Compulsory recitations

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voice of the damned
Compulsory recitations

I've moved this discussion from the thread entitled "White Appropriation of FN Cultural Symbols and Idiom" in the Indigenous Forum, because I think the tangent was more suitable for here.

This is the most recent exchange between Magoo and myself(I've edited my reply a bit for clarity)...

I think the reason something like this is contentious -- and perhaps called "tokenism" -- is that it's a speech without any specific plan of action.  I can see how some might feel exactly like they did 40 years ago, having to stand and recite the Lord's Prayers as a prerequisite to being allowed to learn about fractions.  Why? 

Well, a closer parallel(given your critique) might be the Lord's Prayer recited by a group of people who otherwise have little interest in religious observance, and are just doing it because they know it's a way to look good to certain sections of public opinion.

Because it seems to me there are two objections to such compulsory recitals...

1. It's an infringements on the rights of people who don't want to say the words.

2. It's a useless and superficial display of adherence to certain values.

I think your criticism, in the above post, is closer to No 2. than to No. 1. Back to your classroom example, if the overwhelming majority of students in the class were seriously devout and observant Christians who thought the Lord's Prayer was an indispensable part of the school day(as opposed to milquetoasts and non-believers just doing it because some politicians rammed a bill through the legislature before an election), it would answer the question "Why?".  

END QUOTE

You can read the rest of the background to this discussion here...

https://tinyurl.com/y9vg4dga

 

 

6079_Smith_W

I got two things to say:

First, it is funny that "compulsory recitations" only becomes an issue when it involves a question of Indigenous sovereignty, and recognition of our treaty and legislative relationship.

And second, if non-Indigenous people haven't grasped the concept, it is a bit more than just a recitation.

I get that you personally are in favour of recognizing these things, but honestly, framing this all in this context is the same as the alleged free speech argument for allowing promotion of racism and fascism. 

What this is defending is people's right to shut their ears to social justice; nothing more. And while it is a right, you have to accept what that really means.

voice of the damned

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I got two things to say:

First, it is funny that "compulsory recitations" only becomes an issue when it involves a question of Indigenous sovereignty, and recognition of our treaty and legislative relationship.

Who are these people for whom "compulsory recitation only becomes an issue when etc"? I think most people here, certainly including Magoo(the immediate target of my question) were against the compuslory recitation of prayers in school, and I would assume flag-pledges and whatnot as well, long before the declaration about unceded land became an issue.

What got me onto this was Magoo was discussing the "unceded land" declaration from the angle of it being "devoid of any plan of action", ie. "tokenism", and gave as his comparison someone "having to stand" for prayers in school. But it seems to me that when we object to prayers in school, the main problem isn't tokenism, but coercion. I don't normally hear secularists or civil-libertarians saying that prayers in school are bad because they are ineffective at leading people to God. 

And Magoo even seemed to recognize that objection, consciously or otherwise, when he stated the person was "having to stand" for prayers in the classroom, as if the lack of willingness on his part was the issue.

So, I could just say that Magoo's comparison wasn't quite on-target, at least assuming the normal reasons we object to prayer in schools, and leave it at that. But I guess I could also ask him: Would prayer in school be less of an issue for you, IF it were being conducted in a context where it wasn't going to be effective at pushing anyone into a belief system anyway?

 

voice of the damned

And I guess the mirror-image question would be...

If it were somehow shown that making the statement about unceded land WAS having a beneficial effect on indigenous land-claims, would it automatically follow that the doctors' have an obligation to do it? 

6079_Smith_W

This is quite different than recitation of prayers, singing the anthem, or saluting any flag. Not only because the general public (and that is who I am talking about) don't tend to balk, at the anthem at least.

I was thinking more of simply thanking the city or health region, which is a more appropriately casual comparison, and which I have heard plenty of times. Yet for some reason when someone wants to introduce Treaty Territory it is a big deal.

And of course no one has an obligation to do anything. But if that is the point this is going to rest on, it really is one of arrogant pig-headedness, IMO. I am not at all saying that is your motivation, but it really is the sort of libertarian argument that is used to excuse all sorts of nasty things. Should it really come down to that?

To take it back to what really happened, let's remember that they didn't even talk about this. They just voted it down, almost two to one. That says to me that they didn't understand, and they didn't even care to find out.

 

 

 

 

6079_Smith_W

As was rightly argued in the other thread, this is only a starting point, and shouldn't be an empty recitation. But as for why it is an important first step, here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/territorial-acknowledgements-indig...

Honestly, I think the argument that it is a meaningless step is primarily made by those who don't even  want to take that first step in a meaningful way. It is itself a very hollow argument.

 

 

Paladin1

I'll respond in this thread as well.

Smith you said no one is suggesting what I spoke about (opening every conversation with an acknoledgement/apology).

In Austrailia it is already a thing, in point of fact.

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/australian-nursing-and-midwifery...

Quote:

AUSTRALIAN nurses are pushing back against a change that requires them to “acknowledge white privilege” before treating patients.

Nurses and midwives around the country must now adhere to a new code of conduct with a section specifically dedicated to “culture” and which details white Australians’ inherent privilege “in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders”.

The new code, which came into effect in March, has been labelled “eye-watering”, “cultural madness” and “unacceptable”. A peak body representing nurses in Queensland is even calling for the chairman of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia to be sacked over it.

While I sort of feel you would be in favor for this (a reflection of your posts rather than a jab) not everyone is onboard down under. I bring this up to point out that it very much a thing that may come to our hospitals.

"So what".  Next is something I brought up in my work place a few years back. Twice a day, we were standing for 15 and 10 minutes while leaders chit chatted. Usually around the 15&10 minute mark (morning and after lunch) they would turn from their huddle and say we don't have anything, go away.  No one really said anything because of course we're brainwashed to obey :)  But when you take 25 minutes x 5 days a week x 4 weeks x 100 or so people that's about 833 work hours a month wasted standing still. Not many businesses would operate in such an ineffecient way.

Now applying that concept to what I was speakng to in the other thread a minute or two here and there may not seem like a lot but wouldn't it be culmative? Our medical system is already incredibly taxed.  But as you say, no one is suggesting that we do this- yet.   

Talking about this issue regarding meetings though, I'll be completely frank. Do you really think the doctors would give a shit about these issues if all of a sudden they were forced to make this concession and open every meeting with an acknoledgement of stolen land and broken treaty rights?  I think they would be about as genuine in their statement as the rogers worker was last night when she apologized for my hour wait on the phone. Or as much as the prime minister was genuine when he appologized on behalf of Canada for the FN members being wrongfully hung, before Canada was even a country.  I've pointed out that while some people might feel better about that theres FN members without TV, Internet or running water who missed the fanfare. Priorities.

6079_Smith_W

From that article:

He said that was correct, but there’s no requirement to “announce” anything. The nurses must simply abide by the new code which state clearly that “cultural safety is as important to quality care as clinical safety”.

So people's precious right to be racist is respected. They don't even have to sign anything about acknowledging white privilege. Though I am not surprised that some are losing their minds and making it out to be some intolerable infringement on their rights, as they are here over similar things.

As for the Ontario association, it isn't a question of what individual doctors think about it. It is the association making an acknowledgment of where they are.

And no, you are right. Doctors are as free to be as ignorant of it as they want to be. But if you think it means nothing you might want to think a bit more about why governments mention any of these things in the first place. People do pick up these names and references. It is a big reason why some of these things were erased in the first place.

 

 

Paladin1

I for one am glad someones "right to be a racist" is being respected. What's the means to the end of the association acknoleding where they are? Is it going to change anything or simply be tokinisim? I think the latter. I'm posting this message sitting on a piece of land that was stolen from indigineous people. Okay, so what's different now that I acknoledged it?

6079_Smith_W

Everyone knows the major cities in their province, and what province they are in. Just like everyone knows the names Macdonald and Laurier and Mackenzie.

How many non-Indigenous people knew what treaty territory they are in, even 20 years ago, before this recognition started? How many know the First Nations that are in close proximity to them. For the most part, they don't know that at all. I doubt most people in our city know that we wouldn't even be here if we had not been invited in by Chief Whitecap.

If you don't think that is important,  and consider mentioning those names "just tokenism" you might want to consider why.

 

voice of the damned

I don't have time for a fuller reply, so I'll just comment briefly on this...

I am not at all saying that is your motivation, but it really is the sort of libertarian argument that is used to excuse all sorts of nasty things.

No, I don't think the argument is libertarian, as far as the OMA goes. In my view, libertarianism as an ideology only relates to the restriction of government powers, which isn't at issue in the OMA's voluntary decision.

And I guess that's another reason why I think the comparison with school-prayer is a little off-kilter, since schools have more coercive power over their students.

 

 

6079_Smith_W

Actually, the best comparison I can think of? It isn't flags or prayers or anthems.

(because the notion that someone might not know what Regina or Prince Albert is is incomprehensible,  even though there are plenty who are blissfully ignorant of Sakimay, Mistawasis, and Atahkakoop)

It is anglophones who would cut their tongues out rather than speak a word of French, and go apoplectic at it being spoken in a meeting. There are fewer of those around now than there were 30 or 40 years ago.

With any luck it will be similar when it comes to recognizing First Nations half a century from now.

(edit)

And if it comes down to whether one must, it actually is a libertarian argument. Again, not lumping you in with the alt-right, but if we aren't even going to consider why, and jump straight to whether or not one can force you, that is what it is. 

And the answer, again is no.

 

voice of the damned

And if it comes down to whether one must, it actually is a libertarian argument. Again, not lumping you in with the alt-right, but if we aren't even going to consider why, and jump straight to whether or not one can force you, that is what it is. 

I'm still not seeing why this involves libertarianism. If I say "Babble should change its Terms Of Use Policy to allow people to say sexist and homophobic things", one can agree or disagree with that, but the argument I'm making is not a libertarian one, because babble is not a government with the power to force anyone to post here, which is always the issue at stake with libertarian debates. We're all free to leave any time we want.

Though, thinking about it, I suppose that since all doctors in Ontario are required to join the OMA(right?), if that organization requires them to hear the acknowledgement of unceded land, the only way they can avoid that is to stop going to those meetings, and possibly jeopardzing their further employment in their chosen field. Though it's still not a case of government forcing anything on them directly.

I think rather than "libertarian", I would say the arguments employed against the statement are "anti-political correctness", which can be applied to non-governmental institutions. And which, coming from me, is not usually used in a complimentary fashion.

6079_Smith_W

To frame this as whether an association has an obligation rather than looking at the rationale and effectiveness is actually a libertarian question. That is to say, putting liberty and freedom of choice above any other consideration, ad absurdum, and presenting rational consideration as imposing ideology.

You don't agree, I am fine with disagreeing on that point. But it seems an absurd point, because no, no one is forcing them.

And the notion that doctors shouldn't have to even hear such a declaration? That is even more out there, IMO. Talk about first world problems.

 

cco

6079_Smith_W wrote:

To frame this as whether an association has an obligation rather than looking at the rationale and effectiveness is actually a libertarian question. That is to say, putting liberty and freedom of choice above any other consideration, ad absurdum, and presenting rational consideration as imposing ideology.

Should I quote the summer jobs attestation thread here, or this there? Because if we're ditching "You can't make me!" as invalid libertarian bullshit used as a stalking-horse for right-wing extremism across the board, that applies to more conversations than the territorial acknowledgement speech one.

6079_Smith_W

Right wing stalking horse? Really?

VOTD raised the notion that this is a question of values. It isn't.  Some people might not like the fact that we are all treaty people, but it doesn't change the fact that we are. 

Would you make a big deal about denying that you are in Toronto, or wherever you are? The fact is, no one would be doing that if this wasn't about First Nations sovereignty.

And the issue isn't whether all associations sould be forced to do this - most don't. But in this case a motion was raised and dismissed by a huge margin with no discussion, and they tried to weasel their way out of it afterwards.

Not only that it was an association that is on the front lines of providing health care to First Nations people. So should that have given it more serious consideration? I'd say yes.

cco

I actually don't particularly care about the acknowledgement (though I've heard a lot of "unceded" being spoken on treaty lands, as if it's just the default that all of Canada is unceded by someone). Especially since nobody but the introducing speaker is actually being compelled to say it, and since a medical professional conference isn't something anyone is legally compelled to attend.

And honestly, I hesitated a great deal before posting, since I've been involved in one version or another of the religion-in-politics debate in real life a great deal recently, and it's physically drained me. But do you not see the connection between "Asking religious people to say something they don't agree with to get money they have no constitutional right to is a violation of their fundamental freedoms!" and "If doctors don't vote to say something they either don't agree with or think is pointless, they're racists"?

6079_Smith_W

I see that you are trying to make a connection, and I understand your argument. But the two situations are different in a number of ways. But first I should repeat that I have never said that question regarding churches is one of constitutional rights. They don't have a right to funding, and they don't have rights at all.

But nobody is withholding anything from the medical association or denying them funding  whether they do this or not. Nobody is forcing them to do anything.

And if a church has dogma which is anti-choice or homophobic I call them homophobic. By the same token, if association like this brushes off a motion like this I'd say there is more than a little racism involved - and professional irresponsibility, considering how much of their work involves First Nation communities.

And if this is going to extend to accommodating every doctor in the room who doesn't want to be told that they are in Toronto, sorry, but that is just ridiculous. I have been a member of associations that have policies I don't entirely agree with. That is in no way an infringement on my rights. And this isn't even a question of policy.

And again, this is not just about unceded territory. You might be on unceded territory. I am in Treaty Six.

 

 

pookie

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I see that you are trying to make a connection, and I understand your argument. But the two situations are different in a number of ways. But first I should repeat that I have never said that question regarding churches is one of constitutional rights. They don't have a right to funding, and they don't have rights at all.

But nobody is withholding anything from the medical association or denying them funding  whether they do this or not. Nobody is forcing them to do anything.

And if a church has dogma which is anti-choice or homophobic I call them homophobic. By the same token, if association like this brushes off a motion like this I'd say there is more than a little racism involved - and professional irresponsibility, considering how much of their work involves First Nation communities.

 

This, to me, is where this stuff gets off the rails.

What in the Sam Hill does the professional association of doctors deciding whether to include a land acknolwedgment have to do with individual doctors' treatment of their patients? If you want to tie it to doctors specifically located in FN communities, fine.  Exactly how many doctors are we talking about?  What basis do you have to thinking it is more than, say, 5%?  Even that seems generous, TBH.

Not everything in the world/our daily lives has a relationship with whether or not we are on ceded/unceded/traditional territory.  That is where I started to get cross-eyed.

6079_Smith_W

This is not something that is just hidden away on reserves.

If the situation down east is anything like it is in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, or Vancouver, go into any large city hospital and there are a large number of Indigenous people there.

And there are plenty of good sized hospitals which are built specifically to serve town and FN communities.

And where do people go if they need services that they can't get in their home communities? They fly to big city hospitals where there is often not enough support, and not enough people who speak their language, and they are often there for an extended time. And even if they have to go to a nearby town it often involves long-distance cab drives, and again, dealing with people who may not understand your language and culture.

Again, the Truth and Reconciliation Report has a number of calls to action specifically about failure in our healthcare system. About doctors not recognizing diseases more likely to affect Indigenous people, pressuring women into getting sterilized (or just doing it without consent), and treating Indigenous people like children, or like they are to blame for their illnesses.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/indigenous-women-pregnancy-reserve-escor...

What does recognizing whose land we are on have to do with that? Not so much directly, but if an association can't even give their treaty territory the same consideration they do their city how much attention are they likely to give to these other areas in which they are actively part of the problem?

And in this case, the fact it was shot down with no discussion is an indication of how much they don't want to pay attention to that relationship.

Besides, Saskatoon is part of Treaty Six just as it is part of Saskatchewan. People who don't recognize that reality should start. It's only odd if you are the side of the treaty that has forgotten that relationship.

 

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Would you make a big deal about denying that you are in Toronto, or wherever you are?

I am, in fact, in Toronto.  If you ask me "are you in Toronto" I will say "yes".

But that doesn't mean I feel compelled to start things I say with "I am in Toronto".  And I hope that doesn't prove horrible things of me when I don't.

If someone asks the OMA, at a meeting, whether the venue is on treaty land, I would hope they would similarly answer plainly.

But that's not the same as expecting them to start their meetings by pre-empting the question.  And it would be nice if we didn't have to roll our eyes at those doctors, or assume they're just racists who want to bury history, or pretend that by not unanimously voting to recite something someone else rilly rilly wants to hear, that they've somehow monkey-wrenched any hope of reconciliation.

6079_Smith_W

Sure.

Though most of those events will have, if not an actual representative from the city to bring greetings, sponsorship on the programs, signage on the dais, or swag.

But then, associations want to give that kind of recognition because it comes with money. And nobody complains about them taking time out from more important things for that.

Fifteen seconds in the interest of reconciliation though... that is another story.

Anyway, here's what a doctor who knows more about it that I do has to say about it:

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/05/07/the-oma-and-my-c...

NDPP

I wonder if the day isn't coming when the Israeli occupation too discovers the nifty practice of opening settler functions there by acknowledging and giving thanks for the privilege of occupying whatever Palestinian Indigenous group's stolen land they happen to be standing on. I'm really surprised those with dual citizenship in both settler-states haven't relayed this now ubiquitous, pro-forma bit of Canadian hasbara yet, the perfect panacea for liberal settler guilt.

6079_Smith_W

Funny, the doctors' excuse was also that it was nothing but a panacea. Apparently that is why they did the progressive thing in voting it down.

Ontario’s doctors should take a lesson from their counterparts in British Columbia. Doctors of B.C. embraced land acknowledgments years ago. They (and many other health organizations) have also signed on to a Declaration of Commitment on Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services, an express commitment to foster a climate for change and to implement change.

Faculties of medicine (and nursing) have also acknowledged the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, specifically recommendation 24, which calls for courses on Indigenous health that include the impacts of colonialism. It looks like practising physicians, not just students, need that education.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-a-prescription-for-recon...

Paladin1

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I am, in fact, in Toronto.  If you ask me "are you in Toronto" I will say "yes".

But that doesn't mean I feel compelled to start things I say with "I am in Toronto".  And I hope that doesn't prove horrible things of me when I don't.

But that's standard for today. If you don't comply you're a racist. 

 

6079_Smith_W wrote:
Anyway, here's what a doctor who knows more about it that I do has to say about it:

The doctor brings up an interesting situation. Patients asking to see a white doctor.  I've read of religious peoples who have refused treatment by members of the opposite sex on the grounds of religion. Same thing or different? I've asked for better-english speaking people while on service calls, I wonder if that's considered racist.

2/3rds of the doctors voted no. One of the more annoying aspects of demoracy I suppose (like the US faced when Hezbolah was "voted" in Palistine a few years back).

What kind of changes have there been in BC since the doctors there started acknoleding this?

A study conducted by the Cedar Project Partnership of First Nations groups concluded that Indigenous drug users in British Columbia are 13 times more likely to die compared with other Canadians of the same age (after a decde long study). BC doctors acknoledging this stuff doesn't seem to have effected that, so I think ultimately my problem is that I'm looking for a tangable way this act would improve quality of life/treatment for indigeneous people. It still seems like a platitude.