Nunatsiaq Online
COMMENTARY: Around the Arctic January 15, 2016 - 4:00 pm

My Little Corner of Canada, Jan. 15

A Very Different World


The world I was born into was very different from what we have today. Not just in terms of modern conveniences and technology, but also in terms of how people treated each other and the relationships between different people.

In short, it was a very racist society. In those times, it was not a good time to be a member of a minority group.

In South Africa, the separation of races through the apartheid system was firmly entrenched. The majority black residents of the state did not have their human rights recognized or protected by the ruling white minority.

Black people did not enjoy the right to vote in their own homeland. Human rights activists like Nelson Mandela were persecuted, jailed, and sometimes killed by the illegal apartheid system. Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years for his opposition to apartheid.

In the United States, it wasn’t that much better. The separation or blacks and whites was attempted through the practice of segregation.

There were white only restaurants, schools, and neighborhoods. Public water fountains were marked “white,” “black,” or “colored.” Black people had to ride “in the back of the bus.” 

Some black leaders, like Martin Luther King Jr., were assassinated or murdered.

There was an organization called the Ku Klux Klan in the States. Its members, when they appeared in public events, wore white sheets and coned hooded face masks. They carried out lynching of black people, fire bombings of black churches, murder, and burning crosses.

In Canada, the country was in the midst of trying to assimilate its indigenous peoples through the residential school system. It is now widely accepted that what Canada did in those days was an attempted cultural genocide.

Relocations, the killing of our dogs, broken promises and broken treaties were the norm.

Today, things are finally beginning to change. Open racism is no longer acceptable. Minorities and indigenous peoples are now more willing to protect themselves and not accept heavy handedness by governments.

A certain prime minister by the name of Pierre Elliot Trudeau came up with the idea, in the 1960s, that “Canada must be a just society.”

Perhaps Justin Trudeau will carry that idea forward.

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