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Sunday June 27, 2021
When parliament recesses for the summer, members who do not expect to run again have an opportunity to speak about their experience. Most of them praise the institution and their colleagues effusively.
Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq didn’t.
Ottawa’s only Innu MP, she launched a blistering attack on the racism and prejudice endemic in a system built around aging white males in suits.
“Every time I walk on to House of Common grounds, speak in these chambers, I’m reminded every step of the way I don’t belong here,” Qaqqaq began.
Even as an MP, she said, “I have never felt safe or protected in my position.” Security guards follow her, suspicious about a seeming outsider – young, female, and non-white – wandering in those hallowed halls.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: parliament, racism, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Innu
Three days before Canada celebrated its 150th birthday, a group of indigenous protesters erected a large teepee on the lawn in front of Canada's parliament buildings, as a symbol of the mistreatment their ancestors had received from the colonizers of this country.
They had tried to set the teepee up the previous evening, but had been forced off the parliamentary lawn by the police. Which also seems symbolic. It re-played the experience of Canada’s original inhabitants ever since Jacques Cartier landed on the Gaspe Peninsula in 1534 and claimed Canada for France.
By some coincidence, during the week before Canada Day, a small group at my church had discussed ways of repairing the harm done by the colonial mindsets of past generations.
Not until later did I realize they that our thoughts perpetuated that colonial mindset. With the best of intentions, we ask ourselves what we can do to improve their situation.
But – and here’s the point -- we never ask them how they might like us to change.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: colonial mindset, teepee, parliament