By Raymond Bidyk, Aboriginal Committee Member
The SEIU-West Aboriginal Committee and our PAWS (Power, Air, Water, Safety) campaign has reached its remaining chapter – Safety.
In light of the recent murder of Colten Boushie, a young Red Pheasant Cree Nation member, the issue of Safety has never been so timely.
Racism is not unique to Saskatchewan – but we must understand that views towards Aboriginal persons are more negative on the Prairies than anywhere else is Canada, as confirmed by a recent poll of non-Aboriginal Canadians. In Colten’s death, we are reminded that racism kills. In order to confront the hate, people must be held accountable.
We are also reminded that Aboriginal persons face racism not only socially, but systemically as well. Policing policies such as “carding” demonstrate the unfair targeting of Aboriginal persons as this practice has been associated with racial profiling. And we cannot forget the tragic ‘starlight tours’ nor the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It is clear that Aboriginal populations face discrimination, causing many to fear for their Safety.
We believe that everyone has the right be kept safe – a person’s identity should never determine a person’s right to expect Safety. We also know that increased Safety is often achieved in solidarity – when we stand together, we can overcome threats to our Safety.
Our Committee invites the people of Saskatchewan to grow their understanding of Truth and Reconciliation – when you hear someone attack another on the basis of their identity, be sure to stand up for justice. We must all confront racism and all forms of discrimination.