I often wonder how most people even receive their Journalism degrees or how they even got a job working with people that are different from them. How did they even get past Grade 10 English because in my honest opinion they have no clue how to write anything without coming off as either condescending, idiotic, illogical and just plain ignorant. I have come to this conclusion from a writer named Naomi Lakritz in her latest piece from The Province called “First Nations Need to Quit Blaming the Past.” The title is already inflammatory at first appearance. It comes off with a hint of victim-blaming and racism with the right amount of denial.
Lakritz begins her piece with such precious sarcasm that I want to puke rainbows all over the person who thought it was a great idea to post this garbage.
It was edifying to learn that colonialism was responsible for the death of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair of Fisher River, Man. I always thought that her mother, Samantha Kematch, and Kematch’s common-law husband, Karl McKay, were responsible. After all, they’re the ones serving life sentences for her murder. They’re the ones who chose to torture her to death.
It’s so interesting that she doesn’t seem to understand the concept of colonialism and how it causes negative effects on society especially the victims of a century long genocide that still continues to this day through forcing Indigenous children to be white and to put up with racist harassment from white people. It is terrible that this child died a horrible death and no child deserves to die but we need to be serious on what is mainly the cause of these acts which is male-patterned violence that can come in all forms such as colonialism, rape, war, child abuse, murder, genocide and injustice. She doesn’t even seem to care that a child died, she is using this child’s death to attack Indigenous people and their righteous anger at our patriarchal, capitalist, and colonialist system. Where Indigenous children were kidnapped (Using correct terminology here because let’s face it, they were kidnapped) by government officials and forced to adopt the ideology of their oppressors, suffering horrifying forms of abuse and continuing the cycle of abuse after they left these schools. It is not surprising that the actions of these people and the continuing oppression of Indigenous peoples is that it results in horrifying events such as these. Lakritz has the nerve to say that Residential schools and the people that ran them are not responsible for the results of these practices against previous generations of Indigenous people. Does she not realize that that abuse continues through new generations if there is no break in the cycle? She continues her piece by placing more blame on Indigenous people for colonialism and racism in the following quote:
According to Jay Funke, a lawyer for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Southern Chiefs Organization, it was colonialism. Last week, he told an inquiry into the little girl’s death that “First Nation leaders believe that the tragedy suffered by Phoenix was, in large part, the result of centuries of colonial-based policies and practices which have been forced upon the First Nations people of Canada.”
That’s odd. All the colonials I know had the same reaction when they heard of the terrible abuse Kematch and McKay inflicted on this poor child, including beatings, shooting her with a BB gun, choking her until she was unconscious, forcing her to eat her own vomit and leaving her to die on a cold basement floor, eight years ago. That reaction was: “I wish I could have adopted her and loved her and saved her life.”
She doesn’t explain how giving an Indigenous child to white people would exactly solve the problem because we should know that white people are just fucking saints when it comes to Indigenous people! AM I RIGHT, LAKRITZ? No, there is no sexual abuse or murder with those white people who adopt Indigenous children. Nope. Never. Nor are these Indigenous children snatched out of their homes by government officials who think that an Indigenous woman is just prone to abusing drugs. I mean, it’s not like she can get help for her drug addiction while the child is in her care or in the care of her relatives, right?
Oh, these heartless colonials, eh? But First Nations leaders believe colonialism was responsible. Deflect, deflect, deflect. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Poor Kematch and McKay, they’re not to blame. They were just puppets of forces bigger than themselves. Apparently not endowed with the ability to make decisions, know right from wrong or take adult responsibility for their adult lives, they were victims of colonialism.
Can’t you just see it now? “Karl, our ancestors were misled and lied to by David Laird after he was made Indian commissioner responsible for Manitoba in 1898. So, shoot Phoenix some more with the BB gun. She isn’t crying hard enough.”
Odd, too, how colonialism could have such a huge effect on McKay, but leave his teenage son unaffected and perfectly able to distinguish right from wrong. The boy testified at his father’s trial that he noticed how “skinny” Phoenix had become in the spring of 2005, but that Kematch threatened him if he tried to give Phoenix food. He told the court he never saw the little girl eat and then, weeping, he testified that “I waited until those guys left and gave her food. They didn’t help her.”
Why yes, colonialism DOES have a huge effect on Indigenous people. McKay was not born to murder and torture an innocent child, much like any human being but for some reason Indigenous people get all the flack while society looks for any excuse in the book to take any blame away from a WHITE MAN that did the same crime. Notice a pattern here? An inconsistency, Lakritz? No? Does it ever occur to you that white men are highly favored above everyone else? Just a thought.
They didn’t help her – not because of the historic wrongs done to aboriginal people, but because “those guys” were scum. They alone are responsible for her torture and murder, not history. This is about individuals and their character, not their ethnicity.
Funke also told the inquiry that a lot of aboriginal people see the seizing of native children as being like the residential school system. Who cares how they see it? If they are not going to take proper care of their children, then they have nobody to blame but themselves when their kids are seized. If Phoenix had been placed with foster parents, white or aboriginal, and not returned to the piece of garbage who is her mother, she would be alive today.
Just a few questions, Lakritz. How do you sleep at night? Does it bother you that you are blaming Indigenous people for their oppression and the State-sanctioned kidnapping and abuse of children? Does it even bother you that you are speaking in the same way that any white supremacist would say in a White Power conference? Do you know that children in foster care are often abused either by officials or their foster parents? I do not see how putting a child in another possibly dangerous environment just because some self-righteous white people thought that they can raise an Indigenous child better then that child’s parents! You are not proving your case with your victim-blaming and in-your-face racism. Foster care won’t make the child any better nor put her in a better place then she was before this whole thing happened and it is despicable that you think the state would solve the problems of abuse when it IS the state and the men that run it that are responsible for the abuse and for why it still continues!
There are no circumstances which prevent anyone from deciding that they are going to be the best parents they can be. Nothing prevents them from seeking help to achieve that goal, if needs be. No situation, whether it took place in history or is being lived right now in the present moment, is so bad that it makes individuals decide to shoot, choke, beat and otherwise torture a five year-old child. At the trial, McKay’s lawyer said that his client was just performing “fun choke holds” he’d seen on TV wrestling shows and was surprised that he had hurt Phoenix. Performing “fun choke holds” from wrestling shows? Colonialism no more makes you perform fun choke holds on your child until she blacks out than it makes you a fan of TV wrestling.
Funke told the inquiry that “the First Nations leaders of (Manitoba) are committed to ensuring that Phoenix did not die in vain.” Sadly, Phoenix did die in vain and nothing can change that. But those leaders can see to it that more children do not die in vain by dropping the victimization mantle because it is not doing aboriginal people any favours.
Are you sure that what has been done in the past doesn’t still happen in this century? Still using the death of a child to give “reasons” for your racist vomit? This society actually did influence a person to murder an innocent child, just like how our violent culture influenced men like Robert Pickton to murder Indigenous women that were being prostituted. This culture influences men to be violent to the most vulnerable people in that culture and we are surprised when they murder those innocent people? We make excuses for them, illegitimate excuses but we can’t seem to do the same without tying it to their race or use racist tropes. White people try to make themselves superior to them. You are doing that, Lakritz. You are making yourself superior to Indigenous people with your-nose-in-the-air attitude about colonialism and white privilege. Your “logic” fits nicely with people who blame women for being raped by their husbands or boyfriends. Such a callous attitude towards a group of people who suffer from racism, a system that they are not to blame for. You must be a fun person to hang out with.
There is not an ethnic group in the world that has not suffered terrible injustices at one time or another in its history. No one has escaped this. To name just a few, the Armenians suffered genocide in 1915, the Tutsis of Rwanda in 1994, the Jews and Roma suffered unspeakable horrors during the Holocaust, the Ukrainians were victims of Josef Stalin’s forced famine, with more than seven million starved to death in Stalin’s diabolical plot to destroy them for the “crime” of wanting independence from his reign.
None of these ethnic groups blames their own histories when a member of the group abuses, neglects, or tortures to death their own children, as Kematch and McKay tortured Phoenix to death. If First Nations leaders want to start somewhere, a good place would be with the concept of individual responsibility.
Do not bring other sufferers of genocides into this! I am very sure that they do not want to be used BY YOU to excuse your racism. How strange that you would say that Indigenous leaders should “take individual responsibility” with the racist attitudes and centuries of white supremacist conquest in both a social and legal context. Most of these people have yet to have their oppression recognized by society and yet you use them to excuse your oppressive attitude. Would you throw a tantrum if Jewish people said that the effects of the Holocaust and anti-semitism still effect them today? How dare you be so selfish in your white entitlement. How dare you ask Indigenous people to “take responsibility” when no one asks the same from white people or even white MEN for that matter. I most certainly do not want my Ukrainian ancestors to be used by you. I am certain that Indigenous people don’t want your help nor your advice. Some accountability from white people such as yourself, would be a start.