October 30, 2020

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MUSKRAT SPEAKING TO KIDS ON WHITE SUPREMACY AND SYSTEMIC RACISM #Black+IndigenousLivesMatter

MUSKRAT SPEAKING TO KIDS ON WHITE SUPREMACY AND SYSTEMIC RACISM #Black+IndigenousLivesMatter

Right, Olivia Iheme and other protesters march in Toronto (Photo by George Talusan, BlogTO). Left, protesters march in California (Photo by Ayrton Ostly, The Californian). Middle, the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Montreal is seen after being defaced amid a growing debate over how to view historical figures through a modern moral lens (Photo by Graham Hues, The Canadian Press)

Witnessing the #BlackLivesMatter movement explode and soar across the United States, media platforms, and the globe has filled me with enormous waves of emotions since the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police on May 25, 2020. My heart, drenched by the sadness of racist driven violence is also brimming with hope that systemic change just may begin to unfold in Canada too.

A few weeks before George Floyd was murdered, my 14 year-old Son asked me, what happened to Ahmaud Arbery? He told me he couldn’t understand how someone could kill an innocent young person based on the colour of their skin!

In that moment I decided I had to give him: ‘The history lesson.’ The one that eventually bursts all of our brown childhood bubbles; the one that even our contemporary schools and media still deny through their own silence on the subject. I attempted to explain what White Supremacy is and how it impacts communities of colour, women, and even the Earth.

I explained that the whole Western world view: its religions such as Christianity, patriarchy, economic systems, institutions, values, art, and yes, even its notions of the cosmos, science, and time are based on its own Eurocentric lens which envisions these systems as supreme. This notion of superiority for white systems and the inferiority of any other has ‘justified’ the deaths of millions of brown people and women in the last few centuries and continues to do so today. White supremacy is a false belief that white systems are at the ‘top’ of a natural human evolution and so called ‘progress’. The RCMP and police in general were established to maintain and enforce this system as white colonizers and settlers brutalized the world in a push for dominance and power.

I told my son about the murder of Indigenous youth, Colten Bushie and the all White Saskatchewan jury that acquitted the racist killer farmer who shot the unarmed sleeping boy in the back of the head. Together watching the screen, my son and I witness the consistent killing of Indigenous men, women, boys, and girls across Canada. Their stories more often told through a white media lens that criminalizes and blames them for their own deaths, justifying the continuation of white violence against People of Colour. I witness White CBC reporters reporting on George Floyd, criminalizing his past and the protestors for ‘looting’ while remaining silent about police blasting unarmed crowds with rubber bullets, tear gas, and tazers on Indigenous land ‘looted’ by their forefathers who ‘stole’ and enslaved Africans to toil it.

Witnessing Canadians react to #BlackLivesMatter holds up a mirror on our society. I see leadership at the highest levels such as Ontario Premiere Doug Ford declaring there isn’t systemic racism in Canada and further spreading the myth that racism is, ‘not as bad in Canada as in the US’.

It’s a constant heartache to think about all of the historic and on-going injustices that happen to Black and Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island- but to remain silent is not an option. Indigenous nations in Canada do not recognize the Canadian and US border and ask any one of us- we will share a similar story and experience of colonialism on either side of the ‘border’.

And just a day after Alberta’s Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) said it would investigate claims of racism and police brutality brought forward by Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam, the RCMP’s Deputy Commissioner of Alberta, Curtis Zablocki said, “I don’t believe that racism is systemic through Canadian policing.” A day after that, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, backed up Zablocki stating, “I think that if systemic racism is meaning that racism is entrenched in our policies and procedures, I would say that we don’t have systemic racism.”

These very statements are evidence of these individuals’ ignorance of both their own complicity and perpetuation of White Supremacy the very belief systems that work to deny and reinforce systemic racism in Canada.

How can we even have a conversation about systemic racism, let alone begin to dismantle it, or seek justice from it, when our leaders and institutions deny its very existence? Even when the mirror is put in front of them over and over again on camera and explained in countless reports and commissions such as for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls #MMIWG. Why are White Canadians so wilfully blind to the embedded racism of its own culture, history and belief systems? Is status and power that hard to relinquish?

Sadly, the injustices brought about by colonialism and its ideologies of White Supremacy might be larger today than in the past. More Indigenous young people and adults are incarcerated in the prison and child welfare systems than ever went to residential schools. Today White Supremacy and police ensure that 1 in 3 Black men are jailed in their lifetime so corporate America can use their bodies as free labour to profit.[1] The natural world on a global scale is on the verge of total collapse, while the Canadian government and settler corporate interests continue to violate Indigenous sovereignty, treaties and land rights with their insatiable quest for power and status by exploiting people and the natural world.

My son is far more equipped with knowledge of White supremacy than I ever was at his age- sadly not because of contemporary school curriculum, but because my husband and I have always called out racism, exposing the double standards common in Canadian White society. I believe our Son is stronger because of this knowledge.

In the last 10 years so much about the next generation of youth mindsets and their access to technology has expanded. I was blown away by the #IdleNoMore and #MeToo movements whereby young people demonstrated that the status quo will no longer be accepted, and that their media calls can lead to both action in the streets and dismantling institutions that were seemingly unbreakable by previous generations. #OKBoomer!

Today everyone now has a powerful media tool in the palms of their hands and young people today know better than anyone else how to use it. #BlackLivesMatter invited us into witness and share the protests via live feeds no matter our location. We can now tell our stories through our access and control over our own media narratives. Through documenting and sharing videos of racism; voicing and sharing anti-racist and anti-colonial commentary; engaging and sharing Indigenous knowledge systems- the next generation IS transforming consciousness and sharing that their consciousness has already been shifted. (It’s the Boomers that need to catch up)

Just like the little Muskrat in our Anishinabek Creation story, even the seemingly meekest beings can possess the strength and courage to build a new world. MUSKRAT will continue to dig as deep as it can to share Indigenous told stories and stand alongside our black and brown brothers and sisters and youth who require their humanity and multiple levels of justice for All Our Relations be restored and revered.

No Justice no Peace! #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd #JusticeforColtenBushie #JusticeforChantalMoore #BlackLivesMatter #IndigenousLivesMatter #LetsNotStopUntilEverythingChanges #LetsRise #The8thFire #ReparationsNow #NationtoNationNow #LandReform

Sources

[1] 13th Documentary

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About The Author

Rebeka Tabobondung

Media and story creator Rebeka Tabobondung is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of MUSKRATMagazine.com a leading on-line Indigenous arts and culture magazine. Rebeka is also a filmmaker, writer, poet, and Indigenous knowledge researcher. In 2015, Rebeka co-founded the Gchi Dewin Indigenous Storytellers Festival in Wasauksing First Nation, along the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay where she is also a community member.

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