The stubborn tendency of non-Indigenous Canadians to turn away from “Indigenous issues”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have shown their support for front-line workers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other political leaders have told Canadians “we are all in this together” and “no expense will be spared” to ensure the health and safety of Canadians.
Yet, when it comes to the persistent and glaring inequities facing Indigenous communities in Canada, many of these same leaders, as well as Canadians, have fallen drastically short. The stubborn tendency of non-Indigenous Canadians to turn away from “Indigenous issues” and seek a return to “normalcy” remains an ongoing barrier to change.
On April 27, 2020, for example, the Dryden town council in northwestern Ontario voted 5-2 against a motion calling for the resignation of Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak. Beyak made national headlines last year when she refused to remove racist letters from her website and was subsequently suspended from the Senate for failing to take sensitivity training seriously.
Dryden Mayor Greg Wilson said some councillors felt it was beyond their jurisdiction to comment on federal matters. But as Fort Frances town councillor Douglas Judson pointed out: “Municipal resolutions comment or call for action by other levels of government all the time.”
Leaders from the Grand Council Treaty 3 (GCT3) and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) publicly condemned Dryden council’s decision. NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said: