Make your voice count
On July 12th I attended the Victoria section of the Lights for Liberty Vigil. We congregated on the front steps of the Parliament Buildings downtown to show our support for those who have been affected by the detention centres across the United States and to show that what is happening is an atrocity.
This vigil was set as a way to peacefully protest these human detention camps and to show that we will not allow Trump to continue to use the Immigration and Customs enforcement department to illegally hold immigrants against their will in deplorable conditions.
It is crucial that we stand as a united front against all forms of racism, sexism, bigotry, and hate, and that we show our support to all those affected.
Nobody deserves to be mistreated or discriminated against and if we continue to stand up for minority groups, we can prove that no group is lesser no matter their race, gender, sexuality, or religion. We need to stand together in solidarity and to stand up for what we believe in.
As important as it is to show that we are a united front against racism, sexism, and bigotry worldwide, it is also incredibly important to stand up against what is happening in our own country. It really dawned on me that many of us do not understand our own country’s atrocities because we are constantly comparing ourselves to the United States.
While I was at a politically driven punk festival a few weeks ago one of the lead singers made a joke, and this will be paraphrased because I don’t remember it word for word, but the gist was “You guys up here in Canada are so nice, and I never realized that you also have a wall around your border. The difference between our wall and your is yours is a white picket fence that we are allowed to just step over. You guys will invite anybody in and then thank us for showing up.”
I was honestly a little taken back this that joke because it made me realize how little people know about how we treat LGBTQ+ individuals, women, Indigenous communities, immigrants, lower socio-economic classes, the opioid crisis that is happening across Canada and the treatment of people with substance dependency, or really any minority group.
We have cultivated this stereotypical mask to hide behind, we have convinced people that we are all “sorry,” Tim Hortons, hockey, “eh,” “bud” and maple syrup. Canada is given a free pass because we are less obviously racist, sexist, and bigoted than the United States, but in reality, Trudeau just pushed through an oil pipeline that will destroy Indigenous territory even though they made it explicitly clear that they did not want this pipeline to run through their sacred land.
Or the fact that the majority of Indigenous communities have boil water advisories and an absurd mark-up on basic necessities such as food, water, and hygiene products. Our Indigenous women go missing and are murdered at 3 times the national average.
Our federal government recently rejected the public’s effort to ban conversion therapy, which is the practice of coercing someone who is LGBTQ+ into being straight through talk therapy or medication.
Alberta recently introduced Bill 8 which would allow for schools to inform parents when their children join the GSA (gay-straight alliance) club at school, this would essentially out the child to their parents. The GSA is in place to allow these kids to find a safe and supportive environment to be themselves, there could be numerous reasons they are not “out” to their family and this could put them in physical and emotional danger.
Even more recently, Hamilton’s pride parade was interrupted by far-right and homophobic groups who resorted to violence during the pride celebrations. Since then they have made new proposals to “combat hate” during protests and public gatherings, and they have banned many activities during assemblies and demonstrations.
They have banned the distribution of food or beverage, use of candles, use of sound-amplifying equipment, any activity that creates a nuisance or disturbs the enjoyment of public space, affixing or installing temporary posters, banners, or signs, and many other activities. This results in the banning of all types of political protests whether right or left-wing.
Although Canada is a beautiful country full of beautiful and diverse people, we need to acknowledge the fact that we have our fair share of problems. Simply saying “well at least we are better than America” or “well it could be worse, we could have Trump instead of Trudeau” doesn’t change anything.
These statements don’t make Canada any better; all they do is deflect our blame and guilt somewhere else, so we don’t have to face the fact that there are things going on in our country that need to be addressed. We don’t have to “be as bad as America” to make things better here.
We don’t have to wait for things to get worse to help each other and stand up for minority groups. We should be striving to make Canada the Canada everyone thinks we are instead of just sweeping all our problems under the rug we should address them and work towards fixing them.
You don’t have to nail a list of grievances on the doors of Parliament to make a difference. Share posts, continue discussions, write letters and emails to your local member of parliament (MP) or member of the legislative assembly (MLA) stating your concerns, sign petitions, show up to protests and participate. All of these can help. If more people start speaking out there is a better chance that things will change, but if we continue to do nothing it will only get worse.
We need to hold our Prime Minister and government responsible, we need them to show leadership and address our concerns.
Here are just a few phone numbers and emails that you can contact with your concerns. Our government is supposed to be here for the people. We are a democracy and our voices are meant to be heard but I feel as though many people forget that this is their government and their country. Take a stand!
1100 Cremazie East
Phone +1 (514) 277-6020
Oak Bay- Gordon Head
Dr. Andrew Weaver (GREEN PARTY)
Phone: (250) 472-8528
Victoria- Beacon Hill
Hon. Carole James (NDP)
Phone (250) 952- 4211
Mitzi Dean (NDP)
Phone (250) 952- 5885