LETTER: Politicians need sensitivity training on racism

I am an Indigenous person and I totally support Jagmeet Singh for calling out the Bloc for not supporting the bill to deal with systemic racism. This issue should not be politicized – politicians should not play to their base or put regional government interests first. Quebec continues to consider separating from Canada because they say they are unique? Elijah Harper (Indigenous leader) stopped this from happening by making a strong argument that if Quebec can be deemed a separate and distinct society in Canada – then so should Canada’s First Peoples. The separation failed.

Eighty-nine per cent of Canadians agree there is systemic racism so why did the Bloc member, not support the bill to reform the RCMP, which is only one piece of the puzzle. Quebec is a province existing in Canada. They like any other Canadian have a “mother” tongue and culture like our multicultural societies in our native land. We have as many languages and cultures in this country as we have distinct races. What makes Quebec “special”, they enjoy the recognition with our second official language but they are part of Canada and need to get over themselves when it comes to our serious and unacceptable systemic racism. Personally, I think the Bloc member exposed himself to what many Canadians would view as a racist decision to not take racism seriously and start the hard work to eliminate it.

Of course your opinion one way or another is going to be uncomfortable, that is the basis of racism. In fact, Webster’s dictionary is changing the meaning to include systematic racism in the meaning. No one in any part of our society can dictate how a person perceives a person’s words, actions or decisions that they personally feel is racist. The Bloc needs to listen, acknowledge and work to change racism in a country that is not immune to it but well documented over 200 years with the First People.

I would like for a bill to be introduced in the House that all elected officials take sensitivity training around racism so they are educated on what systemic racism is and how to recognize it through the eyes of the victims.

Case in point, when my letters get published and I disclose I am Indigenous, comments will follow such as: What country does she live in? She needs to go back to the Reserve? Give her a break – she doesn’t know how to earn a living? Those people live off our tax dollars? What kind of native name is Berezanski? All ignorant and racist remarks!

So anyone who believes that racism doesn’t exist in Canada needs to be educated on what constitutes racism, including our politicians and they should lead in this change. You are elected by the people, for the people. The RCMP swear an oath to serve and protect all people and are not above the law. No elected official should be removed from the people’s house for expressing how they feel about what is a highly charged and sensitive issue requiring all opinions expressed.

Jo-Anne Berezanski

Victoria

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