Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Past, Future Forward

The Article:

The University of Saskatchewan has turned down a $500,000 endowment from an alumnus who requested the money be awarded to "non-aboriginal students" only.

The university said the race-based bursary proposal would violate university policy and provincial human rights law. [..]

The rejected donor contacted the Saskatoon StarPhoenix but would speak only on a condition of anonymity out of fear of negative publicity; both she and her husband work in public-sector jobs.

"I really want to raise this issue, but not at the expense of my own personal safety," the woman said. Designating the bursary for non-aboriginal students only was not a form of racism, she argued.

"In my view, aboriginals are basically taken care of [in university]," the 57-year-old nursing graduate said.

"I wanted to leave an award to someone who was just like me, who was struggling and could really use this money. "This isn't a racist thing, it's a fairness thing. It's just what I want to do with my money." (The National Post)

My Response (Letter to the Editor, Edmonton Journal):

The controversy in Saskatchewan over rejecting a university bursary that excludes Aboriginal peoples demonstrates the need to change national policies. Present policies clearly are not assisting Aboriginals due to corruption on the reserves, many of which are like Third World countries. Policies are also feeding the racist attitudes of some non-Aboriginals, as they view the whole arrangement unfair, an opaque point with some validity.

Canada is a nation, born of atrocities, accomplishments and imperialism's refugees. Similar policies, which we must remember were British in origin, not Canadian, which persecuted the First Nations peoples existed in different forms against other groups, such as the Irish in this country. British occupation and a forced famine that wiped out one million of the Irish population and saw another million emigrate in the 1800's, sent Irish refugees here in coffin ships to a world where they too were treated like third class citizens. Many Irish children were adopted by French families in this country, and had their own Irish language taken from them in Ireland where they were forced to speak English. The Irish suffered horrific abuses in Catholic schools, and essentially made up the bulk of this nation's poor. Yet, somehow, the Irish managed to survive and created healthy, vibrant communities.

My point is we can say the same about almost every other ethnic group in this country: the Ukrainians, Chinese, Italians, etc. None of these people were granted the things given to First Nations peoples. While the issues facing Aboriginal Peoples in Canada today are complex, I believe that if we truly want to help our Native brothers and sisters, we must do so by cutting the purse strings, giving them a sense of ownership and continue to educate all Canadians so that similar atrocities are not repeated, which have resulted in our present situation. In my opinion, culture is ever evolving and represents how we live today. This is our way of life and does not require political directives to survive.



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