Governor General points to racism in address to N.S. legislature


sanctus
#1
By Michael Tutton

HALIFAX (CP) - Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean used a speech to the Nova Scotia legislature to tackle the touchy issue of racism in the province, urging citizens Tuesday to "take apart the walls of difference that continue to separate us."

Jean's address marked the first time any Governor General has spoken before the assembly, which is Canada's oldest seat of government. While she praised Nova Scotia for its rich blend of cultures, including Acadian francophones, United Empire Loyalists and the Mi'kmaq, Jean said there are ethnic and racial barriers that need to come down.

"As Governor General of Canada, I have pledged to use my office to focus attention on the importance of breaking down such solitudes," she said.

She reminded politicians of the "wrongs of the past," including the expropriation and destruction of the black community of Africville in the late 1960s.

At the time, officials said the hardscrabble community in Halifax's north end, which had no running water or sewer services, had to be moved to make way for a bridge across Halifax harbour.

"The success of Nova Scotia, like the success of Canada, is compromised when people within the community suffer from poverty or discrimination of any kind," she said, stressing that racism is still a problem in the province.

The issue attracted headlines last month when Percy Paris, the sole black politician in the assembly, said he had been the target of subtle, racist taunts in the legislature ever since he was elected last June.

Paris said some members of the house heckled him with more vigour than white members, and others simply ignored him.

While Jean didn't mention Paris's allegations in her speech, she warmly greeted the New Democrat member at a later reception.

Afterward, Paris said Jean's comments about racism carried more weight than anything he could say.

"Who am I? I'm just a small fish in a big, big pond," he said in an interview. "She's a big fish, much larger than I."

Paris said he was in the audience Monday when Jean delivered a hard-hitting speech at the Black Cultural Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., that also focused on racism in Nova Scotia.

She spoke of last year's arson-related destruction of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society office in Birchtown, N.S., and acts of racist vandalism elsewhere.

"Whether it's hidden behind a hypocritical smile or expressed by means of spray painting graffiti on a wall, racism continues to put down its insidious roots in the fertile soil of indifference and fear of the other," Jean said, speaking in French.

Paris said he "absolutely agrees."

"There's that subtleness of racism that exists today that if we don't talk about, if we don't try to eradicate it, we're not moving forward as a country or a province."

Paris said the province's Education Department should rewrite history textbooks to include the stories of the province's minority groups.

Barry Barnett, the minister responsible for the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs, said that as a white Nova Scotian he can't comment on whether racism exists in the legislature.

"It's a difficult thing for me to answer," he said. "I think it is a personal perspective of what a person sees."

Still, Barnett said the province's Tory minority government is making progress, notably its decision two years ago to set up a separate office to deal with African Nova Scotians.

Jean concludes her visit to Nova Scotia on Wednesday.

Copyright © 2007 Canadian Press
 
temperance
#2
Good she has some history right

thats right black people were treated like crap by some when the first fled here ,I couldn't believe it ,they didn't teach me that in high school ,why not !ashamed they took on the U.S racial foray

I bet ,good thing for strong cultures, a will of there own ,I'm agine Canada tauting itself as this great wonderful place to immigrate and treat people almost as bad as where they came from
Shame on our fore fathers actually now I look at it if you weren't white British I guess you were shunned

Thank some thing that things have changed a bit ,though many fought tooth and nail --for what they have today nothing was easy and Ido hope the history books in school have changed --How could those teachers stand there and teach us a bunch of lies ,that was only 15 years ago
 
Tonington
#3
Mmm, the history books are one-sided in this case. I remember learning of the Expulsion of the Acadians, but not much about the plight of the slaves who immigrated here, at least until High School. I do remember learning lots about the communities like the Black Loyalists in Shelburne, and Africville in Halifax. I believe it was part of the Black History month.

I'm not sure how the text books thing goes though. I thought the Department buys the books from a publisher based on the school boards recommendations, I can even remember one of my textbooks thanked my teacher in the Forward for participating in the gathering of content to be published, and for being one of the first schools to use that particular Global History text.
 
m_levesque
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by Tonington View Post

Mmm, the history books are one-sided in this case. I remember learning of the Expulsion of the Acadians, but not much about the plight of the slaves who immigrated here, at least until High School. I do remember learning lots about the communities like the Black Loyalists in Shelburne, and Africville in Halifax. I believe it was part of the Black History month.

I'm not sure how the text books thing goes though. I thought the Department buys the books from a publisher based on the school boards recommendations, I can even remember one of my textbooks thanked my teacher in the Forward for participating in the gathering of content to be published, and for being one of the first schools to use that particular Global History text.

Her comments, let us not forget, are from her perspective as a black person. Why do we play PC games with this post anyway? The last few G-G's have not only been women, but from a minority race...What's the matter, no men around anymore for the job?
 
temperance
#5
So I used her as an example, the point being at least shes getting some history right ,the position is useless in my opinion and we could feed thousands with the money we waste on the GG
 
m_levesque
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by temperance View Post

So I used her as an example, the point being at least shes getting some history right ,the position is useless in my opinion and we could feed thousands with the money we waste on the GG


No, I know, but she is a black woman and let's be honest, they always view everything with the race card. As one Canuck, I am tired of black people whining about what happened a long time ago and using it as an excuse to justify their laziness.
 
temperance
#7
you really see a whole race as lazy ? ,gee I thought it must have been quite a chore to come to windy cold and uninviting place with no water or help, --quite an accomplishment actually --Ive never really met a Afro Canadian person thats complained I didn't even realize the truth of the matter of Canada until after high school and even then they dismissed ,(my peers)

Of all immigrants who came to Canada they all suffered at some extent
 
Tonington
#8
M_Levesque, what is PC about knowing your countries history, or specifically your provinces history? If we're being honest, lets state for the record that not all people of African heritage play the race card. If you're relying on what news coverage you see, or your own personal experience with them, that's fine and dandy to make assertions about those you see. Personally I know many who do not. Whose personal experiences represent the whole group? None of course. There are bigots still who make it hard on some people, but the strong people I know pay them little heed and take them for the sorry people that they are. The fact that you would make a blanket statement like you did then call them all lazy in my opinion exposes your own ignorant views, but if that's all you know of them, then your outlook is bound to be skewed, rather unfortunate really.
Last edited by Tonington; Feb 14th, 2007 at 12:41 PM..Reason: spelling
 

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