Justice — Not War!

Government is about who gets what. Government funding declares to the world what the government values – and what it doesn’t.

The same weekend that Harper’s Conservative government announced the extension of Canadian troop commitment in Iraq, I witnessed the film Highway of Tears at Trent University. A panel of Indigenous survivors gave first hand experiences as to the ongoing, systemic violence against women resulting from residential schools, as well as from Canadian security and justice systems.

The thousands of murdered and disappeared women over the past six decades have thrice been the recipients of abuse. First, they lost their lives because they were Aboriginal women. Secondly, these women suffered from the inaction of the government in finding their killers. Additionally, the federal government has failed utterly to provide equal education opportunities, as well as ignoring the long-standing effects of colonialism: poverty, violence, lack of services, etc.

Instead of prioritizing these critical issues, Harper’s Conservatives have spent millions in advertising and time spent trying to persuade the Canadian people that two tragic deaths in Canada were so linked to Isis terrorism that the initial cost of six months’ military involvement in Iraq should now be extended for another year. Spending in the first six months is “estimated” to be $122 million by Minister Kenny although the Parliamentary Budget Officer, appointed by Harper to help with transparency, estimates $166 million… unnecessary war money that should be used for Canadian justice.

The urgent need for an impartial Federal Commission on the murdered and missing Aboriginal women has been demanded by First Nations governments, as well as other Canadians for decades. The process should look deeply at the roots of violence and recommend ways to fix the problem.

Together, Canadians must build communities that value every woman, and treat all people with respect and justice. We must build a safer and more caring society – it is more desperately needed than bombs.

Linda Slavin

End the Genocide

The Peterborough preview of Highway of Tears (shown at Wenjack Theatre) was sponsored by many local Social Justice Groups.

This powerful documentary exposes the fact that the racism responsible for the horrifying residential school brutality did not end with the government’s apology (replete with crocodile tears). It thrives today on Northern Reserves where First People, driven off their lands, live in poverty and despair. It manifests itself in the isolation of urban Native people who struggle to find shelter and employment. It is obedient in the prison system where the native population is grossly over-represented.

But most flagrantly and shamefully it is evident by the outrageous fact that more than 4000 lovely young Native women (many mothers of little children) have disappeared or have been found murdered and our government refuses to do anything.

A few simple preventive measures, such as bus services connecting reserves to urban centres or self-defense programs for young Native women have been rejected. Most shockingly, a proposed National Inquiry into this outrage has been cancelled by our Prime Minister who dismisses the tragedy as not on his radar.

It is outrageous that the ongoing genocide of our country’s First People is ignored and condoned on Parliament Hill. This racist and sexist leadership is an embarrassment to all Canadians of moral integrity.

When Elder John Little Bear, whose beautiful daughter was thrown to her death off a high-rise apartment, told of his struggle for justice, he closed with the words, “In October let’s get rid of this jerk.” The theatre reverberated with cheers and applause.

carol winter