Protests in Ferguson, Missouri, November 25, 2014

Racism is everywhere and everyday. It has a 500 year history. People who experience racism get angry. And understandably. The Centre for Race and Culture has a vision of a society free of racism. We have direct communication with many people who experience this form of discrimination and most often we are incredibly frustrated that there is no recourse for their pain. A contractor is sidelined by an unscrupulous white businessman and has evidence to indicate it is due to racism. What is to be done? Police can’t deal with it. The association of professionals is controlled by the discriminator and there is no hope of recourse with a complaint to them. There is not an opportunity to make a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission because it does not involve employment, goods and services, tenancy, publications and notices, or membership in trade unions. The contractors, originally from outside Canada, are kind and giving people. They want to do good business. They want to act fairly. But they are being sabotaged by one racist human.

A moving company arrives to move furniture for an organization. The white man doing the moving has “choice” words for the people he encounters. Words which are blatantly racist toward the people who have hired him. What do they do? Police can’t help because nobody was assaulted. Lawyer has nothing clear to act on.

Gary Moostoos is evicted from City Centre Mall in Edmonton and has the presence of mind to RECORD his interaction with security personnel. Finally, an incident hits the headlines due to his courage.

The current mass protests in Ferguson, Missouri, USA need to be noted. Throughout the past 500 years, since colonization, key incidents like this have been a spark to ignite a huge flame. The kindling for the fire is the accumulated anger of all people who experience racism. It is not necessarily a reaction to the specifics of this incident. The anger of being treated unjustly and without humanity for centuries is the cause. We need to stand up and pay attention to these protests because all must understand what is being protested. 500 years of racism.

Charlene Hay
Executive Director
Centre for Race and Culture


Tata Madiba, with love and remembrance

By guest blogger Kamshi Kanavathy

It must have been around 1995.  I was doing my teaching practicum at Girls High School, formally for Whites only.  I was the only non-White member of staff and there must have been about five non-white students.  There was much skepticism about Mandela and the new changes in the country at the time so it was with much surprise that I was given the new South African flag and told to prepare my students for Nelson Mandela’s visit to our capital city, Pietermaritzburg. 

We walked with our tiny flags to the main road where Mandela and his entourage were expected to pass and waited with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.  I can’t remember much of that experience, except straining my eyes into the vehicles that seemed to whizz by me a bit too quickly for my poor sighted eyes.  I do remember catching a glimpse of Mandela in the back seat of one of the vehicles.  I also remember turning around and seeing absolute joy and exhilaration in the faces of the other teachers who always seemed to know I was there but never quite acknowledged my presence.  I was young, naïve, and confused.

Fast forward eighteen years:  I am in my kitchen in Edmonton, Canada.  I usually log onto news channels during the course of the day such as Al Jazeera English, CTV, Channel 4 News from the UK or checking messages on Facebook while listening to South African radio stations online. Today however, I was busy preparing a hearty meal of roast chicken, mash and vegetables.  My husband had been bugging one of his farm friends for a home-grown chicken.  He finally got it so I didn’t want to mess up this meal, in spite of a strange throbbing sensation in my head, like a beating blood vessel about to burst.  Like on the day I saw Madiba, I was excited about the meal, but afraid of what this beating in my head could be.

Finally, the meal was done and just in time.  My husband walked in just as I was washing up.  I went to the door to greet him.  He kissed me, hugged me and said, “so sorry about Mandela, you alright”.  I looked at him curiously and replied, “what, why, what happened?”.  He said, “didn’t you hear, were you not on the internet?”  “no”, I replied, “I was busy preparing your dinner, almost burnt your chicken”, I joked.   As if he didn’t hear me he said, “Nelson Mandela died today, Love”.

For what seemed like an eternity I just stood there, staring at him but not seeing him.  Instead, I saw that image of Mandela in the backseat of a vehicle, this time going by in slow motion.  I felt tears welling up in my eyes.   I knew Mandela was ill, I knew he was 95 years old, I knew this day was coming, but still.  Before the tears could overwhelm me, I ran to the laptop, located Channel 4 news, and watched as the screen filled with a picture of Madiba.  I blinked at the date, 1918-2013.

I opened another tab and logged on to, East Coast Radio, my favourite South African radio station.  The sound of Madiba’s voice filled the room, a recording of one of his speeches.  Then the announcement, a news clip of people gathering outside his house in Houghton, some still in their pajamas, then a song, Come with me Down Paradise Road by Joy.  I always loved singing along to this song.  Still, this can’t be.  I opened yet another tab and located Radio Jacaranda, broadcasting in English and Afrikaans out of Gauteng Province. The homepage was filled with blogs and pictures of a smiling Tata, the same announcements, another song, Circle of Life by Elton John. Finally, I logged onto Facebook.  A message from my brother popped up, a quote from some one about Mandela, and the undeniable words, “Rest in peace, Madiba”.

I had to reply, I had to write something.  By now, tears were rolling down my face. Wiping them away after every letter, I typed, “Humba Kahle, Tata” and clicked enter.  I looked at the message on the screen and thought, shoot, I think I spelled “hamba” wrong.

By this time my poor, tired, and very hungry husband was picking at the chicken.  I dried my face, took a deep breath, logged onto Netflix, watched a sitcom to get my mind on something else, and enjoyed our meal, the throbbing in my head strangely gone.

Later, at around 9pm, I logged back on to East Coast Radio, and couldn’t get off again.  It was 6am in South Africa. Usually, the morning show involves a team of presenters of different races, news readers, traffic reporters and sports reporters, all joking around, making prank calls, laughing, playing music to get listeners up and to work through traffic jams and delays, as happily and stress free as possible. But not today. There was one lone voice, greeting listeners, telling them the sad news as tactfully as possible, (after all, people were just waking up), encouraging them to call in to the station if they were alone with no one to reach out to, urging drivers to put their headlights on today to show respect for Madiba. 

Except for the time my grandmother died, there was never another time that I really wanted to be back home, mourning with everyone, standing outside Madiba’s house in my pajamas, just being there.  I opened another tab to Radio Jacaranda and the mood was the same.  There were tributes from local people, children, celebrities and world leaders.  All songs played on both stations were in memory of Mandela, songs that celebrated his life, his legacy, songs that illustrated what he meant to us, to South Africa, to Africa and to the world.  Dance with my Father by Luther Vandross brought another flood of tears.  All the radio and television stations in South Africa had cancelled their usual programming to pay tribute.

Radio Jacaranda also has a team of fun-loving, jokey presenters, all White, but like on East Coast, one lone voice spoke.  Later, he got the others to share their thoughts.  One of the presenters told the story of how she was brought up to believe that Mandela was a bad man.  She never knew what he looked like because they were not allowed to see pictures of him.  Later, when she was studying journalism, her class had to attend a press conference.  Mandela was there.  She couldn’t help it.  She just stared at him.  Here was this apparently bad person IN THE FLESH!  Mandela must have sensed her eyes on him because he looked up, straight at her.  His hands were on his knees.  With the slightest movement, he lifted his palm and gave her a small wave with the slightest smile on his face.  That was it, she was hooked on him ever since.

Another presenter talked about a concert he attended where Mandela danced on stage, doing his usual Mandela Shuffle in his well-recognized Mandela Shirt, and urging the audience to get up and dance with him.  I knew instantly what concert that was and before he could start the song I started singing, “Assimbonanga” by Johnny Clegg.  I quickly located the video on Youtube.  I muted the sound on the video so we could listen to the presenter instead.  My husband and I watched the video as the song played over the radio station.  After a while, the presenter’s voice came on over the music, full of emotion, “can you just see it, can you see that big smile on his face, that shuffle?”  Yes, we could see it, the image of Mandela that people will remember forever!

Tata, you smiled, and the world smiled with you,

You laughed, and the world laughed with you,

You danced, and the world danced with you

You Raise Me Up by Westlife illustrates our relationship with Mandela like no other;

You raised us up so we could stand on mountains,

you raised us up to walk on stormy seas,

we were strong when we were on your shoulders,

you raised us up to more than we could be.

Hamba Kahle, Tata,


Lala Kakuhle

Explanation of Terms:       Pronunciation:                    Meaning                   

Assimbonanga           –           (are-seem-bow-nunga)        We have not seen him

Hamba Kahle, Tata    –           (hum-ha gush-lair)                Go well, Father (Zulu)

Ngiyabonga                –           (gee-ya-bonga)                      Thank you (Zulu)

Lala Kakuhle              –           (la-la ga-goosh-lair)              Sleep well (Xhosa)

There is no literal translation for the word goodbye in Zulu.  In a home scene for example, the person living in the house would say “go well” to the person leaving, while the person leaving would say, “stay well” to the person of the house.

“Captin Phillips” strays into Troubled Waters with Simplistic and Racist Portrayal of Somalis

by Arsheen Devjee

Captain Phillips, the newly released Hollywood thriller starring Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass (the director of Bourne Identity) hit the box office with roaring reviews. A suspense filled thriller, it definitely captivated me; but there was something more to the suspense that made my eyebrows raise.

The movie was based off of the 2009 incident where the American cargo ship, AV Maersk Alabama, was hijacked while sailing around the horn of Africa. Hanks acted as the calm, rational, and clever captain of the AV Maersk Alabama, Captain Richard Phillips, who was able to reason through difficult situations. Captain Phillips was given plenty of screen time before he boarded ship to establish the context he was coming from. Meanwhile, Captain Phillips’ counterpart, Muse, played by Barkhad Abdi from Minnesota, is portrayed as an erratic, villager that won a draw of hands to be, what seemed like, randomly picked from a mob of young Somali men vying for a position on the pirate vessel. Very little background on who Muse was or what kind of life he came from was provided, as he was quite literally woken up and tossed in the mob of men vying for employment as a pirate. It is at this point where the movie fails to bring justice to piracy off the Somali coast, as no context for it is given. The movie fails to mention the civil war in Somalia, the consequent illegal fishing of the once protected Somali territorial waters by international fisheries and the humble beginnings of the piracy movement as a tool of self-defense for Somali fishing waters.

Muse is juxtaposed with Captain Phillips who is portrayed as a tough captain, tough on his own fleet as well as himself.  Although Greengrass did paint Muse with shades of empathy here and there, Muse was largely a scary pirate with an AK, no real context or life story.

From here on, the movie basically follows the regular Hollywood story of race: the responsible white man being attacked by crazy weapon bearing black men. The white man through his good nature and wits, comes out on top. Without an established context to what Muse was doing and where he came from, it was disappointing to see one of Hollywood’s best films of the year follow the old story of depicting the “African” as violent, erratic and crazy.

Greengrass’s defense, when asked about this depiction was that other Somalis (mainly the actors) did not find it racist or inaccurate, and therefore it was not. Interestingly, the real Captain Phillips is currently being sued by many of his crew for irresponsibly putting their lives in danger during the hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama. Captain Phillips was allegedly repeatedly warned ahead of time of the pirates present near the Somali shore, and ignored the warnings. He chose to sail 300 miles from the shore as opposed to the advised “at least 600 miles” away. This mismatched depiction of the “real” MV Maersk Alabama  hijacking adds some food for thought, as to whose character depictions can be stretched, and in which direction and why.

Who do we Think we Are? Examining the Quebec Values Charter as a Human Rights Issue

Time and time again, Canada has been defined as a nation whose core and foundational values allow Canadians to position ourselves as human rights advocates. What it means to ‘be Canadian’ has been defined through national narratives reproduced in our text books and our mainstream media that construct Canada as an inclusive ‘cultural mosaic’, a peacekeeper, a country devoid of a colonial history….and the list goes on.  Fortunately, many Canadians have fought against these narratives, naming them for what they are – myths that deliberately ignore the violations of human rights in the past and present.

While I have read articles and listened to interviews that report on both sides of the debate, I cannot help but notice what people are not talking about.

It seems that what is missing from this debate is the recognition that a kipa, a hijab, a turban, and all of the other so called ‘religious symbols’ that are at the centre of both the ‘for’ and ‘against’ arguments are, in fact, not religious symbols. Unlike a chain with a crucifix, a kipa (for example) is not a religious symbol, but rather a practice of the Jewish faith. If we begin from this point, then we can argue that under international standards this proposed Charter is a violation of human rights for it denies people their inherent rights to practice their religion.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” As a signatory of the Declaration, Canada has committed to promoting human rights within civil society both nationally and internationally and to secure their universal observance. Thus, though reframing the Quebec Values Charter as a violation of human rights has important legal implications, I am currently more concerned with what it might mean for Canadians to redefine our sense of collective identity through this reframing.

I am hopeful that conversations about what the Quebec Values Charter means for ‘us’ holds open many opportunities to engage in difficult conversations about how to be advocates and promoters of human rights without denying the past and present violations committed in ‘our’ name.

Ana Laura Pauchulo

How Canadian Schools Fail Aboriginal Youth. A personal reflection by guest blogger Kamshi Kanavathy.

Before I decided to move to Canada, I had done what I believed to be extensive qualitative and quantitative research on Canadian cultures, religions, peoples, foods, climates, etc. I recall the smiling faces on the “Welcome to Canada” pages and the extensive talk on multiculturalism, friendliness, social cohesion, inclusiveness and so on.  My research however, was not as extensive as I believed.  I was not prepared for the many negatives I have encountered, including the shockingly uncensored hatred and ill-treatment of Aboriginal people in this country.


When I did a tour of what is referred to as “Indian Country” in America, I was told about how aboriginals get blamed and arrested as the perpetrators of fights in night-clubs.  I never expected to witness that scenario in Canada, in an educational institution of all places.


A fight broke out one day, like they so often do I was told, but this time was a bit different.  It involved a White boy (let’s call him Chad) and an Aboriginal boy (we’ll call him Danny).  Apparently, Danny kicked Chad so badly that an ambulance had to be summoned.  Chad spent the next few days recovering in hospital whilst Danny was arrested, taken to the police station, charged, had to appear in court and was suspended from school.  


I did not witness the actual fight, but according to the other kids Chad was “asking for it”, he was always “saying things to Danny”, “bating him”, “gunning for a reaction”.   At first I didn’t know what to make of it.  To me at the time, it was just another fight in that school.


I soon realized who Chad actually was!  He was that skinny foul-mouthed kid, slumped down on his chair, sitting at the back of one of my classes, shouting profanities, never doing any work, disturbing other kids from working.  I was an Educational Assistant busy helping an assigned special needs student at the time. I barely paid much attention to Chad.


However, some time later, I was working with an Aboriginal kid, I’ll call him Winston. Winston loved having friends and entertaining them – even to the expense of the teachers’ wrath.  Unfortunately, Winston and I ended up in the same class as Chad.  And they became friends, sitting next to each other.  Once I got Winston to settle down to work, Chad would interfere and together, very little got done.  If I told Chad off, Winston would get mad at me for being rude to his friend.  The other Educational Assistant in class worked with a few students in that class, including Chad.  Whenever Chad would swear or be rude to someone, the EA would just laugh and tell him in a jokey way to stop.  She’d look at me and shake her head and laugh.  However, if Winston did something wrong, then she would get angry and flustered and scold him.  She’d look at me sternly and in frustration.  Aside, she would say to me, “these f… Indians” or “these people”.  The teacher would also respond to both boys’ disruptive behavior differently.  She would tell Chad sternly or matter-of-factly to “be quiet”, or “do your work” or “stop it”, while she would always shout angrily at Winston and often tell him to “get out”. 


One day, Chad and Winston were fooling around as usual.  Winston had his textbook open to the correct page and was trying to follow along as well.  When Chad realized that Winston was actually paying attention, he pulled the textbook away from Winston and Winston said out loud, “heeey!” and they both started laughing.  The teacher looked up and hollered at Winston, asking him where his book was.  He replied, (pointing to the book in front of Chad) “that’s my book”.  Chad insisted with a big smile on his face, “no, that’s my book”.  I chimed in and told the teacher that that was indeed Winston’s book and that Chad pulled it away from him.  The other EA put in her two cents and said that she saw Chad with that book all lesson.  The teacher told Winston to leave the classroom and not return until he found his textbook.


On another occasion, Chad and Winston were jokingly passing insults between each other. Then they started comparing strength and Chad said to Winston, “I bet you can’t pick me up and throw me there” (pointing to front of the classroom).  They were sitting at the back of the classroom.  Winston said that he could and so it went on for a few minutes more.  Suddenly Chad got up and said, “ok, let’s see you try now”.  And of course, Winston got up and said, “alright!”, both of them giggling.  This is when I stood up and tried to stop them.  I tried to explain to Winston that Chad was thin and weak and would get seriously hurt and that he (Winston) would get punished even arrested or suspended for what is clearly both their fault.  Again Winston got mad at me for “insulting his friend”.  Winston, by the way, was tall and big. I asked Chad if he wanted to end up in the hospital again.  He ignored me as usual.  Chad had never once acknowledged my existence!  I managed to hold them off long enough until the end of the lesson. 


It was then that I started thinking about the fight between Chad and Danny and began to wonder what exactly transpired and whether Danny was totally at fault and what role Chad played in provoking the situation?  And if both boys were at fault, why was only Danny seriously punished, and now has a Police Record and Chad treated as a poor victim?

2013 Mosquers Awards

On Aug 24th 2013, CRC sponsored the best Mosquers Film Award Show yet! The Mosquers film competition has grown from humble beginnings in 2006 with an audience of a couple hundred, to now hosting at the Jubilee Auditorium with an audience of over 1000. Aug 24th saw a packed Jubilee with ten wonderful films screened, and head-over-heels laughter with Maz Jobrani! 
Of the ten films screened, awards were given for the top film in Drama, Social Conscience and Comedy. Another award, the People’s Choice Award (Larry Shaben Award), was chosen by the audience. This year, films went above and beyond previous years, touching on sensitive topics such as homosexuality, rape and breaking very stereotypical depiction of Muslims. For those that missed it, and even those who came, follow us on Facebook at or on our website to see the winning films once more!

Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada — Functions and Characteristics

CRC welcomes Rida Abboud, our guest blogger this month.


Recently, I completed my PhD thesis with a research study that looked at the quality of life of people in Alberta who are here on “semi-skilled” temporary work visas (think Tim Horton’s counter attendants, hotel room cleaners, airport bathroom cleaners, Wendy’s food preps, factory workers, Lilydale chicken plant workers, etc.). I wanted to know how their everyday life was impacted by this precarious immigration status in Canada. If you don’t know, there are over 300,000 TFWs in Canada today. This number is practically double than people who come to Canada as landed immigrants.

Here are some functions and characteristics of the TFW in Canada today:

1. TFWs are guest workers. This means that they have come to Canada solely on the intent of filling a job vacancy. About 15 years ago, this translated to a majority of “high-skilled” workers – in the tech industry, engineers, etc. Today, the majority of TFWs are deemed “low or semi-skilled” and fulfill the jobs that “Canadians don’t want”. This does not mean that they are in fact low-skilled workers. Just like many immigrants before them, these people are educated, skilled and often worked in management level jobs in their home countries. Their desires for ‘better opportunities’ usually push them into the de-skilling TFW program.

2. Those deemed “low or semi-skilled” because of the job they take to come to Canada are kept temporary in Canada for the long-term. This skill designation means that they have very very (I can’t stress that enough) little chances of applying to become landed immigrants. In this province, we have the Alberta Provincial Nominee Program which allows employers the opportunity to sponsor one (1) TFW in one (1) location per year. Many employers (think Tim Horton’s, Wendy’s etc.) hire dozens of TFW per location. What ends up happening is that TFW work long hours, too many days, through sickness and questionable workplace conditions in order to come out as “employee of the year” in hopes for that golden ticket. Imagine what that does for a workplace atmosphere.

3. Life in Canada? Away from children and spouses, living two, sometimes 4 to a bedroom (In Ontario, a local union found 30 workers from Thailand and Mexico in two three-bedroom houses), no access to language training, lack of job mobility, depression, anxiety, exposure to exploitative work situations, etc. (These are the things I heard directly in my interviews).

A discussion about the TFW program in Canada – heck, our immigration programs in general – are obviously complex, messy, political and for many, emotional. I haven’t even cracked open the door in this little blog posting. What I hope, though, is that you understand that there are 2 sides of the story, instead of hearing and believing only one. And you know point #3 above? I am not talking about one of those “other” places across the ocean. I am talking about the people in our backyard. As a matter of fact, I am talking about the person who will serve you your morning coffee and bagel tomorrow.

What I do know is this, that human perseverance is awe-inspiring. That people will put up with almost anything in order to attain what most of us take for granted. The stories I’ve heard not only provide me with the stuff I need to tell the story of the Canadian immigration system, it has provided me with my own perspective.

The following quote comes from my interview with Malcolm (pseudonym), after he told me his story of isolation, separation from his family, a racist employer, crooked immigration recruiter, and being middle-aged, once a manager at a hotel in his home country, now flipping burgers and mopping up vomit on the bathroom floor.

“I’m tired of thinking of all those concerns, you know. Maybe I’ll just continue to prove my worth, you know. Nobody can bring a good man down. Just work. Try to deliver what they pay you, try to be as worthy as you can. I’m just trying to be, I’m just going with the flow.”

As if what he is doing isn’t enough. Apparently to be Canadian, it isn’t.

-Rida Abboud, PhD

Call to Action, July 18, 2013

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”                                                                                          

– Margaret Mead

Will it ever end — the news of the injustice, the cruelty, the now evident nutritional experiments on starving Aboriginal people by the Government of Canada? Many Aboriginal people are still living with the direct effects of residential schools and other racist policies. Recently revealed medical records of Dr. Peter Bryce, former Medical Inspector for the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa contain details of a reported death rate of nearly 50% in western Indian residential schools in 1907. He published a book in 1922 called “The Story of a National Crime: An Appeal for Justice to the Indians of Canada” which outlined his findings, but the last residential school in Canada was not closed until 1996.

Let this latest news of the forced starvation of Aboriginal children be not just another news story. Non-Aboriginal Canada, we must step forward and acknowledge the reality of what has been perpetuated by some of our ancestors (mine included) on the original people of this land (see a few examples, below). My ancestors moved to Saskatchewan to “homestead” – virtually given land by the Government. Land that should not have been the Government’s to give.

Remember Nelson Mandela in his hospital bed, who spent his life fighting Apartheid? Do we know that White South Africa learned how to create Bantustans (reserves) for Black South Africans from the Canadian government?  Bantustans consisted of the least useful land in the country. The South African government also learned how to limit the movement of people from Canada – did you know that the passbook laws of South Africa were Canadian ideas?

Each of us must DO SOMETHING today. Read news reports. Talk to someone about it. Teach someone. Reach out to the authorities to do more to help heal the pain. The apology of 2008 was only one small step. There must be restitution.

Charlene Hay

Executive Director

Centre for Race and Culture

Canada’s Bureaucratic Colonization of Indigenous Peoples
(accessed from:

1763 – Royal Proclamation: explicitly protects native sovereignty and specifies nation-to-nation treaties as the only means for obtaining Crown title. Enshrines fiduciary obligation.

1857 – The Gradual Civilization Act – stripped Native citizenship and legal rights. If Indians were educated, free of debt and of “good moral character” (i.e. assimilated), they could apply for and be awarded 20 hectares of land. This land was taken from reserve land and privatized, breaking the tradition of collectively shared land and awarded to men only. This act recommended that Native organizations eventually be replaced by municipal-style governments. Foreshadows “First Nations Self-Governance Agreements” today.

1867 – The British Parliament passes the British North American Act creating the Dominion of Canada. Section 129 of the Act confirms the Canadian government is bound by British legislation, including the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

1869 – Act for the Gradual Enfranchisement of Indians is passed. The Governor in Council is given power to impose the Band Council system of governance on Indian reservations and to remove from office those considered “unqualified or unfit”.

1871 – The colony of British Columbia joins Canada without the consent of Native Peoples. The terms of the Union acknowledge the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

1876 – Canada passes the Indian Act in violation of imperial and constitutional law. The Indian Act, as a policy of cultural genocide, is specifically designed to eradicate native culture and expropriate land and resources for profit and settlement. The Act prohibits Native women from running for Band Council or voting on land surrenders which require 50% agreement by males. The Canadian government gains complete control over who can purchase the Native land, the terms of the sale, and the price paid for surrenders.

Initially, purchasers pay a 10% down payment and carry a mortgage for the balance. As long as the annual interest is paid, the principal is not required. The annual income from the interest is supposed to be used to make annual payment, in perpetuity to the Indians who “sold” the land. This money is held “in trust” and administered to Indians through Canada’s Indian Agents. Canada uses “trust” monies to build Canadian infrastructure, health and welfare systems.

1876 – The Indian Act is amended to give the Canadian government control over timber extraction rates and terms.

1879 – Indian Act Amendment Bill passed, includes “Trespass, Timber, and Illicit Sale or Exchange” law which enable complete government control over the most micro-economic transactions of commerce including collection of debt, passing on inheritance to a family member, or division of family estates. The “Incitement of Indians to Riot” law includes 2-6 months imprisonment for the celebration of Potlatch, a ceremony which played a central role in Indigenous politics, social, economic and spiritual systems.

1880 – The Indian Act creates the Department of Indian Affairs, and empowered its Superintendent General to enforce imposition of the elective system of Band Council government. This legislation deprives remaining traditional leaders of recognition by stating only spokespeople for the Band are those elected according to the Indian Act.

1881 – Amendment to the Indian Act makes it illegal for Indians to “sell, barter, or trafficfish”.

1884 – “Indian Advancement Act” confers certain privileges for more “advanced” bands of Indians of Canada with the view of training them for municipal affairs. It gives the

Band Council power to levy taxes and extends council’s power over police and public health matters. Most reserves refuse to come under Act.

1884 – Indian Act amended so the Superintendent General of the Department of Indian Affairs can lease Native land to non-natives.

1885 – Permit system instituted for Indians absent from reserves.

1885-97 – Off-reserve Native men and male veterans east of Manitoba are granted limited voting rights. On-reserve men only able to vote with the surrender of their exemption from Income Tax.

1887 – An order-in-council pertaining to mining is adopted. This regulation allows exploration on both surrendered and unsurrendered lands with approval of the Superintendent General of the Department of Indian Affairs. If a third party wishes to secure a mining location, they pay the government (again “in trust” for Indigenous Peoples) $5 per acre along with a royalty fee of 4% of revenues.

1894 – Amendment to the Indian Act authorizes the forced relocation of Native children to residential boarding schools where Native language, culture, traditions, customs, values, and even clothing is forbidden and punished.

1895 – Indian Act amended so that traditional Native leaders elected to Band Council office, but deemed unfit and thrown out by the DIA, could not be re-elected by the people as was practiced in resistance to colonialism and in the fight for self-determination. Traditional Sundances, Pow-wows, and again the Potlatch are outlawed.

1910 – Indian Act amended so “No contracts or agreements are binding…either made by chiefs or councilors of any band…shall be valid or of any force or effect unless or until it has been approved by the Superintendent General” of the Department of Indian Affairs.

1911 – Two amendments to the Indian Act give the Department of Indian Affairs the authority to expropriate native land, first for “the purpose of any railway, road, public work or any work designed for public utility”, and second, “In the case of an Indian reserve which adjoins or is situated wholly or partly within an incorporated town or city having a population of not less than 8,000” land can be expropriated if “expropriation is expedient for public and Indians”, then “Indians should be removed from the reserve or any part of it”.

1919 – Act amended so that “Any Native woman, who marries any person other than an Indian, or a non-treaty Indian, shall cease to be an Indian in every respect within the meaning of this Act”.

1920 – Indian Act amended for the compulsory enfranchisement, the relinquishment of Indian Status, in return for voting privileges. The bill “allowed for the enfranchisement of an Indian against his will following a report by a person appointed by the Superintendent General on his suitability”.

1920 – Federal government passes legislation making it mandatory for all native children, 7 years or older, in BC (the least Christianized province) to attend residential schools or face fines and prison terms.

1924 – Indian Act amended to allow the DIA to “authorize and direct” the expenditure of Band funds for capital projects which would promote “progress”.

1927 – Indian Act amended to prohibit “lawyers and other agitators from collecting money from Indians for the pursuit of claims against the government without departmental approval”. For over 30 years First Nations are prohibited from raising money for, or even using the courts as a means to pursue grievances on land issues and claims.

1927 – $73 million held in “trust” fund for Indians, accumulated through mineral and resource extraction from Indian lands, is liquidated to create Canada’s social programs.

1928 – Alberta passes its Sexual Sterilization Act which allows for the sterilization of any Residential School inmate.

1933 – BC passes its Sexual Sterilization Act which allows for sterilization of Residential School inmates.

1951 – Amendment to the Indian Act allows First Nations people to drink alcohol in accordance with provincial or territorial regulations. They are not, however, permitted to be drunk in public.

1952 – After 25 years, the 1927 ban on Indians pursuing claims in court is repealed.

1960 – All First Nations accorded full voting rights

And on-going into the current era…

Centre for Race and Culture – 2013 Lifetime Honourary Members

At the Centre for Race and Culture’s Annual General Meeting in June, we announced two new honourary lifetime members.

Lewis Cardinal found his calling in his mid-20s. While hosting a CJSR radio program called Peace Pipe, he interviewed the organizer of the Big Bear Spiritual Run, a prophecy foreseen by elders in which six Aboriginal men would run from east to west to retrieve a “sacred bundle.” Lewis was among those who ran from Edmonton to New York City.

He believed that they needed to show the next generation of young people the importance of culture and identity.  And he’s spent the last two decades leading by example.

Currently a PhD. candidate in education at the U of A, Lewis has consulted governments and organizations about aboriginal issues. For his anti-racism work and his role as a human-rights activist, he received a National Achievement Foundation Award for Public Service.

He has sat on many Aboriginal committees and organizations – City of Edmonton committees, Aboriginal Commission on Human Rights, and Wicihitowin are some examples. Lewis has run for public office as an Edmonton City Councilor; and ran for Edmonton Centre (NDP), in the last federal election (close) and is running again. He has been a great supporter of the Centre for Race and Culture.

Andrew Hladyshevsky received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal earlier this year for a body of work which included his time on both the Centre For Race and Culture (formerly known as NAARR) and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation boards of directors.

Andy could not attend the Centre for Race and Culture AGM on June 20th  as he was at the Cave and Basin Site in Banff, Alberta to participate in opening an exhibit dedicated to the internees of the First World War. Many of the early structures of the Cave and Basin site were built by detainees held at a World War I internment camp located nearby. The camp held citizens of countries with which Canada was at war at the time, and had a significant Ukrainian contingen[1].

About two decades of Andy’s life has been spent getting the Federal Government to acknowledge this egregious violation of civil rights. The War Measures Act was created to be used against unsuspecting civilians of Ukrainian and other ethnic origins during WW1 and it produced a huge racist backlash against these people. Many of them never made it back alive from the internment camps or were broken physically or mentally and of course some were deported. Later, to add insult, this same statute was used against the Japanese Canadians in World War II.

Although he couldn’t attend the AGM, Andy said he will be thinking of the Centre and all that it stands for and is proud to be numbered in its’ list of dedicated volunteers.

Centre for Race and Culture launches 20th annual campaign to end racism

March 18, 2013- Centre for Race and Culture launches 20th annual campaign to end racism

Edmontonians will gather this week to reaffirm their commitment to end racism as the Centre for Race and Culture hosts its 20th annual campaign for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 21, 2013.

This year’s campaign marks the 20th year organizations and communities in Edmonton have formally gathered to observe this important day commemorating the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in apartheid South Africa.  While the Centre for Race and Culture works year-round to address racial discrimination, the March 21st campaign aim to educate the community at large on the impacts of racism while inspiring action and change through a variety of events during that week.

In partnership with the University of Alberta and Racism Free Edmonton, the Centre for Race and Culture will host a Gala event featuring an awards ceremony honouring significant contributions made towards inclusion as well as a panel discussion with local experts answering the question, “Is it Taboo to Talk About Race and Equity?”

“Since the Centre for Race and Culture was founded 20 years ago, we’ve worked with school boards, students, businesses, law enforcement, universities and other organizations to affect change and create a more inclusive spaces,” said Charlene Hay, Executive Director. “There is still much work to be done and this campaign provides an opportunity for everyone to learn more about why racism continues to be a pressing issue for all of us.”

Since 1993, the Centre for Race and Culture has worked within the community to promote and support individual, collective, and systemic change to address racism and encourage intercultural understanding. Our expertise spans workplace development, community building, research, and education.

To see the full schedule of events, please visit Centre for Race and Culture’s website: