ICYMI: How well is the government meeting its diversity targets? An intersectionality analysis

As you know, I have been looking for some time at how the diversity within the public service continues to evolve. The overall trend over the years demonstrates that the original policy objectives of improved diversity are being met but arguably too slowly for some.

For the past six years, TBS has provided disaggregated data for the various equity groups. In 2022, TBS also provided gender breakdowns within the disaggregated data. Following up on a suggestion from a member of Black Lives Matter, I looked at hiring, separation and promotion rates for visible minority and Indigenous groups, showing that visible minority representation is growing faster than non-visible minority, not indigenous, with a more mixed picture for Indigenous public servants.

When originally published by National Newswatch and subsequently posted on LinkedIn, the analysis received a range of commentary, ranging from this who appreciated the data and analyis to those who contested it. The latter ranged from those genuinely interested in discussing the approach I took while raising valid points (I learned more about disproportionately analysis), to those, “activists on a pension,” as we sometimes called them while working in the multiculturalism branch at Canadian Heritage.

The latter appeared to have not read the article or understood that I had used the same disproportionality approach to assess the differences between hiring, separation and promotion rates, highlighting the improvements over the past six years, particularly but not exclusively, for Black public servants. Media needs to be more careful in citing individual examples without this broader context (e.g., Sandra Griffith-Bonaparte has worked 22 years for the government. She’s never gotten a promotion):

Douglas Todd: Canadian Indigenous spirituality anything but monolithic 

Another good reminder:

“All First Nations believed their values and traditions were gifts from the Creator. One of the most important and common teachings was that people should live in harmony with the natural world and all it contained.”

That’s what the Canadian government’s educational resource for young people says every Indigenous person believed before settlers arrived. And today many continue to believe there is uniformity in contemporary Indigenous spiritual practice.

But the recent Canadian census reveals that Canada’s 1.8 million Indigenous people are anything but monolithic in regard to religion and spiritual practice. The range is extraordinary.

To begin with, the census, which every decade asks about religion, found a fast-rising number of Indigenous people, about 47 per cent, are checking off the box: “No religion, and secular perspectives.” That compares to only 20 per cent in 2011.

At the other end of the spectrum, a declining number of Indigenous people, also about 47 per cent, says they’re Christians.

And only four per cent of Canadian Indigenous people put themselves in the category of “traditional (North American Indigenous) spirituality.” This small group would be closest to the historic form of spirituality described in Ottawa’s educational resource for young people.

Indigenous religious diversity stretches surprisingly wide in 2023, flowing into unfamiliar streams.

The census, for instance, found 1,840 Indigenous Canadians who say they’re Muslim, while another 1,615 Canadians are Jewish.

I reached out to some Indigenous, Muslim and Jewish organizations to interview a First Nations, Inuit or Metis who is Jewish or Muslim, whereupon the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs introduced me to Cheyenne Neszo.

A status member of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation based in and around Prince George, Neszo is deep into the process of converting to Judaism, the proud religion of her fiancé, Zach Berinstein.

Neszo, a 32-year-old lawyer, grew up in North Delta, where her extended family occasionally attended church and had in many ways lost touch with their Indigenous roots. That changed in recent years, as Neszo, her mother and grandmother applied for First Nations status and reconnected to those cultural origins.

Now, Neszo is three years into studying Judaism with Rabbi Dan Moscovitz at Vancouver’s Temple Sholom, where she and Berinstein will be married in September. “It’s just one of the most welcoming places I’ve come across,” said Neszo, who specializes in Indigenous law. Their wedding will be Jewish, with Lheidli T’enneh elements.

To understand the evolution in Indigenous religiosity over the years, I have frequently interviewed First Nations, Metis and Inuit elders and others who are Christians, who belong to one of the three denominations that ran Canada’s defunct federally funded residential schools.

Although the proportion of Indigenous people who belong to those denominations is declining, it remains that 485,000 Indigenous people today (27 per cent) still say they’re Catholic, 110,000 affiliate with the Anglicans and 42,000 are United Church members.

In addition, 28,000 Indigenous people belong to the Pentecostal Church, which did not operate a residential school. And what of the 6,515 who are Jehovah’s Witnesses and 5,035 who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons)?

Although he was not available for an interview, John Borrows, who is of Anishinaabe heritage and a committed Latter-day Saint, was recently profiled by Cardus, a Canadian think tank. Borrows is a professor specializing in Indigenous law, as well as head of the Victoria Multifaith Society.

Like other Anishinaabe people, Borrows went on a Vision Quest as a young man, fasting and being alone in the forest. Although he joined the Latter Day Saints when he was 19, he believes those experiences of encountering God’s presence in nature still inform his faith.

Ray Aldred, a member of the Cree Nation who directs the Indigenous studies program at Vancouver School of Theology, is not surprised more Canadian First Nations are classifying themselves under “no religion, and secular perspectives.”

They are essentially saying, Alder believes, that they don’t want to be associated with “one of those,” by which he means the Christians who are increasingly being condemned for their role in operating about 125 residential schools, which were almost all closed by the 1970s.

There was “no such thing as secular” in traditional Indigenous culture, said Aldred. “The category didn’t exist in the Indigenous mindset.”

He said Indigenous people are picking up the concept from attending college and university, where faculty tend to vilify Christianity and academic papers about the faith seem to only get published if the author can show they hate the religion.

“All that has an impact.”

At the same time, Aldred said many Indigenous people don’t see a contradiction between Christianity and their peoples’ ancient spiritual ways. “Their families have been part of the church for a couple of hundred years.”

For his part, Aldred, who is an Anglican priest, said he believes settler culture and religion has brought both positives and negatives.

Rather than Indigenous people zeroing in on their specific religious or non-religious identities, Aldred suggests they “try to focus on a communal identity,” which connects them to the land and to each other.

He talked about how Metis people, as well as the Nisga’a of northern B.C., follow many different denominations and religious traditions without fighting about it. He admires the Nisga’a creed: “One nation, one heart.”

And in an era when social media incites groups to feel contempt for the other, Aldred rightly encourages people of different faiths and no faith to engage in authentic dialogue.

“The important thing is people learn to speak heart to heart, so we hear one another.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Canadian Indigenous spirituality anything but monolithic 

ICYMI ‘It’s cultural genocide’: Native Americans shine a light on the epidemic of disenrollment

Of note, “blood quantum”:

For Kadin Mills, a first descendant of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, resources offered through his family’s tribe will always be just out of arm’s reach.

He will never be able to call himself a citizen of Keweenaw Bay — and with that comes limits on the sort of benefits, such as health, that he is able to receive. In desperate cases — like when Mills needs a prescription that would simply be too expensive at non-tribal pharmacies — he must depend on good timing, luck, and the generosity of his enrolled family members.

“If my mom has the same prescription, she gives them to me and refills hers,” he said.

Mills is just one of many Native American young adults and youths who are unable to enroll with their tribe, even when one or more of their immediate family members — such as a parent or a grandparent — are enrolled. Most, if not all, federally-recognized tribes rely on blood quantum and lineage requirements to determine whether an individual is eligible for citizenship.

The term “blood quantum” is exactly what it sounds like. It refers to the amount of “Indian blood” a person has — for example, if someone’s grandparent was fully Native, that person’s blood quantum would only be a quarter Native.

According to “American Indians without Tribes in the 21st Century,” a journal article published in the National Library of Medicine, one-third of mixed-race American Indians and one-sixth of single-race American Indians did not respond to questions regarding tribal affiliation or enrollment in the 2000 United States census.

In many tribes, including the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, a minimum of one-fourth of Native American blood is required to enroll. These requirements ice out mixed-race Native Americans such as Mills, something that he said promises a decline in tribal membership and an uncertain future for traditional ways of life.

“I think it’s cultural genocide,” Mills said.

During the mid to late 1800s, the United States government began using the blood quantum measure in the hopes that “intermarriage would “dilute” the amount of “Indian blood” in the population,” according to an article by Maya Harmon published by the California Law Review at the UC Berkeley School of Law. The end goal was to breed out Native Americans and assimilate them into white society.

Other tribes, such as the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in southwestern Michigan, rely on a model of “lineal descendancy,” where a person’s citizenship is determined by their ancestry rather than blood quantum percentage.

Blood quantum, according to an article published by NPR, “What Exactly is ‘Blood Quantum’?”, refers to the amount of “Indian Blood” an individual possesses. The manner in which this is determined is through legal tribal documents issued by a tribal official or government official. The difference with lineal descendancy is when individuals acquire citizenship by proving they have ancestors previously part of indigenous groups.

While uncommon, Mills pointed out that this model has significant potential to reshape tribal communities.

“I think that that’s the future of our communities, at least in this area,” he said.

Native Americans who are enrolled with any of the 574 federally-recognized tribes in the United States have access to benefits such as free or low-cost healthcare, subsidized housing and universal basic income, which grants citizens consistent payment to support during any socioeconomic struggle. In most tribes, no such benefits are offered to lineal descendants, even when a child’s parent is an enrolled citizen.

For Mills, whose mother is an enrolled member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, access to healthcare services has been a rocky journey, riddled with countless obstacles, financial barriers and disappointing dead-ends.

After his dad became unemployed and lost their health insurance over a year ago, Mills sheepishly explained that he hadn’t been to the dentist in over a year despite needing prescription toothpaste.

Even the primary care he once received as a student at Northwestern University was no longer accessible.

He believes that if Keweenaw Bay followed a citizenship model similar to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the quality of life for tribal members and their families would be much better.

“I think that it really hurts our ability to offer programs and services to people who are subject to ongoing cultural genocide that is blood quantum,” Mills said. “You keep them from actually accessing that culture and being able to be active participants in their communities.”

Even enrolled tribal members aren’t necessarily in the clear when it comes to citizenship. Such is the case with Summer Paa’ila-Herrera Jones, whose family was disenrolled from the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in 2004.

At the time, Jones was only six years old; she said she still struggles to fully understand what led to the situation.

“I feel like I don’t have a whole grasp of the whole picture of what happened to our family or why,” Jones said. “That’s a really hard thing to grow up in. I knew the term disenrollment. But what does that mean to a six-year-old?”

Jones said that she believes that around 210 tribal members — about 25 percent of Pechanga’s membership — were disenrolled. She was one of 76 children who were impacted by the disenrollment.

“In the name of sovereignty, it happened,” she said.

Disenrollment, while uncommon, is a serious matter, as enrollment status holds power, security and privilege that an individual might not otherwise have. In the case of the Nooksack Tribe of Washington state, over 306 tribal citizens were disenrolled in 2018; 63 of these disenrolled citizens were evicted from federally-subsidized housing on tribal land.

In Jones’ case, her family was outcast socially by enrolled members of the tribe, who she said treated them poorly and discriminated against them due to their enrollment status.
“[This woman] had confronted my mom at the clinic and basically said, ‘you’re not welcome here. You’re not allowed to come here with your kids. You don’t get services here,” Jones recalled. “She [had known] me since I was born.”

After this encounter, Jones’ parents began taking her and her siblings to a health clinic on the Rincon Indian Reservation in San Diego, a 45-minute drive from the Pechanga reservation where Jones’ family lived. As an adult, Jones said that she still experiences significant anxiety and stress around making appointments for her health, even when it comes to primary care.

“To have [the disenrollment] at the forefront, when I’m literally just trying to get a teeth whitening appointment, it can be a struggle,” she said, chuckling.

“I feel like it’s still like really, I don’t know, kind of taboo or strange to talk about,” Jones said. “I do feel like my family has suffered this extra layer of trauma that is very much invisible to people in society, but also to people within the Native community.”

Source: ‘It’s cultural genocide’: Native Americans shine a light on the epidemic of disenrollment

Racism a major barrier for health care recruitment in Canada, report finds [Indigenous focus]

Of note:

More Indigenous practitioners are needed to address systemic racism, but that can’t happen without a supportive education system that also envisions them in leadership roles, says a report commissioned by Health Canada and touted as the first comprehensive review of the health-care workforce.

The report, released Tuesday by the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS), includes an assessment of 5,000 studies done over the last decade on various issues, such as the retention of nurses and doctors and the impact of technology. Some of the research was from countries with similar care models, including Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

It outlines multiple hurdles in health care, including inadequate staffing, burnout, moral distress and dissatisfied patients. It also says the system should prioritize culturally safe workplaces, with a focus on team-based care and gender equity so women, who have been the main caregivers at home as well during the pandemic can stay in leadership roles.

The report, which includes surveys of 400 health leaders and professionals, also calls on governments and organizations to develop strategies to support Indigenous practitioners and trainees.

It says racism is a major barrier for many workers as recruitment and retention are among the biggest challenges to planning a health-care system for the future, including in rural and remote areas.

“There are substantial disparities between rates of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in every health profession, including nursing, medicine, midwifery, dentistry,” says the report, which calls for data collection on racialized trainees and workers.

Indigenous participants highlighted the legal and ethical need to advance the Indigenous health workforce, linking the labour gap to persistent social inequities among First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples.

“They also noted the legal obligations of our governments to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, along with the ethical responsibility to fully implement the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,” the report says.mom was admitted to a storage room

Dr. Marcia Anderson, an internist at Grace Hospital in Winnipeg, was among the 15 people who assessed the scientific literature. She said that as part of Canada’s systemically disadvantaged populations, Indigenous Peoples face “really high levels of racism in the workplace or in the learning environment.”

“In some reports that could be 80 or 90 per cent of people who report experiencing racism,” she said, adding one of the key “pathways” forward is through Indigenous-led development of policies, safe reporting and investigation processes, as well as mandatory education and training for all employees.

“Even within Indigenous populations there is significant diversity. As a First Nations person, I need to know more about cultural safety and cultural humility so I can provide culturally safe care to Inuit people, for example,” said Anderson, who is Cree and Anishinaabe.

Anderson said the gap also compromises care for Indigenous patients, who have endured racism in the health-care system.

She cited the case of 37-year-old Indigenous patient Joyce Echaquan, who died in a Quebec hospital of pulmonary edema in 2020, shortly after filming herself being insulted by hospital staff, as an example of the need for Indigenous Peoples to be part of the health-care workforce and provide leadership in ensuring culturally safe care.

However, Indigenous Peoples face the additional burden of driving change, often on their own and without compensation, Anderson said.

That may involve using connections to their community to help build relationships, sometimes referred to as “cultural load” or a “minority tax,” she said.

“That’s not something my non-Indigenous colleagues are getting asked to do,” said Anderson, also vice-dean of Indigenous health, social justice and anti-racism at the University of Manitoba.

“There can be significant expertise, community connections and relationships and experience and those are really valuable to institutions but institutions haven’t always valued them. So, when we’re asking Indigenous members of our teams to do this extra work, the point is, it should be fairly compensated because it’s part of the value-add to the institution.”

Indigenous Peoples in remote areas are more likely to be employed in community care settings and in jobs that don’t involve advanced education, compared to their counterparts in urban locations, Anderson said.

“I think that has to do with educational inequities that make it harder for Indigenous Peoples to enter programs like nursing or medicine or pharmacy and then be in those positions.”

Health Canada said health-care workers — from family doctors to personal support workers, massage therapists, dental hygienists and dietitians are — “the backbone of our health-care system and they are currently experiencing unprecedented challenges.”

“The government of Canada is committed to protecting and strengthening Canada’s publicly funded health-care system, including by addressing the health workforce crisis,” it said in an emailed response.

“This evidence-based assessment report will inform ongoing collaboration between the government of Canada, the provinces and territories and key stakeholders to identify both immediate and longer-term solutions to address significant health workforce challenges.”

Serge Buy, CEO of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, said many Canadians, including himself, are regularly affected by health-care issues, including the lack of a family doctor.

“I don’t have a doctor. My father, who’s 85, doesn’t have a doctor, for two years,” said Buy.

“My doctor quit in the middle of the pandemic. He sobbed on my shoulder saying, ‘I can’t do this.”’

Buy said that while much of the report highlights issues unveiled during the pandemic, they have not previously been backed up by scientific evidence now available to governments, non-government organizations and other stakeholders.

For example, during the pandemic, women health-care practitioners have found it difficult to remain involved in leadership, administration or research due to increased caregiving responsibilities, the report says.

“These factors are rarely considered in workforce planning,” it says regarding gender equity.

Source: Racism a major barrier for health care recruitment in Canada, report finds

Lynn McDonald: Get the facts right before condemning the past

Worth noting:

The City of Toronto’s decision to rename Dundas Street probably helped the then Ryerson University administration to decide on its renaming — it was well along the way. The renaming forces at Ryerson, in turn, likely inspired a University of Toronto student to call for the renaming of Woodsworth College, founded in 1974 in honour of James Shaver Woodsworth on the centenary of his birth.

This proposed renaming, which appeared to go nowhere, appeared in a student newspaper, The Innis Herald. The 2020 opinion piece by Marloes Streppel denounced Woodsworth for his (supposed) support of residential schools and the “forced relocation of approximately 150,000 Indigenous children,” with their “severe neglect, sexual and physical abuse, and starvation.” Streppel’s op-ed, “James S. Woodsworth: A man to remember, never to glorify,” even had Woodsworth consider “cultural genocide” to be “satisfactory,” “from the white man’s standpoint.”

The trouble is that she based some of her remarks on an article by a different Woodsworth — Joseph Francis (J.F.) Woodsworth, principal of the Edmonton Residential School from 1925 to 1946. His article, “Problems of Indian Education in Canada,” appeared in a book, The North American Indian Today, 1939, which includes not a reference to J.S. Woodsworth, or Egerton Ryerson for that matter, in its 361 pages. Moreover, J.F. Woodsworth himself questioned the residential school system in his article:

“I have often been possessed of a sense of guilt in going into the Indian home or tepee and taking little children from that home, sometimes at bedtime hour, when the mother should be putting her child to rest for the night, and in rushing with my load of children into the night miles away, to put them into my school. It is true that they trusted me and were in a way willing for the children to go — but it was not essentially right. Yet the bulk of our Indian youth is at present in residential schools. These schools may be efficient, but we must not sacrifice the spirit and souls of these people, to say nothing of the joy of home and children, upon the altar of efficiency.”

Both Woodsworths were Methodist ministers, but had nothing else in common. J.S. Woodsworth was a leading advocate for welfare reform, the right of workers to unionize, and the first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, later called the New Democratic Party. In the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, he went to jail briefly for seditious libel, notably for quoting the Book of Isaiah: “They will build houses and inhabit them.” What a subversive housing policy!

Streppel went on to describe J.S. Woodsworth as “racist” for his book “Strangers Within Our Gates: or, coming Canadians,” 1909, for classifying people according to their “race and country of origin.” Given that the book is about immigrants, that would seem to be the point. It gives a sympathetic account of the difficulties non-British immigrants experience in Canada.

It is troubling to see a university student so inept at reference checking, but the president of Victoria University (University of Toronto), Dr. William Robins, was just as inaccurate in 2021 in calling for the renaming of Victoria University’s Ryerson residence and Ryerson scholarships. Robins had Ryerson proposing “residential schools,” a term he never used, “to “train students to become agricultural labourers.” Yet Ryerson’s proposal was for “industrial schools” to teach Indigenous youth who wanted to learn farming. He looked to their becoming “overseers of some of the largest farms in Canada,” or “industrious and prosperous farmers on their own account.” He also set out an academic program far beyond what “agricultural labourers” would require: English, arithmetic, elementary geometry, geography, general history, natural history, agricultural chemistry, writing, drawing, vocal music, religion, morals and book-keeping (for farm accounts). The summer program would have more reading and vocal music, with the natural history of the plants, vegetables, trees, birds and animals of the country, with its geography and history.

The year 2024 will mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Woodsworth College. Might we hope for a real celebration there, and the continued running of Dundas streetcars? The one Dundas name I would like to see removed — and it would not be costly — is Dundas Square. It should be renamed “Ryerson Square,” which could not happen until people realize how they were hoodwinked into blaming Ryerson for what others did in the residential school system. He supported rather the voluntary, bilingual schools Indigenous leaders and parents wanted. He was honoured by an Ojibway chief, who called him “brother” and gave him an Ojibway name. Dundas Square is close to where Canada’s first teacher training college stood, established by Ryerson, the founder also of free public education in Canada, when it was a revolutionary idea.

Source: Lynn McDonald: Get the facts right before condemning the past

Nicolas: Ô Canada… quoi?

Of interest:

La star du R&B canadien Jully Black refusait de chanter l’Ô Canada dans des événements sportifs depuis déjà quelques années. En entrevue à la CBC, elle raconte avoir été profondément ébranlée par les nouvelles entourant la découverte présumée de tombes non identifiées d’enfants autochtones sur les terrains d’anciens pensionnats. Depuis, les mots ne venaient plus.

Le week-end dernier, elle a toutefois accepté d’interpréter l’hymne national pour un match des étoiles de la NBA… à sa façon. Plutôt que de prononcer les paroles anglaises habituelles « our home and native land » (« notre maison et terre natale ») , elle y est plutôt allée d’un « our home on native land » bien senti. Notre maison en terre autochtone. Il n’en a pas fallu plus pour que tout le pays réagisse.

D’un côté, sur les médias sociaux, son geste a suscité beaucoup d’admiration, notamment de plusieurs personnalités autochtones. De l’autre, des Canadiens très attachés à l’Ô Canada ont cru qu’elle avait outrepassé son rôle. La division dans les réactions n’est pas sans rappeler la tempête qu’a déclenchée le genou à terre de Colin Kaepernick en 2016. L’ex-joueur étoile de la NFL avait ainsi voulu attirer l’attention sur le problème de la brutalité policière aux États-Unis.

Sauf que nous ne sommes pas aux États-Unis. Et ici, l’hymne national a une histoire très particulière. On a presque envie de sourire devant un chroniqueur conservateur de Toronto qui croit qu’on ne peut pas toucher aux paroles de l’Ô Canada.

On a envie de lui rappeler que la musique originale est de Calixa Lavallée, et que le poème est d’Adolphe-Basile Routhier. Que l’hymne a été chanté pour la première fois le 24 juin 1880, pour les fêtes de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Que le mot « Canada », à l’époque, était encore largement synonyme du Canada français. Et que les traductions anglaises (oui, au pluriel — il y en a eu plusieurs) constituent déjà une forme de récupération politique d’un chant qui a été conçu pour parler de tout autre chose que ce qu’il représente aujourd’hui.

Au fond, le geste de Jully Black représente l’appropriation d’une appropriation d’une oeuvre. En en modifiant les paroles dans son interprétation, Black a posé un geste politique sur un chant dont la trajectoire est déjà liée intimement à l’évolution sociale du pays.

Ce n’est qu’en 1980, juste avant le rapatriement de la Constitution par Pierre Elliott Trudeau, que l’Ô Canada est devenu par loi l’hymne national du pays. Avant, des générations d’enfants avaient dû entonner God Save the Queen (ou King) dans les écoles du Dominion. Et en 2018, les paroles anglaises ont été modifiées par le Parlement, pour que le « true patriot love in all thy sons command » devienne un « true patriot love in all of us command », moins genré.

L’Ô Canada porte donc en lui les traces du nationalisme canadien-français du XIXe siècle, de l’autonomisation progressive du pays par rapport à l’Empire britannique au cours du XXe siècle, et de l’égalité des genres du XXIe siècle.

La réflexion sur la place des peuples autochtones au pays et sur l’histoire de la colonisation, qui a pourtant largement avancé dans les dernières années, se trouve encore absente du texte. Par son interprétation, Jully Black a repris une suggestion qui avait d’ailleurs été faite à maintes reprises auparavant, notamment sur nombre d’affiches dans les manifestations des dernières années.

Reste à savoir si, au-delà du moment viral, quelque chose de concret restera de son geste.
• • • • •
La réflexion ci-haut pourrait apparaître à première vue complètement futile. En effet, il y a mille et une crises urgentes dans le monde : un hymne national n’est certainement pas une priorité. Et même modifiées, les paroles d’un chant symbolique restent nécessairement symboliques. « Our home on native land » entonné avec la plus belle voix du monde ne fait absolument rien, concrètement, pour changer les rapports de force entre Autochtones et non-Autochtones au pays. On aurait raison, donc, de pointer du doigt les limites des discussions sur des sujets aussi complexes que la colonisation qui portent seulement sur des questions de représentations abstraites.

Ce qui est intéressant ici, c’est que le débat sur l’Ô Canada advient parce qu’il y a eu transformation — ou du moins, évolution — des mentalités canadiennes. C’est parce qu’il y a une réflexion de plus en plus répandue sur le rapport de l’État canadien à ses territoires que le geste de Jully Black trouve un écho. Ce qui est intéressant ici, c’est donc moins la modification des paroles elle-même que la manière dont elle résonne.

La politique québécoise a longtemps été principalement divisée entre souverainistes et fédéralistes. Et le « fédéralisme », dans ce contexte, sous-entendait une défense du statu quo.

Le Canada qui a organisé le love-in de 1995 était un Canada convaincu de ses propres vertu, grandeur et perfection. Pour bien des Canadiens, dont Black s’est en quelque sorte fait la voix le week-end dernier, ce Canada-là n’existe plus.

La critique du nationalisme canadien n’est plus, depuis plusieurs années déjà, une question politique qui émane presque exclusivement du Québec. Bien sûr, les peuples autochtones ont aussi critiqué le pays depuis sa fondation même. Mais il se trouve aussi maintenant de plus en plus d’alliés sensibilisés à ces perspectives qui utilisent leur voix (ici, littéralement) pour remettre en question des idées pourtant centrales à l’édifice idéologique sur lequel le Canada s’est construit.

Parfois, cette évolution politique s’exprime sous forme de débat sur les statues présentes dans l’espace public ou sur le nom d’un édifice. Maintenant, c’est de l’hymne national dont il est question. Mais l’important, dans ces moments d’éclat, ce n’est jamais la statue, l’édifice ou le chant. L’essentiel de l’affaire réside toujours dans le récit qu’on se raconte, comme société, pour faire corps.

Source: Ô Canada… quoi?

Ibbitson: Why should Sir John A. take all the blame for Canada’s injustices to Indigenous peoples?

Valid points:

In the latest indignity visited upon the memory of Canada’s first prime minister, Ottawa’s National Capital Commission has announced plansto substitute an Indigenous name for what is now the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.

Why does everyone pick on Sir John A. and not Sir Wilfrid?

Wilfrid Laurier, one of Canada’s most beloved prime ministers, expanded the residential-school system and suppressed a 1907 report that revealed the schools were cruel and unsafe. His interior minister, Clifford Sifton, dispossessed First Nations of their lands in order to promote settlement in the Prairies. His governments also blocked Black and Chinese immigrants from entering Canada.

But although Ryerson University has been renamed Toronto Metropolitan University on the grounds that Egerton Ryerson helped establish the residential-school system, Wilfrid Laurier University has no plans to change its name. Laurier streets across the nation remain untouched. Renaming Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier hotel is unthinkable.

Macdonald’s likeness has been banished from the 10-dollar bill, replaced by Viola Desmond. Laurier remains on the five.

Macdonald statues have been toppled or removed in Charlottetown, Montreal, Kingston, Hamilton, Regina, Victoria and elsewhere. But I can find no record of a Laurier statue being carted off to storage.

Tearing Indigenous children from their parents and forcing them to attend schools far from their communities, where they were subjected to disease, abuse and efforts at assimilation, and where some died, was an act of cultural genocide by our lights. But by the lights of both Macdonald and of Laurier – and, for that matter, of Robert Borden, Mackenzie King, R.B. Bennett, Louis St. Laurent, John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson – it was sound policy. And newspapers across the land, including this one, agreed.

King’s governments deserve particular scrutiny. Not only did his administration maintain the residential-schools system, the King government in 1923 enacted legislation banning Chinese immigration. The act was rescinded in 1947 but King continued to maintain that “large-scale immigration from the Orient would change the fundamental composition of the Canadian population.” He also turned away Jews fleeing Europe on the St. Louis; an estimated 254 of its passengers later died at the hands of the Nazis. And his government dispossessed more than 21,000 Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

Pierre Trudeau’s government began phasing out residential schools. But that same government produced a white paper under Indian Affairs minister (and future prime minister) Jean Chrétien that would have eliminated special status for First Nations, converted reserves into private property and wound down treaty rights. The government retreated in the face of First Nations outrage.

Injustice toward Indigenous peoples long predated Confederation and continues to this day. The record of racism toward non-European immigrants is lengthy and sordid. What makes Macdonald more culpable than the rest?

The answer could be that, as the first prime minister and a Father of Confederation, Macdonald personifies Canada. In pulling down his statue, some people are not simply protesting the legacy of residential schools – they are pulling down the symbol of an oppressive, colonizing state.

In that sense, to pull down a Macdonald statue is to pull down the statue of every prime minister and every leader who contributed to oppression of Indigenous peoples. And given what they’ve been put through, who could blame them?

But Macdonald and a handful of others also gave us Canada. They crafted a dominion unique in its balance of powers between federal and provincial, English and French. Immigrants from Britain and Eastern Europe came here. Italians and Portuguese and Chinese and South Asians and Filipinos came here. Muslims and Jews came here. Refugees came here, the latest from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Canada is far from perfect, but it is arguably the least imperfect country on Earth, if the embrace of diversity is your measure.

There are lots of John A. Macdonald things in Ottawa. Replacing one of them with an Indigenous name won’t hurt anyone. Reconciliation will take time and be hard, but we must reach for it.

Let’s be careful, though. Sir John A. is part of who we are, good and bad. Let’s talk to each other about that. Talking is always better than tearing down.

Source: Why should Sir John A. take all the blame for Canada’s injustices to Indigenous peoples?

Métis Nation of Ontario to determine who is a Métis citizen with …

Of interest:

Métis Nation of Ontario members are voting to determine who the organization should recognize as a Métis citizen.

Some 28,000 members across the province are able to cast their “yes” or “no” vote in a plebiscite, as to whether or not the Métis Nation should continue to represent around 5,400 people with incomplete documentation about their ancestry.

In 2003, a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision determined Métis people have rights under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, which pertains to Indigenous treaty rights.

Métis Nation of Ontario president Margaret Froh said that decision meant Métis people were recognized in the same way as First Nations and Inuit people.

In 1993, Ontario conservation officers charged Steve and Roddy Powley, both members of the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community, for harvesting a bull moose outside of the city.

The Supreme Court determined the Powleys could exercise a Métis, and Indigenous, right to hunt.

In 2019, that recognition from the Supreme Court of Canada led to the country’s first Métis self-government agreement.

With that recognition, Froh said it’s time for the Métis Nation of Ontario to take the next step.

“One of the very first things that any Indigenous people do when they are pushing for that recognition of their inherent rights is they determine who it is that they represent,” Froh said.

Source: Métis Nation of Ontario to determine who is a Métis citizen with …

Diversity lags in provincial and territorial legislatures but is improving

My latest analysis:

How does diversity in the provincial and territorial legislatures compare with diversity in the federal Parliament? Federal Parliament diversity has been tracked systematically since 1993 by Jerome Black, but little comparative analysis has taken place at the level of the legislatures. This analysis aims to fill that gap by contrasting the most recent elections with the previous ones for all provinces and territories, looking at the percentage of women, visible minorities and Indigenous Peoples elected among the total of 772 provincial and territorial legislature members.

Just as diversity in the federal Parliament has increased over time, the last two provincial/territorial election cycles have shown an increase in diversity in most legislatures.

For a benchmark, the percentage of visible-minority citizens from the 2021 census is used rather than the percentage of visible-minority residents. This narrow approach reflects the fact that only citizens can become members of legislatures, whereas the population approach recognizes that non-residents also participate in supporting candidates and political parties. For Canada, visible minority citizens make up 21.4 per cent of the total population, compared to 26.5 per cent for all visible minorities, but there is considerable variation among provinces.

Table 1 compares overall representation to citizens. Underrepresentation of women ranges from almost 30 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador to only four per cent in Quebec. Underrepresentation of visible minorities ranges from nine per cent in British Columbia to around five per cent or less for other provinces. Nova Scotia is the only province with greater representation of visible minorities (seven per cent) than their share of the population, in part because of a significant African Nova Scotian population. Underrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples ranges from a high of 14 per cent in Saskatchewan to two per cent in Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island, with only Nunavut, not surprisingly, having representation reflecting the population.


Table 2 contrasts representation at both the member and cabinet levels, highlighting overall representation of women, visible minorities and Indigenous members. Given that governments often factor diversity into cabinet formation, the third set of columns assesses the degree that provincial and territorial governments have compensated for underrepresentation of their caucus. It is clearly the case with Alberta for both visible minorities and Indigenous members, and for Ontario in the case of visible minorities. It is striking that Saskatchewan and Manitoba cabinets have not done so for both visible minorities and Indigenous Peoples, whereas it is less surprising that Quebec has not done so for visible minorities.


Table 3 contrasts the most recent provincial and territorial elections with the previous election. Representation of women increased in all provinces save Alberta, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Similarly, representation of visible minorities remained stable or increased in all provinces save Newfoundland and Labrador. However, Indigenous Peoples’ representation decreased or remained stable in all provinces save Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and The Northwest Territories.


Table 4 examines the intersectionality between gender and visible minorities. Visible minority women members made up a larger share of the total number of visible minority members than their respective non-visible minority counterparts, and by 9.5 per cent overall. Notable exceptions are Alberta, Saskatchewan and Yukon. (Provinces with no visible minority members are excluded.) In short, visible minority women were more likely to contribute to greater gender diversity in most provinces.


While there is no clear political alignment between parties at the provincial/territorial levels, table 5 attempts an approximate ideological lens between left-leaning, centrist and right-leaning parties. Left-leaning parties have the strongest representation of women, visible minorities and Indigenous Peoples followed by centrist parties for women and visible minorities. Right-leaning parties have lower representation for all groups save men.


Provincial and territorial legislatures, like the federal Parliament, have considerable underrepresentation of women, visible minorities and Indigenous Peoples with the exceptions noted above. In general, greater diversity can be found in parties leaning left compared to parties leaning right. However, compared with the previous election, representation is improving for women and visible minorities in most provinces and territories, with a more mixed record for Indigenous Peoples.

For the four largest provinces, Quebec has the least underrepresentation of visible minorities and Indigenous Peoples while British Columbia has greatest underrepresentation of visible minorities and Alberta has the greatest underrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples.

The 2021 census has highlighted an ongoing increase in immigrants and visible minorities. Parties at the provincial level, like their federal counterparts, are clearly taking this into account in their candidate selection and campaign strategies. The increase in representation, while uneven and partially dependent on which party wins an election, indicates the degree to which this is so.


Women, visible minorities and Indigenous Peoples are identified through name, photo and biographical analysis. MLA lists come from provincial and territorial election organizations and legislatures. 

For the ideological lens, we classified parties as follows, recognizing that there is considerable variation among the provinces:

Left-leaning: NDP, Québec solidaire, Parti québécois, Green

Centrist: Liberal, Independent Liberal, Independent

Right-leaning: Conservative, CAQ, UCP, Saskatchewan Party, B.C. Liberal (now B.C. United), People’s Alliance

Source: Diversity lags in provincial and territorial legislatures but is improving

Order of Canada 2013-22 Diversity Analysis

For the last ten years, I have been tracking the diversity of Order of Canada appointments, from the perspective of gender, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples, along with regional and occupational backgrounds.

In many ways, these appointments are emblematic of other recognition and award programs in that they generally reflect the views and perspectives of those nominating and, in the case of the Order, a medium and longer-term track record and contribution in contrast to awards programs focussed on new talent.

In many ways, this results in an understandable backward looking perspective. Moreover, unlike employment equity programs where managers are empowered to factor diversity in hiring and promotion decisions, awards programs have less latitude to do so as they have to make their assessments based upon the nominations received.

The Governor General’s Office has over the years made several attempts to encourage more diverse nominations, including funding under the Conservative Government in 2015 to encourage more nominations for more business and regional nominees. The data suggests that these efforts had limited effect in the longer term.

The most striking findings of this analysis are that women appointees average around one third of the total, ranging from a low of 29 percent (2019, 2022) to a high of 46 percent in 2015 and visible minority appointees have increased from a low of 4 percent in 2014 to an exceptional high of 13 percent in 2021 before reverting to a more typical 7 percent. The two groups that are over-represented in comparison of their share of the population are men and, more recently, Indigenous peoples in 2021 and 2022 at eight percent.

Of note, while visible minority appointments are 71 percent men, Indigenous peoples appointments are equally balanced between men and women.

Occupation data ranges from categories that are clear such as arts, health and sports, and those that have less clear “boundaries” such as business and philanthropy and I have tried to be as consistent as possible.

Advisory council correction.

For those interested in the nomination process and the review committee the links are: Nominate someone, Advisory Council. The Advisory Council has gender balance, 20 percent visible minorities and 10 percent Indigenous. In terms of the Office of the Governor General (the public servants) which review nominations for the Advisory Council, 14.9 percent are visible minorities with the number of Indigenous public servants is 5 or less (out of a total of 141).