I don't know where to start... I'm white. I'm privileged. I view the world from a white lens. I am ashamed. I can do better. And, so can the people who respond to #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter. Yes, all lives do matter but all lives do not live in fear because of the colour of their skin. Black lives are undervalued and this is wrong. Black lives matter. Black people are trying to be heard. And, I am listening.
The comic below by kris straub does a great job illustrating why "All Lives Matter" as a response to the current race crisis is perhaps...not the best response.
Racism is not a problem exclusive to the US. We have racism in Canada. We can all do better, and we can start with acknowledging that we view the world from one of white privilege. We should be compassionate to those who are fighting to be heard and critical of those in power who are fighting to maintain a racist system.
Here's a link to Black Organizations and Anti-Racist Groups Canadians can support.
What happens when we're not paying attention?
I have been glued to the news for COVID-19 updates. While I have been immersed in getting through the day during these challenging times, I have been missing issues that are important to me.
Before COVID-19, the Indigenous people were in a battle to be heard. To keep me informed, I get updates from Unist'ot'en Solidarity Bridge in BC. You can sign-up for their newsletter too, please click here.
So, what's happening on that front? Despite the urgency of this crisis, TC energy (formally Trans Canada) is still going ahead with the Coastal GasLink pipeline. This infuriates me. As Canadians are being told to stay at home to prevent transmission, the company is sending more workers and federal police officers onto Wet'suwet'en territories. Why on earth are they putting these communities at risk? They're already vulnerable and not equipped to handle a pandemic. AND, they DO NOT have the heredity chiefs permission so why are they in there in the first place?
Today I learned, KKR is a US based equity firm that has expressed an interest in purchasing 65% of the Coastal GasLink pipeline with Alberta Investment Management Corp (AIMCo). Today, Rising Tide North America has organized a digital communications blockade to flood KKR executives with calls, emails, and tweets, in request that they back away from financing such a destructive project.
I have offered my support. Here’s what you can do to join the KKR communications blockade TODAY and #ShutDownKKR:
The War on Wolves Just Got Bigger
This one almost slipped under my radar, on March 17 another wolf cull began, this time in the Northwest Territories. The intent is to wipe out 80% of wolf population. Now, I am all for saving the caribou, but I question doing it at the expense of another species; wolves also play an important part in an ecosystem. Here's an interesting article about what happened to the ecosystem at Yellowstone Park when humans interfered with it. What I'd really like to know is this...if we're killing wolves to help the caribou population...how is human behaviour being curbed to prevent the caribou extinction?
“Our people’s belief is that we are part of the land. The land is not separate from us. The land sustains us. And if we don’t take care of her, she won’t be able to sustain us, and we as a generation of people will die.”
– Freda Huson, Unist’ot’en Hereditary Spokesperson
To say Canada has a long and complicated history with indigenous peoples is an understatement. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) reports released in 2015, were a start to educate Canadians about the toll colonialism has had on indigenous peoples. But this is not enough, Canadians need to learn how to listen and support them so that we can move towards reconciliation.
Right now, First Nations are trying to be heard. Across Canada they have united in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en heredity chiefs who oppose the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their territory in B.C. by setting up railway blockades. The blockades have hit the Canadian economy hard. It would appear that it takes A LOT to get Canada's attention.
But will Canadians finally listen?
How Can We Listen & Take Action to Show Our Support
Government is FINALLY Ready to Talk
Today, February 27th the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs are scheduled to meet with the B.C. provincial and federal governments...I hope the government has learned from past mistakes and their listening skills have improved.
Prince Andrew is the Queen's 'Rock'
This headline says it all…Handy Randy Disgraced Prince Andrew has become the Queen's 'rock' during Megxit, royal insiders have revealed.
This is embarrassing. Shame on the UK Sun and the Royal Family for using the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as an opportunity to shed some positive media coverage around Prince Andrew.
Prince Andrew knowingly associated with a convicted pedophile. He expressed no remorse for this association nor did he offer any sympathy to the victims. AND, the Prince is allegedly accused of having sex with an underage girl three times. Now, I have to ask… why on earth are we reading sympathetic newspaper coverage for this man?
Shouldn't the Prince Be Hiding Under a Rock
Here’s a couple of my favourite lines from The Sun's article on January 19th; I’ve underlined the backhanded slaps that executive editor Dan Wooten has managed to slide in at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s expense.
The ONLY information I want to read about Prince Andrew is that he is cooperating with the FBI in their investigation. I don’t care that Prince Andrew attends church with his mother. I don’t care that he’s “immensely loyal.” I don’t care that he’s a “team player" because he was in Navy. This is embarrassing.
Can someone please explain to me how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle asking for independence and privacy is more scandalous than Prince Andrew associating with a pedophile? It's a good thing the British media insists that their coverage of the Sussexes has been fair.
Australian Bush Fires are the Priority
I wanted to kick the new year off with a 'positive' post because I love the start of a new year. To me, it's a fresh start and an opportunity to get it together. So on January 1, I always write down my goals for the upcoming year because I believe if they are written down they are more likely to happen. I will confess, many of the goals are the same...healthy mind and healthy body. But, some are new such as publish a travel article and I find this is exciting.
But before I sat down to compose a resolution post, I just happened to make a little detour to Facebook because I wanted to send my cousin birthday greetings. Of course, I was easily diverted to my friends posts and one in particular grabbed my attention. When I was in India, I had the pleasure of meeting a fantastic women from Australia and her post broke my heart.
I have been losing sleep (seriously) over the wildfires that are currently blazing in Australia. Any time there is a fire, my thoughts rest with all who are impacted--this includes the animals. Especially the animals. This is why her post hit me so hard. She posted about the impact on the animals and how many are so burned they cannot be saved. One of her friends commented about people who had returned to homes beside the national parks and they can hear the cries of the injured animals from inside the park. I can't even write about the animals crying without bursting into tears. The suffering is unimaginable.
The Damage is Far From Over
Summer is just beginning in Australia and here's the damage thus far:
How Can We Help
I am all for saving the caribou, but I question the tactic of killing one species to save another. Is this conservation?
It's been almost five years since I signed a petition to stop the wolf cull in B.C. It turned my stomach then, and it turns my stomach even more now as I had hoped the B.C. government would not continue such an inhumane practice. I was wrong.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is proposing to extend the wolf cull; killing 80% of the population in central B.C.
According to University of Alberta biologist Stan Boutin who has studied caribou herds and predator management there has been some success in stabilizing the herds, since the cull's inception. But...to save the caribou the cull would have to continue for the 'long haul.' "As soon as you stop the cull, wolf numbers come right back up to what they were before, and caribou populations decline again," Boutin said.
I am sorry, this is an unacceptable approach to conservation. I do not understand why wolves are being culled when there has not been any changes to the human activity, which has led to the deterioration of the caribou's natural habitat in the first place. There's still logging, resource extraction, road building...human activity is the root cause of the decline of the caribou NOT wolves yet, this business as usual, comes at the expense of the wolf population.
In the effort of conservation (ah hum), to date, more than 700 wolves have been killed (unacceptable!). I'd also like to know...Wolves are an integral part of an ecosystem...so what are the repercussions to an ecosystem when one of its species is drastically reduced as this wolf cull extension plan will do?
Pacific Wild has been working hard to try and save the B.C. wolves. Here's a link to their petition.
The Honeymoon's Over
What began as a ‘beautiful’ relationship—where the victim felt safe and loved in a way that they had never felt before—suddenly crumbles, the deception is over, and the nightmare begins. The honeymoon phase of a trafficked victim can be over in a matter of days. Yes, it’s that quick to be lured into ‘The Game’ and the game is all about control. Who has it and who doesn’t—it’s the loss of control for the victim and the traffickers gain of control over them.
When a victim is under the trafficker’s control, the trafficker dictates ALL aspects of their life—when they sleep, how long they sleep, when they eat, what they eat, when they shower, what they wear, how they do their hair to the colour of their nail polish. And, they certainly did not have any control over who they have sex with, what services they provide, nor do they get to keep any of the money they have earned. While the pimps drive around in Lamborghinis and Maseratis the victims are fed one meal a day.
The Game is beyond cruel and its victims are often played off each other. All the victim wants is love and security, so pimps give favour to the person who makes the most money for them. Driven by the need for affection, the victims work hard to out service each other for additional time with their pimp or as the victims see him—their boy friend. Because they believe they are in a relationship with someone who cares about them many of the individuals who are trafficked don’t know they’re victims.
In the beginning of the Beaten, Branded, Bought and Sold clip, the male speaking about 'The Game's is one of its players, convicted pimp Matthew Deiaco. The victims share their stories about what it's like to be in The Game.
In depth victim's story.
Dispelling the myth.
One of the common myths believed by those not playing The Game is that because an individual is not forcibly confined, they can leave. We should know by now that things are NEVER that simple. When an individual is entrenched in the trafficking world the victim feels they have no choice. They’re afraid for their family and loved ones, of being beaten, burnt. They’re ashamed. They have nowhere to go.
According to the RCMP,
Why don’t they just leave? Victims may:
What can you do?
I thought the sale of human beings ended with the abolishment of slavery in the 1800’s. I was wrong. The sale of humans continues and has been deemed the slave trade of the 21st century.
I thought human trafficking was a European and developing world problem. I was wrong. According to the United Nations virtually EVERY country in the world is impacted and this includes Canada.
I thought in Canada, the sale of human beings involved foreigners who were falsely lured to Canada for a job. I was wrong. 90% of victims are Canadian born. 50% are indigenous.
I’m wrong A LOT.
The sale of human beings is a global problem and the scale of its growth is alarming—it’s the fastest growing industry in the world. This fact does not restore my faith in humanity. Like many, I cannot imagine inflicting such cruelty on another human being. But for organized crime, small family criminal groups and independents it’s all about money. Unlike drugs which are gone as soon as they’re sniffed up a nose or shot up the arm, a person can be sold over, and over again. It’s all about money.
What's being done?
Police and community associations have been tackling this issue for years and fortunately, human trafficking is slowing starting to be on the public’s radar, but it still has a long way to go. Part of the engagement strategy of anti-trafficking non-profits such Polaris and ECPAT-USA, is to enlist the support of organizations who are unwillingly part of the trafficking chain.
According to Detective Sargent Tramontozzi, head of Toronto’s sex crimes unit, “90% of human trafficking, if not more, occur in or involve a hotel.” As hotels are the ‘preferred venues’ for traffickers, hotel chains such as the Marriott are starting to train their employees to spot human trafficking and internal procedures are in place for reporting to the authorities. To date, Marriott has trained over 500,00 employees worldwide. Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham are also on board.
Tony Elenis, president of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, is also passionate about combatting human trafficking. The association distributes a list of human-trafficking indicators to hotel management, so that they can share with staff.
In December 2018, Toronto Crime Stoppers partnered up with Uber the ride-hailing app. Their drivers have also been mobilized to spot the signs of trafficking and are committed to help end the transportation of trafficked people.
The anti-human trafficking awareness campaigns have gained some momentum but what can the rest of us do? Well, we can talk about this issue to colleagues, friends and family members, we can write our local member of parliament to see what is being done to resolve this issue and, we can recognize the signs. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), there are very few clear black and white indicators of human trafficking it’s usually a combination of the following indicators:
How would I recognize a victim?
Where would I find...
A victim who has been trafficked for sexual exploitation?
Victims may be found anywhere in Canada. Some basic examples include:
A victim who has been trafficked for forced labour?
Victims can be found anywhere in Canada. Some basic examples include:
What can I do?
I don't want to be wrong about the abolishment of slavery. For once, I would like to be right…let's work together to generate awareness about this horrific crime. Talk about it. Tell someone what's happening in our backyard.
Should you suspect an individual is being trafficked, the police urge the public not to take matters in their own hands and to contact them or Crime Stoppers: 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
I don't get it...
There are so many things I do not understand. I do not understand how humans can hate others because of skin colour or religious beliefs. Waking up this morning and learning of the mass shooting in New Zealand sickens me as does the way our nation has treated the indigenous people. When I think of all the atrocities that have occurred and are currently occurring it is mind numbing. When will we ever learn? Why can’t we treat others with compassion? Why? Why? Why?
We treat people badly. We treat our environment badly and we treat animals badly. I could blog indefinitely about the latter, because we humans keep racking up the stupidity. But I’d like to speak specifically about the wolf cull that is presently going on in British Columbia under the guise of protecting the critically endangered caribou.
When I was younger, I did a project about caribou and thus began my fascination with these majestic creatures who once roamed the North in herds over 250,000 in size. Can you imagine? I can.
Join the Call. Save the wolves.
But climate change and development—forestry, mining, oil and gas has stripped away the caribou’s habitat and the creation of roads has made them vulnerable to predators. What was once an abundant species is now critically endangered. So, what’s the government’s answer to the problem? A wolf cull.
It began in 2015, as part of their wildlife management plan. Although, the BC government has since admitted it is inhumane and an ineffective mechanism for saving the caribou the cull continues. So, I’d like to know…why is it still happening? Why are wolfs being shot from helicopters and hunting groups are running ‘wolf whacking’ contests while the logging companies are still desecrating forests. I don’t get it. So next year, we should probably shoot the cougars and the coyotes too. (I write this with extreme sarcasm and an eye roll).
I can appreciate I have presented a very simplified overview of what’s happening in BC (and Alberta). But is it really that complicated? Humans complicate. To say we've done the caribou a disservice is an understatement and we're in the midst of doing the same to the wolves. Pacific Wild is a wilderness and wildlife protection organization that is working hard to bring this issue to the public’s attention and to end the inhumane practice of culling this highly evolved social animal and I’d like to help them out. I've signed their petition and if you'd like to join me in the call please click on the link below.
Join the Call
Thank goodness for our youth
I’d really like some answers to my questions. Unfortunately, I may be waiting a while. What I will say is that today as students in more than 100 countries around the world strike against climate change, I feel hopeful that the generation coming up will be smarter global citizens than the ones that are currently running the show.
When will we learn?
I don’t understand why one race, religion or class, thinks itself superior over another. We see examples of this superiority throughout history—be it the Crusades, the Slave Trade, Caste Systems, the Indian Act, the Holocaust and of late, El Paso, Texas. In short, racism exists everywhere, and humanity still has a lot to learn.
According to Oxford Dictionary racism is defined as: ‘The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.’
People are very uncomfortable with the term racism and take great offense at being called a racist. Something to consider...if you're being called a racist, dare I say it…you're probably a racist. But, after feeling defensive which is a normal reaction when you feel like you are being attacked, there is an opportunity to reflect upon your belief system and evolve your thinking.
Because I’ve spent the last two weeks blogging about the treatment of Meghan Markle in the British press, I’ll use this as an example. The British press has been called out for being racist in their coverage of Meghan which they have vehemently denied or perhaps, if we give them the benefit of the doubt--not recognized as being such. The Telegraph’s Twitter account, promoted the following tweet from Camilla Tominey, “I wonder whether Meghan was conscious of the bias she showed in choosing 15 ‘forces for change’ for the Vogue cover, all of whom were women, of which only five were white?"
I would like to challenge Tominey to think about Meghan’s list of trailblazers from beyond her ‘white’ lens. This is an opportunity for her to evolve her way of thinking. We are inundated with images of white women and men on magazine covers. The world is not white; it’s made up of many different races—it’s time a more accurate picture of our world be reflected on magazine covers, movies… Meghan’s list was not racist against whites it was inclusive.
Unfortunately, leadership south of the border has provided plenty of ammunition for hate to surface. Of late, Trump tweeted out a doozie when he suggested four members of Congress—Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib—four Democrats on the left, four women of color, should “go back” to the countries “from which they came” if they were going to keep on criticizing him. (Note to Trump, 3 of the 4 women were born in the US).
When asked point blank if he was racist Trump responded, “If you’re not happy here, then you can leave,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave. And that’s what I say all the time.”
Again, to think beyond the 'white' lens...I wonder if Trump is aware that we live in a continent that is build on immigration and if the indigenous peoples had a strict immigration policy that only allowed in people with the same skin colour and beliefs as theirs Trump would not live in 'his' America. In fact, many of us would not be living in North America.
Humanity Continues to Fail
In the 90’s, when I was backpacking in Belfast, Ireland I encountered a VERY inebriated fellow who was f’ing the Catholics like there was no tomorrow. I asked him, why he hated the Catholics so much and his response was, “because they’re Catholics.” Despite being looped out of his tree, he could express his hatred with fervour, yet he could not articulate why he hated the Catholics so much and I found this ‘not knowing’ disturbing. This was one of those defining moments in my life because it put into reality how people are conditioned to hate. Quite simply...we are not born hating—we learn it.
We are also conditioned to fear. Previously, it was the fear of the spread of communism now, it’s the fear of radical Islam. But, do you know what scares me more? The white supremacists who live within our borders and are becoming more mainstream and active and, the conservative groups who are challenging women’s reproductive rights. I'll say it again--this scares me more.
Unfortunately, we have failed history; racism still exists, and it exists everywhere. As all cultures grow up with an 'unconscious bias,' I would like to challenge everyone--myself included, to look beyond the lens we are familiar with and view the world and all its people with compassion rather than a mindset of 'them' vs 'us.'