Here I am in South Africa. I came here in 1993, shortly before the first truly democratic elections and the tearing down of the walls of apartheid. This morning, I open my email to find something from back home talking about Indigenous peoples and “educational apartheid.” I’d provide a link but I couldn’t find one, so here’s what I grabbed from that email:
The denunciation of a two-tiered system of “educational apartheid” was made by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF). They have taken the extraordinary step of calling on all Ontario high school teachers to get their students involved in a campaign to force the government to provide basic education rights for children in First Nations communities.
The move was initiated in response to the minister’s decision to shut down a grade school in the James Bay community of Attawapiskat.
The Minister in question is Chuck Strahl, Indian Affairs. Apparently, the Ontario Public School Boards Association has also condemned Strahl’s recent statements to the United Nations. Strahl defended Canada’s refusal to sign the UN’s International Covenant on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but also said his government was doing loads to improve the lives of Indigenous folks in Canada.
Bull roar, according to some of those Indigenous folks. Here’s a link to that story:
“I see that after 500 years, colonialism is still very much alive in Canada,” said Chief Picard of the Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. “In spite of the existence of our ancestral rights, the reality is that the governments continue to alienate our territories, and to deny, or extinguish without hesitation, our rights and our titles.”
To Picard and other indigenous leaders of Canada, it’s not for the Canadian government to decide what kind of development their people need, it’s the right of the indigenous communities to choose their own way of life.
“Canada’s economy is based on the colonial doctrine of discovery,” said Chief Arthur Manuel of the Indigenous Network of Economies and Trade, an organization based in British Columbia. “It’s all about stealing land from the indigenous people. It doesn’t want to recognize the Declaration because [the Declaration] recognizes our human rights.”
Coming here makes it much more difficult for me to accept or ignore those lame excuses by Canadians who allow their governments after government to get away with this bilge.