Lauren Munro is a 16-year- old writer, fervent reader and social activist attending Citadel High in Halifax, NS. Inspired by the mission of Digitally Lit’s “Afro-Indigenous Book Club”—a youth engagement project spearheaded by NS Youth Ambassador Damini Awoyiga—Ms. Munro has volunteered her French political science paper (for which she received 100%) for Digitally Lit’s blog. This is her first blog post.
Political Factors Threatening Canada’s Sovereignty
By Lauren Munro, Digitally Lit Contributor
To view her original French paper please click here.
Throughout Canadian history, many political factors have influenced and threatened Canadian sovereignty. Over the past decade, Canadians' attention to social justice and our criticism of the Canadian government has increased. The prevalence of social media today has allowed information regarding the Canadian government’s mistreatment of our people-- especially our Indigenous and Black populations—to come under heavy scrutiny. Again, thanks to social media, news of this mistreatment can spread more quickly than ever before. We now have a vast movement for social change underway in this country.
Current events showcase how Canadian law and policing continues to be rooted in systematic racism. In particular, there was a huge public outcry over a recent dispute between Mi'kmaq fishermen and commercial fishermen in Nova Scotia.
Under the Peace and Friendship Treaties signed in the 1700s, codified in the Constitution under Article 35 and affirmed by the Supreme Court, the Mi'kmaq have the right to harvest fish for food, social and ritualistic practices as well as the right to fish for a moderate livelihood. These treaties protect the Mi’kmaq people’s inherent right to practice their traditions and customs. Despite these treaties, Canada continues to ignore the rights of Indigenous peoples. When Indigenous fisheries were attacked by commercial fishermen, little was done initially to protect the Indigenous peoples. These "protests", which began peacefully, quickly turned into acts of vandalism and violence. There was no government action until this event gained sufficient media attention. Canada's lack of empathy for its Indigenous citizens is fully visible, and people are calling for change. A recent UN human rights report also demonstrates violence against Indigenous women and girls is at disproportionate levels: Canada fails to ensure all attacks and disappearances are fully investigated and appropriate. I feel this continued disregard for the well-being of Indigenous peoples, as well as the lack of response to the fishing incident, is clear evidence of the lack of commitment Canada has towards our Indigenous populations.
Racism in the Canadian police is a long-term problem that also continues to affect the daily lives of our Black citizens. Black people in this country fear for their lives every day. Ironically this fear is further exacerbated because Black people are frightened of the very people vested with protecting them. This problem is not just current either: racism in the Canadian police is as old as the police system itself. Canada’s police system began as a "slave patrol". When slavery was still active in Canada, Black persons who lived freely were often mistaken as runaways. This resulted in all Black persons being labeled thieves and criminals by the police, even after slavery was abolished. Meanwhile, as racism became less and less widely accepted, racism in the police became more and more disguised. Nonetheless it should be called what it is--racism, made evident in the disproportionate amount of racial profiling, police brutality and murders committed by police against Black people in Canada.
“…Black people are frightened of the very people vested with protecting them. [That is because] racism in the Canadian police is as old as the police system itself. Canada’s police system began as a "slave patrol". When slavery was still active in Canada, Black persons who lived freely were often thought as runaways. This resulted in all Black persons being labeled thieves and criminals by the police, even after slavery was abolished. Meanwhile, as racism became less and less normal, racism in the police became more and more disguised...”
Meanwhile as social media becomes more prevalent in the nation’s socio-political climate, this country’s long held traditions of systemic racism —an ugliness Canada tries has desperately to sweep under the rug-- is fast coming into full view. Many people are angry, and change is on its way. And while these changes will take time-- racism is ingrained in the very foundational systems upon which Canada is built-- I am sincerely hopeful that the growing unrest across this country will soon reach a tipping point. The time has come for Canada to become a truly sovereign nation.
The Afro-Indigenous Book Club’s mission is to explore and discuss the ideas inspired and shared by African Atlantic Canadian and Indigenous Atlantic Canadian authors in our group discussions, so we can get a better idea of how our collective pasts led us to our present day. This way, we can make more conscious and empowering decisions for ourselves and people of other cultures.
UN human rights report shows that Canada is failing Indigenous peoples. (2021). Retrieved 31 March 2021, from https://www.ubcic.bc.ca/canadafailingindigenouspeoples
Native women | INSPQ. (2021). Retrieved 31 March 2021, from https://www.inspq.qc.ca/violence-conjugale/comprendre/contextes-de-vulnerabilite/femmes-autroits
Nova Scotia lobster dispute: Mi’kmaw fishery isn't a threat to conservation, say scientists. (2020). Retrieved 31 March 2021, from https://theconversation.com/nova-scotia-lobster-dispute-mikmaw-fishery-isnt-a-threat-to-conservation-say-scientists-148396
Aboriginal Fishing in Nova Scotia: “Our people really feel in danger”. (2021). Retrieved 31 March 2021, from https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1734997/weymouth-pecheurs-autroits-saulnierville-nouvelle-ecosse-tensions
“Cogs in the colonial wheel”: Why racism in Canada’s police force is as old as policing. (2021). Retrieved 31 March 2021, from https://globalnews.ca/news/7048298/policing-in-canada-colonialism-anti-black-racism/
Systemic Racism: The Canadian Awareness. (2020). Retrieved 31 March 2021, from https://www.lapresse.ca/debats/opinions/2020-06-12/racisme-systemique-la-prise-de-conscience-canadienne
Police brutality and racism against blacks: a look back at what marked Ontario. (2021). Retrieved 31 March 2021, from https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1708799/racisme-brutalite-policiere-police-profilage-racial