That’s what they’re calling this of course, the appalling racism. When, well, see for yourself and think what you would call it:
A series of racist questions in a high school English course sparked outrage among parents and students and highlighted persistent shortcomings in how Canada teaches the grim legacy of colonialism and its impact on Indigenous peoples.
Students taking a grade 10 correspondence course in the province of Nova Scotia were asked to list the benefits and disadvantages of being placed in one of the country’s notorious residential schools, where 150,000 Indigenous children were sent as part of a campaign of forced assimilation.
Well, racism, umm:
Is this actually racism?
It might not be what some would like to see asked but racism?
The course also asks students questions such as, “Why are poverty and alcoholism common problems among First Nations populations?” and “Why is unemployment high among First Nations?”
Those are interesting questions of course. As The Guardian itself reports upon often enough:
Report finds Indigenous over-representation in the country’s jails and prisons, likely caused by poverty rates and racism in policing
“We call that injustice,” says Roderick McCormick, an expert in indigenous health and suicide at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops BC. He suggests a complex web of severe poverty plus lack of education and basic necessities underpins the rise in suicides among indigenous youths.
Another study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that 60% of children on these reserves are living in poverty.
Experts say all of these factors are contributing to the lack of hope indigenous youths have about their futures – and that this creates a perfect breeding ground for mental health and addiction issues.
Or more generally:
Alcohol and Drug Use
Alcohol use is of great concern to people in First Nations and Inuit communities. Surveys show that:
Around 75% of all residents feel alcohol use is a problem in their community
33% indicate that it’s a problem in their own family or household
25% say that they have a personal problem with alcohol
This is interesting in light of the fact that lower than average numbers of First Nations and Inuit people drink alcohol. Only 66% of First Nations adults living on reserve consumed alcohol compared to 76% of the general population. This suggests that those who do drink, drink heavily, consuming five or more drinks on one occasion on a weekly basis.
Figures drawn from hospital records in BC and Alberta show that First Nations people, especially men, are admitted to hospital for problem substance use more often than other residents of these provinces. Cannabis use is also common among First Nations adults (27%) and youth (32%).
The good news is that about one-third of survey respondents reported that there was progress in reducing the amount of alcohol and drug use in their communities.
So, the questions being posed are usefully true. But apparently it’s racist to ask them now. Which is an interesting bind that we’ve all reached, isn’t it?
It’s now racist to ask the questions to which the answer is “Racism!”