While the same underlying fallacy, ignorance, and inactivity that supports black racism is interchangeable with indigenous racism and sexism, it is important to acknowledge specifically that Black Lives Matter.
Racism exists in Canada, and it continues to impact the RSMIN Community, Northern Ontario and Canada as well as the global community. Speaking from our own experiences we know that Elders live with the impacts of residential schools, and missing indigenous women and girls have left families searching for loved ones. Many people have felt anguish and worry over what others would think, say, or do if they participated or exposed their own heritage. All of this is the residue of the systemic racism that forced our ancestors to identify as being White or Indian, solely based on the colour of one’s skin. Most often, if one could, choosing to be white, hiding one’s indigenous identity, so not to suffer any oppression that came with being and looking Indian. Métis culture is mixed and we draw our strength from diversity. We can not and should not diminish anyone, as we would only be diminishing ourselves. Our community stands in solidarity against the oppression of any marginalized group.
In 2020 George Floyd’s death broke the global silence on racism. In 2021 215 Children’s bodies were found burred at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. These are just two of thousands of instances. The lines have changed, and it’s no longer adequate to be a bystander and remain neutral. That grey area, where people justified their inactivity by thinking “I’m not a racist, but I’m not getting involved,” or “that’s just to sad to think about” has now been polarized into racism or anti-racism. If you are not an anti-racist you are in fact supporting racism by letting it happen (e.g. the officers standing by watching the murder happen, or accepting women going missing without action, or not acknowledging the torment that those who have gone to residential schools have suffered). You’re a racist or you’re an anti-racist.
Being anti-racist means you are joining the movement for positive change for all Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC). It is an opportunity to examine ourselves and address fears and misconceptions. It is a chance to learn and grow, and to see ourselves and others through a clear lens. We are all unique, vibrant, skilled, talented, and above all, human.
Anti-racism comes with the responsibility to speak up and to take action. Inevitability you will be faced with awkward conversations and situations, so it is also your responsibility to equip yourself with the information, the history and the resources to help educate others. Below is a list of resources to help start the conversation.
Racism 1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race 2a: a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles 2b: a political or social system founded on racism 3: racial prejudice or discrimination
Institutional racism (also known as systemic racism) is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions. It is reflected in disparities regarding wealth, income, criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other factors.
Microaggressions: everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.
Health support services –https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1548700698392/1548701361628
The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line – https://www.irsss.ca/faqs/how-do-i-reach-the-24-hour-crisis-line
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls help line – https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/contact/