in Canada….Donald Marshall, Helen Betty Osborne, Niel Stonechild and the “Starlight Tours”. There has been a systemic abuse of Aboriginal people by the justice system.

I am white, but I have lived on isolated reserves. I have observed racial profiling by police. I am in full agreement with you that the “special treatment” of Aboriginal people by the justice sytem needs to stop. They have been subjected to poor treatment for far to long.

I personally feel that your acts are inflammatory. I think the low turnout for your protests should tell you that your opinion is not widely shared. Land claims exist and are recognized by all levels of government, and over time usually get settled.

Respectfully,

Rob (highly doubtful that you will post this)

VoC REPLY: Hi Rob. O ye of little faith 🙂 – I’ll post anything that isn’t hate-oriented and actually tries to make an argument. Heck, yours is the most on-point email I’ve ever received from people who disagree with me, and I thank you for sending it!

As promised in my private email earlier this week I will respond to your statistics now that I’ve had a chance to locate a very important and interesting document that seems to not only support your Stats Canada data, but offer some possible explanations for them. Thanks very much for your patience and for taking the time to write. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

The report I’m referring to is called POLICE USE OF FORCE IN ONTARIO: An Examination of Data from the Special Investigations Unit. It was prepared by Scot Wortley, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Centre of Criminology at the University of Ontario, and Terry Roswell, MA, Caribbean Studies, Department of Sociology, Ryerson University, Ph.D. Candidate at the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto. According to the title page, it was a ‘Research Project Conducted on behalf of the African Canadian Legal Clinic for Submission to the Ipperwash Inquiry.’

This report attempts to address the lack of Canadian information regarding police use of force incidents and how they relate to race. Although it was commissioned by an African-Canadian organization, data on Aboriginals is included. I have included a selection of quotes below.

Rob, I’d like to ask that you download the report yourself, review it in detail and get back to me with your comments if you would, please.

Highlights from ‘POLICE USE OF FORCE IN ONTARIO’

Page 19: “…while Aboriginals are only 1.7% of the provinical population, they represent 7.1% of all civilians involved in SIU investigations.”

Page 20: “While Black people and Aboriginal Canadians are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than White people, White people are actually more likely to be stopped and searched than Asians or South Asians.”

Page 20: “…police did not directly cause the civilian injury or death in 371 (47.3%) of the 784 cases reviewed…” [the report is saying that even though the civilian was injured, the actual causes of injuries were things like car accidents; suicides; self-inflicted injuries; accidents; drug/alcohol abuse; pre-existing health issues, etc.]

Page 20: “…although Aboriginals represent 7.1% of all SIU investigations, they represent 7.7% of all investigations in which injury or death was directly caused by police.”

Page 21/22: “…Aboriginal civilians are 6.2 times more likely to become involved in a SIU use of force investigation than their White counterparts.”

Page 22: “Although Aboriginal people represent only 1.7% of the provincial population, they represent 6.8% of all civilians involved in SIU shooting investigations.”

Page 26: “…the results presented…strongly indicate that…Aboriginals are grossly over-represented in police use of force statistics in general – and police shooting incidents in particular.

Page 26 (Summary: The Numbers in Context): “It appears that when the police in Ontario do decide to use force, they use it much more frequently against African Canadians and Aboriginals than any other racial groups.”

Page 27 (Criminal History): “…in police shooting investigations, only 45% of the black civilians had a criminal record, compared to 72% of Whites and 80% of Aboriginals.”

Page 27 (Intoxication at the Time of the Incident): “Only 13% of Black civilians involved in police use of force incidents were intoxicated, compared to 40% of Whites and 66% of Aboriginals.”

Page 28 (Mental Health at the Time of the Incident): “…78% of Black civilians showed no signs of mental health problems, compared to 62% of White and Aboriginal civilians” [use of force investigations]

Page 28 (Civilian Behaviour at the Time of the Incident): “…79% of White civilians and 80% of Aboriginal civilians had actually assaulted or threatened the police (or civilian bystanders) before being shot.”

shotgun_barrel.jpgPage 28 (Weapon Use During the Incident): “…22% of Black civilians were in possession of a firearm at the time of the incident, compared to 14% of Aboriginals and 7% of Whites.” [In other words, Aboriginals were twice as likely to have a firearm as Whites.]

VoC SUMMARY: I don’t know the reasons behind these statistics – I’m not a social worker.  What I do know is that no one should be allowed to escape the consequences of violent behaviour simply because our government and OPP want to improve the optics associated with having a disproportionate number of Aboriginals in prison.

I do share Rob’s concern about wrongful convictions – I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in jail for something you didn’t do. Still, you don’t fix that problem by allowing anyone in Canada to propagate violence to achieve political goals. Or do we?

What do you think, Rob?

ROB REPLIES:

An interesting study, thanks for providing me the link. I would maintain that the study is pointing me toward a conclusion which would proably be different from your interpretation. However, given your current beef with the OPP, I think that we might be in agreement on some points.

For instance, much of the study focused on police culture and the closed nature of that society. It also gave several sociological explanations for the high rates of violence used against minority groups, many of them focusing on a concept that could be generally termed “Group Justice”. The credo of this system is that it does not matter which particular member of a minority group is arrested, or shot, because they are all guilty of something anyway.

It is this objectifying of a particular group which leads to increased levels of contact with the police. There is much to be said here, but it needs to be put into a national context, as opposed to Toronto, where only 20,000 Aboriginal people live.

There are no denying the statisitics…it is the interpretation of “why” which will draw people into opposing lines. My interpretation is that the practices of cultural genocide enacted on the First nations of this country over the last 150 years have left many communities reeling. The process has also led to an objectifying of native people in general, so that some white’s tend to believe it is OK to do just about anything to them. This includes police driving young men 20 miles outside of town at 30 below and leaving them there to freeze to death.

At this time you are involved in a particular situation in a given moment that has crystalized an opinion within you about a two tier system of justice. I am not naive enough to think that there is not a two or three tier system of justice in Canada…..it is exactly that system that sentences an aboriginal man to jail for public mischief but allows a white man to pay a fine, or actually never be charged for the same act. The stats back that up too.

There are many injustices going on in Canada at the moment, especially in First Nation Territory. They could sure use a man of your passion to give them a hand!

Sincerely, Rob

VoC REPLY:

1. Thanks for your very thoughtful and timely reply; I’m impressed that you actually read the study because it does, indeed, address the issue of police ‘culture.’

2. I don’t know if one can extrapolate any conclusions from the statistics in the SIU study that could be applied to another part of the country; my only real point is that there are other possible explanations as to why Aboriginals are over-represented in prison that have absolutely nothing to do with racism or bias on the part of the police or the legal system.

3. I think you put it very elequently when you said, “There are no denying the statisitics…it is the interpretation of “why” which will draw people into opposing lines.”  Why – indeed – are Aboriginals more likely to have a firearm or to be intoxicated during an SIU incident? As I said in my summary, however, I do not believe that the solution to those issues is to make Aboriginal criminals untouchable.

4. With respect to “cultural genocide,” you have – obviously – first hand knowledge that I can’t hope to obtain. I do know that terrible things have been done to native peoples that need to be taught to us in a rational, thoughtful manner such as you’re doing for my readers through this post.

Unfortunately, to everyone’s detriment, the only native voices that are being heard in connection with the Ipperwash/Caledonia agony belong to bombastic, dogmatic radicals who are acting as mouthpieces for the criminals at DCE. When I read their writings they bear an eerie similarity to the white supremacist hate language that I had the misfortune to read yesterday when checking a commenter’s URL.

One day, I’d like to know more about what happened to native peoples in Canada, but it’s not relevant to the issue of whether or not some of them should be allowed to use violence to achieve their political ends. As I’ve mentioned in past posts/comments my parents were witnesses to the Nazi treatment of Jews in Holland. My father actually escaped from a German work camp. If I were in Germany and a bunch of Jewish people decided to organize violent occupations that were allowed by police and government to continue I’d be protesting against them, too. Guilt from what was done in the past should not prevent us from doing what is right today.

All we have to do is look to the Middle East (I spent 6 months there with the U.N. and have driven through Gaza on a number of occasions) to see what the result is when the Rule of Law is abandoned by a peoples’ leaders in favour of using violence. Just Google the words ‘PALESTINIAN CIVIL WAR’ to find out. The Palestinians are turning on themselves after electing leaders from a group that is committed to using violence. I do not want that for my country.

Let’s all of us – natives and non-natives – come together and call the DCE occupiers what I believe they are – a small group of organized criminals and terrorists who do NOT represent the native population. Let’s hear native leaders across Canada speak out against these thugs who are bringing disrepute on honest native peoples. 

5. Re the mistreatment/objectification of natives by whites & police: As I said earlier, I haven’t been witness to this personally, but I believe that it has occurred and I am ashamed that my country would do any of those things to one of its citizens. People may find this hard to believe, but I would like you to know that in all the time I have spent with Gary McHale and his supporters I have never heard a single person say anything to objectify or devalue native peoples as a group – the hate that the DCE criminals and their supporters accuse him/us of having is simply not there.  

6. With respect to your final paragraph, which may turn out to be the most important one of all, and NOT because of your compliment, which I do very much appreciate. Let me share some personal insight, if you’ll indulge me a little…

For most of my life I have tried to figure out what my purpose for being was. I thought that all I had to do was find the ‘right job’ or make some money in a business, and then I could be free to follow my passion for fighting injustices. You see, I’ve always been willing to risk my own well-being to stand up for what I thought was right.

I once left a job as a Bus Mechanic because I was ordered to simply wash off and re-install oil-soaked brake linings on a passenger coach instead of installing new ones. I refused and quit.

On another job, I stood up for a manager who was unjustly removed from his position because management decided it was easier to give in to a group of unmotivated employees – one of whom had issued an anonymous death threat against the manager – than to address the real issues of disciplining the troublemakers. The result was I was harassed personally by the new manager and quit my job. They even falsified an harassment investigation to cover up the fact they didn’t even try to investigate my claims! I fought this government agency for more than a year to get the money they owed me.

More recently, I have been assisting a man (for free) in his fight to obtain justice against the real estate agent who – in my opinion – cheated him out of $50,000 by failing to disclose that the house had extensive damage despite advertising to the contrary. The next stage of the fight will involve exposing just how little protection the average consumer has, and how the real estate licencing body in Ontario seems to impose heavy fines for minor technical violations that have little or no impact on the public while imposing light or even, zero discipline on agents whose actions have disastrously affected people’s lives. The real estate agents I know in Ontario live in fear of this body, yet I haven’t met any of them willing to speak up and make themselves a possible target. Hmmm, sounds familiar.

Despite my willingness to stand up against injustices at certain times in my life, I have never thought of myself as an ‘activist.’ I felt that my ’causes’ – including Caledonia – were not much more than important distractions. That changed on Saturday, December 16/06.

While I was in the OPP jail cell in Cayuga I had my head resting against the bars and I suddenly had a moment of unbelievable clarity. (God didn’t talk to me, and I didn’t have a ‘vision’ or see lights or anything.) In that instant I realized that my entire life had prepared me to be in Caledonia at that day at that time to give that (unplanned & unrehearsed) speech to those people on that hill by that road in front of those police officers. I ‘knew,’ without a doubt, that the purpose of my life is to play whatever small part I can play to destroy Two Tiered Justice in Ontario and to oppose all who would use violence to achieve their political goals. It was a strange and wonderful moment and I cried afterwards in happiness. (Unfortunately, my moment of clarity did not include any illumination as to how I was going to fund my new career. 🙂

It took you about an hour to realize what took me a lifetime – that I should be following my passion for fighting injustice.

So, here’s the thing, Rob…

You said that the people in First Nations Territory could use someone with my passion to help fight their injustices. Right now, I’ve got to fight a battle to keep the OPP and my government from destroying the everything I believe in due to their insane refusal to enforce the law against a bunch of thugs who are hijacking native claims issues as an excuse for their lawlessness and violence.

Since you seem to be closely connected, well-reasoned AND passionate yourself with respect to native issues, how about doing what you can to convince them to join this fight with us so all of us – including me – can focus on the real injustices in our country and live in peace with one another instead of under thuggery and lawlessness? I promise you that once this battle is won, I’ll be looking for someone else who needs a voice to speak for them, and if that happens to be a native, I’ll fight for them with the same passion you’ve seen. 

A final request for Rob…

When people write in to offer criticism of what I or Gary McHale are doing, I often ask them to answer 4 questions for me. So far no one has. Maybe you can give it a try. Give them some thought and I’ll do a new post with your answers.

question-mark_cartoon.jpegQ1: Do you believe in using violence to get what you want?

Q2: If yes, why do you believe in using violence?

Q3: What makes you think that violence won’t one day be turned against YOU by the thugs using it today?

Q4: Why would you want to live in any nation – no matter who owns the land – where the Rule of Law does not exist?

Thanks for writing, for responding and for listening, Rob.

Regards, Mark

Rob answers the 4 questions: Rob was kind enough to take the time to answer the 4 questions posed above, and since he is the first to do so, I put his answers – and my response – in a separate post called, “Does past oppression justify present violence? VoC gets ‘real’.

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6 responses to “Are Aboriginals Unfairly Treated by Our Legal System? StatsCan vs. SIU Study

  1. Democracy is a verb. An action word. It must be guarded and fought for at all times.

    Any group, be it political or police or individuals that pander to one segment of society and vilify another, attacks the foundation of democracy.

    Canadians are so complacent towards our democracy because we have never had to fight for it on our own soil. Unlike the Americans who had their War of Independence; Civil War and Civil Rights movement, Canada was handed her democracy and independence by the Crown. Easy come – eacy go.

    Yesterday we had a patient come in who was visibly upset by the March for Freedom. He said with tears in his eyes that he was old enough to remember his father coming home from WWII and the hell he went through recovering physically and mentally. He then said: “As old and cripled as I am, I will pick up our fallen flag and carry it to my death if necessary! I can do no less than my father for my grand children.

    Beth

    VoC REPLY: Thanks for the inspiring story. I read it to Gary McHale along with some of the other fabulous comments I’ve received, and he’d like to publish them. My father fought in Indonesia until 1947 and my father-in-law arrived in Normandy on D-Day +30. How can I stand by…how can any of us stand by while our democracy is destroyed by criminals taking advantage of a politically-correct policing experiment! If I were an OPP officer I would rather die than allow myself to co-opted into the pathetic Warriors’ hydro pole security guard service they’ve become. Regards, Mark

  2. I used to listen to a radio personality from Seattle, libertarian, who was talking about a program initiated by the Seattle Police Dep’t (I think) where they were pulling people over to make sure they had VALID insurance, as req’d by state law. As it turned out approx 80% of the offenders were “Afro-Americans” in a population where they accounted for 20%.
    Guess what! ACLU started screaming discrimination (big surprise!) so the legislature had the program cancelled. Now, had they been white………..

    VoC REPLY: Hi Dave! Where are the Winston Churchills of today who will put public service and duty ahead of personal power? Why is it that a Gary McHale has to try to shame Ontario’s police and politicians into doing the right thing? Political correctness will destroy our country, and the U.S., too. Still, though, I think the pendulum is beginning to swing back – more and more people are willing to speak out, and – yes – even go to jail in defence of equality. Mark.

    P.S. I enjoyed reading a few of your posts, especially “I had a dream.

  3. WL Mackenzie Redux

    Mark: “Rob” seems to have a very “progressive” attitude towards why people end up in jail ….given our “progressive” system where an embarassing amount of recidivism has made a revolving door of the justice and penal istitutes of this province.

    Personally, from my vantage point as one who must pay for all these ass-covering pscho-babble penology studies, tenuous social experimenting and nepotistic employment programs for the socialology community masquarading as “restorative justice”, I have only one requirement for any “study” done on the matter. That would be a unbiased 3rd party audit of the success or failure of these expensive weak justice programs to determine if all this expensive make-work social experimenting has made me and my family safer from: A) criminal violence, B) recidivist criminal violence C) a growing violent criminal culture.

    Reading anything else into the function of a penal system by breaking conviction and punishment down on a race base is of little use aside from running snide little racist witch hunts which have more political objectives than civil.

    Without a million dollar make-work study to back me I can unequivocally state that the prison population is certainly “under represented” by the sociopathic criminal class which most deserve to be isolated from the society they threaten…..and McGuinty’s government is living testament to my findings. 🙂

    VoC REPLY: Thanks again for writing, WL. I agree. It’s dangerous to make the assumption that systemic racism can be the only cause for the disproportionate amount of natives in prison (assuming that the stats are correct). I’m not a social worker – all I care about is that certain races or groups of people are not allowed to use violence and intimidation simply because some ‘do gooder’ wants to manipulate prison statistics for politically-correct ends. Politically-correct policing in Ontario is an evil abomination that must be stopped. Mark

  4. I’ve seen these blogs before where one is asked to post an opinion, then the author sees it might disagree with his / her opinion, then its rejected because it is considered as hateful, etc. What I refer to below is not hateful, nor is it racist.
    However, here goes;

    Indians / Natives / Indiginous People are the most coddled group in Canada today. They are allowed to blockade public roads, dress up like terrorists and carry arms, blockade rail lines, murder police officers,etc. all with no consequences to themselves. The police officer who was killed by Indians at Oka were / was never caught and natives don’t have one ounce of concern that they have not been caught. Indians hate all police, the court system, all whitemen and especially hate all that has been done for them as it was never enough.

    Indians receive over $12 Billion from the whiteman and his government every year. More than any other group in Canada (including our military), all contributed in the form of taxes by the whiteman. Then we are spit upon by the Indians.
    Another truism comment about Indians in our jails. Indians have special programs set aside for just them (no whites allowed) they were allowed sweat lodges inside prision walls for religious purposes and most have not been inside a church or place of worship in their lives. Indians have formed the native brotherhood inside prisions which is used to intimidate and extort other inmates, these are facts.

    Prisons have a high population of Indians because Indians commit crimes so they get arrested. This is how it works, if you’re a bad guy and commit crimes you go to jail! If Indians don’t want to be sent to prisons they should stop committing the crimes that land them there in the first place! Stop blaming the whiteman, the courts and police officers for their woes.
    Indians should look inward once in a while as those that abuse Indians and fraudulently use band funds are frequently their very own chiefs and band councillors in some cases.

    I am sick and tired of hearing about the down trodden Indians in Canada and how badly the whiteman have treated them. Of course Indians were at one time miss-treated. I blame the organized religions and their residential school systems for the most part. Can you imagine someone coming to your home and telling you they were “stealing” your children and you’d see them agin for 2 months in the summer. Then punishing the children when they spoke a language they were taught to speak as babies?

    I can tell you, “not likely” would anyone take my kids without having a major war on their hands. I understand and hate the fact that Indians were abused and isolated to gain control over them. Personaly, I did none of these things to Indians and why am I hated for it?

    I speak with some authority on the matter as I worked in Northern BC, Yukon and NWT on Joint Work Projects with them. For the most part they want nothing to do with regular employment and are not interested in working “with” whitey! They do however, they’re uttemost to disrupt, destroy and to have any project fail where they are required to work “with” the whiteman on anything that might be considered as positive or might contribute to society in general. The majority of Indian males have a chip on their shoulder a foot high and young Indian males seek out every opportunity to force the whiteman to knock it off.

    I am not a racist or do I discriminate against Indians, however I am a realist. Indians will never be satisfied with any treaty as future generations will only renege and say they were sold out by their own people and cheated by the whiteman regardless of it being now or another hundred years in the future.

    The majority of Canadians are fed up with sleazy lawyers who receive millions from the billions allotted to Indians in Canada. Indian affair lawyers has become an industry itself. These lawyers are completely self serving, all paid out of Canadian tax dollars.

    All funding should be immediately suspended, and I do mean “all”, the Indian affairs beaucracy in Ottawa should be dismantled and their should be an immediate inquiry into the entire matter by an unbiased group equally chaired and membered by whites and Indians which reports directly to the Prime Minister of Canada, not parliament.

    I know you will never print this as you thrive on your own retoric but refuse to hear any opinion that does not agree with yours. This is how Canadians have been bamboozled in the first place and why it is in a mess today.

    I’ve really said a mouthful here. I do not hate anyone especially Indians. They are no better or no worse than anyone in Canada. We are supposedly all protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, It is my wish for all to live in harmony in Canada. Perhaps a naive statement, but think how it might be if we did?

    No more departments and special programs and funding for minority groups ….. just Canadians ! I went to school, I only have a high school education, I worked for 30 years, I paid taxes, I purchased goods and services and I made it on my own without grants or special programs to assist me or my family in doing so. I have 5 children and 7 grandchildren, all of my kids are working and in good health, thank God. We have worked hard, no harder than most, but have done so knowing full well I had to, to better myself. I do not consider myself above or below anyone in Canada.

    In closing, it is my opinion that enough is enough. Its time Indians grew up and stopped acting like spoiled children that threaten and intimidate when they don’t get their way. Indians must adapt as the whiteman aren’t going anywhere as it is as much our country as it is the Indians!

    I’m here to stay and so are my kids.

    VoC REPLY: Hello ‘bcbear.’

    1. You said I wouldn’t print your letter because I thrive on my own rhetoric, and refuse to hear any opinion that doesn’t agree with mine. Huh??? Sounds to me that you haven’t even read a single post on this blog because if you did, you’d know that a. I have consistently stood against the Caledonia criminals, the OPP and the Ontario government (and gone to jail for opposing them!), and b. that I print anything that is not hate-related that actually tries to make an argument, including criticism against the positions I take. Suggestion – before you accuse people of stuff that isn’t even remotely true, I would be very appreciative if you’d take a few minutes to be sure of what you’re talking about, OK?

    2. Given that – as mentioned in #1 – you are inclined to make sweeping and inaccurate generalizations, I will admit that I was a little reluctant to post your comments. The reason I am posting them, however, is because they represent your opinions based on your personal experiences, and that makes them worth reading. Still, although you have had extensive negative experiences in dealing with people of certain races or cultures, it does not mean that ‘all’ or ‘most’ or ‘the majority’ of those people can be generalized into tidy little boxes. You and I don’t like being ‘generalized’ so let’s not do it to others.

    3. I share your dismay at how easily and quickly those who excuse the current violence and criminality in Caledonia and Ipperwash are to throw out the ‘racist’ and ‘white supremacist’ labels against those who disagree with them. I just posted a comment from a Six Nations resident who referred to the colour of my skin twice in his short remarks. The hypocricy never fails to amaze me.

    4. One of my researchers just gave me a 12-page paper with links and info about the various programs for native peoples, and it blew me away. I haven’t had time to review it completely, but – like you – I find it ironic that we can send so much money to a group of people, and then have to endure the lawlessness and violence at the hands of a relatively small group of violent criminals that our government seems determined to ‘negotiate’ with, as if they represent the aspirations of honest, hard working native peoples.

    Thanks for writing. Regards,Mark

  5. BC BEAR: PLEASE DO NOT CATEGORIZE ME! YOU DON’T KNOW ME.
    ONE NATIVE VOICE

    I do not hate the police, I do not hate the justice system, I have never dressed up as a terrorist (how does a terrorist dress?), I have never carried arms, blocked roads or rails, and I have never murdered anyone. I believe that murder statement alone is just a stupid thing to say.

    I resent that you place all Natives in the same category, troublemakers, criminals, always depending on the government etc. I am Native-french, raised in a Native community, with my Native mother. (My french father was never around), never paid a cent of child support, Don’t get me wrong, I’m not categorizing that all French fathers are this way, (my Native mother taught me better than that!) there are many wonderful fathers out there, French, white, black, etc.

    My Native Mother had no job skills when my dad decided to leave, but she did what she had to do, she had some training and got herself a good job so that she could take care of 4 children by herself. Everything I’ve learned I’ve learned from my Wonderful Native mother. I also graduated High School, got very lucky and landed myself a wonderful job (14 years and still going).

    I have a wonderful son who is learning about all cultures in the world, not just his own.
    He is a healthy, happy boy; and I believe that I am doing a good job raising him. I am here to stay as well, and so is my son.
    I am not ashamed to be Native nor will I ever let anyone make me feel so.

    Believe it or not there is still a lot of racism out there; I live with it everyday.
    Also, I need to say that I do not condone violent acts of any kind at any type of protest.

    VoC REPLY: Hi Kim. Thanks so very much for writing and sharing. It’s 2:49 AM and I’m trying to answer all comments before I hit the sack. I really wish I could take more time because people like you and Terry and Terry Jamieson Jr. are beginning to give me some hope. You can’t imagine what’s been happening since Sunday afternoon (Jan 14/07) since the presentation at the Lions Hall, and the subsequent discussion/question period where several residents verbally reached out hands of friendship to their native neighbours and friends. We’re hoping to get the video up soon – it’s about 2 hrs long, but well worth the time. VoC got ‘real’ – again, talking in public for the first time what I disclosed in my discussion with ‘Rob’ in “Does past oppression justify present violence? VoC gets ‘real'”).

    I can’t find the post to read what BC BEAR said, but I do remember he was kind of confrontational. Try not to be too hard on him OK? This violence and lawlessness is frightening a lot of people, and I suspect that he’s rather like I was before all this started: clueless about land claims, not really understanding much about your culture, or your history, thinking our ‘leaders’ were looking after things, etc. by sending a bunch of his money to make up for whatever was done to you.

    The ‘good news’ I think is that a lot of racism (and I’m not saying BC BEAR is!) is nothing more than a lack of knowledge from a lack of exposure. Let me explain: if you asked me 5 years ago if I thought gay people should be allowed to marry I would have told you, “No bloody way.” Then, I had a simple, but lifechanging experience purely by chance:

    I’ve never really known very many gay people in my life. My wife, however, worked with a gay man, and one day, in Port Stanley near the beach on Lake Erie, we happened to run into Kevin and Roger by chance at a restaurant. We shared a table together. Kevin talked about how he struggled to discover who he was and what his life was about (like me! See, “Does past oppression justify present violence? VoC gets real.”). I learned that his dream had always been to become a minister, and that he was just about a year from being ordained. What really stuck with me was how loving and supportive his partner was in helping him fulfill that dream, and how right they seemed for one another.

    As we drove back to London, I said to my wife, “I wouldn’t want to have to be the one to tell them they couldn’t get married. This country has bigger problems than worrying about whether or not two men who love each other want to get married.” She was pretty surprised.

    When Kevin was ordained, we were invited and we gladly went. During the party that followed at the rural village church where he was serving prior to ordination, I watched a bunch of simple country folk hug him and cry with him as they celebrated his achievement. It was then that I told him about the effect that his love with Roger had on me.

    Kevin and Roger are now together in a very small rural village in Saskatchewan where the community has embraced them and they are very happy. Saskatchewan wasn’t Kevin’s first choice – the United Church in Hamilton didn’t want a gay minister.

    My point is that people tend to make generalizations because it’s convenient and because they’ve never been exposed to other ideas, people, cultures etc., not always because they carry real ‘hate’ in their hearts. I don’t imagine that it takes the sting out of it for you, but one thing I’ve learned doing this VoC gig is that when you give angry people a chance to vent, and then reach out with some kind words, it is possible to reach them. Then, you find they just wanted to know that they were heard. Sorry if that sounds sappy, but it seems to be working. 🙂

    I’m really glad to hear that you’ve made a success out of your life despite some tough odds. And, I’m so glad you are repulsed by violence. Well, my fingers are hitting the wrong keys, and I’m feeling very sleepy. Must go now. Thanks for writing. Your story is a great one and I’m glad you told it. Regards, Mark

  6. Thanks for the quick response to that post Mark, sorry to have kept you up! 🙂

    I wanted to say that I didn’t realize that I sounded angry, that was not my intention at all. I just wanted to make my point, for ALL races. I hope I didn’t offend you BC Bear.

    I just try to live my life in a happy way no matter what people sometimes do or say to me.

    I do have a gay friend as well, and he is the greatest!!! I guess this saying rings true huh?? “Never judge a person until you have walked a mile in his shoes”

    VoC REPLY: Hi Kim! I did manage to find the BC Bear comment (it’s a lot harder to find on my system than you might think!) and I don’t think you were too hard him. He kind of sounded like he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but maybe he just had – as he says – some real negative experiences that have affected his life and attitude.

    I like YOUR attitude, though! Sorry, I really do have to go to bed now. Thanks for the compliment and for reaching out to BC Bear, too. Regards, Mark

    P.S. I bet no one forgets your email address, do they?