Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Ca - Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing

Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Ca

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Unformatted text preview: 1/6/2020 Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Care? - Chatelaine OPINION Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He’s Gone, Do People Still Care? ‘Activism is not about embracing a famous person who makes an album about a situation. It’s about facing hard truths that may make you feel uncomfortable.’ by Candy Palmater Updated Dec 4, 2017 Gord Downie receives the Order of Canada from Governor General David Johnston in Ottawa on Monday, June 19, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld I am a huge Tragically Hip fan. I have been ever since my friend Sheila put their self-titled EP cassette into the Pioneer stereo of my car back in 1989. Since then, I’ve seen them live more times than I can count. I shared the country’s grief when we found out about Gord Downie’s cancer diagnosis, and I was profoundly sad when he died a few of weeks ago. This, however, is not an article about the Tragically Hip or about what Gord Downie the musician meant to Canada. This is an article about the way Canadians have responded to Gord’s nal project, Secret Path. To be completely honest, when I rst heard that Gord was releasing an album about Chanie Wenjack, who died at age 12 while trying to escape residential school, I had mixed feelings. I was glad he was thinking about these things and wanted to make a di erence, and I was thrilled that he was bringing the story to the public. I also thought it was probably very cathartic for the Wenjack family to have the story of their brother embraced by such a famous Canadian. But I wasn’t sure it was Gord’s story to tell. And I predicted, correctly, that Canadians would pay more attention to the story coming from Gord than they did when Indigenous author Lee Maracle wrote about it years earlier. St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. Learn more or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use our service, you agree to our use of cookies. 1/8 1/6/2020 Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Care? - Chatelaine This past June, when I heard that Gord was receiving the Order of Canada, it seemed like a no brainer to me. The Hip have been Canadian favourites for so long that it was only tting that they should be acknowledged for their musical contribution, and given Gord’s cancer diagnosis, it made sense that the honour be bestowed sooner rather than later. But when I read that he was receiving the Order of Canada not just for music but for his leadership as an Indigenous activist, I was stunned. Surely this was a misprint. A er all, I know so many Indigenous people who have given their whole lives to furthering our cause without ever being recognized. Not only that, but so o en their lifelong anti-racist work has taken a toll on their health and careers. Gord’s death le me melancholy. I thought back to the rst time I saw the Hip live at the Misty Moon in Halifax back in 1990. It was a Wednesday night, there were only about 100 people at the show, which had a ve-dollar cover charge. I spent the entire night right in front of Gord, who moved like a Candy Palmater: It's Time For Everyone To Stop Saying 'O The Reservation' live wire. He was young. I was young. I felt, like so many Canadians, as if I grew up with him. But I was also shocked at the number of articles that referred to him as a leader in Indigenous activism. A er Gord died, our Prime Minister said, through tears, that Gord wanted to make Canada better. Well, no disrespect to Gord, but many Indigenous people also want Canada to be better, and have been pushing and working for this ever since contact. For instance, the women who founded the Idle No More movement in 2012 really want Canada to be better. Those women, three of whom are Indigenous, do not have the Order of Canada. They are not recognized by Canadians as leaders in Indigenous activism. Idle No More was the strongest Indigenous movement I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, and it spread throughout the world. But Canada has not honoured these women. In fact, I doubt many Canadians know their names. For the record, they are: Nina Wilson, Sheelah McLean, Sylvia McAdam, and Jessica Gordon. I was interviewed by Peter Mansbridge a few months ago, and when I mentioned my concern about this subject, Mr. Mansbridge asked: “You aren’t angry at Gord for doing this, are you?” I said: “No, I’m angry that I live in a country where, still, no one listens until a white man says it.” I recently had the honour of interviewing the Indigenous author Thomas King. At the end of the interview I asked him a question I love asking people: Are you happy? I think his answer shocked the 500-person audience. He said: “No.” He went on to talk about the state of Indigenous a airs in Canada and how there has been no real change in his lifetime and how unhappy that makes him. When asked by a white audience member what she could do to help, he said, “Get out of our way. We don’t need help, we just need people to get out of our way.” St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. Learn more or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use our service, you agree to our use of cookies. 2/8 1/6/2020 Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Care? - Chatelaine My response to the same question is that I would like to see non-Indigenous Canadians setting up roadblocks and stopping tra c until all Indigenous communities have potable water and a ordable food. How can Canadians help? Refuse to pay your taxes until all Indigenous children have access to a good P-to-12 education while still living with their own families. Do these seem like extreme actions? Well, that’s what an activist does — they respond in an extreme way, sometimes at their own peril, in order to right a wrong. In no way do I mean to disrespect the memory of Gord Downie. But Canadians need to wake up and realize Why We Need To Talk About White Feminism… Like, Now that collectively feeling bad for little Chanie Wenjack dying on the tracks all those years ago will never change the future for one Indigenous child today. Activism is not warm and fuzzy. It is not about embracing a famous person who makes an album about a situation. It is Activist Lee Maracle On Why Every Question Is Worth Answering (Even If It's Racist) about facing the hard truths that may make you feel uncomfortable. It’s about getting out of the way of the Indigenous people who have been demanding change for decades now. It’s about realizing you may be part of the problem, and guring out how to use that knowledge to move toward change. Now that Gord has died and the media coverage has quieted down, the question is: How much of an impact did his nal project have? Will Prime Minister Trudeau wipe away his tears and actually change the plight of Indigenous youth who continue to be taken from their families? Will Tragically Hip fans start actively taking part in reconciliation? Regardless of the answers to those questions, I hope, at the very least, that Canadians will re-examine this appetite for white narratives that make them feel comfortable in the “activism” of pity, while actually remaining removed from the equation. I hope they begin to listen to the Indigenous narratives that make them question all they know and engage in the discomfort of true personal and political activism. If Gord Downie really wanted this country to change — and I, for one, believe he did — then I think, in response to this article, he would have said: “Candy, baby, I know exactly what you mean.” St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. Learn More Like This more or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use our service, you agree to our use of cookies. 3/8 1/6/2020 Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Care? - Chatelaine Gord Downie's new album puts spotlight on Indigenous issues CBC will broadcast The Tragically Hip's nal concert Gord Downie's message to his fans Remembering The Life And Legacy Of Gord Downie Tessa And Scott Say People Don't 'Understand How Intense Our Relationship Is' In New Interview Justin Trudeau risks being overexposed 7 ways to become more alkaline and less acidic 7 Rules For Baking The Perfect Cake (And What To Do When You Mess Up) Explore Chatelaine 5 Key Fashion Trends For 2020 10 Healthy Breakfast Recipes To KickStart Your Day 19 Comfy Sweatpants To Lounge In Your Horoscope For January 2020 Powered by CULTURE Why Trans People And Their Allies Are Mad At J.K. Rowling The celebrated author's comment on a landmark U.K. employment case highlights the tensions over transgender rights, and free speech versus hate speech. by Veronica Ivy Updated Dec 20, 2019 On Wednesday, famed author J.K. Rowling started quite the row by sending out a tweet with the hashtag #IStandWithMaya to her 14.6 million Twitter followers. J.K. Rowling @jk_rowling Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill 202K 7:57 AM - Dec 19, 2019 74.7K people are talking about this St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. Learn more or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use our service, you agree to our use of cookies. 4/8 1/6/2020 Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Care? - Chatelaine The “Maya” in question is Maya Forstater, who just lost a landmark U.K. employment discrimination case. Forstater is infamous, online and o , for her discriminatory statements about transgender women—statements which she argues that she has the right to share publicly without the risk of losing her job. Here’s a backgrounder on Forstater, her case, how Rowling got involved, and how this all relates to similar tensions between free speech and hate speech in Canada. Who is Maya Forstater, and what was her court case about? Forstater is a tax expert who had a fellowship at the London, U.K. o ce of the Centre for Global Development (CGD), a think tank focusing on poverty. In October 2018, sta there complained to management a er Forstater made a series of transphobic statements, on Twitter and in a company Slack thread, including that the ideas that ‘“women are adult human females” and “transwomen are male” are both “basic biological truths;” and that “transwomen are women” is one of many “literal delusions.” Some of her statements voiced opposition to the idea that the legal rights of cisgender women are available to transgender women—which has been the case in the U.K. since the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, which saw all trans people gain the right to legal recognition of their transitioned sex. On December 31, 2018, Forstater’s contract with her then employer expired and was not renewed. In July 2019, Forstater led an employment discrimination suit with the Employment Tribunal in London, claiming that CGD’s decision not to renew her contract violated the U.K. Equality Act 2010. The case was heard in November. One tweet included as evidence read, partly, that “radically expanding the legal de nition of ‘women’ so that it can include both males and females makes it a meaningless concept, and will undermine women’s rights & protections for vulnerable women & girls.” Another read, in part, “Sure, sometimes preferred pronouns are polite, and we can be polite when we chose. Bu [sic] every women has learnt [sic] from experience that politeness is exploitable & can put us in danger.” Another piece of evidence entered into the case by Forstater herself was a 2018 letter to a U.K. MP regarding potential revisions to the Gender Recognition Act. It said, in part: “Please stand up for the truth that it is not possible for someone who is male to become female. Transwomen are men, and should be respected and protected as men.” At the hearing, Forstater argued that her employment with CGD was terminated “because she expressed ‘gender critical’ opinions; in outline, that sex is immutable, whatever a person’s stated gender identity or gender expression.” But, she contended, her “gender critical views are a philosophical belief and that she has been subject to direct discrimination because of them.” In U.K. law, a “philosophical belief’ is similar to the Canadian provisions for “freedom of thought” and “freedom of speech.” The protection applies to so-called philosophical beliefs, which can be political beliefs, and all reference to them, which includes Tweets and other speech. On Wednesday, Judge James Tayler ruled that Forstater’s statements do not constitute a philosophical belief protected by the Equality Act. What was wrong with what Forstater said? St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. Learn more or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use our service, you agree to our use of cookies. 5/8 1/6/2020 Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Care? - Chatelaine Judge Tayler stated that Forstater’s claims failed an important legal test called the Grainger Criteria. There are ve parts, but what matters most is the nal condition: [the idea or statement] “must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity and not con ict with the fundamental rights of others.” Speci cally, Judge Tayler ruled that her statements and rigid beliefs violate trans women’s right to dignity “and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or o ensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.” As such, he ruled that her statements were not protected by free speech provisions in the Equality Act. In Canada, by the way, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that protections for free speech are not “absolute,” and the Criminal Code prohibits speech that “wilfully promotes hatred against any identi able group.” What did Rowling say and why are people upset? U.K. Twitter was ablaze immediately a er Wednesday’s decision and international attention soon followed. Supporters of her position are sending her money: Forstater has raised over £85,000 for her legal ght, including her fees for her original complaint, and now any potential appeal. The story became a very big deal when famed Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling tweeted out her support for Forstater, using the hashtag #IStandWithMaya. Those who support the tribunal’s decision immediately criticized Rowling for using her massive platform to pledge support for someone whose statements a U.K. judge had found to be “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or o ensive” to transwomen. One person’s poignant reply was to simply post an Instagram post by Emma Watson—who played fan favourite Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies—wearing a shirt reading “Trans Rights are Human Rights.” Posted last year, the pic has nearly 4 million likes. @jk_rowling · Dec 19, 2019 J.K. Rowling Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill Martina Mazza @matumazza "Trans rights are human rights" Emma Watson St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. Learn more or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use our service, you agree to our use of cookies. 6/8 1/6/2020 Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Care? - Chatelaine 35.7K 8:56 AM - Dec 19, 2019 3,343 people are talking about this Would Forstater’s statement be considered legal hate speech in Canada? Maybe, maybe not. Similar cases in Canada include a 2018 B.C. Human Rights complaint against a Christian activist named Bill Whatcott, who had been distributing yers disparaging NDP activist Morgane Oger for being trans. The province’s Human Rights Tribunal ruled this to be hate speech that was not protected by B.C. or Canadian free speech provisions. Mr. Whatcott was ordered to pay $35,000 to Ms. Oger, as well as an additional $20,000 for misleading the tribunal and “improper conduct.” The Ontario Human Rights Code has similar human rights protections explicitly including trans people. And in June 2017, the controversial Bill C-16 received Royal Assent: it added “gender identity or expression” to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as to the list of characteristics of identi able groups protected from hate propaganda in the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code prohibits speech “motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or on any other similar factor.” Forstater’s statements would seem to be in violation of that statute but, of course, they weren’t ruled on by a Canadian judge. Could a case like this reach a Canadian court soon? In a word, yes. There are a number of Canadians who have gained notoriety for sharing an outlook on transgender women and their rights that is similar to Forstater’s. This year, the public libraries of both Vancouver and Toronto faced backlash over hosting events featuring Meghan Murphy. Murphy is a blogger who testi ed against Bill C-16 in parliament, stating “If we say that a man is a woman because of something as vague as a ‘feeling’ or because he chooses to take on stereotypically feminine traits, what impact does that have on women’s rights and protections?….The rights of women and girls are being pushed aside to accommodate a trend.” She also regularly refers to trans women as “male” or “men” and in 2018 she was banned from Twitter for such statements. University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson also objected to Bill C-16, wrongly claiming that refusing to use someone’s expressed, correct pronouns could land him in jail. This falsehood has been debunked: at most one would be ordered to pay a ne. St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. Learn more or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use our service, you agree to our use of cookies. 7/8 1/6/2020 Gord Downie Was Celebrated For Championing Indigenous Rights. Now That He's Gone, Do People Still Care? - Chatelaine Murphy’s recent Vancouver and Toronto events were protested, but not canceled, and neither she nor Peterson have ever made a legal complaint that their right to free speech has been violated. Similarly, neither seem to have had legal hate speech complaints led against them. Considering the tenor of the debate, though, neither scenario seems improbable at all. Back to the U.K.: Forstater made a legal claim that her openly transphobic claims against trans women should not be grounds for losing employment. The U.K.’s Employment Tribunal ruled against her. That’s probably not going to stop her from continuing to say that trans women are men, or don’t deserve full and equal treatment for our transitioned selves. It’s dangerous to treat and speak of trans women as “men”—the BBC found that hate crimes against transgender and non binary people had gone up 81 per cent...
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