Indigenous rights with a twist, a settler claims privilege

Walkers for Indigenous rights encounter a settler claiming his are more important. Really?
Pilgrim walkers, early morning at Anglican church in Ashton. Dennis Gruending photo

My wife Martha and I joined walkers in May for the final three days of a Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600-kilometre trek from Kitchener, Ontario to Ottawa. The walkers encountered warm support from individuals and churches along the route but a few of us received one bit of push back from a middle-aged settler, a reminder of the task ahead if reconciliation is to occur.  Continue reading Indigenous rights with a twist, a settler claims privilege

Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600 km walk supports UN declaration

A group of people from various faith groups has walked 600 kilometres in a Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights
Walking the talk. Photo courtesy Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its final report on Indian residential schools in June 2015. The TRC commissioners bluntly described those schools as instruments of “cultural genocide.” They were equally frank in describing the complicity of Canadian churches, which operated most of the schools on behalf of the federal government. Continue reading Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600 km walk supports UN declaration

“Hypocrite” vs “celebrity environmentalists”, words fly in climate change debate

Bill McKiben, environmental activist says Justin Trudeau is a "stunning hypocrite" on the issue of climate change
Climate change activist Bill McKibben. Photo by Steve Liptay. Courtesy of 350.org

Well-known U.S. environmental activist Bill McKibben has caused a stir by describing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “stunning hypocrite” on climate change. “Trudeau says all the right things, over and over, “McKibben wrote in The Guardian. “But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing.” Continue reading “Hypocrite” vs “celebrity environmentalists”, words fly in climate change debate

Canada’s Vimy Ridge narrative, more trope than truth

Some Canadian politicians, journalists and historians claim that Canada was born in the 1917 battle at Vimy Ridge. Not so.
Canadian war graves at National Vimy Memorial.  Photo by Dennis Gruending

In recent weeks, there has been a wave of media coverage surrounding the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The splendid Vimy monument in France provides a perfect backdrop for television anchors. There was also a crowd of thousands on the site, including the descendants of soldiers who fought there against the Germans, grizzled veterans of the Second World War and other conflicts, and hundreds of Canadian school children many of whose teachers had given them assignments related to the Vimy battle. One of the adolescents interviewed on television said that the Canadian soldiers had fought to preserve her freedom at Vimy in 1917. Continue reading Canada’s Vimy Ridge narrative, more trope than truth

Conservative leadership race, dog whistles and wannabe demagogues

The Conservative leadership race features dog whistle politics and wannabe demagogues
Conservative leader candidate, MP Kellie Leitch. Photo by Art Babych

The Conservative leadership race involves an unwieldy group of 14 candidates — only four of whom might be seen as fit for the office. They are former cabinet ministers, including the impressive Michael Chong, Lisa Raitt and Erin O’Toole, as well as Andrew Scheer, a former speaker of the House of Commons. Unfortunately, among them, only Chong is fully fluent in French. But each would encourage a bigger tent Conservative Party than was possible under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who came to politics through the hard-bitten Reform Party. Continue reading Conservative leadership race, dog whistles and wannabe demagogues

CSIS spying on Canadians: needles and haystacks

The Liberal government promised to undo aspets of draconian anti-terror Bill C-51. We are still waiting.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Photo by Art Babych

In June 2015, the Conservative government passed the Anti-Terrorism Act, which is also known as Bill C-51. It gave sweeping new powers to Canada’s spy and security agencies. For example, the legislation broadened the definition of “security” in a way which could criminalize peaceful protests. It also permitted agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to disrupt events preemptively rather than being limited to monitoring them. Continue reading CSIS spying on Canadians: needles and haystacks

At Machzikei Hadas synagogue, a rally against hate

More than 600 gathered for a multi-faith solidarity event in Ottawa to combat racism and xenophobia
Line up at Machzikei Hadas synagogue for multi-faith solidarity event. Photo by Dennis Gruending

On Nov. 19, I was among 600 people crowded into Ottawa’s Machzikei Hadas synagogue for a multi-faith solidarity event. Earlier in the week, someone painted racist and Nazi graffiti on two Ottawa synagogues and a mosque, as well as a United Church whose minister is a person of colour and the residence of a Jewish woman, who teaches in her home. Even in blustery weather, there was a long line outside of the synagogue. But once inside, I felt nothing but warmth. Continue reading At Machzikei Hadas synagogue, a rally against hate

‘Globalization of indifference’, ignoring the world’s refugee crisis

 

There are 65 million forcibly displaced people in the world. What are we doing about it?
Photo by Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons

The world still faces a massive crisis over forcibly displaced people. In 2015, there were more than 65 million — the most since the Second World War. And half were under the age of 18. About 24 million of these people have fled their countries and are counted by the United Nations as refugees. A much larger number, 41 million, are internally displaced, forced to flee their homes but remain within the borders of their countries. In Syria, for example, 6.6 million people are internally displaced, which represents 30 percent of the population. Continue reading ‘Globalization of indifference’, ignoring the world’s refugee crisis