Wednesday, December 6, 2023

“Racism persists in systems and institutions, and we must do all we can to address it” – Grand Chief Daniels

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The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) celebrates the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21 with people all over the world.

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According to SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, “Today, and every day, and on behalf of the southern Chiefs of Manitoba, I urge everyone to consider how we can finally eliminate racism from all systems and aspects that govern our daily lives.” We will create a better world for all people who share Mother Earth if we do that and work together.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established in 1966 by the United Nations (UN) as part of a larger campaign to denounce the apartheid regime in South Africa. The United Nations chose March 21 to remember the Sharpeville Massacre victims. On that particular day in 1960, the South African Police opened fire on a quiet group of adults and children in the Black township of Sharpeville, resulting in the deaths of 69 people and the injuries of more than 180 others. The group had been strolling to the neighborhood police headquarters to fight pass regulations that, among different shameful acts, confined where Dark South Africans could reside, travel, and work.

SCO continues to advocate for changes to address systemic racism in the health care, education, policing, and justice systems on Turtle Island. Reports examining the extent of racism in health care and the police force were published by the SCO. As part of our efforts to improve the health care system for residents of southern First Nations, the Health Transformation Department of SCO will establish an Anti-Racism Office.

Dean Pritchard, a reporter for the Free Press, wrote a recent front-page story about the journeys of two men who were accused of the same crime and appeared before the same judge. The non-Indigenous man was allowed to serve his sentence in the community while the First Nations man was sent to prison. The Systemic Racism in the Justice System (SCO) is constantly looking for solutions.

Schools are rife with racial bias. Even though Indigenous students make up only 26% of the student population, a report from the Winnipeg School Division that was published in 2021 revealed that 55% of suspensions handed out there were to Indigenous students. This directly affects student success and graduation rates, and only 51% of Indigenous students currently graduate from high school in Manitoba.

Don Smoke, chief of the Dakota Plains Wahpeton Oyate, added, “So much of the trauma and generational impacts of the systems that have impacted First Nations citizens in Manitoba are steeped in racist policies and attitudes.” It is absolutely necessary for all Canadians to unite and make a commitment to change now that more people are aware of the truth about how this country was founded and the hardships our people have faced and continue to face. Work together to eradicate racism in Manitoba.

Systemic racism in our nations’ policing, education, and health care delivery is addressed by SCO’s projects and programs. Over the course of more than 150 years of racist colonial rule, the SCO is attempting to repair original citizenship, language, laws, institutions, ceremonies, protocols, and governance procedures.

Grand Chief Daniels concluded, “All human beings are born free and equal, and have the potential to contribute to the development and well-being of their societies.” It is my sincere hope that the people I represent will one day gain from living in a world free of racism, colonialism, oppression, and discrimination.

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