That ‘ethnic driver accidents’ stereotype? It’s wrong 

Good piece citing relevant studies:

“Everyone knows who the culprits are that are driving up our rates but no one has the guts to come and say it. Don’t give me the argument that there are no stats on this.”

Well, we all know the colour of this particular elephant in the room. It’s not white. And anyone who overhears casual conversation knows the stereotype to which the coded language refers — all those inherently terrible Asian drivers.

I hate to be the bearer of news but first, there’s no coverup and, second, that elephant is a chimera, that is, something that may be devoutly wished for by someone but which turns out to be an illusion.

There are some statistics, just not from Metro. The Insurance Corporation of B.C. does not track accident statistics according to ethnicity. But then, why should it?

However, there is third-party research into what’s essentially an ethnic stereotype: that adult immigrants are unsafe drivers and responsible for more road crashes than long-time residents.

The study was centred on Metro Toronto, one of the most ethnically diverse populations in Canada. It looked at the driving records of more than four million drivers and set out to discover whether recent immigrants represented any increased risk of involvement as drivers in serious motor vehicle accidents.

It was published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Contrary to popular opinion, it turns out, recent immigrants are actually better drivers than the native-born scofflaws who like to speed, race the amber lights at intersections, change lanes abruptly without signalling, smoke, eat and drink hot coffee while at the wheel and other common transgressions.

Traffic slowly moves over the Lions Gate Bridge between Stanley Park and the North Shore. Contrary to popular opinion, says columnist Stephen Hume, recent immigrants are actually better drivers than the native-born drivers who like to speed, race the amber lights at intersections, change lanes abruptly without signalling and other common offences.
Traffic slowly moves over the Lions Gate Bridge between Stanley Park and the North Shore. Contrary to popular opinion, says columnist Stephen Hume, recent immigrants are actually better drivers than the native-born drivers who like to speed, race the amber lights at intersections, change lanes abruptly without signalling and other common offences. DARRYL DYCK /  THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Hot coffee? Oh, yes, counterintuitive as it may be, a study done by the U.S. government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concludes that hitting the drive-through for a jolt of morning java increases your odds of an accident by 80 per cent. Furthermore, the researchers found, 65 per cent of near-miss accidents result from drivers fiddling with food and drink.

In fact, the agency found, drinking hot coffee puts drivers at the greatest risk for distraction while driving. It turns out drinking hot coffee at the wheel is worse than using your cellphone or, speaking of distractions, reaching for the radio to dial up Bruce Allen’s latest rant about cyclists.

Yet it’s not coffee-drinking commuters who draw ire.

“A frequently blamed group of drivers are adult immigrants as typified by negative stereotypes,” the researchers found. “Such beliefs” — stop me if you’ve heard this — “are based on the person’s presumed lack of familiarity with geographic locations, roadway layout, prevailing laws, common customs, local signage, social etiquette, basic skills or language idioms.”

One trope is the recurring anecdote about foreign-looking drivers looking lost, being inconsiderate of traffic etiquette and delaying or putting other commuters at risk with their driving and parking ineptitude.

Why is this? The researchers sought explanations in psychology. They discovered that when traffic is congested and drivers feel late rather than relaxed they display heightened selfishness, diminished graciousness toward others and increased reliance on stereotypes to explain their situation.

“Second, the anonymity of driving provides little deterrence against outbursts of bigotry.”

And finally, people justify their own driving errors as a result of their situation while judging other drivers’ mistakes as latent traits.

Among the million Metro residents of Asian descent there are doubtless a few bad drivers. The published research indicates, however, that the proportion of bad drivers is greater in the long-term population than among recent immigrants.

In the Toronto study, researchers examined accidents and hospital admissions with traffic injuries and compared the rates among a million recent immigrants with those for long-term residents.

“Recent immigrants were less likely to be drivers involved in a serious motor vehicle crash compared to long-term residents,” the study says. “Findings suggest that recent immigrants contribute to fewer serious road crashes than the population norm.”

Source: That ‘ethnic driver accidents’ stereotype? It’s wrong | Vancouver Sun

6 Potential Brain Benefits Of Bilingual Education : NPR

What the latest science and studies show:

So what does recent research say about the potential benefits of bilingual education? NPR Ed called up seven researchers in three countries — Sorace, Bialystok, Luk, Kroll, Jennifer Steele, and the team of Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier — to find out.


It turns out that, in many ways, the real trick to speaking two languages consists in managing not to speak one of those languages at a given moment — which is fundamentally a feat of paying attention.

Saying “Goodbye” to mom and then “Guten tag” to your teacher, or managing to ask for a crayola roja instead of a red crayon, requires skills called “inhibition” and “task switching.” These skills are subsets of an ability called executive function.

People who speak two languages often outperform monolinguals on general measures of executive function. “[Bilinguals] can pay focused attention without being distracted and also improve in the ability to switch from one task to another,” says Sorace.

Do these same advantages accrue to a child who begins learning a second language in kindergarten instead of as a baby? We don’t yet know. Patterns of language learning and language use are complex. But Gigi Luk at Harvard cites at least one brain-imaging study on adolescents that shows similar changes in brain structure when compared with those who are bilingual from birth, even when they didn’t begin practicing a second language in earnest before late childhood.


Young children being raised bilingual have to follow social cues to figure out which language to use with which person and in what setting. As a result, says Sorace, bilingual children as young as age 3 have demonstrated a head start on tests of perspective-taking and theory of mind — both of which are fundamental social and emotional skills.

Reading (English)

About 10 percent of students in the Portland, Ore., public schools are assigned by lottery to dual-language classrooms that offer instruction in Spanish, Japanese or Mandarin, alongside English.

Jennifer Steele at American University conducted a four-year, randomized trialand found that these dual-language students outperformed their peers in English-reading skills by a full school year’s worth of learning by the end of middle school.

Such a large effect in a study this size is unusual, and Steele is currently conducting a flurry of follow-up studies to tease out the causality: Is this about a special program that attracted families who were more engaged? Or about the dual-language instruction itself?

“If it’s just about moving the kids around,” Steele says, “that’s not as exciting as if it’s a way of teaching that makes you smarter.”

Steele suspects the latter. Because the effects are found in reading, not in math or science where there were few differences, she suggests that learning two languages makes students more aware of how language works in general, aka “metalinguistic awareness.”

The research of Gigi Luk at Harvard offers a slightly different explanation. She has recently done a small study looking at a group of 100 fourth-graders in Massachusetts who had similar reading scores on a standard test, but very different language experiences.

Some were foreign-language dominant and others were English natives. Here’s what’s interesting. The students who were dominant in a foreign language weren’t yet comfortably bilingual; they were just starting to learn English. Therefore, by definition, they had much weaker English vocabularies than the native speakers.

Yet they were just as good at decoding a text.

“This is very surprising,” Luk says. “You would expect the reading comprehension performance to mirror vocabulary — it’s a cornerstone of comprehension.”

How did the foreign-language dominant speakers manage this feat? Well, Luk found, they also scored higher on tests of executive functioning. So, even though they didn’t have huge mental dictionaries to draw on, they may have been great puzzle-solvers, taking into account higher-level concepts such as whether a single sentence made sense within an overall story line.

They got to the same results as the monolinguals, by a different path.

Source: 6 Potential Brain Benefits Of Bilingual Education : NPR Ed : NPR

After Election, Diversity Trainers Face A New Version Of ‘Us Versus Them’ : NPR

Interesting story on how some US diversity consultants are assessing the impact of the election:

[Dorcas] Lind is a diversity consultant in the health care industry. It’s her job to go into companies and help them create inclusive environments for their employees.

For consultants like Lind, the election’s polarizing nature, which especially divided the nation on issues of race, is two-fold. While it means some of their business will almost certainly boom, a new set of challenges emerges for the professional peacemakers. Now, they say, they have to work harder to tamp down heightened feelings of us versus them; they have to hear the concerns of people usually thought of as privileged; and they have to navigate a language minefield where the wrong word can ignite conflict.

Studying the maps of how people voted, Lind was disturbed by the stretch of red in her district, a New Jersey suburb, which she said had once been celebrated for its diversity. Like many others in the business, Lind equated a vote for Trump with a vote for intolerance.

“I thought that my whole career had blown up in front of me,” said Lind, who has worked in the field for more than two decades and is founder and president of Diversity Health Communications. “I felt so absolutely overwhelmed with the depth of how much work had to be done. And on the other hand, I felt like I didn’t even want to do the work. … Given the results and how the map looked, I felt my work would be futile.”

“There’s a whole toolkit of language we need to create [in order] to talk about this polarization,” Lind said. “It’s those who voted for Trump or support Trump — and everyone else. And that’s a really difficult dichotomy to address.”

Luby Ismail is the head of Connecting Cultures, a diversity consulting business in the Washington, D.C., area. She said one of her biggest tasks is to break down any feelings that people are on warring sides. Ismail, who’s an Egyptian-American Muslim, has worked with companies including The Walt Disney Co., Nike Inc. and Sodexo to lead sessions that help employees better understand Arab-Americans and American Muslims.

The Department of Justice uses one of Ismail’s training videos on identifying anti-Muslim bias as part of its cultural competence curriculum. She’s updating the DOJ training now, but she said she’s not sure what will come of it after Inauguration Day.

That “us-versus-them” sentiment Ismail mentioned is particularly tough to manage now. Doug Harris heads The Kaleidoscope Group, a diversity company in Chicago. He said that he has to help people of color deal with “historical garbage” — he means racism — while also helping white people who, he learned during this campaign, feel strongly that they’re “out of the power base.”

Usually, Harris uses an exercise he calls “insiders and outsiders” to get people to self-reflect. In this exercise, employees list who might feel like outsiders in the company. Maybe it’s new workers or people at lower levels or people who have English as a second language or introverts, Harris said. Inevitably, the list turns to women and people of color.

White people as a group, and particularly men, don’t typically make that list. But the presidential campaign, Harris said, unearthed the strong sentiment among white people that “they don’t feel like the lead group that’s been privileged, and if you look at their lives, they’re not.”

Those who do diversity, he said, have a responsibility to address everyone’s concerns. “It’s not about a special effort toward white men,” he said. “That’s not the effort I’m talking about. It’s more-so that … if you honor everybody’s challenges, they’re more likely to own their privileges.”

Lind adds an amendment to that thought, one that underscores the tension diversity consultants, like the rest of the country, are tasked with resolving. Longstanding racial discord, fueled by the “historical garbage” Harris mentioned, collides with the idea of honoring everybody’s challenges when some of those challenges spring from racial ignorance and racism. Thinking of all challenges as equal, she said, is a problem.

“I think the backlash we’re seeing is people who work in the diversity space — and also civil rights folks in general — are saying, ‘We are not going to be inclusive of ideas and values that are explicitly detrimental and harmful,’ ” Lind said. “Because the rhetoric is, ‘One side has lost, one side has won, and everybody needs to get together and move forward for all Americans in the country.’ ”

Walking that line of competing interests is made even tougher by the language of diversity, including the word diversity itself. Leah P. Hollis, president of Patricia Berkly LLC in Philadelphia, said she actively avoids language that might be polarizing so she can keep everyone in the conversation. After all, in a swing state like Pennsylvania, where nearly 6 million people voted and Trump won by fewer than 70,000 votes, she has to assume that half of the employees she’ll be working with voted for Trump, half for Clinton. So figuring out what tone to strike is important.

Racial profiling, budget concerns Ottawa top police board meeting

Not a particularly impressive discussion by the Ottawa Police Board on racial profiling:

Attention then quickly turned to the results of a two-year race data project mandated by a settlement with the Ontario Human Rights Commissions, which were revealed last month.

Data from traffic stops, collected by Ottawa police officers and analyzed by a team of researchers, shows Middle Eastern-looking people are 3.3 times more likely to be pulled over than their percentage of the population, while black-looking people are 2.3 times more likely to be pulled over than their percentage of the population.

The project was the result of a racial-profiling complaint lodged by then-18-year-old Chad Aiken, who said he was pulled over because he was black. Both the researchers that conducted the study and Chief Charles Bordeleau said the results didn’t “prove” racial profiling by officers, which the human rights commissioner took exception to at Monday’s meeting.

“All too often when people like Mr. Aiken come forward to speak about racial discrimination, they are dismissed as being overly sensitive or not having enough proof that their experience is systemic — the ‘a few bad apples’ defence,” Renu Mandhane told the board.

“And that’s why we are disappointed by recent comments that the OPS data does not prove racial profiling. Especially when considered together with the personal accounts that led to the data being collected in the first place, the findings are alarming, are entirely consistent with racial profiling, and cannot and should not be easily explained away.”

Mandhane says she wants to specifically hear from the force that the data is consistent with racial profiling, and says acknowledging it is the first step to fixing it.

Bordeleau said he believes “the service has actually stepped up to the plate and done a lot of things.” He pointed to the settlement-mandated study being the first of its kind in the country. “I want to make it clear that I’ve never denied the existence of racial profiling. I said before that racial profiling exists in society, it exists in policing and that it has no place in either.”

Mandhane also called on the force and the board to make policies to eliminate discrimination, have independent monitoring and accountability bodies, and discipline officers who engage in discrimination.

Board chair Coun. Eli El-Chantiry told Mandhane that the board has committed “significant” public resources to measure how police treat people of different racial groups. “The study showed that there was a problem and we have committed to working with our police service to fix it.”

The board also heard from Danardo Jones, legal director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, who also wanted the force to call the results racial profiling and voiced concern about including only data from traffic stops in the study. Bordeleau said it was “unfortunate that four years ago when we reached out the ACLC, and numerous times since that, that you didn’t take us up on the offer to participate (in the report).”

Source: Ottawa Citizen | Latest Breaking News | Business | Sports | Canada …

Facebook Runs Up Against German Hate Speech Laws – The New York Times

About time – social media companies also need to be accountable (as do users):

In Germany, more than almost anywhere else in the West, lawmakers, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, are demanding that Facebook go further to police what is said on the social network — a platform that now has 1.8 billion users worldwide. The country’s lawmakers also want other American tech giants to meet similar standards.

The often-heated dispute has raised concerns over maintaining freedom of speech while protecting vulnerable minorities in a country where the legacy of World War II and decades under Communism still resonate.

It is occurring amid mounting criticism of Facebook in the United States after fake news reports were shared widely on the site before the presidential election. Facebook also has been accused of allowing similar false reports to spread during elections elsewhere.

Mr. Zuckerberg has denied that such reports swayed American voters. But lawmakers in the United States, Germany and beyond are pressing Facebook to clamp down on hate speech, fake news and other misinformation shared online, or face new laws, fines or other legal actions.

“Facebook has a certain responsibility to uphold the laws,” said Heiko Maas, the German justice minister. In October, Mr. Maas suggested the company could be held criminally liable for users’ illegal hate speech postings if it does not swiftly remove them.

Facebook rejects claims that it has not responded to the rise in hate speech in Germany and elsewhere, saying it continually updates its community standards to weed out inappropriate posts and comments.

“We’ve done more than any other service at trying to get on top of hate speech on our platform,” Mr. Allen said.

Tussles with German lawmakers are nothing new for Facebook.

It has routinely run afoul of the country’s strict privacy rules. In September, a local regulator blocked WhatsApp, the internet messaging service owned by Facebook, from sharing data from users in Germany with its parent company. The country’s officials also have questioned whether Facebook’s control of users’ digital information could breach antitrust rules, accusations the company denies.

Facebook’s problems with hate speech posts in Germany began in summer 2015 as more than one million refugees began to enter the country.

Their arrival, according to company executives and lawmakers, incited an online backlash from Germans opposed to the swell of people from Syria, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries. The number of hateful posts on Facebook increased sharply.

As such content spread quickly online, senior German politicians appealed directly to Facebook to comply with the country’s laws. Even Ms. Merkel confronted Mr. Zuckerberg in New York in September 2015 about the issue.

In response, Facebook updated its global community standards, which also apply in the United States, to give greater protection to minority groups, primarily to calm German concerns.

Facebook also agreed to work with the government, local charities and other companies to fight online hate speech, and recently started a billboard and television campaign in Germany to answer local fears over how it deals with hate speech and privacy.

Facebook hired a tech company based in Berlin to monitor and delete illegal content, including hate speech, from Germany and elsewhere, working with Facebook’s monitoring staff in Dublin.

“They have gotten better and quicker at handling hate speech,” said Martin Drechsler, managing director of FSM, a nonprofit group that has worked with Facebook on the issue.

Despite these steps, German officials are demanding further action.

Ms. Merkel, who is seeking a fourth term in general elections next year, warned lawmakers last week that hate speech and fake news sites were influencing public opinion, raising the possibility of new regulations.

And Mr. Maas, the justice minister, has repeatedly warned that he will propose legislation if Facebook cannot remove at least 70 percent of online hate speech within 24 hours by early next year. It now removes less than 50 percent, according to a study published in September by a group that monitors hate speech, a proportion that is still significantly higher than those for Twitter and YouTube, the report found.

For Chan-Jo Jun, a lawyer in Würzburg, an hour’s drive from Frankfurt, new laws governing Facebook cannot come soon enough.

Mr. Jun recently filed a complaint with Munich authorities, seeking prosecution of Mr. Zuckerberg and other senior Facebook executives on charges they failed to sufficiently tackle the widespread wave of hate speech in Germany. The company denies the accusations.

While his complaint may be dismissed, Mr. Jun says the roughly 450 hate speech cases that he has collected, more than half of them aimed at refugees, show that Facebook is not complying with German law. Despite its global size, he insists, the company cannot skirt its local responsibilities.

“I know Facebook wants to be seen as a global giant,” Mr. Jun said. “But there’s no way around it. They have to comply with German law.”

Trump’s Win and the Threat to Canadian Multicultural Policy

Usual helpful Mirems (Multilingual International Research and Ethnic Media Services) summary of ethnic media reactions, this time in relation to the Trump victory:
Donald Trump’s election win has been reverberating strongly in the Canadian ethnic media across all language groups. The main emphasis in the early reporting was on how this could happen and on the potential implications for Canada especially in terms of immigration and the economy. In addition, ethnic media in Canada were concerned with the spill-over of a more overt and aggressive form of racism from South of the border to Canadian cities.

Despite his lack of experience, or maybe because of it, Trump appealed to those feeling disenfranchised and frustrated with the traditional elites by appearing to speak from the heart and skirting political correctness (OMNI BC, Punjabi, 8/11/2016). He used incitement and hate speech to win (Sing Tao, Chinese, 10/11/2016). A Pakistani paper argues that terrorist incidents and suicide bomb attacks in the US, which caused hate and fear among Americans, led to Trump’s victory (Pakistan Times Canada, 10/11/2016). Meanwhile, a Hispanic radio host considered that “he managed to appeal to the lowest instincts of those disappointed with Washington’s policies… with a campaign based on personal insults, arrogance and ignorance” (CIRV radio, Spanish, 9/11/2016). Both candidates had been caught in many lies and the Chinese Sing Tao recommended that politicians should reflect on why people were not happy with the system (9/11/2016).

Some ethnic voices responded favourably to the election outcome. Callers on CMR Radio’s Urdu program expected the ‘businessman’ to increase job opportunities and noted a change in his tone after his election that they took to mean he would not implement the plans he talked about during his campaign (9/11/2016). Most callers on a Red FM Punjabi program in Vancouver welcomed the election results, saying Americans voted for a better economy and for better jobs. A Sikh-American caller from Los Angeles said his family and community members voted for Trump because they believe he will strengthen the American economy and stop immigration. A BC caller said that he supported Trump’s immigration policies and said there should be restrictions on immigration in Canada as well because cheap labour and fraudulent immigration are causing poverty in BC (Red FM Punjabi, 9/11/2016).

United Chinese American President Haipei Xue also reported that many new immigrants from mainland China voted for Trump, in part due to a legislative push to permit California’s public university to consider race and ethnicity in admissions; this was considered an impediment to Chinese children getting into good schools (Fairchild radio, Mandarin, 9/11/2016). Anti-immigrant sentiment is not restricted to Caucasians, as immigrant communities are often faced with the most intense competition from more recent arrivals.

Some commentators saw the election as a choice between two evils, or between a “true villain” and a “hypocrite”; they chose the “true villain” because they can predict what he will do (Fairchild radio, Mandarin, 9/11/2016). The black community reportedly didn’t participate much in voting this time, which worked in Trump’s favour (CHIN Urdu, 9/11/2016).

However, the majority of ethnic sources in Canada see Trump’s win as reflecting the mindset of North Americans: “They have rubber-stamped bigotry. Americans are still not ready to give equality to women. Not only discrimination against minorities and racism, but sexism is the biggest problem in the US” (Radio Rim Jhim, Punjabi, 9/11/2016). Trump said he would bar Muslims from the US and “ordinary Caucasians thought he was good for them” (OMNI BC, Punjabi, 8/11/2016). He was able to win mainly due to his anti-immigration, anti-globalization policies platform (CIRV Mandarin, 9/11/2016). Trump “targeted the Spanish and Muslim communities, which brought him closer to the majority of white people” (CIAO Punjabi, 9/11/2016). Now immigrants are wondering if they should leave the country as they are terrified. It was a rebellion against the elites, but it was also about race: this was a “white-lash against a changing country and against a black president” (G 98.7 FM radio, Afro-Caribbean, 9/11/2016).

…Another area of spill-over to Canada seems to be a trend towards more overt racism. Conservative leadership contender Kellie Leitch is allegedly “counting her victory after Trump’s win” (Canadian Punjabi Post, 11/11/2016). Just as the City of Toronto and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) launched an awareness campaign about the persistence of racism (Share, Afro-Caribbean, 10/11/2016), posters urging white people to join the ‘alt-right’ movement sprang up in many parts of Toronto and were widely reported in the ethnic media. The posters promoted white nationalism and railed against political correctness, immigration, diversity and “being told you are ‘racist’ for celebrating your heritage” (Canadian Punjabi Post, 15/11/2016). The same day, an Ottawa rabbi woke up to a swastika and an anti-Semitic slur spray-painted on her front door (PTC Punjabi TV, 16/11/2016). She attributes this to the elections results in the US, which gave people permission to foment division, hatred, racism, misogyny and opposition to immigrants and non-Christian religions (Voces Latinas radio, Spanish, 15/11/2016). A Jewish community centre, a church with a Black pastor and a mosque were also targeted with racist graffiti in Ottawa, while racist flyers called on Richmond, BC, residents to rally against their Chinese neighbours.

Donald Trump’s election ushers in a time of uncertainty and division in North America, with no one more affected than the minority communities on a multicultural and diverse continent. Engagement with the ethnic media can send a message that any organization, business or government agency is serious about serving all local clients and customers equally and respectfully interested in all segments of society. And since Federal responsibility for race relations and multiculturalism in Canada has moved back to its original home at Canadian Heritage, perhaps we can expect a positive message from Ottawa as we move towards celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary as a nation built on the principles of racial harmony and inclusion.

Source: MIREMS Blog – MIREMS 2016

Africville residents carry on fight for compensation 47 years after black community bulldozed in Nova Scotia

Interesting that the 2010 apology and settlement, which did not include any personal compensation, has effectively been challenged by this case.

But as in federal historical recognition, the likely form of compensation is ex gratia payments, as was the case for Japanese Canadian wartime internment (who also lost property) or those Chinese Canadians who paid the entry head tax:

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia will hear arguments this week about whether to certify a proposed class action lawsuit for dozens of former residents of Africville, the black community in north-end Halifax that in 1969 was cleared of its residents and demolished to make room for industrial development.

The destruction of the site, especially the Seaview United Baptist Church that had stood there for over a century, is widely regarded as a shameful symbol of the treatment of black Nova Scotians, many of whom had fled slavery in America.

“I’m hoping for a settlement,” said Flemming Vemb, a plaintiff and former resident who recalls being forced out of the four-bedroom house on the waterfront where his father had tried to build a dry dock, but was refused permission by the city. “It was an abrupt thing,” he said of his family’s removal from their home.

After years of slow negotiations and growing awareness of the historical outrage, in 2010 then Halifax mayor Peter Kelly signed off on an almost $5-million compensation deal, from three levels of government, which included an apology. As a result, a replica of the church has been built and a park established on the site.

Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives CanadaThe destruction of Africville, especially the Seaview United Baptist Church that had stood there for over a century, is widely regarded as a shameful symbol of the treatment of black Nova Scotians.

“We apologize for the heartache experienced at the loss of the Seaview United Baptist Church, the spiritual heart of the community, removed in the middle of the night. We acknowledge the tremendous importance the church had, both for the congregation and the community as a whole,” Kelly said.

That deal involved no personal compensation and no admission of liability by Halifax, however, and it led to discord, with some plaintiffs saying the settlement was signed over their objections.

The lawsuit is led by the Africville Genealogy Society, which represents the estates of 48 former residents whose identities are known, as well as those who are as yet unknown.

The lawsuit was filed in 1996, the same year Africville was designated a National Historic Site. It includes nearly 40 plaintiffs who are still alive, and families of many more who have died, who claim they were not compensated for the loss of their lands. Many of the named plaintiffs are related, with Carvery, Flint, Izzard and Vemb especially common surnames.

As a judge put it, they claim “Halifax is liable to the former residents and their descendants for a broad array of tortious conduct and breaches of contract over the span of the community’s existence.”

When faced with Trump’s extremism, the media falter: Macdonald

Good commentary by Neil Macdonald:

It’s warming and bias-confirming to browse quotes about the importance of journalism to democracy. Thomas Jefferson said he’d vastly prefer newspapers without government to government without newspapers.

Napoleon said four newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.

But others saw into the reality most journalists know well, and live daily.

George Orwell noted that “anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness.” Noam Chomsky characterized the media as the guard dog of the establishment, rather than the watchdog.

And Norman J. Ornstein said just the other day that the mainstream press, “behaving like a battered spouse,” is knuckling under to the new president-elect, normalizing extremism, rationalizing boorish thuggery, “thinking ‘Maybe it’s us…we should be nicer to him.'”

Ornstein, a left-leaning resident scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, has been on a Twitter tear since Nov. 8, adding his scorn of the media to that of Donald Trump’s legions.

Righties have long despised what they call the “lamestream media,” preferring, somewhat like the hard left, to swim exclusively in their own pool, eagerly consuming the demagoguery of websites like Breitbart, arguably the choice of “white nationalists” once led by Steve Bannon, Trump’s new chief policy adviser.

There, they are reassured that Hillary Clinton is a criminal, that blacks are responsible for the treatment of blacks, that leftists are conspiringagainst Christmas, and so forth.

It’s a cartoonish view, one cheered on by Trump himself, who liked to goad crowds at his rallies against the reporters following him, complaining media outlets were deliberately ignoring his popularity, even as they did just the opposite.

Fear of audience

Ornstein, though, is relentlessly grinding his fist into a vulnerability that mainstream reporters know actually exists, but which they seldom acknowledge. My craft is often corporatist, hopelessly bourgeois, genuflects to power and, ultimately, fears its audience.

Anyone who requires proof of that need only review the unhinged media madness after 9/11; suddenly, anyone who opposed invading Iraq was pro-terrorist. Entire cities in Iraq were populated by terrorists. Patriotic correctness eclipsed the political correctness, and George W. Bush quickly brought most of the national press corps, whimpering, to heel.

Now that Trump has been validated by a minority of American voters (Clinton won the popular vote by at least two million votes, roughly the population of America’s largest city), the collective critical faculties of the media are faltering again.

Ornstein is right; extremism is being either ignored or glossed over. When a group of “alt-right” white supremacists held a celebratory party in a Washington restaurant to celebrate Trump’s victory, ending the night with Sieg Heil salutes, it was treated as a bad-apple one-off, even though Trump never proactively disavows his support from the extreme right.

“It is SO politically correct,” Ornstein tweeted sarcastically after that episode, “to frown on Nazi salute, overt antisemitism, and rank racism.”

Source: When faced with Trump’s extremism, the media falter – CBC News | Opinion

The Canadian roots of white supremacist Richard Spencer

Avery Haines of CityNews interviews white supremacist Spencer and research by Barbara Perry on white suprematism in Canada:

So what does Richard Spencer’s ideal world look like? “I hope that one day all Europeans can be united. That we could revive something like the Roman Empire. Having a state that is for us, that is always going to be for us. Jews have such a state. It’s called Israel. There are many Muslims who are attempting to build such a state, a caliphate. We really need to think of ourselves as a civilization and a people.”

Spencer says it was on a TTC bus, when he lived in Toronto, that he looked around and realized he was the only white person. “It’s not the kind of place I want to live. I don’t want my child or my grandchild to be in a situation where they feel alone, where they feel that everyone around them doesn’t trust them. Being a minority is very difficult. We have recognized this when we look at other minorities, and yet we, as white people, seem to want to become minorities in our own homeland. It’s a very odd thing.”

Profile pieces on Richard Spencer come under criticism for mentioning his looks and his charm. But, like many notorious leaders of the past, he possesses a disarming charisma that can normalize his beliefs.

Barbara Perry has conducted one of the only large-scale research papers on the white supremacist movement in Canada. She says Richard Spencer is the new-and-improved white supremacist, the kind who has a charm that is dangerous. “There is not much difference in the rhetoric or ideologies. The difference is how they present that in a way that appeals to more people and isn’t as frightening as the black-booted neo-Nazis. They carry that same thread of white nationalism, very often anti-Semitism, homophobia. The difference is they are couching that in a much more professional presentation.”

Perry’s research, conducted through the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, has identified more than 100 hate groups operating in Canada, most of them in Quebec and Ontario. But she says the strength of the movement isn’t from the size of the rally, but the online hits. “We saw much more online chatter leading up to and after the election. Newcomers [are asking] what are these people saying, what is the message they are sending, do you they have answers for why my life seems to have gone awry?”

Perry says the legitimizing of the alt-right south of the border has definitely migrated north. “It’s really facing us head-on now. It’s spilled over. It’s a porous border. Especially when we are talking about language and speech.” Perry believes it’s important to shine a light on these views and to talk about them. Her research students are doing workshops in schools right now to educate teens about right wing extremism. “The students are lapping it up. They are appalled and shocked but also very engaged and want to know what can they do.”

Richard Spencer and I Skype for about half an hour. He talks about how he wakes up in the morning feeling not hateful toward others, but hopeful for his “big dream.” He claims not to incite violence and believes it is the immigration policies of the U.S., U.K. and Canada that will lead to “blood and tears.” “I have no problem dealing with individuals,” he says. “But do we really trust each other? Do we really love one another? I am afraid the answer is no.”

I ask him what his mum and dad, who are somewhere in the house getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, think about his views. He pauses and says: “They think I’m a bit crazy, just like the rest of the world, right? They are okay with it, in the sense they are not going to reject me. I’m sure they, like the rest of the world, are saying, “Oh, what is Richard doing?”

Source: The Canadian roots of white supremacist Richard Spencer –

First Nation smudging ceremony does not infringe on religious freedom

Richard Moon’s perspective in contrast to Ashley Csanady: Indigenous prayers in the classroom and all-Muslim suburbs are equally dangerous attacks on our secular society:

On first glance, the inclusion of the smudging ceremony in the school’s curriculum would seem to breach this prohibition on state support for religion. If it is objectionable and a breach of the Charter’s freedom of religion for a school to include the Lord’s Prayer as part of its opening exercises, then surely it must also breach the Charter when a school involves its students in a smudging ceremony. The equation of these practices, though, is too simple and fails to understand why the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the public schools is objectionable and why the smudging ceremony has been included in the school’s curriculum.

It is important to remember that the Port Alberni school is not affirming or supporting the smudging ceremony as a spiritually true practice — as the correct way to worship the divine. The school’s purpose is to introduce students to some of the practices of the local indigenous community.

The courts have accepted that a school may teach students about different spiritual traditions. The parent’s objection, then, must be that the students are being exposed to the practices of only one spiritual tradition — that indigenous practices are being given some form of preference in the schools.

But there are good reasons for this apparent preference. The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has helped Canadians to see more clearly that the dominant culture in Canada did not simply ignore the cultural/spiritual practices of the First Nations, but actively sought to suppress those practices through residential schools and other means. Exposing public school students to a few of these practices is a small start in the process of acknowledging the presence of First Nations and the injustices committed against them.

A parent who believes that it is immoral or wrongful for her children to participate in an indigenous spiritual ceremony should be able to request an exemption from participation. The parent, though, should not be able to prevent the school from introducing other students to the cultural and spiritual practices of the local indigenous community.

Source: First Nation smudging ceremony does not infringe on religious freedom | Vancouver Sun