Sunday, July 20, 2008

Within Living Memory

Within living memory, women in Canada were not legally considered persons.

Within living memory, some indigenous women and women with disabilities were routinely sterilized without their consent by the Canadian state.

Within living memory, indigenous people in Canada could not legally hire a lawyer, travel freely without the permission of the federal state, or engage in many traditional spiritual practices.

Within living memory, many people of colour were formally excluded from voting in Canada.

Within living memory, Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi oppression were refused entry into Canada.

Within living memory, African Nova Scotians had to live under segregation -- the drinking fountain for whites and the drinking fountain for Blacks, the movie seats for whites and the movie seats for Blacks, the school entrance for whites and the school entrance for Blacks, and so on.

Within living memory, immigration to Canada was explicitly organized on the basis of 'preferred races'.

Within living memory, some of the early proponents of formally codifying human rights protections in Canada argued for doing so because folks of British descent supposedly just understood liberty but some of those 'other' folks who were starting to come in just wouldn't get it if it wasn't written down.

Within living memory, indigenous children were indiscriminately stolen from their families and nations and put into the genocidal torture chambers euphemistically labelled "residential schools."

Within living memory, South African officials came to Canada for tips on how to implement apartheid.

Within living memory, Canadian women had less formal right to marital property than men.

Within living memory, any sexual expression between men in Canada was criminalized.

Within living memory, there was no legal impediment to a man raping a woman that the Canadian state happened to recognize as being his wife.

Within living memory, Canada and Canadians made significant amounts of money from the slaughter of southeast Asian civilians by U.S. troops and their allies.

Within living memory, gay men and lesbians were harassed, surveilled, blackmailed, and driven from and denied employment by the Canadian state on grounds of 'national security'.

Within living memory, many people of colour and indigenous people have experienced harassment, profiling, and targeting through every level of the Canadian legal system and from other agents of the state, like border guards.

Within living memory, indigenous children have been indiscriminately stolen from their families and nations by colonial enforcement agencies euphemistically named "child protection services".

Within living memory, queer youth have experienced a profound lack of safety in Canadian schools.

Within living memory, the vast majority of people living within the Canadian state have been excluded from any semblance of democratic control of their workplaces or the "economic" activity in their communities.

Within living memory, close to or more than a majority of racialized people admitted to Canada each year have been admitted as indentured labourers with few rights rather than as immigrants on the road to citizenship.

Within living memory, the poorest people in Canada have been forced to live in circumstances that are widely known to lead to greater illness and earlier death, with more suffering along the way.

Within living memory, the Canadian state has been an extremely vigorous proponent of international agreements and organizations that enforce on states in the so-called Third World practices that are premised on the utter, unlamented disposability of peasant and working-class people of colour, especially women of colour.

Within living memory, Canadian soldiers have participated in the colonial occupation of a country halfway around the world.

Within living memory, the Canadian state has subjected Muslim men of colour to indefinite detention and threat of deportation to situations where they are likely to be tortured, all without charging them, without trying them, without convicting them, and in fact with very little in the way of due process at all.

Within living memory, the Canadian state has systematically and unrepentantly ignored sacred treaties entered into with indigenous nations and has facilitated the corporate theft of resources from their traditional lands, and has responded to demands for justice with a range of practices spanning all the way from silent refusal to military force.

Within living memory, the Canadian state has refused to implement very basic measures that might help remove the conditions that lead to widespread violence against women in this country.


And in case the point of this exercise hasn't sunk in yet, I should point out that the last 11 items on that list occurred "within living memory" because they are happening as I type this. And I know I've missed tons of stuff -- any suggestions?

1 comment:

kaicevy said...

Within living memory, the Canadian state has refused to implement very basic measures that might help remove the conditions that lead to widespread violence against women in this country