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June 7, 2015
by CJ

 

The closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission took place on Tuesday, and with it came the release of the commission’s interim report. The TRC published a compendium of stories and testimonies, found Canada guilty of cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples, and ultimately calls for an overhaul of the relationships between Indigenous peoples, the Crown, and non-Indigenous people living in Canada.
A just reconciliation requires more than simply talking about the need to heal the deep wounds of history. Words of apology alone are insufficient; concrete actions on both symbolic and material fronts are required. Reparations for historical injustices must include not only apology, financial redress, legal reform, and policy change, but also the rewriting of national history and public commemoration.
In every region of the country, Survivors and others have sent a strong message, as received by this Commission: for reconciliation to thrive in the coming years, Canada must move from apology to action. (Summary of the Final Report of the TRC) 

 

 Although the commission is now over, the genocidal violence against Indigenous people in Canada continues. Private companies are granted full access to unceded and treaty land in order to extract, transport, and profit from natural resources; the deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women are systematically ignored; the state over-polices and over-incarcerates Indigenous people every day; and some people still deny Canada’s efforts to erase Indigenous peoples in a project of colonization and settlement. The legacy of colonization is real; as Pam Palmater said on Wednesday: “It’s not just about our culture. Our very lives are at stake.” In these dire circumstances, the resilient and resistant efforts of those who reflect on Canada’s violent colonial past in order to better understand the injustices they experience daily remain strong and vibrant.

 

To move from apology to action, we must actively take up the work of reconciliation and decolonization. You can find the TRC’s calls to action here.

 

  • On Tuesday, PEI government announced that those people seeking an abortion in the province will no longer need to get a referral, blood work, or an ultrasound before booking an appointment for the procedure in Moncton, New Brunswick. This is clearly a very important step toward better access to reproductive and sexual health care in the maritimes, but it’s important to remember that going out of province for an abortion is NOT local access. Travel costs are not covered and, although New Brunswick is increasing its capacity for reproductive and sexual health care, wait times can still be long. This success demonstrates that public pressure and policy alternatives can institute real change–so much work remains to be done.
  • Bill  C-24 came into effect last week, officially implementing our new two-tier citizenship system. Under this new law, people who hold dual citizenships or who weren’t born in Canada can have their Canadian citizenship revoked (justified as a means to protect Canadians from jihadi terrorism)–as a result criminal behaviour can now be punished by exile. Citizenship and Immigration Canada released an infographic explaining that the new process is more streamlined and less costly. In the new system, there is no longer a requirement for a judge to rule whether citizenship should be granted or taken away…so probably not a very fair or constitutional process all together. Sign this petition to stop Bill C-24.
  • Watch Molly Crabapple’s illustrated report on how the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement locks up immigrants for profit.
  • Crucial reading by Sarah Hagi on Islam, Muslim women, and feminist exclusion: “After educating myself and realizing that feminism has many interpretations, I now identify as a feminist. However, in even the most progressive feminist spaces, I have seen how little some feminists seem to understand that the experience of a Muslim woman is as diverse as the experience of any woman.”
  • I just stared reading Alexis Coe’s dispatches from a cabin in the woods and they are wonderful. Here’s a taste from her final instalment: “For the first time in my entire life, I can’t tell you where or how I want to live. But in the midst of losing so many things that were once so important, I’ve also lost something that, it turns out, isn’t that important to me: the need for certainty. I don’t know what comes next. That isn’t strength, but the source of it. I thank the creek for revealing it to me.”

 This strange solution gives rise to so many questions for me, about the anxiety induced by precarious working conditions (represented so brilliantly and painfully in Two Days, One Night, which I finally watched recently and pretty much wept the entire time. It’s very good and you should see it when you can), and about the relevance of a universal basic income in an evolving labour movement (Michelle Chen and Sarah Jaffe give a great breakdown in Belabored Podcast #77: Should the Labor Movement Support Basic Income?). I’m curious about these things and want to know more about what people are saying about them so if you have thoughts or links please share below!

  • Finally, this Suffragette movie probably isn’t perfect, but Meryl Streep telling Carey Mulligan to never give up the fight just might be.

 

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