rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Trump is not to blame for Canada's systemic racism towards Indigenous communities

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Trump is not to blame for Canada's systemic racism towards Indigenous communities and communities of people of colour.

I'll be the first to tell you that it's too simple to blame one man for a cultural legacy of racism against Indigenous communities that runs on both sides of the border.

And we have had this racism problem well before Trump announced that he would attempt to become America's 45th president.

In fact, Canadian society has had 500 years to practice our more refined approach to racism.

Instead of a brash racism, we prefer ours to be more refined, more secretive; in whispers, not shouts, around the water cooler, the hiring and recruitment office or the family dinner table.

Five hundred years of refinement is a long time to perfect a weapon like racism.

The government itself doesn't have to work very hard to deny that racism exists when you have the majority of the population either too ignorant or too embarrassed to admit we have a problem in the first place.

Again and again over the years I have heard variations on the same theme of acknowledging our racism. Usually, it will begin with condolences but then the tone of the voice turns hard. A: "I'm sorry that is happening to you, but..."

You see, most Canadians by now have some understanding that what First Nations, Metis and Inuit individuals, families and communities have had to endure historically -- through such institutions as the residential school system and the day-school system, through the 60s scoop, and the Indian Act, etc.

Then it stops. Because while most Canadians can concede that historically perhaps their Canadian ancestors were a part of, and benefited from, the systemic racism that targeted Indigenous communities, that broke Indigenous families and tried to kill the Indian in the child

But certainly they in the present have not harmed and have not benefited from said racism.

It's almost as if you hit a cognitive wall and people can very defensive and angry as they patrol its borders. If you were even to mention that some Canadians living in Vancouver or Halifax in the present could still be benefitting from that systemic racism, the mere suggestion falls into the pit of cognitive dissonance.

History itself becomes like a shield that protects their gentle Canadian ego.

I've pretty much heard every excuse, every dodge, every word in reverse -- anything to keep them from admitting that what was historical fact is indeed current fact.

Statements like: "I wasn't alive back then"; "my relatives had yet to arrive in Canada"; "I can't be held personally responsible for what my ancestors did!"

People become fixated on trying to avoid any connection-thus-responsibility for their behaviour and outlook, and their very effort to avoid any blame that keeps any healing from taking root.

All these missed opportunities simply because the sheer magnitude of the racism means saying sorry is just not enough anymore.

It's at this realization where communication really breaks down – under the assumption that monetary reparations would be demanded from every Canadian citizen; the assumption that land titles and home mortgages would all become forfeit and any and all property would be snatched from the hands of hard-working families and handed over to any Indigenous claimant.

So yes, we have even had a prime minister publicly apologize for the treatment of Indigenous children, families and communities suffered under the residential school system, and yet food prices in the High North -- the traditional territories of many different Indigenous nations -- are so high that it's very difficult to afford fresh fruits and vegetables to live a healthy life and raise healthy children.

And yes, Canada finally fully signed on under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2016, but this was almost a whole decade after it was adopted by the General Assembly.

Right now, the current political climate in the United States makes it very easy for smug Canadians to look down their noses at the racism in America and start puching downwards, but we have to be careful. And honest with ourselves as a society.

If the same number -- 1,800 murdered and or missing Indigenous women and girls -- of white women and girls were missing, there would be much more attention paid by politicians, universities think-tanks and law enforcement.

For example, no longer could a local police force get away with insinuating that "native girls like to wander, they hitch-hike, they pass through town after town, you know how they are," as one general stereotype goes.

It's as if you could assume these women didn't belong anywhere and wouldn't have a family who would miss them, who would be praying that they are safe.

The fear that many Americans from marginalized communities feel is felt here in Canada, too. And don't be fooled that just because Stephen Harper is no longer in office, Justin Trudeau will not suddenly be able to expel every racist to south of our border.

Vancouver has been hosting the annual February 14 march for missing and murdered women for the past 27 years. That's 27 too many.

Toronto has been hosting this event for the past 12. Again, 12 years too many.

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.