Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tolerating Intolerance: What Idle No More Says About (Some) Canadians

Idle No More WEM Grand Entry

I wrote a post yesterday explaining why Idle No More works so well as a movement and what community organizers can learn from it. On the flip side of the positive aspects of INM is the shocking reactions to the movement by many Canadians.

Perhaps it is because it is such a high-profile movement, but lots of people are giving their two cents about INM on social media and in comments to article appearing online. Speaking from my own experiences, of all of the videos I have posted on YouTube, ones relating to INM have received the most comments, and some of them, quite frankly, are sickening. Tweets and Facebook posts I am also seeing display a level of ignorance, racism, and the redneck attitude that has stereotyped Canadians, particularly from the Prairies.

From racial epithets aimed at First Nations to the claims that "they get everything for free and don't pay taxes" to comments about having so much time to be "idle" and partake in protests - to me, as a non-Aboriginal ally to the movement, these comments are embarassing and infuriating. And yet, such sentiments appear to be tolerated. Even from on high, the Harper government has been shockingly silent about the movement in general, thus fostering this racism.

At the same time, we don't hear these same voices proclaiming their outrage over those owners of corporations who are in the top income bracket in the country, yet pay little or not taxes thanks to breaks aimed directly at them. Ones who rake in the profits while paying their workers barely above a living wage (and who actually have to pay taxes on their meager earnings). Ones who have these benefits thanks to the government in power, the same one all but ignoring the Idle No More movement. In other words, the Conservative government under Harper. If anyone wants to complain about people not being fairly taxed or receiving money off of the hard work of others, think about those corporations. Then, think about Stephen Harper. Then, when the next federal election comes along vote, and don't vote for the Conservatives.

If anything, the frightening undercurrent of racism pervasive in our society which INM is revealing demonstrates just how marginalized Aboriginal, First Nations, Inuit, Metis peoples actually are. It is yet another layer of proof (sad as it is) that INM is necessary.

Here are some excellent resources to explain some of the myths and fallacies concerning First Nations taxation and related issues:

  • First Nations taxation
  • The Free Housing for Natives Myth
  • Idle No More commenters could use some lessons in critical thinking
  • What if Natives Stop Subsidizing Canada?

  • 1 comment:

    tess stieben said...

    As a society we are not very humanitarian are we.
    Thanks for posting about very important topics though it seems the ignorant would rather just keep their heads in the sand oblivious to truth and keep perpetuating the "indian myth"