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What's in a word? 'Systemic racism' a roadblock in wake of Perry Trimper incident

What's in a word? 'Systemic racism' a roadblock in wake of Perry Trimper incidentIn a meeting between Innu leadership and Premier Dwight Ball in the wake of controversy over then-cabinet minister Perry Trimper's comments about the Innu, there was a sticking point: are the Innu of Labrador facing systemic racism or institutional racism?Peter Penashue, former Innu Nation chief and federal Conservative cabinet minister, said the difference of opinion was telling."Innu Nation, we were calling it systemic racism because this is not in isolation, this is quite common, it's happening in all of the hospitals, correctional centres, police, social services," Penashue said during a recent interview on racism with CBC News."The premier was insisting on calling it institutional racism, and that was the stumbling block to concluding the communique."Penashue said Ball said it wasn't systemic but it was particular individuals within the systems that are problematic — not the system as a whole."We were saying, 'No, no, it's right across the board."To expedite the process, Penashue said the Innu Nation agreed to drop their term."I found it interesting that a couple weeks ago, the same premier said there is systemic racism in his government," Penashue said."I said, wow, what happened between September and May … six months?"According to the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, systemic racism stems from policies and practices in established institutions which results in favouring one group over another. "It differs from overt discrimination in that no individual intent is necessary," the centre says. Within that form of racism, there's institutional racism: "racial discrimination that derives from individuals carrying out the dictates of others who are prejudiced or of a prejudiced society," and structural racism, which the civil liberties centre says is "inequalities rooted in the system-wide operation of a society that excludes substantial numbers of members of particular groups from significant participation in major social institutions."Penashue said a commitment was also made to review institutions where the Innu Nation says racism exists, but he said he hasn't heard if there's been any progress since September 2019 when the meeting was held. Working group underway: premierBall declined an interview with CBC News about the meeting, and instead forwarded a statement that emphasized the term institutional racism and the government's pledge to fight against it."In collaborating with the Innu Nation, we are establishing a working group that will have a mandate to develop concrete measures to ensure elected officials and government employees have an understanding and appreciation of Innu culture, values and history," Ball's statement said."We are pleased that progress is being achieved on the commitment to ensure Innu people are treated with dignity, equality and respect."Ball said a draft terms of reference is now under consideration by the Innu Nation and the provincial government. He said the plan will be implemented for all government programs and services. "There have been many social efforts, campaigns, and voices that have shone a light on longstanding and systemic racism," Ball said."As a society, we all have to consider the actions we can take to support the ideas and solutions that elevate tolerance and diversity. These actions have to be incorporated in our everyday lives, our workplaces, in the policies of governments and institutions, and our communities."When asked for clarity, a spokesperson from Ball's office said the meeting in question was about the "institution of government, an elected official, and the provision of services to Innu members.""This is not about a divide of institutional and systemic racism," the spokesperson said. In an open letter posted on his Twitter page about Black Lives Matter movement, Ball commended protesters for shining a light on "longstanding and systemic racism."Meanwhile, in a separate interview with CBC News Friday, Ball said, "It was institutional racism at that particular point that was dealt with."He added: "In terms of systemic racism, I've never shied away that as a society we need to deal with this and that racism should never be tolerated in any form."Difference of language but hopeful for better futureNatuashish Innu Grand Chief Gregory Rich said the meeting went well with the premier, but said his staff later indicated there were difficulties with the language surrounding institutional and systemic racism."I think it's both. When the Perry Trimper incident came out, when it was on our agenda, we noticed that systemic racism was part of the government and the fact was there," Rich said."Perry Trimper was commenting on a 'race card' issue. It's in the government and I was surprised that the province denied that."Trimper, who remains the MHA for Lake Melville but is no longer in cabinet, was unintentionally recorded on a voicemail saying that the "race card" is played by Innu people from "time to time."He later apologized and was removed from cabinet.Rich said Indigenous people in Labrador continue to feel the effects of racism in government departments."It's like we're getting a second-hand treatment," he said, citing health care given at Labrador-Grenfell Health.As grand chief, Rich said he is constantly hearing issues from Innu people, and he said an overhaul is long overdue."We need to work together and get an understanding of the different treatment of all races in Labrador," he said."They need to understand where we are coming from. They need to know how racism is affecting us on our lives. It's an emotional distress."Read more by CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Cape Traverse groups looking for $332K to restore and protect beach

Cape Traverse groups looking for $332K to restore and protect beachTwo community groups in Cape Traverse, P.E.I., are looking for $332,000 to revitalize the local beach and protect it from erosion.As part of the project, residents are hoping that more than 150 concrete blocks will be removed from the shoreline. They were placed on the beach in the '90s, to prevent coastal erosion.Some have described the blocks as dangerous debris and a hazard to children playing on the beach.The Cape Traverse Ice Boat Heritage Group has teamed up with the Cape Traverse Historical Society, which was granted a small parcel of land along the beach by the federal government decades ago. Community consultationLast week, the community hosted a virtual meeting for residents to hear from Mike Davies of Coldwater Consulting, who has prepared a plan for the beach.It includes removing the concrete blocks from the beach and placing them on the remains of the old jetty. "He suggests that we can use utilize the concrete blocks and put them on the old pier 65 and then cap that with Island sandstone to make it look a lot better and hide the concrete," said Scott Cutcliffe, a member of the ice boat group."The hopes are the sand that is drifting from the west side to the east side will get captured in the area and stay on the beach."Concrete concernsCutcliffe said the idea of removing the concrete blocks from the beach was originally met with concern from some residents. "It was two-sided for a little bit there because people weren't 100 per cent sure as to what was happening or what would happen," Cutcliffe said. "I think now the report's out, more people in the community are supportive."The concrete blocks have become a source of tension in the community in recent years, as parents in the area have raised concerns about exposed rebar and other hazards. "I have kids and there's a lot of kids in the area, they climb on them, they jump on them," Cutcliffe said. "You're always at them to stay off the blocks so they don't slip or fall or get hurt. So, in a sense, we'd like to see that cleaned up and utilized in a different manner."No new wharfThe Cape Traverse Historical Society is also endorsing the consultant's report, despite some members initially calling for a new wharf."The pipe dream would be that you rebuild the structure that we had in years past, but we know that's not financially an option," said Kirk Haddock, president of the historical society."To be putting a structure where the original wharf was is fantastic and we're very happy with that."Haddock has been visiting residents of Cape Traverse, talking to them about the project. "There was some hesitation with some of the people, just because they've been through this before," Haddock said."There was an effort to rebuild the wharf years ago and it came to a stop. But this option that we have right now is much more plausible."'A long time coming'Once the Cape Traverse groups finish the community consultation process, they will start to apply for federal and provincial funding.Haddock would like to see the work get underway as soon as possible. "It's a long time coming and it'll be a great huge relief for the community to see something finally happen here," Haddock said."It's a beautiful beach and the end goal is to make it safe for everybody."More from CBC P.E.I.


Monday 13th of July 2020 10:05:52

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