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Action against Thunder Bay racism called for at Building Bridges event

Friday January 24, 2014

Wikwemikong’s Donna Simon called for more dialogue between Thunder Bay residents during the Jan. 20 Building Bridges community gathering at Lakehead University.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes throughout my 30 years of coming here, but I still see quite a bit of racism,” said Simon. “I had a conversation the other day with a lady who I’ve known for my whole life. She’s non-native and it was a really uncomfortable conversation because she kept referring to ‘those people.’ When you start talking about all of us as people, you’re going to start thinking of us as just one people instead of ‘those people.’”

Simon said similar incidents have happened to her “so many times” over the years.

“What do you mean those people,” Simon said. “Who are these mysterious ‘they’ you are taking about.”

But Simon also said there are “pockets of light” in Thunder Bay.

“I think that we do have more of a door opened now,” Simon said. ”At least now it is being talked about whereas before it seemed like the city was in complete denial that there was an issue of racism. I feel there is some change and it is positive.”

The Building Bridges gathering featured a variety of panelists, including Fort William First Nations Chief Georjann Morriseau, Thunder Bay Councillor Rebecca Johnson, City of Thunder Bay Aboriginal liaison Ann Magiskan and Lakehead University Indigenous Learning student Stephanie MacLaurin, speaking on racism issues in Thunder Bay, including the racist comments posted on the Internet after the James Street bridge fire this past fall.

Morriseau said the photos of the burning James Street bridge reminded her of the film Mississippi Burning.

“And when the comments came out the day after, they could have been compared in the same context because of the racism that still exists today,” Morriseau said, noting she was out of town at a chiefs meeting when the fire occurred. “So I come home and I see these comments that are directed at our people. The first thing I thought of out of these comments was my children. I have three boys, eight, seven and three, and hearing the comments was essentially imposing harm on our first nation and blocking us off from the general society. It really hurt because I humanized the situation and I looked at my children as (though) those comments were directed at them. And I thought who would want to see innocent little children hurt.”

Morriseau wants to see action on the racism issue.

“That’s where I’m headed,” Morriseau said. “I want to start seeing and I want to start doing. But it’s going to take the help of everybody.”

MacLaurin, a Fort William band member, described how racism affected her from when she was seven years old until she was 24.

“Twenty years of racism, of being called a bogan, wagon burner, stupid Indian, not good for anything, that manifested into a deep hate for Indian people,” MacLaurin said. “I disliked everything about myself because of everything that had been fed to me over the years. In Grade 6, I was beat up by four Grade 8 boys for being an Indian. They beat me with devil sticks outside the school yard and nothing was ever done about it.”

MacLaurin wants to decolonize her being so she can be an example for youth.

“We need to step away from these ideas of who counts as a person and who doesn’t,” MacLaurin said. “We all are people. We all should be wanting the same thing. We should all be striving for equality, treating each other respectfully and being there for each other.”

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Is it time for a Boycott? In

Is it time for a Boycott?

In thunder bay last week a member of the PC party who is running for MP in the upcoming election made some remarks on TV, and on a social networking computer application called facebook. The comments on facebook were disparaging to say the least and were deleted immediately because someone had to remind her that the business she now owns and runs, is located in the Landmark Inn, a native owned business itself. On television, she was 'quite adamant in her assertion about how native owned businesses have unfair advantages because of cheap gas and cheap smokes. She appeared to be quite angry and so I would like to balance this, by sharing some truth.

Once again we seee another misinformed non native community leader commenting on things of which they know very little or nothing about, and then lying publically to convince people that they do know slightly more than nothing. She did not look up the facts and if she did, she then puposefully chose to ignore them for the sole purpose of fermenting discourse and angst. The fact is the gas is cheaper because it is cheap gas, literally. It is ultra low octane gas that cannot be sold at regular gas stations because it ruins fuel filters so quickly, and so, they give it to the native people to use and sell for them. The tobacco that is 'so inexpensive' is made so because it contains little or no nicotine and other additives that add cost to manufacturing and have negative long term health affects; it is manufactured by native people in southern ontario. This means a less expensive and safer smoke for our people. Plus we as a nation, do not tax tobacco. If non natives choose to buy it, that is their choice, is it not?

We as the First Peoples have always tried to be inclusive of all community members with little regard for race or ethnicity.

The path diverges somewhat and off in the distance we see Harper again, who has just announced that he is giving the RCMP more money by which to 'investigate' native companies trying to sell their tobacco in other provinces. This is nothing but 'prohibition' directed at native entrepeneurs in Canada by the current Government of Canada and its now obvious, racist policies. We know that the PM just loves big busuness and so he cant have native businesses cutting off his PC party money supply from big tobacco companies. So, instead, the PC party create new laws, and tell new lies, in order crimninalize the native business owner and community leaders. Hitler used the same tactic to marginalize a racial group and attack them so the goverment's sins are less visible.

As i step to the side of my path one more time and look back at a Senate scandal closely, i see Duffy, Wallen, Boreassaeau and Holt all pointing their fingers at First Nations and accusing them of mismanagement of funds. Even the PC 'junkie' mayor of Toronto and his goofy brother got in on the finger pointing. Each of these non-upright PC party members did this thing, in the months leading up to the scandal. It is only when Revenue Canada steps in and says, to the effect..."...untrue!. The lowest number ever of FN's are having money management problems and they are working within guidelines to resolve them, and only 1 is in default at this time...". The criminal cabal that is the PC party seems to have a mode of conduct which is to point an over indulged finger at some group, and lie about tax money, while you rip off the canadian tax payer. Magicians do the same thing to trick people and i wonder now who it was that spoke the words "repeat a lie often enough, and it will be believed".

And then, well, then the senate scandal broke, and now all Canada can see who the real thieves are. Even as i write this op-ed, we see more scandal on CBC News in reports of Senators flying their wives first class at tax payer expense, even while the so called 'senate investigations' were going on. This speaks loudly about how the PC's view tax payers because by their own actions it seems they do not care about rules, tax payers or civil and fair public conduct. Side note here is that the person leading the investigation of the thieving Senators is a PC who has responded to these new reports by calling for yet another useless 'review' of the rules. Anyone else would be in court and charged with theft. Does Canada need a Senate? I say NO. It has indeed evolved to become a den of harper appointed 'thieving globalist' and 'wanna be Corporate lobbyist' who can not even steal with a level of skill indicative of a true warrior, counting coup.

And so we come full circle now, back to the local PC 'wanna be' who goes on facebook and TV for all to see and decries how unfair her life is, all because native business owners are selling cheaply made products. So what is the problem with that? I mean, she is selling cheaply made 'chinese junk' in that store of hers, located in that native business of ours. Both located next to walmart which is unarguably the largest distributor of cheap products in Canada. Dollar stores are selling cheaply made junk imported from overseas, all across this great nation, and so why is it that when native people do it, it so so much more unfair to her and her PC party supporters?

I can think of only one reason and coming from the PC's and it is not to hard to figure out what that reason is. I would remind this lady that deleting comments on Facebook that were written in anger or hate, does in no way change the fact that they speak to who you are, and what you believe. I say to her now that "you are a two faced political coward just like "Harper the Proroguer". As of today, she has been dropped by the PC's and will not be running in an election. Of course, she feels no need to apologize for ill-informed and ignorant statements.

I say we BOYCOTT her little store in the Landmark and write letter to the Gull Bay FN (owners of Landmark) and demand she be booted out on her racist behind.

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