Systemic racism was brought to our homeland in 1604 by white Europeans with their white supremacist “white is right” and “might is right” arrogant attitude. This arrogant attitude has been with them for so long that it seems it is part of their DNA. Their arrogant attitude is what managed, without any qualms, to murder approximately 95% of our people with their smallpox-infested blankets given to our people at the time of the 1617 outbreak. So, the illusionary nation-state of Canada began building their society on a foundation that consisted of genocide, slavery, white supremacy, pathological avarice, war, hate, theft, lies, violence, fear, misogyny, racism, and denial. Systemic racism is woven right into the fabric of the Canadian nation-state.
‘Systemic’ refers to a system as a whole. It refers to an organized system forming a network for serving a common purpose such as a phone system, a highway system, computer system. Or, in this case, a police system or an Indian reservation system. The systemic racism which governs the Indian reservation system and has perpetuated the harms of residential schools and the sterilization of Indigenous women is rooted in the systems of legislation that built the Canadian nation-state: the 1749 Scalping Proclamation, the Constitution Act, 1867, the Indian Act. All serve to confine, control, colonize, and terrorize our people. This Indian reservation system along with the different laws that serve to separate one group of people (Indians) from the rest of Canadian society; this is the epitome and the embodiment of systemic racism. When John A. MacDonald and his cohort created their own private army (RCMP) they placed this para-military force within the war department knowing that the main purpose for its existence was/is to make war with Indians until such time that Canada was free of its “Indian problem.” The Final Solution.
This systemic racism continues into the present, but the white supremacists are now much more devious and deceptive in cloaking and hiding their inherent racist attitudes/worldviews. This is confirmed in the present through the many years that the Indian reservation system has been enshrined in Canada’s Constitution Act, 1867 and this systemic racism still exists at all levels of government and in all white institutions. In the words of Meridel le Sueur, “the history of an oppressed people is hidden in the lies and the agreed myths of its conquerors.”
What can one do with a problem like systemic racism that is so deeply ingrained within the fabric of the Canadian society/culture? In my opinion, one way is to hear the words of wisdom from our spiritual elders who have been teaching since day one that “we must love one another or die. We can achieve this in two ways:
1. Do away with all labels that humans have placed on themselves, such as “Indian,” “French,” “English,” “Catholic,” “Protestant,” “Muslim,” “them,” “us,” and on and on and on into oblivion. We are what Great Mystery made us: human beings with no labels.
2. Our white brothers have to recognize, acknowledge, and accept how our homeland was stolen by white Europeans through genocide. No denial.
These are the words of a child of genocide.
All My Relations,
Dan Ennis is a traditional elder from Tobique First Nation.