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Plus, getting over our fear of the other, acknowledging Islamophobia and the day I met Craig Russell in Montréal in reader mail this week
Maybe this year July 1 will be the day we all wake up after news reports of the gruesome discovery of mass graves at residential schools in Kamloops and now Saskatchewan.
Various Canada Day celebrations are being cancelled out of respect for Indigenous peoples and the horrors they suffered under colonialism.
Now that the tearing down of statues of key residential school figures has started, maybe we should stop paying so much attention to the royals. But then people like Macdonald and Ryerson are much easier to dismiss when they’re not Hollywood tabloid fare.
At a time when we seem to genuinely feel for the plight of our Indigenous peoples, perhaps it’s time we asked some of them how they feel about Harry and Meghan.
Andrew Baranofski – TORONTO
The fact that 12 per cent of Canadians in an Angus Reid poll indicated they felt “Some races are superior to others” proves that Canada is a racist country.
There is an allegorical undercurrent to all of this that reaches back to long before European colonialism to our deepest primordial history and may suggest why some people are determined to attack anyone that doesn’t look like them.
But a better inquiry into racist attitudes would be to attempt to plot the shift in our history from the fear of the “other” to the ideology of hatred and extermination. I am reminded of a Nature Of Things episode in which evolutionary biologists noted our innate similarity to chimpanzees because we share the unfortunate tendency to attack anyone outside our “family troop.” One scientist believed that humans, like our primate kin, are likely never going to evolve in that regard.
Christopher Mansour – TORONTO
On June 7 in London, Ontario, a family just like yours and mine was killed by a driver filled with hatred. Three generations. Gone.
Every member of that family except for the 9-year-old boy was killed. Their lives, taken away within a second – including their memories, dreams, love and happiness.
“Muslims are the most likely faith group to report facing religious discrimination, at about 60 per cent over the past five years”, says researcher Erum Ikramullah. In fact, Islamophobic attacks have spiked by over 300 per cent in Canada over the period of the last four years alone. No matter how much we try to ignore these problems, they exist and will continue to exist. Racism exists, Islamophobia exists, hate exists. We cannot move on and eliminate these issues until we, as Canadians, stand up and acknowledge them.
We may have our differences, but at the end of the day, we are all Canadians. That’s what makes this country so special – the diverse set of religions, ethnicities and beliefs. Our differences don’t represent our divide, they represent our unity. We failed that family in London, and we failed that 9-year-old boy who will live his life without those he loved the most.
Yameen Khurshid – RICHMOND HILL
Where else in the world do you see trees as old as 2,000 years and 20 storeys tall? Trees older than Notre-Dame in Paris, Machu Picchu in Peru and Tiananmen Square in China are in Canada.
Some of the world’s largest Douglas firs, Sitka spruces and ancient cedars exist here.
But you better hurry if you want to see them. The BC NDP government (which promised to protect them) and the forest company Teal Jones are currently cutting them down near Fairy Creek by Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island.
It will take more than 30 human generations to see trees this old again. We are the generation that is allowing this to happen! Take your kids and grandkids when you come but be prepared to ask yourself “Why?”
Maureen Fitzmaurice – VICTORIA, BC
|I met Craig Russell in a Montreal bar, Le Mystique, a basement club on Stanley that was reputed to be the oldest gay bar in Montreal and perhaps Canada. It was some time in the 80s. It was a cold, mid-week winter night, and I was nursing a drink by a table in the very back of the bar. There were very few patrons. In walked a person in a long mink coat on the arm of a limo driver. She ordered a drink at the bar, then cast her gaze and came walking in my direction asking if she could sit and chat. |
We talked about this and that then she took her leave, saying she had to be at Place des Arts for a performance. After she’d left, I noticed people staring at me, including George the bartender, a lovely Greek fellow, who teased me about not knowing that I’d been speaking with Craig Russell. I’m sure Craig enjoyed getting away with the impersonation, which afforded him anonymity. It’s a nice memory.
Frank Vetere – From NOWTORONTO.COM
Take the recent recognition of Quebec as a French-speaking nation and add to it Doug Ford’s use of notwithstanding clause and we see a common thread here (NOW Online, June 20).
The Meech Lake Accord would’ve enshrined the rights of the provinces to nominate Supreme Court judges and would have allowed for an elected senate. Instead, we are stuck with the nomination of senators, judges and Governor General. Legault and Ford are just asserting their provincial rights.
James Pruszynski – CHEEKTOWAGA, NY