National Aboriginal Day: My Thoughts on Canadian Indigenous People’s and the European Colonizers: Past, Present, Future – By Kelsey Darnay

As a part of my Indigenous Peoples course my final exam was an essay outlining the relationship between Canadian Indigenous People’s and the European colonizers, including the past, present, future. As today is National Aboriginal Day, I thought it would be important to share my thoughts on how I see the relationship between two from an Indigenous perspective. There is a lot of work to be done in the present and the future to heal and move forward to a better relationship.

Canadian Indigenous People’s and the European Colonizers: Past, Present, Future

Past:
After the European “discovery” of North America and the ‘Indians’, their goal was to benefit and profit from the land’s resources. Trading was already a developed network amongst different Indigenous bands in North America and trading naturally developed between the European explorers and the Indigenous bands that they encountered (Payne, 2004). By the 1600’s trade between the Indigenous and the French became ritualized because of the demand of beaver fur that was fueling the economy of New France (Payne, 2004). These trades benefited both parties, although the French did not want to rely on the Indigenous people for trade and therefore wanted to settle within Quebec and become self-sufficient.
The French were not the only ones in the trading business, other Indigenous groups were also dependent on the fur trade for their own economy and this created tension between opposing groups (Parrott, 2006). The fur trade was not the only tension during this time – the British and French were struggling for supremacy in North America (Eccles, 2006). These conflicts resulted in war, like the 7 Years War. The opposing sides, France and Britain, depended on Indigenous allies throughout the war. It ended with the Treaty of Paris of 1763 where Canada was formally ceded to the British (Eccles, 2006). After this treaty there was no longer any need for Indigenous allies and this was shown when the Indigenous peoples were not invited to the signing of the treaty. This act led the Indigenous peoples to believe that conflict with the Europeans was unresolved. Chief Pontiac decided to lead a pan-tribal resistance against the English colonial rule. The Europeans did not take this Indigenous resistance seriously, and therefore did not prepare a defense. British General Amherst believed that the Indigenous people were ‘less evolved’ and therefore incapable of military strategy. The British security was shook because Pontiac had a lot of early success due to his strategic attack plan. This resistance led to the realization of Indigenous power, which eventually led to England recognizing Indian sovereignty. Therefore land that had not already been ceded to or purchased by England was reserved for Indigenous people.
The Europeans eventually wanted the land that the Indigenous people were living on for resource extraction, settlement, and development. There was a shifted European interest from allies to active colonizer. In order to peacefully colonize, Indian land treaties were made with the Indigenous peoples. The point of treaties was to convince the Indigenous peoples to cede their land for colonization benefits, in return for profit. In the changing times the Indigenous populations were in need of money and goods in order to support themselves. A major focus of the Canadian Government during the period of treaty making was to introduce the First Nations to agriculture so that they could develop self-supporting communities, like the colonizers. This push towards agriculture was seen in many treaties through the goods included in the agreements. This shows that even through the treaties Europeans wanted to assimilate Indigenous people into Euro-Canadian culture. As outlined in the Gradual Enfranchisement Act and the Gradual Civilization Act, two pieces of legislation that would become the consolidated Indian Acts. Although treaties were meant to benefit both sides, they were understood differently from each side, which has led to issues that are still relevant today.
A major result from the treaties are Indian Reservations, which is land that put aside specifically for First Nations, Status Indians. Many of the numbered treaties also included schools for the bands that desired them (Canada, 1978). These schools, which were built across Canada, became the Indian Residential School System. These schools were a part of the government’s plan to forcefully assimilate Indigenous children into Eurocentric culture, and to get rid of Indigenous culture altogether. This legacy has created long lasting issues, like intergenerational trauma and other negative impacts. While the relationship between the Europeans and Indigenous peoples began as mutually beneficial, colonization has led to major issues for present day Indigenous peoples.

Present:
The legacy of the Indian Residential School System is still something that affects Indigenous peoples across Canada. The attempted forced assimilation of Indigenous people has created many issues. The actions that were taken at Residential Schools including physical, mental, sexual, and spiritual abuse in attempt to eradicate the Indigenous culture has been defined as cultural genocide. The traumatic events that took place at the Residential Schools have not only hurt the survivors of the system but also their families through intergenerational trauma. Many problems associated with Indigenous peoples like chronic health issues, poverty and a lack of parenting skills can be traced back to the Residential School System. The Government of Canada has recognized their part in this history. Through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Canada has begun to try to work towards changing their relationship with the Indigenous population for the better.
Although the recognition of the Residential Schools and the TRC is a step towards healing the relationship, serious action is needed to actually improve the relationship. There are 94 Calls to Action in the TRC and as a part of reconciliation the government needs to make the changes suggested (TRC, 2015). Implementing these actions will lead to a positive change in the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the government. It will also improve the livelihood of Indigenous peoples instead of harming them. Reconciliation has just begun, it will take time to actually heal and meaningfully improve the relationship, likely generations. The government has taken its first steps in reconciliation by acknowledging that the actions taken against Indigenous children and communities were wrong.
Other Indigenous issues that are relevant today because of colonization are land claims and other issues resulting from treaty agreements. Throughout the development of Canada the European settlers needed to make treaties with the Indigenous population to peacefully extract resource, settle, and develop the land. Unfortunately, the Crown and the Indigenous peoples understood these treaties differently. Whereas the Crown understood the treaties as a purchase of land, the Indigenous peoples, and their descendants, understood it as a land sharing agreement, not as complete land surrender (Luby, 2010). These misunderstandings have led to court cases involving land claim issues, or other issues involving unfulfilled treaty promises. These court cases eventually led to the understanding that land, which was not ceded to the Crown, was in fact Indigenous land. The Canadian legal system acknowledged ‘Indian Land’ and Indigenous sovereignty. Although, this did not lead to the land claim issues being resolved. In 1974 the Office for Native Claims was opened, unfortunately it did not initiate remedial action.
Even today there are many land claim and treaty issues still being dealt with in the court systems. However, the government is working on resolving these issues on a case by case basis. The goal is to improve the Indigenous social, economic, health, and political situations that they are currently facing today. This improvement can happen through Indigenous rights including land rights and culture rights. Although, for this to happen on a truly meaningful level the contemporary issues that Indigenous people are currently dealing with need to be improved. This will only be able to happen with the help of the Canadian government. Furthermore, with the help of the government and the actions they take to help Indigenous peoples the relationship between the two populations will have a chance to reconcile and change into a more positive one.

Future:
The Canadian Government’s acknowledgement and recognition of their part in the colonization of Canada and how it affected the Indigenous population is a start to fixing the problems that it has caused. The negative impacts of colonization through the Residential School System and the results of the treaties that were made between the Crown and Indigenous peoples are still relevant today. Although Stephan Harper issued a formal apology in 2008 for Canada’s part in the Residential School System, many survivors did not accept the apology. According to political scientist Matt James, an authentic political apology tends to have eight requirements: recorded officially in writing, names the wrong in question, accepts responsibility, states regret, promise non-repetition, does not demand forgiveness, is not hypocritical or arbitrary, and undertakes – through measures of publicity, ceremony, and concrete reparation – to engage morally those in whose name the apology is made to assure the wronged group that the apology is sincere (Corntassel & Holder, 2008). The first statement only explicitly apologizes to those who were sexually and physically abused, and did not mention anything about the residential school policy itself or other cultural, political, social, economic and psychological impacts brought on by the schools (Corntassel & Holder, 2008). While a majority of the eight requirements have been met since the first statement, not all of them have. In order to fully reconcile and create a positive relationship between the government and the Indigenous population the eighth requirement must be met. This could happen through acting upon the 94 Calls to Action from the TRC.
It is the actions taken after an apology that prove regret and the want for forgiveness. Justin Trudeau has taken steps to acknowledge the contemporary Indigenous issues like the underdevelopment of reserves, water issues on reserves, and missing and murdered Indigenous women. However, there has yet to be solid actions taken in order to alleviate these issues. From now and into the future, serious actions must be taken by the government in order to fix the wrongs that colonization has created for the Indigenous people. A more dynamic and undivided attention to these issues will need to happen so that they can be resolved. Although this has currently proved to be a challenge, the continuation of working on these issues may lead to a better future. Resolving the Indigenous issues will lead to a better life for Indigenous people and hopefully generations to come. It will also lead to a better life for all Canadians and the generations that will follow.
The TRC has outlined what the Indigenous population needs from the government in order to help their social, economic, and political situation. Sections of the Calls to Action include child welfare, education, language and culture, health, settlement agreements, missing children and burial information, and more. Everything included in the Calls to Action have been affected by colonization and the Residential Schools. Implementing the Calls to Action will lead to a positive future for Indigenous peoples, the government, Canadians and their relationship. It will also lead to a future of reconciliation, which is what the Indigenous people want. What wrong was done to their people during colonization will be remembered in Canadian history. It does not need to impact the future generations and how they live their lives. Eventually the goal is for Indigenous people to not face problems that are a direct result of colonization. With the recognition and attention that Indigenous issues currently have in the government and media there is a good chance that positive change will happen. Although, a real effort must be taken by the government to ensure that this change will happen to make a better future. Underfunding and underservicing First Nations communities and children must come to an end. This will create a positive relationship between the future government and future generations of Indigenous peoples.

References
Canada. Department of Indian Affairs Northern Development. Treaty No. 3 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Saulteaux Tribe of the Ojibbeway Indians at the Northwest Angle on the Lake of the Woods with Adhesions. Ottawa, Ont.: Queen’s Printer and Controller of Stationery, 1978.

Corntassel, Jeff, and Cindy Holder. “Who’s Sorry Now? Government Apologies, Truth Commissions, and Indigenous Self-Determination in Australia, Canada, Guatemala, and Peru.” Human Rights Review 9, no. 4 (2008): 465-89.

Eccles, Wiliam John. “Seven Years War.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2006. Accessed April 5, 2017. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/seven-years-war/.
Luby, Brittany. “THE DEPARTMENT IS GOING BACK ON THESE PROMISES”: AN EXAMINATION OF ANISHINAABE AND CROWN UNDERSTANDINGS OF TREATY.” Canadian Journal Of Native Studies 30, no. 2 (December 2010): 203-228.

Payne, Michael. The Fur Trade in Canada. Toronto: J. Lorimer, 2004.

Parrott, Zach. “Iroquois Wars.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2006. Accessed April 5, 2017. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/iroquois-wars/

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Author, Issuing Body. “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.” Winnipeg: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015.

How to talk about social justice by Jamie Lupia

With the rise of internet activism, you find a lot of people who are incredibly book smart. Sometimes they talk about street or social problems and fall into repeating some of the power relations activists try so hard to break apart. I wanted to take a second to voice what may just be my opinion — but what I really stand by — and explain about how to speak about social justice.

In order to be an activist, it is pretty much crucial to let go of your ego. Having went to Brock University, I have been surrounded by the academic world for 4 years straight. Though it is where I got a lot of my “knowledge”, I found the most important lessons were outside the class room. They were writing for The Brock Press and interviewing real people. They were talking to people about experiences. They were in the friends I made, the struggles I saw, the struggles I had, and the lives around me. For example, I could read all about Indigenous solidarity and the biodiversity offsetting going on in Niagara. But it was not until I really attended the meetings, rallies, heard from the Native residents myself, and actually took time to look at my surroundings and privileges that I felt I could truly educate others. Or another example, I read so many pieces on the Ontario welfare reform. Statistics and paragraphs and political references. But what shook me was the accounts of the actual single mothers on welfare. This is not something I had to read or dig for. This was not difficult or wordy or tricky to understand. This was real people’s lives. Scholarly sources and books only fostered a little bit of the understanding. The rest was reality.

This being said, the first way to talk about social justice is with accessible language. This accessible language is making sure you don’t fall into the trap of speaking with mainly the academic jargon you were taught. This means writing and speaking in ways that people can actually understand. All people. If you are writing or speaking for social change, chances are you are talking to the public. The public does not consist solely of students, teachers, elites, and academic figures. The public consists of people of all education levels, intelligence levels, and vulnerabilities. Big words could intimidate some people, and in turn discourage them from thinking they are not “qualified” or “smart enough” to join in on the movement. It is wrong to assume everyone will understand one way of saying things. This does not mean “dumb yourself down”; it really just means to be aware of how you talk. Do not perpetuate power or hierarchies simply by speaking like you are smarter than everyone. It suuuuucks.

The next point is to talk with accessible knowledge. This refers to not assuming that everyone is willingly ignorant. Some people just do not know what you know. Some knowledge is just simply not accessible. Sometimes this is a result of a systemic thing, such as people of power keeping knowledge out of the public’s ear. Or this could be as simple as someone having went to a different school than you or growing up in a sheltered house and not being exposed to controversy before. Knowledge is not just books, school, reading, and writing. There are all different forms of knowledge, and if someone does not have the same as you, you can educate them in healthy ways — not just tell them to get educated and consume knowledge, and then leave them to fend for themselves. If they don’t understand — put it in a metaphor or example that will help them understand. Expose them in healthy ways, rather than shaming them or blaming them for not knowing something. Give them the full story and allow them to create their own conclusion. The word knowledge itself carries a heavy weight, with connotations of academia and books. Knowledge is more like the image of a tiny lightbulb — no one alone has the right to say that there is one way to give the bulb electricity.

Lastly, to talk about social justice and social change, you must have empathy. This can seen through accessible language and accessible knowledge. However, it deserves a little explanation of itself. Empathy is not sympathy. While sympathy means “I feel sorry for you”, empathy is a little more passionate. Empathy means “I feel strongly for you, and I may not understand fully but I want to help create change”, or at least create understanding.

Talking about social justice is tricky. There is always someone waiting to call you politically incorrect, throw a scholarly citation at you, ask for your sources, or just straight up argue just for the sake of arguing. The great thing about life is that you do not always need 5 scholarly sources in MLA format on a page to hand in. You can look at the world around you for proof. You do not need formal education to be an activist. You do not need to slam down books to make the world a better place. You just simply need a cause you feel strongly for that does no harm to any group of people. An inclusive and healthy goal. Some smart and unique strategies on how to get there. You need to be mindful about your tactics, your words, and what could come of your actions. And you need to have heart. You do not need to know everything. You need be humbled in knowing that you never will know everything. And while educating others, be open to being taught something in return.

A post about Canadian Treaties by Kelsey

I realize I am a bit late in writing this because Treaties Recognition Week was the first week of November, but the ignorance I found in my ANTH*3670 Indigenous People’s discussion thread has pushed me to share my response on a larger platform. I wanted to share to Storyteller because I feel that people who read these submissions want to learn through other individual’s experiences. Myself, being of Indigenous background, have had to deal with classmates who do not understand Canadian’s history with its Indigenous population. This can sometimes be very frustrating to me, but I also realize the oppressed history of the Residential School System legacy is to blame. For this exact reason, this is why I believe education is extremely important.

Teacher Discussion Question: Are We Really Treaty People?

Student Answer:
We Are Not The Product Of Treaties.
I would argue that the average Canadian is not the product of treaties so much as we are the natural conquerors. Indigenous people are the ones who abide by the limits treaties place. The average Canadian does not concern themselves with any particular treaty and if all treaties where suddenly destroyed it would not effect the life of the average Canadian but it would cause a crisis in the indigenous community in Canada. Treaties have been more of a way for Europeans to legitimize their conquering to new lands and the negotiate a system in which the indigenous peoples are essentially bought out so that they do not have to be conquered by force. Is this system the equal, no, but should it be, no. Indigenous peoples and Europeans where not at an equal balance of power historically or presently and it is only right that the more powerful decide the system of institution that will govern the lands. The treatment of indigenous peoples is not meant to be equal it is meant to be fair and many of the treaties have proven to be fair and those that where done through unfair means are resolved through the court system of the Canadian government, the dominant power, which is willing to accept its mistakes of unfair treatment if they have been fairly proven.

My Response:
Without treaties the European settlement that it is today would have never happened, therefore I disagree that the average Canadian is not a product of treaties, but all Canadians ARE products of treaties. Without many of the numbered treaties, Europeans would not be allowed to develop through “Indian Territory”. For example, Treaty 3 allowed “the federal government access to Saulteaux lands in present-day northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba in exchange for various goods and Indigenous rights to hunting, fishing and natural resources on reserve lands” (Filice, 2015). Without this treaty, Europeans would not have access to these lands and the resources of this land, which helped with settlement. Without treaties Canadian families would not be comfortably settled where they currently are.
I will agree that language barriers and cultural barriers led to a misunderstanding of certain terms of treaties. The First Nations saw the treaties saw the payments as a gift for the settlers to use the land (aka rent) where as the British Government took it as a purchase. Although, this misunderstanding is what has led to the current Land Claim issues that the government is working on resolving. There is even a Treaties Recognition Week, during the first week of November, which comes out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the country’s lack of understanding of its Indigenous population. The government of Ontario has implemented this week to “recognize the importance of treaties and to bring awareness to the treaty relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the province” (Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, 2016). David Zimmer, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has stated “Treaties are the reason Canada and Ontario exist as we know them today. All Ontarians, especially students, need to gain a better understanding of treaties. Treaties Recognition Week will provide ongoing opportunities to learn about the treaties that have shaped the province” (Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, 2016). Just on this statement alone I can argue that all Canadians, including the average Canadian, is the product of treaties made between the British Crown and the Indigenous people. The land you are living on is because a treaty was made, if you take away the treaties (if they were suddenly destroyed) the Indigenous people would claim the land that was rightfully theirs before the treaties and European settlers would have to find somewhere else to live.
References:
Filice, Michelle. “Treaty 3.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2016. Accessed February 8, 2017. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/treaty-3/.
Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Ontario Proclaims First Week of November Treaties Recognition Week”. Ontario Newsroom, 2016. Accessed February 8, 2017 https://news.ontario.ca/mirr/en/2016/05/ontario-proclaims-first-week-of-november-treaties-recognition-week.html.

What I like about online discussions is the fact that we can build off of each other’s ideas, and respectfully state our own ideas. Although, when very under researched response to a historical topic, especially about my people, comes around I get a little offended. I felt so strongly about this that I felt I had to share.

Social justice and religion – where and how do they connect? By Jamie Lupia

I grew up skeptical about religion because I have seen the harm it has done when encountered from a judgmental lens. I have seen the hate it spreads and the people it oppresses. I’ve seen anti-abortion protests on the streets of Toronto, shameful Christian signs about how the gays will go to Hell. I’ve seen it all. I was raised in a Roman Catholic household, and in return, placed in a Catholic school in which I was not proud to go to. Last year when I began a journey with my partner Caleb, who is a devoted and passionate Christian, I really took it upon myself to open up Christianity and to reflect about what identifying as Christian entails and if it was something I could be proud of. The only way to do this was to fully educate myself on the religion itself. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts in hopes to allow people to see that yes, there are people from all religions that hate and do harm — but that it should not reflect on the religion, but rather displaced as an improper reading of spirituality. With all religions being equal and incredibly close in morals, I will use the bible specifically to discuss this connection due to access and knowledge, as well as personal connection.

The first stigma I had about devoted Christians was that they were all homophobic, and that if I were to outwardly identify as Christian, that I’d be seen as harmful and hateful. Supporting human rights — by default outwardly and passionately supporting LGBTQ+ rights, I was scared to what I’d find out about what the bible says about this. What did I find out? The bible has probably one single line about homosexuality. That is less attention given that what the bible says about eating pork and beef. One line in a book that has around 8 million words in it. If there are people spreading hate about something so minor in the bible, forgetting the whole purpose of Jesus (to free us ALL from sin), then I feel like they may have missed something that takes up quite a larger sum of the bible… to not judge. In response to hateful people using Christianity to oppress rather than to spread peace… I will direct them to the passage James 1:26. “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” If you spread hate, if you speak hate, if you emulate hate, even God himself has said you are doing it all wrong. The purpose of Jesus’ messages — from his birth to death — was to bring good news to all. Not some random group or clique, but to all. Hate to preach, but if you turn to Colossians 3:11, it begins “In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are jew or gentile, circumsised or uncircumised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” In religion, it is often stated that the ideal world is one free of hate and free of judgment. Jesus requested to the people to put down the stones they cast if they themselves can say they have not sinned. He wanted to welcome the sex workers, the orphans, the poor. The outcasts. Because Jesus himself came from one — the Virgin Mary. The O.G. outcast… there was no room in the inn for her the night of Jesus’ birth because she was socially and morally separated from having a baby out of marriage. God did not punish her. God’s plan was to free those from punishment. So, after seeing this side of religion… I decided if you are Christian AND hateful — then you aren’t really Christian. If you hate gays, you are not Christian. You are homophobic. Identify with that instead. Does the bible contain hateful things? Yes, without question. Can we ignore these hateful things? No, of course not. Can we look at the larger picture to contradict them and be hopeful, optimistic, loving, rather than shame, blame, point fingers, and look for reasons to say ‘my beliefs (or lack of beliefs) are better than those beliefs? We can, and we should. If you focus on a few google searched passages to back up your hate, then yes of course you will find them. They exist. But you are missing the other 99% of the religion. If we are going to be so specific, then we have a lot of other literature to look at it.  Because God does not hate. The lengthy new testament that displays the “new life” clearly demonstrates that hateful ways are just old fashioned, and that peace is needed to save the world.

Another judgment I had about religion that really caused me to hesitate with associating myself with it was the notions of marriage. Don’t do this before marriage, don’t do that with this person, and so on. As a woman and a feminist, I believe I can do whatever I want with my body. Is this belief therefore not Christian? From a feminist standpoint, women likely love Jesus. He broke patriarchy and always spoke to the women first. He also preached about how men should treat women so properly and vise versa, for equal represent results in happiness and families.

Anyway, getting back to marriage points… I was worried that not being a virgin before marriage would make religion a write off for me. I thought I would seen as worthless and dirty. Researching more about Christianity, I realized that God does not care about my sexuality. If I was having sex within commitment, that is my decision to make. If people have sex outside of commitment, also their decision. The great thing is that it effects no one but the person doing it, and is therefore no one’s business. God asks for commitment. To do things with commitment in mind. That is all marriage was at the time, and the world of marriage has changed drastically in terms of weddings and marriage being a lengthy, expensive, legal process. To be honest, signing a piece of paper in order to have sex or live together actually is not anywhere in the bible. If you choose to do that, you are choosing for you — because God outwardly states that his words are not law, but advice to a life that will make you feel best. If you think women have zero agency with their bodies and connect their virginity to their worthiness, you are sexist. Not religious. Religion is not one thing, but something that each person can work to their individual means. If you can warp it to fit with your life, then why can’t anyone else?

Religion wants you to commit. To pray or take time to reflect. To be mindful, gentle, kind, and compassionate. Religion wants you to believe that there is more to life than this, and that you have power as an individual to lead the best life possible. Religion wants people to understand that we live strictly to serve others, and that a fulfilling life is one that does minimal harm to our environment, the people in it, the animals around us, and the spirits of people from ALL walks of earth. Religion wants you to stop judging — not to use it to perpetuate HATE. Or maybe, just maybe, that is just what religion is to me. But based on some research and reading, it’d be hard to convince me otherwise on what religion’s purpose is. And to me, this is what social justice is about. So if you use religion as a grounds to hurt people, oppress people, hate people, judge people, do harm to other living and non-living things, force violence, or start war — then should find another belief system to identify with. Colossians 3:14 states, that “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us together in perfect harmony.” Love is all we need, and it’s all we have because it is the only thing does not do harm to your neighbor. Religion is about love. Social justice is about love too. The bible actually promotes good deeds and collective, supportive action – it reads “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works” James 2:26. Go out and do good, with or without faith.

Note: I am not excusing any hateful events and oppression that religion has outwardly reinforced, nor am I saying that religion — especially Christianity — does not have questionable violence and awkward passages, and can be used to justly explain unexplained tragedies like why children die from cancer, people abuse animals, wars in developing countries, etc. The world is not a pretty place, and I get that. And Religion cannot explain what humanity does. This is simply a way to take the blame off a system of belief, and give the believers autonomy. It is also a way to allow people to use their religion to promote social justice, instead of use religion to work against peace. Social justice can be found almost anywhere. Please read with an open mind. Much love.

“Rejecting Masculinity And Finding Peace While Radical & Transgender” by Stefani O

i was 17 years old like may of 2012 and i remember crying. i said i didn’t want to be transgender to my high school friends. but i wanted to be transgender more than anything. and i do. what i didn’t want was abuse. hate. violence. to be afraid. but i came out. and i came out and lost friends. and i came out when i was 17. still a baby. still healing from abuse. still resorting to extremely unhealthy coping mechanisms. i was 17.

i came out.
and i expressed myself however i could.
cheap dresses.
random makeup my friends gave me.
i knew the end result i wanted for myself was “woman”.
its 4 years later. and i think my gender presentation is only getting better,
closer to the actual style and look i want.
ive been on hrt happily since august.
my bodies changing, the way i want it to change

and im not going to let them take this away from me.
i’ve already been hit.
and i’m going to be hit again.
and i’m going to cry, and be scared, and feel powerless.

and i’ll go home. and i’ll still hurt. i’ll still ache. and they’ll feel victory over attacking a nameless queer.

and i’m still not going to let them take this away from me. because i’m stronger than them.

proud to be a faggot, fairy boy, girly girl, queer baby, effeminate freak – proud to be anything but a hypermasculine cis man.

trump is scary. men are scary. i might get hurt for being me. thats cool. its not nice but its not something i’m going to let break me. i was already at my breaking point. now all that comes next is recovery. endless, constant healing.

glow up, motherfucker.

stefani

Response to the Recent News from Trisha

I wanted to first and foremost say that whatever fear and anxiety you feel from this election is real and valid. The results are frightening for many and no one is 100% sure what will come from the new presidency. And while it may look like a very dark time, I don’t want anyone to get trapped in hopelessness. Now, more than ever, we need brave people who will fight for their rights and recognition in this world. 

The indigenous people of North America have taught me that even when there are so many policies, law, and violent measures in place to destroy you, you can rise above. Indigenous people were the first targets of the colonialism that North America is built upon, and they have proved that regardless of the measures to destroy them, they are here and their population is growing far faster than any other group in Canada. Through this, they’ve kept loving and giving their care to people and the earth regardless of the horrors they’ve been put up against. Those are the people to look up to rights now. The people who have been targeted, yet still seem to have enough hope, passion, and love to keep moving forward.

The people who have been told they aren’t worthy are the ones who will be the strongest and pull us out of this. We’ve already seen this in action, BLM groups have been fighting for justice, LGBTQ+ groups will not be silenced, islamophobia is being challenged, and feminist groups are pushing for equity. We need to fuel these groups by supporting them while ignoring the hate that is being spewed. Bring awareness to these groups, and help them fight. If you are outraged with this news, channel it into movement. We want those with privilege to use your privileges to create that change. Unity is what we need. Help others and ultimately everyone will benefit.

We want to raise your voice.

Please use our platform to speak out against these issues that you are passionate about. Please use our platform to facilitate change.
We want to get your message out. 

Keep your focus. Keep fighting. We can do this.

wylscan1

Anti-Poor Bashing by Jamie Lupia

“That lady is on welfare yet she has a Gucci purse.” “They are cheating the system.” “Why don’t they just get a job?” “I hate that my tax dollars go towards that.” These comments exist in one of the largest areas of discrimination in North American — poor bashing. Poor bashing is simply belittling, discriminating against, stereotyping, isolating, and segregating low-income communities and people struggling with poverty or homelessness for no reason aside from personal hate. This is a growing problem with our capitalist society. Inspired by a lecture I had today at Brock University, I think it’s important to look at why people are poor.

Poverty exists in every corner of the world — vast differences. But what people don’t consider quintessential “poverty” is the poor in their metropolitan cities or little name hometowns. Something truly needs to be changed about poor bashing. The poor suffer enough without all the nasty comments and hate. First, I think it is important to notice the difference between unemployment and underemployment. Both are awful. Unemployment is when people can’t get jobs, or don’t get jobs because of political or economic states. With the competition now-a-days, jobs are extremely hard to get. I think we can all agree with that. On the other hand, underemployment is more so receiving less than you’d realistically like. This can mean having a BA Honours and working for minimum wage for over qualification purposes, or having a job but not having enough hours. The list is endless. These are just two reasons why people are poor.

People are poor because of our poverty wages. Minimum wage is set by the government, and it is statistically and quite obviously a poverty wage. You could work full time, and if you are working at current minimum wage, you will still be in poverty. 110%. This is a problem that no one wants to tackle or talk about, especially small business owners or people that make a lot of money and are scared that raising minimum wage would take them under a bit. No one realizes that minimum wage is legally the least amount of money you can get paid. And if you think Canada minimum wage is bad, you have no clue how low it is elsewhere. But here, a living wage is said to be around $15/$16, estimated by examining how much it costs to live and the average hours of work people participate in each week. This allows for basic living, and a life. Hmm… $11.25 an hour in Canada is literally poverty wage. You cannot get ahead on $11.25 an hour. With poverty wages, hand in hand comes along poverty level income. Income and wages are different. Social assistance, disability assistance, pensions, working compensation, side jobs, or any other form of money coming into your life are all considered an “income”. And often, these incomes alone are not enough. Welfare is statically not enough. Compensation is often not enough. Pensions are usually not enough. And the project-based society we live in, where everyone is an entrepreneur trying to make more money on the side, is often not enough either.

Another reason people experience poverty is because of addictions, mental illnesses, and physical disabilities. People are so quick to chalk up these issues as aspired. No one aspires to be an alcoholic. No one aspires to experience homelessness. No one aspires to be OCD, bipolar, or any other disability that inhibits their ability to be incorporated into society free of harassment. But no one considers this. People think addictions are self-inflicted, when they are usually either hereditary or caused by intense trauma. Mental disorders can be a birth thing, a trauma thing, a personal thing, or just a thing. Either way, they exist and deserve extra supports that are usually not given. Physical disabilities are a little less taboo today, but still experience intense discrimination. Some people cannot work, but since they cannot work, they cannot afford services to help them to a state where they can. And the government really doesn’t help with this as much as they should.

I know what people think when they reflect about the poor. “Well, that’s why we have welfare.” So, let’s talk about welfare. I’ve been learning more and more about welfare each and every day. It is important to break stigmas around welfare and see how hard it is to get on welfare, how hard it is to get off welfare, and how welfare is unfair in so many more ways than one. First and foremost, our welfare system is gender neutral. So great, right? No. This is the exact problem. A single mom on welfare and a man with no dependents, or a family of intersex couples, all require different supports. Logically. The single mom should not be asked to get a job as quick as the single man with no children, but they are. The women in an abusive relationship should not get less because she is with a man who is “supporting” her, because living with someone doesn’t always mean support. There is a time for equality, and a time for equity. If you don’t know what equity is, then you should really google it. Also, welfare is not enough to live off of. For example, a single mom can make at most around $12,000 a year. Statistically, you need around $29,000 for basic necessities. You cannot even afford basic necessities, let alone extra to have a social life or be happy. How poor does the system want people to be before they help? Starving? Then on the street? Then, once they are on the street, they have no address to apply to welfare with. SO messed up that you can’t even fathom. Welfare is not enough to support poor people, and that is that. You can maybe afford to eat, but you can’t afford to be happy in North America. Can’t afford decent housing. And due to the invasive anti-fraud measures taken, most people are even scared to take simple gifts or help from friends and families because welfare demands you claim EVERYTHING. They do this to ensure you aren’t stealing from the ‘system’. Even if you did cheat the system, you STILL wouldn’t be making enough! That’s the greatest part. Not to mention fraud rates are at something close to 3%. And the other 97% suffer from stereotypes of laziness, and having to claim leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner they got a family members house or they get kicked off. People on welfare truly have to open their cupboards to show how little food they have to remain in the system. Women have to have any male that enters the house fill out a literal survey because the government assumes any man that visits a women is her spouse and that he is helping her financially. So many things in the world make people poor, and so many policies keep them that way.

My problem with this is that I’ve seen people who poor bash in North America, try to help poverty overseas in developing countries, or the archaic term, “third world countries”. Though some poverty in places like El Salvador and countries in Africa are in many ways not comparable, they all require the same attention. The main word being attention. It is important to be attentive to why people are poor, how the system is keeping people poor, and how we as a community can avoid poverty. Just because people don’t make as much as you, doesn’t mean they are bad people or dirty or gross or insignificant. It means we need to push for a basic income within policy changes. Higher taxes and more public services. It means who really cares if that person on welfare has a purse — Lord forbid, right? It means stop being ignorant. Start looking around.