I write this as I fly west on Air Canada, to begin my Groovy West Coast Tour: Summer 2010. After being seated on the plane, I received a “free” copy of today’s Globe and Mail.
Mainstream media is never free for me.
Three articles stuck out for me, all having to do with Aboriginal rights and social status in Canada. Spoiler alert: I’m pissed off and the Globe is full of racist bullshit. I know, it’s no news flash.
Section A Editorial “Letting a monster go free”
The editorial is about Robert Picton, currently serving years in prison for 6 counts of second-degree murder, but suspected of killing at least 21 women over a period of years. It seems that in 1997 a woman was lured to his compound by him, and managed to escape by stabbing him (the Globe generously adds “in self-defence”) and in the course of escaping she lost three litres of blood and almost died herself. She and Picton were treated in the same hospital in Port Moody B.C. and he wasn’t charged by the Crown. With anything.
Because she wasn’t “credible”.
Feminists have heard this bullshit before many times. She had on a handcuff that Picton has used to try to restrain her still on one wrist when she was treated. The key that fit the handcuff to unlock it was in Picton’s possession. I’m not sure what more compelling physical evidence is required.
Oh right. She was a Native woman. And probably a sex worker. And perhaps a substance user.
Fucking hell fuck. The last time I checked, this is what systemic racism looks like.
Now that Picton has been safely convicted and demonized, the Globe has no problem saying that this was a very bad judgment call by the office of the Crown. Thanks for nothing, G & M.
And, conservative as always, the Globe says the following in reference to what I would call blatant systemic and institutional racism, classism and sexism against all the women who were victims of Picton’s violence.
Alleging systemic bias in the justice system should only be done with the most extreme care. But so much about the Picton case – the delayed investigation; the failure to connect the cases of the missing women; the most recent revelations – makes any other conclusion difficult to draw.
Wow. What leadership, what activism.
The Globe ends with a sentence of bleeding heart crapploa that reads like it should be the headline of a Toronto Star piece.
His victims were all considered nobodies and they were all apparently treated as nobodies.
Of course, these arguments are the very first arguments made by feminists, who are anti-oppression activists and advocates. At least in my universe they are. But when we say it, right away, when we have the information are we heard or taken seriously? When we talk about systemic bias in the justice system (and MANY other systems in Canadian society) we’re considered left wing fringey kooks.
That’s okay. I don’t particularly give a shit how the mainstream understands us. My rage in this case stems from the fact that no connections are made when it could make a difference, and lives could be saved, violence and deaths avoided. Nothing in the editorial, including the naming of Picton as a “monster”, leads to any more in depth understanding of the issues that allowed him to go about his business, and why the lives and concerns of Native women (and men, see pasts Two and Three) matter so little to the white Canadian world that colonizes their communities and their bodies.
Report on Business: “Chevron wins bid to search Beaufort for energy”
Why the fuck would I read the Report on Business section, you might be wondering? You know those white guys that I rant and rave about? The privileged elite who run the world that we just live in? Hey, stuff that’s important to them is in that section! You know, really important stuff. Like how much money they’re going to make/lose. And who’s buying who out. This is important shit, people! Because when you don’t have to worry about paying the rent, or childcare, or racist bullshit at work, or taking public transit to work, this is your life!
But I digress. This isn’t supposed to be a rant about the Report on Business section of the Globe and Mail.
So. Under the heading “Arctic Oil and Gas”
The Beaufort Sea is managed by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. The Globe reports that “despite”, DESPITE!!!!! calls from Inuit leaders to stop sales until the completion of the reviews of the ENVIRONMENTALLY DISASTEROUS BP OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO, the sale is gonig forward and drilling will being soon! Hooray! This is so good for stockholders/the economy/other bullshit people.
There have been bids, you see, on who can drill in the Arctic. For the cheapest? To extract the most oil? Even the damn USA has put a stop on explorations to drill in the north (until November). Goddamn Stephen Harper. The “winner” was announced last week. Fucking yippee.
For how much? $103 million dollars.
Who else has interest in the Beaufort Sea? ExxonMobil (and its Canadian counterpart Imperial Oil) (and we know how lovely and fabulous they are to the environment), BP (of fucking course they’re involved! Great!) and ConocoPhillips Co. (I googled them. They’re an oil and gas company based in Calgary. They’re in the tarsands! Yippee!). Why don’t you just fucking line up all the exploiters together and throw a fucking party for them?
Nellie Cournoyea, chief executive officer of the Inuvialuit Regional Corp, a local economic development body, had urged Ottawa to impose a moratorium on off-shore activity, including lease sales, pending the NEB review. A blowout in the Beaufort woud be disastrous for Inuvialuit, the Inuit population of the area, who continue to rely on fish and marine mammals for their livelihood.
Um, “continue to rely”?? Yeah, many people continue to rely on fish and other creatures for their livelihood. And you know what else for? Eating. You know, until that day that we become borg-robots, we still have to eat and breathe air and drink water, which all come from, hm, where do they come from again? Oh yeah, the fucking planet that we’re fucking up irreparably.
[Yeah, I get the irony of flying in a plane, draining huge oil and gas reserves in the process, and typing this on my laptop. If I could disengage from the system I could. But is that the answer? I digress. And that’s a topic for another day.]
Christie Blatchford ( I KNOW!) wrote a piece under the heading “Aboriginal Affairs” called “The Town that fought the law, and won”
The story is that a group of OPP thugs, I mean police officers, were forcibly removed from the community of Pikangikum First Nations about five weeks ago.
So, we all know that Blatchford has her lips so far up cop-butt she might as well be doing a cop-butt-enema full time for the rest of her life, right? We all know this, right? Okay. So in reading this article, which took intestinal fortitude let me tell you, I needed to have a heavy duty “anti pro-cop-filter” on at all times. She was not going to express any other opinion that that of one that supports the police, and certainly would not outline any of the reasons why they were forced out by elected community councilors, community leaders, and plain old regular folks living there.
What the fucking hell fuck Blatchford is doing writing about Aboriginal Affairs I have no fucking clue. What a hateful person she is. So biased, so unrelenting in her support of the white male defined world that is Canada. Shame. You know who should write for the Globe on Aboriginal Affairs? My friend Zainab Amadahy, that’s who. Read her wonderful words on a regular basis at rabble.ca.
So, some info.
Pikangikum First Nations is self-described as a remote access community and in the summer is accessible only by air and water. They are 100 km north-west of Red Lake, Ontario.
The only infra-structure, apparently, is that which is brought to this community from the outside, ie white Canada, in the form of an OPP presence, teachers, nurses, etc. Because for sure people there can’t govern themselves! Where’s my “eye-roll” emote?
While the confrontation was described by Blatchford and various OPP ignoramuses, I mean, spokespeople, as a “mob” that was “throwing rocks”, and consisting of “hooligans” and that the police were “vastly outnumbered”, nowhere does it say that the level of violence was kept to a minimum, with some shoving, no injuries or serious property damage.
Funny when the shoe is on the other foot how the police are portrayed, eh? I’m thinking of course of goddamn G8/G20. Don’t get me started.
The reason given for this booting out of the OPP was that a young man, a deaf mute, who was described as “combative” and “assaultive” had been arrested for attempting to grab the gun of an officer.
I love this shit, in a fucked up way. Really? The official reason you’re giving is that he was trying to grab the officer’s gun. Uh huh. So, like, 5 minutes before he was arrested, the man was, like, just standing around? And then the officer walked by? And the man just decided to grab the gun? Sure! Because that happens all the time! I think the Easter Bunny was a witness to this heinous crime! Come on people!!! Are you fucking kidding me?
I think we know the rest of this idiocy.
(If you don’t know, the answer is ongoing police brutality, intimidation and humiliation of people living in the community. Just because the police can do it.)
This time, the people fought back, relatively peacefully from my reading between the lines account of Blatchford’s hatchet job on the facts.
Pikangikum First Nations is known as the region with the highest level of youth suicides, as well as a place in which 90% of the homes lack indoor plumbing and proper sewage facilities. I find this appalling, despicable and one of the clearest examples of systemic and institutionalized racism against Aboriginal folks there could be. One doesn’t have to put up a sign saying “You are a nobody” (see part One).
This fact, kind of thrown into the article in the middle, gets no further play, as if it was inserted to channel some bleeding heart liberal types, as if to say “Aw, this is such a sad fact, yet still! Those people shouldn’t have done that to the nice police officers!”
So, in summary, we have part One telling us a sweet, heartbreaking moment for the editorial writer of the Globe and Mail, about how horrible it was that nasty old systemic bias (which should be invoked VERY CAREFULLY! Because if we use the word too much to describe too many things then the sky will fucking come crashing down or some such bullshit) was in place and if only this woman had been taken seriously lives could have been saved and pain and suffering could have been avoided.
[To be clear I fucking agree with that! If it weren't for goddamn systemic racism and oppression, a lot of lives could be saved and pain and suffering of people of colour and Aboriginal people avoided! What enrages me is the "oh the poor dears" attitude. Also, too fucking late to actually take a risk and name it, and change it.]
Then part Two, with barely a recognition of the people living in the region, with a current not yet fixed oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (people are arguing that it is, in fact, unfixable, that species have gone extinct or are under threat to go extinct and that’s that. Buh-bye) describes, matter-of-factly and quite cold-bloodedly, how foreign oil companies are stomping around, doing whatever the fuck they want, on sovereign land. If Nelle Counoyea isn’t dismissed as being a nobody them please tell me what happened to the voices of the Inuvialiut.
Part Three winds us up with a town of certain well-placed Aboriginal rabble-rousers, who for an unknown reason, reject the presence of the armed agents of the Canadian state in their community! How dare they! Don’t they know the police only do good?
Systemic racism, systemic oppression and marginalization. Right here, right now. And the righteous Globe and Mail, a toady to the conservative business interests, conservative politicians of all political parties, and the protection of the interests of the white male governing elite of Canada.
And you wonder why I don’t go out of my way to read it?