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.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

i agree with some things, but stop for a second. you say we only care because she was white. We didn't KNOW what colour she was, or who she was until 2 days after it happened, and yet we were already freaking out. and rightfully so. why do we care more about this?

1. a KID DIED.
2. a kid died on YONGE STREET. it could have happened to any of us.
3. a kid died because of a GUN BATTLE on YONGE STREET, between FIFTEEN PEOPLE! this was mob violence, and any time there is mob violence, we freak out. Remember Matti, an immigrant from Russia, who was beaten to death by a group of teens. We cared then too. Radio stations had call-in sessions to brainstorm how to stop the violence. Society's greatest fear is chaos, and that's what happened. Chaos, in the centre of the city, where all of us have been, and could have been.

racism definitely plays a part in this sad case, but i'm sick of people looking back on our initial reactions with a false perspective. We were already in an uproar before we had a face.

Straittohell said...

You are quite correct to say that the Canadian public at large generally places more weight on the death of white people over 'not-white' people in this country. However, I must dispute one of your points: As a daily habitual browser of Canadian news, I disagree with your assertion that the death of Jane Creba has had more of a media impact than, say, the funeral shooting. I have not noticed anything different. Both situations have stayed in the headlines for the same period of time, and received a certain amount of detailed coverage. I'm not saying that this is the rule, it is indeed the exception. All too often, North American media places greater weight on white tragedies... (cough) Air India(cough) (cough) Natalie Holloway(cough)... but in this particular case, I don't think that it happened. I'm just saying...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous WELL SAID!

fineskylark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
fineskylark said...

Anonymous, you write that, "it could have happened to any of us," and that's exactly my point. Any of us meaning "white people." The 'problem' has escaped the box that we tried to put it in. It isn't just in shitty neighbourhoods in Jane and Finch.

And I'm sorry that you see my perspective as a false perspective. I stand behind what I wrote.

Steve, my comments were based off the conservative news sources that I was reading at the time. The Toronto Sun...well...that's what I get for reading it. ;)

April said...

This is a very interesting post. Last night, I was talking with my brother-in-law who migrated with his family from Indonesia to Toronto about this very same issue- the issue of gang violence in Toronto.

I live in the U.S., but visited Toronto a couple of years ago on my own. I had no idea about just how dangerous is can be out on the streets there. I didn't feel as though I were in any danger at all during my visit there.

I am from Australia, and we have been having our own ethnic clashes over the last couple of weeks. One thing I noticed during my trip about Canada, and Toronto in particular, was the ethnic diversity. It reminded me so much of Sydney, Australia, where I grew up.

Here in America, we receive hardly any news about Australia, and virtually nothing about what is going on in Canada. It's such a shame. I wish that people were more informed about what's really going on in the world.

TorontoPeace.com said...

I still believe that in Canada everyone has fair chance at opportunity.

Its what is put in the minds of some people changes that fairness.

This is a very complicated issue and I am glad there is so much discussion on it.

Caitie said...

i may be a little late coming into this post, but i still agree to a huge extent with fienskylark. i know i don't read all news papers to know how others handled this tragedy, but i do know that from the media i interacted with during the week and a half after the shooting that the focus did last long. for example 680 NEWS had their top story 5 days after the shooting about how the young lady's high school was open to allow for support and grief counciling for their students. TOP NEWS STORY
good job skylark

Anonymous said...

FINESKYLARK your are all fuucked up son, jnf is shitty? white people getting killed cuz they're white? just stfu, no one is racist, you guys just telling yourself that szeen?