Thursday, December 29, 2005
this land is whose land?
As those of you who live in Canada know, the city of Toronto has been plagued in the last year by an increasing amount of gang and gun violence, which culminated in what many are terming the truly horrific: the murder of a 15 year old girl on Boxing Day.
This event presents a particularly interesting juncture for my province and even my country. Jane Creba is not, as I mentioned above, the first person to die from apparent gang violence in Toronto. A two-year old was caught in the crossfire earlier this year; gunfire erupted inside a church at a funeral. Though these crimes were reported on (and have resulted in the election issue of gun control for Paul Martin's Liberals), nothing seems to have had the impact of young, pretty Jane Creba.
There is one reason for that: She is white. The other victims, and indeed, the criminals, are not.
The issues of race and class are often hidden issues in Canada. This country prides itself on this ridiculous notion of the 'cultural mosaic' in which everyone lives their own lives and own cultures in a way which creates beautiful harmony in the whole. This is one of the worst lies that we tell ourselves, because it allows us--the dominant white, British culture in which I include myself--to avoid seeing how race and class polarize our country. The very forces of prejudice that we continually congratulate ourselves for being above are so ingrained in our lives that we don't see them.
Much like what happened in Kashechewan earlier this year, race and class find themselves at the fore of my thoughts today. I am sorry for the Creba families loss. I am sorrier for the society that has brought the young men thought to be the shooters to this point. To say that it is society's fault is an over simplification--but can we deny what choices society gave these men? Can we deny our own role in this: at best, that we ignored what happened before; at worst, that all we did was talk, and not act for change?
For the first time in my life, I am saddened to be a Canadian. Because this is my fault.