Tag Archives: RCMP

The Remnants of Colonization in La Loche: What Factors Lead to Tragedy?

On January 22nd, a 17-year-old student killed four individuals in La Loche, Saskatchewan.

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The four victims of the La Loche shooting, Adam Wood, Marie Janvier, and Dayne and Drayden Fontaine.

When I first heard about this heartbreaking tragedy I was shocked. Since then, I’ve been reading more and more about the town of La Loche in order to better understand the context of what happened. Below I’ve shared some of what I’ve learned about the situation this small Northern town has faced.

1. Rural isolation

Canada has become an urban nation, so the city is where most of our jobs and resources are.

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In some ways the popular Canadian cliche of a “vast, empty wilderness” is still true today. Just like the “discovery” of Canada – when a country filled with many different nations was considered “empty” by explorers – today Canadians still consider the jobless pockets of Northern Canada “empty”.

While settler-Canadians have congregated primarily in the region of Canada closest to the American border, First Nations peoples still tend to be the majority in Northern rural areas. In La Loche, for example, more than 2,400 of the 2,600 community members identify as First Nations or Metis.

However, these communities have changed considerably since “the discovery” of Canada. Generations of First Nations peoples were forced to give up their cultural practices during their time in the Residential school system, which lasted from the 1870s all the way into the 1990s. They also gave up huge portions of land to white settlers. Not as a gift, but in an exchange drafted out in treaties that the Canadian government has yet to honour.

First Nations communities continue to survive, despite the loss of many traditional practices and lands. While these communities struggle to overcome their isolation, many settler-Canadians continue to ask why they don’t move south to find more jobs and a “better lifestyle”. In her article responding to this question, Susanna Kelley argues that many rural reserve members are forced to give up their land and community support if they want to find employment and education.

“First of all, the overwhelming majority of [rural] reserve residents have not completed high school and have no place to work once they hit the urban south. And many fly in reserves don’t have high schools.  Would you like to send your 13-year-old to live 70 km. away for months at a time?

Many who do come to the cities end up in the sex and drug trade.  They simply are unqualified to make a living other ways…

Which is why many [First Nations] people stay where they are, close to family and their community.

But what most Canadians don’t know is that our nation is legally bound to provide housing, health care and education to [First Nations people] who live on reserves.

The federal government isn’t just doing it out of the goodness of its heart.

The obligation comes from legally binding agreements made by treaty many years ago.”

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5 Major Issues that Contributed to the Burnaby Mountain Protest

Canadians have a really bad habit of patting ourselves on the back. We see violent clashes between citizens and the state, like what is continuing to unfold in Ferguson, and we tell ourselves that would never happen here in Canada.

In light of the recent Grand Jury decision in the Ferguson case, I would encourage you to check out what Gordon, our resident American, has to say on the topic.

While the dispute in Ferguson may be drawing our attention, here in British Columbia we are actually experiencing our own clash between citizens and the state.

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Shame Day: Sexual Harassment, Corruption and Bullying in the RCMP

Before I begin this post, I want to be clear that I have the utmost respect for the individuals who put their lives on the line to protect their fellow Canadians. As we know from the recent Moncton shootings, working for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) can be dangerous and, sometimes, devastating work.

Unfortunately, the RCMP is also a fallible organization. No matter how great intentions may be, things are bound to go wrong when there isn’t enough accountability. Lately the media and the RCMP itself have been looking into just what can and has been going wrong. It’s pretty disconcerting, and I’ve outlined three of the major issues for you below. Continue reading

Shame Day: Internet Bullying Harassment

We have all heard the stories. Here in B.C. one of the most publicized internet harassment cases was regarding Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old who commited suicide not long after posting this video.

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