By Xavier Kataquapit
I have just come in from doing some repair carpentry to my front porch. It needed it but I have been busy for months and just did not have the time. When I am not sitting at my desk in my office working on writing or video projects I escape to the world of wood, saws, hammers and cutting tools searching for creative solutions to making things fit in an old house.
My work with wood, surrounded by all kinds of tools and the focus of making something stronger and better is just what I need from the real world of research, analysis and writing. Sometimes I feel like just railing at this reality and screaming at the top of my lungs and banging a hammer hard on some inanimate surface. I look forward to figuring out how to make something fit that just does not want to. Most of the time I come up with creative ways to make my world of wood, nails, saws and assorted tools work out. In the real world, other than witness all the craziness and documenting it, there is very little I can do.
Right now I just want to scream and bang on something with the visions of the racist images I am seeing in the news, on the tube, in print and social media. I have lived racism first hand most of my life and I am here to tell you it is real and it all boils down to if you are white in this world you have it made but if you are not then the road is a more difficult and twisted one. I find myself banging on these keys right now with the memories of all of the Indigenous women who have been murdered, the young men and women oppressed, incarcerated, beaten and killed for so many decades in this country.
I want some kind of solution and way forward to the protesting and violence happening now in the United States, Canada and across the world. Police forces all over the world are becoming more militarized and that has more to do with right wing governments and movements bullying their way into our countries, our lands, our cities and our towns. It is not a police problem but a political one. I am very worried about all the protesters out in close quarters during this pandemic and I fear that we may lose many bright, capable activists who are now out on the front lines of these demonstrations.
Maybe now is the time for all of us who really want change to go to work to become involved in helping more liberal, social democratic parties to be elected into government leadership. Let’s turn our anger and frustration into becoming involved in political reform from the bottom up in every city and town in Canada. Let’s get to work to make sure the very best of my people get elected to leadership in Indigenous political organizations. Let’s get behind Indigenous leaders and promote them to become more involved in government as much as possible. If you want to do something about racism then work for a political voice that will provide a solution.
Compared to many other countries in the world we are lucky to have strong fair leadership for the most part. I know for sure that although things are not perfect under the current government, Indigenous people across Canada have received more attention, funding, consultation and reconciliation in the last few years than ever before. That matters. It has not been perfect but the alternative is the return to very right wing government that ignores or is combative with First Nations.
This is such a weird, difficult time to deal with any major issue while fighting a pandemic and it breaks my heart to know that many more will die of COVID-19. The world’s top epidemiologists and virologist are telling us we will be getting sick and dying from this disease for the next year or two and possibly more. Yet, governments are pushing us all back to thinking the danger has passed. It has not and I plead that people continue to be careful this summer, practice safe distancing, wear masks when entering a grocery store, hardware store, office building, mall or anywhere inside.
Wash your hands often and stay on guard. If you are joining in protests do your best to stay safe because we need you to survive and help us all move into a new, more progressive, fair and just world. I think I should go back out now to the old porch and bang on some boards with extremely loud music in the background to drown out my discontent.