By Mike Reid
As Canadians we pride ourselves on being a rational nation. With peacekeepers, healthcare, tolerance and patience. And as far as my educational institution’s documentation: Canadians didn't "really" have slavery. So I feel a little frustration, to think that our First Nations still live on reservations.
The government treats them like offenders on probation. Handcuffing our First Nations by perpetuating the worst legal temptations. Certain chains like gambling, alcohol, and tobacco are sugar coated with lower taxation.
They might as well change the word ‘reservation'; to ‘silent plantation’.
And Canada has a great international reputation. We speak of our cultural integration with such admiration.
Yet Canada is guilty of exploitation. The victims? An entire Chinese generation.
We used Chinese people to build the Canadian Pacific Railway for dismal compensation; making less than half of what white workers got, due to their enhanced Caucasian qualification.
Thousands died from drowning, murder or explosive detonations; receiving the most dangerous jobs, because they were from an Asian persuasion.
And when the government finished the CPRs creation, there was a Canadian celebration in every new railway station. And Sir John A. MacDonald spoke with such appreciation for Chinese co-operation stating this quotation:
"... without the great efforts of Chinese labourers the CPR would not have been finished on schedule, and the resources of western Canada could not be explored."
And how did we show our appreciation for the Chinese's invaluable participation in creating national transportation?
With the Chinese Immigration Act; increasing legislations to put limitations on Chinese immigration, so we could impose regulation to the Chinese population. It soon came to be known as The Chinese Exclusion Act, for unless you had diplomatic relations, a student looking for education, or you owned a corporation, Chinese were not allowed into our Nation. After all, we no longer needed them; we couldn’t have Asians become a yellow blemish on our snow white Canadian Civilization.
The list goes on and on. Whether you were Japanese during the World War Two confrontation, being forcibly removed from your dwelling or habitation, put into Canadian camps of concentration, which many died from ill treatment or starvation.
Or “merely” a woman, who had no rights or classification, because until 1929 a non-person was still a Canadian women’s legal definition. I guess those non-persons pivotal in procreation and principle to the family’s cultivation was merely a figment of our imaginations.
As a person of African and Caribbean descent, I see daily conversations about living in discrimination. Events that occur with no justification, like employment segregation in the corporation. Or young hooded males of a darker pigmentation walking into a store with slight hesitation from the cloud of fear in others and theft speculation.
And I’d give a commendation to former Toronto Police Chief Blair for being the first to at least acknowledge police profiling and discrimination. But I’d like an explanation, as to how I continually randomly get stopped in my mode of transportation.
Now here’s the situation: These are just 5 examples of countless mistakes and violation. Throughout Canada’s 150 years of colonial history anyone who has been see as the “them”-- whether Irish, Italian, Indian, Iranian, Hispanic, Russian, culturally/racially mixed, homosexual, bisexual, transgendered, male, female, black, white, yellow, brown, etc.. have gone through their own trials and tribulations.
This great nation has a long history of: cultural misrepresentation, discrimination, humiliation, prejudice deportation, racist legislation, segregation, and the list continues to Timbuktu’s location.
When we make an international comparison, it seems that our nation is a beacon of human rights, and the personification of cultural integration. I as a Canadian, and we as Canadians have an obligation not to ignore the roots of injustice that came before our generations. So our actions in the present don’t ignorantly continue these systemic situations.