Social justice issues are a big part of who I am – I discovered why today. For one, I stand in solidarity with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence. I am ashamed at our government for having pushed through an omnibus bill that takes away the human rights, dignity, and freedoms of it’s citizens and places land claims under threat.
I spent a half hour in the bitter cold tonight speaking with two protesters who sat in solidarity with Chief Spence, participating in their own 24 hour hunger strike. These two brave individuals spoke eloquently about treaty rights that were being diminished because of C-45 such as the dangling carrot of band councils being able to sell off individual parcels of land to resource developers which gives up for ever their title claim. They say it’s a dangling carrot as band councils are forced to see opportunity for cash strapped reserves instead of protecting what is rightfully theirs, and undermines treaty rights – undermines their very existence. It is just one example of the subtle nuances of impending legislation that cuts to the heart of their opposition.
I also met today with a member of the Region’s Coalition of Muslim Women who are starting a pilot project on – or more aptly against – Hate crimes against Muslim Women. The issue they are working on is better facilitating and coordination of reporting of hate crimes which more often than not go unreported by citizens including of course against those whom the crime has been committed. More reporting, they say, will result in more statistics and therefore more resources and awareness of the issues and therefore a more accurate depiction of the challenges facing visible minorities in our community.
Both of these meetings affected me on an emotional and instinctive as well as an intellectual level. Of course we need justice in the world, it’s a fundamental human right, and we need to indulge our authorities to make our communities safer and more prosperous for all our citizens. These two meetings were emotional because they demonstrated the inspiration to effect change for the betterment of all of us and strengthen our democratic institutions and our social fabric at the same time. This is what inspired me the most – change and the opportunity it presents. Why not effect change? What do we have to loose, our sense of security? Along the way we meet others with passion and interest, ideas and personality and we find them to be in many ways like ourselves. When we reach out and engage broader social issues we are reaching out to one another and offering a hand in a relationship that affirms our humanity – belonging seems pretty secure to me.