Well the great white north otherwise known as Canada functions under the misguided belief that we are not a racist country. We have never even elected a Prime Minister of color and yet we point southward shaking our head pronouncing ourselves evolved. Seriously, could it get any whiter than Stephen Harper? To the world we portray a country that is only divided by language i.e. French and English speakers. We point to the fact that a Canadian wrote the United Nations Declaration for Human Rights and proudly swig our Tim Hortons; too bad that we don’t live by the rules we profess.
Krishna Pendakur, an economics professor at Simon Fraser University and his brother Ravi Pendakur, a sociologist at the University of Ottawa, recently completed the largest study of its kind quantifying the exact size of the income gap between aboriginals and other Canadians.
Total income (includes wages, investment income and government benefits) compared to non-aboriginal Canadians:
- Registered Indian living on a reserve: 50 per cent lower for men, 21 per cent lower for women
- Registered Indian living off-reserve: 38 per cent lower for men, 23 per cent lower for women
- Not registered, identify as a North American Indian (First Nations): 33 per cent lower for men, 19 per cent lower for women
- Aboriginal ancestry: 18 per cent lower for men, 12 per cent lower for women
Earnings for registered Indians living off-reserve in Canadian cities compared to non-aboriginals:
- Halifax: 38 per cent lower for men, 19 per cent lower for women
- Montreal: 23 per cent lower for men, 20 per cent lower for women
- Ottawa-Hull: 25 per cent lower for men, 4 per cent higher for women
- Toronto: 18 per cent lower for men, 23 per cent lower for women
- Winnipeg: 47 per cent lower for men, 38 per cent lower for women
- Regina: 53 per cent lower for men, 44 per cent lower for women
- Saskatoon: 63 per cent lower for men, 44 per cent lower for women
- Calgary: 35 per cent lower for men, 33 per cent lower for women
- Edmonton: 38 per cent lower for men, 26 per cent lower for women
- Vancouver: 40 per cent lower for men, 40 per cent lower for women
- Victoria: 35 per cent lower for men, 32 per cent lower for women
Of course we have social lies to cover for what is clearly racism. Often you will hear how we “saved” Native Canadians because they were doing nothing with the land anyway, or that aboriginals are drunks and naturally lazy. We do not want to take responsibility for the near genocide of a people for the sake of conquest, or the fact that to this day they have not recovered from this brutal cultural assault. Almost every single gain that Canada has made, has been achieved on the backs of its native population.
From reading the results of this study is it really any wonder that Native Canadians are over represented in the prison population, acquire less formal education, and overwhelmingly live in poverty? Unless we acknowledge the disparity and make changes at a systemic level this condition will persist and continue to be a blight upon our so called equal society.
Whiteness has a tendency to claim that problems resulting from racism are over and present failings as the result of the individual. We have a vested interest in keeping Natives weak and poor. This divide allows us to continue to steal their land, illegally mine their property, and of course have a sub section of lowly paid workers that we can exploit for economic gain. Yet we continually hear the complaint about taxation and Aboriginals…It makes me want to scream. How much do you expect a group of people to pay for your comfort. Have the Native population not given enough to the Maple Leaf?
We have a choice, we can continue to exploit and abuse our Native citizens, or we can decide to live by the social ideology that we present to the world and attempt to make changes on a systemic level. We can never return to our aboriginal citizens the culture that we destroyed but we can assure that their descendants are counted as equal citizens. The task ahead is not easy but we owe a debt that must be repaid.