The recent decision at Health Canada to send body bags to northern Manitoba reserves was stupid at best and racist at worst. It showed a systemic insensitivity to growing health problems on most reserves throughout Canada.
This recent incident involving Health Canada is not the first time that poor decisions resulted in an embarrassment for the government agency. Back in June, Health Canada was involved with another incident which also displayed racial insensitivity when they delayed hand sanitizers to First Nation communities due the alcohol in the product. Rights groups screamed racism and Health Canada was left back peddling.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq
I don’t know what bothers me the most, the fact that First Nations are treated differently in practically every facet of Canadian society or that apathy towards First Nations has been on the increase. Ever since the apology from the Harper Government a lot of people feel that it’s enough and that First nations in Canada should stop complaining but what they don’t understand and don’t see are the conditions most First Nation communities are in.
90% of First Nations communities are under boiling water advisories. Then there are the health concerns, gang violence, high suicide rates and women going missing. There are also housing and education issues as well as drug and alcohol abuse.
When we talk about our communities, most of them are in areas where there is heavy mining, deforestation or oil drilling which adds to the problems of the First Nations. Take Fort Chipewyan in Alberta where they have been experiencing rare cancers because of the Tar Sands, yet the companies that run the Tar Sands naturally deny responsibility.
In the end big business wins over a few dead Indians. Currently there is a lawsuit against those companies and the Alberta Government for what there are doing to the environment. We’ll just have to wait and see!
So yes, the apology was necessary but we must remember that there are still many problems stemming from what happened because of those schools and that people can’t be allowed to forget that. Canadians must remember these issues of inequality and systemic racism within the many facets of Canadian society.
Because in the end, it’s always going to be about equality, who has it and who doesn’t!