Posts Tagged ‘racism in canada’

“Seventy kilometers north of Kenora, in Ontario’s Lake of the Woods region, among a series of rolling, densely forested hills between two lakes, is the Ojibway community of Grassy Narrows, or the Asubpeechoseewagong First Nation. It is home to about 1,000 people.

As you travel north towards it, the lakes and rivers are crowded with pleasure craft, tourists and sportsmen. The closer you get, however, the sparser the pleasure-seekers get – until eventually you find a Chernobyl stillness heavy among the trees.

Nobody wants to touch the waters around Grassy Narrows.

Between 1962 and 1970, the Reed Paper company dumped more than 9,000kg of mercury into the Wabigoon and English river systems here. Slowly, that mercury poisoned the waters, and made the walleye – the cornerstone of the local fishing-based economy and the staple food of the local First Nations people – unsafe to eat.

On 6 April 1970, shortly after detecting the spill, by then nearly a decade old, the Ontario provincial government closed the region’s fisheries and moved to cut off the source of mercury.

That date, 6 April, serves as a dividing line for the few surviving elders of Grassy Narrows today: a line between a growing, employed and prosperous traditional community, and an era of disease, government inaction, and Ojibway resistance.”

– Robert Jago, “The Warrior Society rises: how a mercury spill in Canada inspired a movement.” The Guardian, October 16, 2018.

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“Jail and the Workingman.” Kingston Daily Standard. Editorial. October 9, 1912. Page 04.

According to the annual return of Governor Corbett, of the county jail, there was a total of 162 prisoners committed during the year ending the 30th September 1912, of whom eight were females. The occupations of these prisoners were: Baker, 1; blacksmith and boilermaker, 1; bricklayers, 1; butchers, 1; cabinet makers, 5; carpenters, 8; cigar makers, 2; clerks, 1; engineers, 1; farmers, 3; hotelkeepers, 1; laborers, 109; masons, 1; moulders, 2; painters, 2; sailors, 1; servants, 6; teamsters, 1; tinsmiths, 1; woodworkers, 1; no occupation, 7; soldiers, 2.

In looking over these figures one is at once struck with the large number of laborers, 109, as against 49 of all other occupations. Two-thirds of the whole number are laborers. It may be said that laborers constitute the majority of working people and for that reason the proportion constitute the majority of working people and for that reason the proportion is not out of the way. That probably is true, but laborers do not make up two-thirds of the population of Kingston, and there are not 109 times as many laborers as there are bakers, or blacksmiths, or clerks or engineers or masons; for we find only one of each of these classes of workmen in jail during the year. The number of laborers imprisoned is clearly out of all proportion to their number in the community.

Only one explanation can be offered for this condition of affairs. A lack of education is at the bottom of it. A boy who is allowed to drift through school and leave it at an early age and is then placed at some work which leads to no trade, business or profession lands among the class of laborers when he reaches man’s estate. He is without a trade or business training and almost always without education except the merest rudiments of it.

The parent who thus neglects his child, who fails to make him attend school or who does not send him to learn a trade or business is almost criminally blameworthy. In Canada there is no excuse for allowing any boy to drift into the class of laborers. Here, there is every chance for any boy to get a fair education or to learn a trade. In the first place, it is the fault of his parents, in 99 cases out of a hundred if the boy does not get that chance; in the second place it is the fault of the State for for not passing and enforcing such laws as will compel the parents to look to the welfare of their children by seeing either that they are properly educated for the professions or are taught a business or trade. Our foreign immigration will provide us with all the laborers we need; it is a disgrace to Canada to have any of her sons among the class of criminal laborers, not because labor is not honourable, but because the people of Canada should be educated to work of a higher nature than that of the mere laborer.

The statistics furnished by Governor Corbett shows that of the 162 prisoners, 12 are Canadians – that is just 112 too many.

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“I have the honor to report to Your Excellency that I have visited twenty-two
Gaols in Canada West, where I have found little or no discipline or classification of
prisoners. In the construction of most of the Gaols in Canada West, the health of
the prisoners has rarely received a thought; it is true that the highest spot has often
been selected as a site for the Court House and Gaol, yet it is lamentable to see the
cells partly under ground and badly ventilated. In many Gaols, the effluvia from the
water closet, where there is no sewer, can be felt all over the Gaol; add to that, a
number of persons sleeping together in warm weather, or yet in cold weather, where
every crevice is carefully shut, and it will create no surprise to see prisoners affected
with disease that sends them to an early grave.

Hamilton Gaol is situated in one of the most wealthy Counties in the Province;
in the year 1851, it had four hundred and nineteen prisoners within its walls. The
cells are eight feet nine inches by nine feet nine inches, partly under ground, with
one small loop-hole for light and air; the door opens into a dark passage; Six human
beings are incarcerated in each of these cells night and day, with a tub in place of a
water-closet. The prisoners complain of vermin; it is impossible to be otherwise. 

The Sheriff attends at Court House daily, but does not visit prisoners, unless specially, called upon to do so, being in a state of disgust with the condition of the Gaol, and wholly ‘unable to ameliorate the condition of the prisoners, either morally or
“physically.” There is no yard to give the prisoners air or exercise, hence, a three
months’ confinement in such a Gaol, must shorten life more than a sentence of three
years in the Provincial Penitentiary, where they have every care, with pure air and exercise. In a moral point of view, such a prison is equally ruinous, as there is no classification,
except the females being kept in a cell by themselves, where they freely converse
with the male prisoners. … I found the male and
female, the sane and insane, the tried and untried, the young and the old, the black
and the white, all congregated together: throughout the day, having the range of the
Gaol, where any amount of criminality might be carried on.”

– Andrew Dickinson, Inspector, Provincial Penitentiary, “REPORT

16 Victoria. Appendix (H.H.), September 11 1852, from Appendix to the Eleventh Volume of the Journal of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, Session 1852-1853. 

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“Campers have for years parked their RVs at the Turtle Crossing campground along the Assiniboine River in Manitoba, without knowing that it’s situated on the site of unmarked graves of more than 50 Indigenous children who died at the Brandon Residential School.

But Anne Lindsay, a researcher and former archivist with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, has spent nearly 10 years looking for and trying to identify the bodies. So far, she has identified children ranging in age from 7 to 16, dating back to the early 1900s.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that more than 3,200 children in total died at residential schools, where more than 150,000 Indigenous children were sent from 1883 to 1998 as part of a program of forced assimilation.

According to the Commission’s report, child abuse was “institutionalized” at residential schools and the entire system represented an attempt at “cultural genocide.”

Among its 94 calls to action was one to determine how — and how many — children died at residential schools and to determine where they are buried.

But some say that, so far, all they’ve seen is apathy.

“We hear from residential school survivors who tell you of these things happening, of mass graves existing, and everybody always denies that those stories are true,” said Arlen Dumas, the grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. “Well, here’s one example…there will be more.”

Lindsay found the unmarked graves by using an old, hand drawn map made by a former student of the Brandon Residential School.

Current campground proprietor Mark Kovatch, who is the third owner of Turtle Crossing, told CTV News that he had no idea his property held a burial ground. He said that he is co-operating with the City of Brandon and a local First Nation to uncover the grave site.

“Their preference was to repatriate the bodies up to the site of the old residential school and to try and have a memorial up there,” he said.

Harshly disciplined and poorly nourished, children at residential schools often died from illnesses such as tuberculosis, pneumonia or influenza. But others died from the hard labour they were forced to endure or died by suicide. Twelve children died after the Cross Lake school in Manitoba burned down in 1930.

“They operated equipment, which in the early 1900s was far less safe than farm equipment we know today,” Lindsay said. “They were also just physically run down from the amount of labour they were doing.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report said that “the failure to establish and enforce adequate standards, coupled with the failure to adequately fund the schools, resulted in unnecessarily high death rates at residential schools.”

The work of Lindsay and others in trying to identify the thousands of children who died at the schools is a difficult one, in part because governments and churches have not always been forthcoming with relevant documents or have provided documents in poor quality.

Compounding the problem is that school officials routinely failed to report the deaths to authorities, choosing instead to bury the children in unidentified cemeteries on school grounds rather than to send them home to their families. For nearly one-third of the deaths, no effort was made to record the name of the student who died. In even more cases, they did not record the cause of death.

A meeting is scheduled in September to discuss next steps. Dumas hopes that Indigenous families — long excluded from conversations surrounding the deaths of Indigenous children at residential schools — will be invited.”

– Zig Zag, “Unmarked graves of children from residential school found beneath Manitoba RV park.” Warrior Publications, September 1, 2018.

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“Today is the 85th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot, a pivotal moment in the fight against fascism and Nazism in Toronto and Canada in the early 1930s.

The riot saw Jews and Italians take direct action in self-defence against a Toronto “Swastika Club” that was displaying swastika banners and inciting hatred during a baseball game in the Christie Pits park.

Their courage in standing up to these racists helped to stop the growth of Swastika Clubs and represented a serious setback for the city’s fascists and Nazis at a time when antisemitism was dangerously on the rise.

This terrible history of overt antisemitism in the city and country is mostly forgotten now, though a close friend of mine came across a striking example of it in newspaper archives that occurred within my own community, Long Branch, also in 1933.

Long Branch is now a fully developed part of Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto that borders Mississauga in the west of the metropolis.

But in 1933 it was a separate, sleepy community that had many cottagers and summer vistors in it due to its lake front aspect and its famous beaches.

As the Globe and Mail article relates, the municipality of Long Branch decided to ban all Jews not from Long Branch (and there were likely not many of those) from its beaches. Despite the obvious racism at work the town’s Deputy Reeve Charles Brock tried to claim it had nothing to do with race!

This history of racism and resistance resonates again now especially with a US administration openly sympathetic to white supremacist narratives,  the rise of the far right across Europe and the growth of homegrown fascist and racist groups in Toronto and Canada.”

– Michael Laxer, ““Ban on Jews” – A 1933 antisemitic beach edict in Long Branch reminds of Toronto’s past on the anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot.The Left Chapter, August 16, 2018.  

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It is almost two years since the last nail was pounded into a
new home at Becher Bay Indian reservation on Vancouver
Island. Not an historical event perhaps, but a warrior-like
achievement for inmates from nearby William Head

Since then the only building underway at the remote institution
near Victoria is the change from minimum to medium
security. Poles for posts, and concrete slabs for perimeter
towers will denude the ornate scenery on which William
Head is perched: answering public demand for greater inmate
containment. Cost of the upgrated security is expected
to be $100,000.

When the Indian home was being constructed it heralded a
new community venture for 20 inmates – all eager to
show the expertise they’d gained from classroom instruction.
Now they watch construction that might keep them
from going outside again to build another home for an
Indian family.

The Becher Bay project is the last of 13 permanent buildings
William Head inmates have helped construct since
1961. Twelve were built within the institution
grounds – Becher Bay was the first in the outside community.
And thereby hangs an inmate tale of well-doing.
Although credit for the Becher Bay house should go to Tom
Horsley, William Head’s vocational training director, teamwork
by the Canadian Penitentiary Service and the Department
of Indian Affairs and Northern Development moved the
project into front-line activity.

According to Tom Horsley, “We wanted to build something
like this for a long time. Never could find a way around the
red tape that withheld decision.” Patience won out. Officers
from the two departments got together and $9,600 was allocated
the job.

Still smiling two years after the first excavator dug deep into
forest soil, the happy vocational training director explained
that for years building instruction had been an up and down
affair at William Head. “We built two houses every year to
teach inmates the building trade. Then pulled them down.
The material was used again and again. Inmates got fed up
with putting muscle energy into erecting a well-built house.
And it was pretty hard to get them enthusiastic when the
time came to build again.”

Staff at William Head still remember the excited inmate
reaction when the Becher Bay proposal was put to them.
Carpentry instructor Bob Hunter admits the inmates kept
pushing the idea, “they were so hep on getting the job
started.” All 20 chosen had various building skills. For each
one on-job training meant a year’s credit toward a four-year
apprenticeship diploma. Looking back, staffers Tom Horsley,
Bob Hunter, and masonry instructor Jim Bremner, admit

it was exciting to see the three-bedroomed house grow.
More so, knowing a needy family would benefit.

Seldom did the inmate-builders slack, even in wet weather.
And, because it was a training project, greater care and
precision went into every phase. For the Indian couple and
their six children, entering the cathedral-styled front of the
two-storey house was like starting life again — they’d
never had such a pleasant home. For the inmates, the
Becher Bay house stands out as a job they’d welcome
again. But there are many forms and parole demands to
satisfy before another venture can start.

Although hammers and fret saws are silent, inmates and
vocational instructors at William Head have good reason to
believe in their building program — 12 other buildings in
the institution complex vouch for this — all built by

It’s 13 years since inmates first heaved concrete slabs, and
lifted heavy beams into place at William Head — the start
of an inmate building boom.

Three years previously, in 1959, the Canadian Penitentiary
Service had taken over the Department of Health and Welfare
holding depot at William Head. Emigrés, mostly from
the far east, were held there in quarantine until health

checks, particularly for smallpox and the bubonic plague,
cleared them as landed immigrants. Some were held for
several weeks.

Small huts, and outdoor kitchens, home to the lower-deck
passengers, dotted the Parry Bay coastline of Vancouver
Island where William Head Institution is now located. But
first class passengers were given first class treatment, in a
special building apart from the less-fortunate hordes; a long,
terraced frame building built in 1914. Where once heavily
laden immigrants struggled ashore to await health clearance,
inmates now await parole.

As quarantine huts were vacated by outgoing passengers,
they were torn down to make way for permanent structures
for incoming inmates. Some were stripped and relocated on
the property. Inmate labor helped build or rebuild almost all.

The first two, a visiting building and a greenhouse, were
erected in 1961. Why priority was given to the greenhouse
records do not divulge. Next year a guardhouse was built
immediately inside the gate entrance. Wood-framed, it
needed frequent painting — the elements at William Head
have no mercy.

In the following year two more buildings, a small concrete
block construction, used to store inflammable goods, and a

fire hall were completed. By 1965 most of the old quarantine
buildings had gone, and a sentry tower erected. One landmark
remained – the first class passenger quarters. This
building was also demolished two years later and a school
and auditorium erected. In the next five years a kitchen,
dining room, works.office, and mason shed were added.
Then came the building-of-the-year, an inmate vocational
training shop.

To an outsider the long, one-storey, modern building may
not appear unique. To William Head inmates its the cream of-the-bunch.
Twenty-one inmates earned their spurs erecting
it during a year-long building program, 1972-1973. With
pride, they claim it their own.
Well they might. It is the only time CPS has paid for inmate
labor at the minimum federal hourly wage rate – which
started at $1.75 and went to $1.90. For a 40 hour week, the
21 inmate-builders earned a solid pay packet. For Tom
Horsley and his shop instructors, it was the beginning of a
new building-era. Every inmate and staff flexed muscles to
construct a building-to-remember. They didn’t know then the
Indian reservation home would also be a milestone.

Classrooms for carpentry, masonry, sheet-metal work, and
other building instruction goes on in the new building.
There’s every opportunity for inmates to learn a trade that
can help them after release. Carpenter instructor, Bob
Hunter, says most of the “boys” do well. A few slack. Seldom
when on a real job, such as the Becher Bay project.
One year later where are the 21 inmate-builders? What did
they do with their well-earned pay?

Most have left William Head. Either paroled or transferred to
another institution. Five still remember: One became an expert
plasterer. He saved his money. Sent some to a needy
sister, paid off a debt, kept the rest for his release. Another,
after working three months as a plumber, sent a good-sized
cheque to his family. He too retained some for his release.

A third recalled the tremendous physical and mental training
the project gave him. Early to bed and early to rise was a
daily grind at first, but soon became a habit. Keeping regular
working hours wasn’t difficult either. In fact, “… it was a
boon to have a regular job.”

“It’s too easy to get bored in the pen,” he said, looking at
little used, flabby muscles. He too saved – for his release.
The fourth man had been a truck driver. On the project he
learned carpentry. Apart from learning how to work at regular
hours, he gained a course credit. His wages helped to
support his family. Were there another call for volunteers
he’d be the first to answer. “I felt great when I was out
working everyday.”
Admitting to being a loner, the fifth man said his greatest
benefit was “fitting in with the gang.” Also a truck driver, he

became a sheet-metal worker on the vocational training
shop, responsible for heating and air-conditioning. Most of
his wages went to his parents.

All five wanted to know “when can we get going again?”

Besides replenished bank books, working conditions were
the same as for any other building contract. No work, no
pay, was the rule. Few were sick; then only a cold or pulled
back muscle. Of the 21 who started, three were laid-off, and
two fired for laziness. One lazybone repented and returned.
From their weekly salary each man paid for room and board
in the penitentiary. Income tax and unemployment insurance
was deducted, and each man paid for workboots and
extra clothes.

Doug James, works officer at William Head, is certain the
building program is a good rehabilitation incentive. He also
believes “taking away the temporary absence pass kills

Until T/A’s are granted again, building more homes at
Becher Bay or elsewhere is at a standstill.

Mr. James hopes the pass system will start again, “these
men get fidgety when not working.” He agreed not all inmates
qualified for T/A’s. Said screening was important,
especially when working on a large project. “But cheap
labor destroys a man’s good intention to work.”

Totaling inmate work time on the vocational training shop,
Doug James arrived at 15,747 hours. In 10 years inmates
have worked approxinnately 250,000 hours erecting various
buildings at William Head he said. The cost of materials was
approximately $506,699. Records of inmate pay were

Building a liveable house and useable classrooms have
given inmates a taste of regular work hours. Now they’d like
a regular paid job again — even while serving a penal

– Mona C. Ricks, “Hammer And Nails
A Home Can Make.” Discussion, Vol. 2, No. 1, March 1974

Photograph captions from top to bottom:

1 & 2) 

What was once a government
quarantine camp for emigrants
arriving on the Canadian west
coast, is now a federal penal
institution. Looking at William
Head on Vancouver Island
today there are few signs of the
long wait many passengers
had before continuing to their
destination. Taken over by the
Canadian Penitentiary Service
in 1959, the camp’s flimsy
quarantine huts and kitchens
used by lower-deck passengers
have been tom down

3 & 4) 

First-class passengers were
separated from other travellers
in majestic quarters; a long,
frame building, set well back
from the coastline. Built in 1914
it became an administration
building for CPS staff. Condemned
by fire officials, it was
demolished in 1967 and a
school and auditorium for inmates
erected. lnmates built
most of the institutional complex as it stands today. They
are particularly proud of the
vocational training shop…


Camp director Bob Muir gives
inmates a hand [cutting down trees].

6) Inmates on the job clearing
brush, trees.

7) Three-bedroomed house outside the institution grounds, on Becher Bay Indian reservation. 


An Indian family wait to enter their new home, built by inmates from William Head Institution, as Commissioner Paul Faguy unlocks the door.

9) Jim Bremner (left), masonry
instructor, and Bob Hunter
(right), carpenter instructor,
show how they conduct their
courses at William Head Institution
in the new vocational
training shop.

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“Got Five Years For Plundering Cottages,” Toronto Globe. July 25, 1912. Page 05.

Indian Found Guilty Of Theft From Grimsby Beach Residences.

(Special Despatch to The Globe.)
St. Catharines, July 24. – David Dockstader, an Indian, accused of entering J. D. Cran’s and J. B. Oliverson’s cottages at Grimsby Beach last December and stealing a large number of household articles, appeared before Judge Carman to-day. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in Kingston Penitentiary. Mary Greene, a squaw, accused of a similar offence, was allowed to go.

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“Express Men Are Accused Of Theft,” Hamilton Spectator. July 21, 1919. Page 18.

Trio Remanded Until Tomorrow For Hearing

Alien Heavily Fined For Carrying Knife

Only One Crock Owner Roped in Since Saturday

In police court to-day, James Shuler, a husky brave from Hagersville, faced a charge of assaulting Mrs. George Oram, as she was waiting for a car in the Terminal station. James denied having assaulted anyone.

‘Are you an Indian?’ the magistrate asked.

‘Oh, I guess I’m a mongrel,’ replied Shuler with a grin.

‘Well, you are fine $10. You’ve got to learn that women must not be molested,’ the court pronounced.

Charles Burton, Sylvester Riddell and John Kivelle, three trainmen, were accused of stealing from the Canadian Express Company. The case was remanded for one day. All three young men come from Allandale.

On the request of his attorney, Alec. McFarlane, Thomas Finnigan, 100 Napier Street, was remanded for one week. He was charged by John Hodges with false pretences and by James Clancey with theft. Mr. McFarlane explained that the charges were not of a serious character and related to some differences between partners which he thought could be settled within a week’s time. Finnigan was allowed to go on his own recognizance.

Martin Phillips, who was arrested in New York several days ago on a charge of stealing money order blanks from the Dominion Express company, was granted one day’s remand by the magistrate. Phillips pleaded for time to consult a lawyer.

P. C. Roughead noticed Andrew Walaskan, 127 Cannon Street east, walking down the street and acting in a most suspicious manner. A search of Walashan’s person revealed a small bottle of alcohol and the shattered fragments of the O.T.A. tinkled on the sidewalk about him. Andrew admitted the breach. 

‘Fined $200,’ the magistrate decreed.

When Van Cabarich, 922 Burlington street east, was searched, the police found a long, keen, steel knife in his belt. Cabarick admitted carrying the weapon.

‘One hundred dollars or three months in jail,’ the magistrate promptly declared.

When P.C. Myers was wandering up Maple avenue he saw a group of boys standing in a circle.

‘They were going through the motions of shooting crap,’ he explained.

Three of the group, Fergus Fitzgerald, 166 Florence street; Gordon Weaver, 66 Locke street, and Frank Sheehan, 67 Inchbury street, swore that there had been no gambling going on, and the magistrate dismissed the case.

Juan Powzzy, an olive-skinned native of Mexico, was arrested by Detective Shirley yesterday on suspicion of vagrancy. He gave Toronto as his address and was remanded for one day to enable the police to investigate his past life.

Louis Louin, 95 Birmingham street, was drunk early this morning. He was assessed $20.

‘Were’s you drunk yesterday?’ the court asked George Blaicher, Mount Hamilton.

‘Yesterday?’ George faltered. ‘Why, I was sick.’

But the court didn’t believe it, and charged Blaicher $20.

S. B. Fuller, 170 Stanley avenue, allowed his car to be parked on the cab stand and was fined $2.

‘There’s nine cars parked on the cab stand now,’ remarked Fuller as he left the court.

H. E. Smye, 164 Duke street, succeeded in driving his motor-car 28 miles an hour on Main street east yesterday afternoon. He paid $10 for the little prank.

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B.P., Red River. Casement Exchange, 2018.

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“Canada has come under fire for a lack of transparency in its immigration detention system and its practice of detaining vulnerable groups, including children and those with mental health conditions.

“The lack of independent national and international oversight bodies significantly contributes to the culture of secrecy surrounding the Canadian immigration detention system,” said a report by the Geneva-based Global Detention Project, an international research group that promotes the human rights of migrants in detention.

“There remain critical gaps in public information, including concerning which prisons are in use at any given time for immigration-related reasons.”

Immigration detention in Canada has been in the spotlight over the last two years with a series of deaths of migrants held in facilities for immigration violations. As of last November, the report said at least 16 people have died in immigration detention while in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency since 2000.

On Wednesday, more than 2,000 Canadian health-care organizations and health-care providers, including doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists and midwives, signed an open letter calling on Ottawa to stop detaining children and end the Canada-United States bilateral agreement that restricts refugees to seeking asylum in the first country of their arrival.”

– Nicholas Keung, “Canada slammed for ‘culture of secrecy’ over immigration detention.” Toronto Star, June 27, 2018.

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“60 Gypsies Captured and Put in Peterboro Jail,” Toronto Star. January 22, 1909. Page 01 & 07.

All the Women and Even the Babes Smoke – Band Terrorized the Countryside – Beautiful Girl Is Queen, and All Jump to Obey Her.

Special to The Star.
Peterboro, June 22. – Provincial Detectives Miller and Greer, assisted by a posse of local and county police, in charge of High Constable Cochrane, yesterday rounded up the band of sixty gypsies who have been the terror of the countryside for some time past.

Word was received by Warden R. N. Scott of Peterboro County that the band was heading into this county, and the Provincial authorities were communicated with, and prompt action taken.

Detective Greer visited their camp at Fowler’s Corners, seven miles from here, yesterday morning, and asked the gypsies if they would surrender. The reply was: ‘No surrender,’ but on the appearance of the posse they changed their minds, and the entire caravan, comprising sixty men, women and children, fifteen wagons, and a large number of horses and mongrel dogs of all varieties, was brought into the city, where its arrival caused a sensation.

The men were locked up in the county jail, while the women and children were confined in the jail yard, into which the wagons were driven.

A Picturesque Crowd.
A Star representative visited the courtyard a few minutes after their arrival, an found the scene to be a striking one. The women were all clad in the conventional gypsy garb, wearing rainbow-hued, flowing garments, with bright-colored-shawls as a head-dress, one and all profusely adorned with necklaces of coins. Nearly all wore bracelets and other jewelry.

The children were almost naked, and were allowed to roll around in the courtyard with the dogs.

All the women used tobacco, and puffed away nonchalantly at pipes or cigars, while the children, down to boys and girls of two and three years of age, smoked cigarettes.

The visitors to the strange colony were besieged by the party, who begged for tobacco from everyone in sight, including the special constables who were guarding them.

One old woman, who bore a striking resemblance to the old war chief Sitting Bull, as she squatted cross-legged on a blanket in front of her caravan, begged for a cigarette, but as she was about to light it, one of her offspring, a boy about five years old, reached over her shoulder and snatched the smoke, while the hag merely smiled as if in admiration of her boy’s audacity.

The queen of the tribe is a remarkably pretty and fiery-tempered girl of about 19 years, who rules the female part of the caravan without any difficulty. Young as she is, the other women are evidently afraid of her and jump to obey her commands, while the children scamper away frightened when she raises her voice. She is called ‘Rosie’ by the tribe, and one of the women boasted that ‘Rosie has lots of money.’

Have some Fine Animals
The band has an abundance of horses, and some of them are remarkably fine animals.

The wagons in which they travel and sleep are of different varieties, the majority being the regukar van of the gypsies, while others are grocery and bread delivery wagons, bearing the name and address of the former owners.

The men were searched when brought into the jail, and strange to say, there were very few weapons among them. Not a man of the two score had a revolver or a knife, and the only firearms in the party were two rifles. 

The band depended upon their numbers to frighten the farmers, and they were decidedly successful in their operations too, as the people of the sections they visited have been terrorized.

Ran Off With A Cow.
They have not hesitated to take what they wanted and have calmly walked off with a farmer’s cow and slaughtered the animal for the purpose of securing food. They helped themselves to anything else round the place that they needed all along their trek, and have caused damaged and annoyance.

They passed through Ormensee on their way here on Saturday and robbed stores and damaged property throughout the village. Similar complaints came from Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls, and other places in the district that they have visited.

The members either do not know or do not want to tell just where or when they entered Canada. They say they come from Mexico, but that is about all the information that one can learn from them. They speak French and English fluently, and English fairly well, while their own language seems to be a Mexican patois.

Thief Six Years Old.
The thieving instincts of the party do not seem to have been interfered with by their confinement. Yesterday afternoon a boy of about six years approached a visitor and snatched his watch from his vest pocket and was making off with it, stopping, however, when his mother hurled a shrill command at him.

All the possessions of the gang are in the jail-yard, where the women are confined.

The authorities contemplated erecting a large tent for the accommodation of the women and children, but they would have none of it. They wanted to sleep in their wagons, and threatened to slash the tent into tatters if it was put up.

Queen is Indignant.
The queen of the tribe was very indignant at the arrest, and stated to The Star that it was the first time that the men had ever been in jail. She was anxious to secure a lawyer and endeavor to bail out the men if possible, and when Mayor Russ and Warden Scott visited the prison last evening she obtained permission to go in search of a counsel.

The men were arraigned yesterday afternoon and were remanded for a week to allow the authorities to secure evidence. It is thought that an effort will be made to have the band deported, as they are a nuisance to everyone.

To fede [sic] the gypsies for a week will be a serious burden, as special constables and men to look after them and their horses have been hired. The authorities will not be sorry to see the last of the romantic band.

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“Four-Year Sentence For Colored Preacher,” Toronto Globe. June 8, 1915. Page 13.

He Assaulted And Robbed A Farmer – Threatens to Shoot Prosecutors.

(Special Despatch to The Globe.)
Chatham, June 7. – Rev. James Ackerman, a colored preacher, was to-day sentenced to four years in Kingston Penitentiary for assaulting and robbing Fred Mayhew, a Raleigh township farmer. Ackerman beat Mayhew into insensibility with a ‘billy’ and robbed him of $50 as the two were driving along a dark stretch of country road one night recently. On being led out of the courtroom, Ackerman shouted that on securing his release he would shoot all those responsible for his arrest and conviction.

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“When Lorde states that the “oppressors maintain their position and evade responsibility for their own actions,” is she talking about those people from the oppressive class who are trying to work in solidarity to dismantle the system from which they benefit, or is she talking about people who are actively committed to upholding the systems from which they benefit? Are teachers who stand in the way of culturally competent and appropriate pedagogy the same as those actively trying to teach students their culturally relevant histories and knowledge? If we cannot make a distinction between the two, if anyone from the oppressive class is always going to remain my oppressor, what hope are we offering to ourselves and to each other that we can transform the oppressive conditions that constrain our lives? None. We are saying that we live in a closed circuit from which there is no escape. We are saying, in other words, that we cannot imagine the world being otherwise.”

“So many of us are attempting to transform the world beyond these systems. So many of us are choosing to join in the fight against oppression, which often means attempting to live between and beyond these two opposing poles. So many of us are trying, failingly, arduously, to acknowledge our oppressive realities at the same time as we work to transform them. I have come to realize that it is not possible to build transformational kinship with anyone if I am unable to give them the space and the permission to come with their full selves. Yes, this means lots of painful conversations and even more painful (un) learnings. Yes, this means I am choosing to sometimes educate someone who benefits from my oppression. But it also means I am creating a bond that can (hopefully) withstand and overcome the oppressive categories that have come to define so many of our lives. Isn’t this, after all, what it means to be a progressive? Isn’t this what it means to be in community with someone? Isn’t this our duty, as people committed to social justice and all that it entails? To be committed to social justice is not an easy task, and yet this binary frame makes it sound like it’s the simplest thing in the world.

A refusal to give people you have allowed into your lives the space to have difficult conversations, to make real and sometimes painful mistakes, is not the work of liberation — it is simply the internalization of the same oppressor’s logic that has perpetuated the very isms we are so ardently railing against. Lorde concludes her essay with these famous words: “[T]he master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.””

– Asam Ahmad, “Who is your oppressor?Canadian Dimension, June 3, 2018.

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“The American exclusion act spanned 61 years. Astonishingly, it would be revisited and resigned by the sitting government every 10 years. Shortly after the American act was imposed in 1882, Canada would impose a head tax on Chinese immigrants.

It’s hard to imagine that Canada, which has become a beacon of hope in today’s polarized world, was once dedicated to building walls. The Chinese were the only ethnic group forced to pay a head tax. Between 1885 and 1923, more than 81,000 Chinese migrants paid $23 million in tax, which would be billions of dollars today.

When the tax didn’t completely stop the flow of Chinese, Canada implemented its own version of the Exclusion Act in 1923, which would remain in effect until 1947.

When the American act was finally repealed, it wasn’t so much because of internal pressure but because of the Second World War. The Japanese, at war with the U.S., launched a morally compelling propaganda effort aimed at China, pointing out that while the U.S. and China were “allies” during the war, Chinese people couldn’t immigrate to the U.S. because of racist legislation. The act was repealed in 1943. But even that was a minor victory, since only 105 ethnic Chinese were allowed into the country that year. But it did establish a beachhead.

“The story of Chinese coming to America and the story of their exclusion is a red thread through the history of the struggle over how do we define who can be American,” says Burns. “We felt a deep moral urgency to tell the story.”

The act ended up institutionalizing racism and paved the way for violence against Chinese for decades. That included lynchings, the burning of Chinatowns across the country and several massacres of Chinese miners.

But it also sparked the beginnings of a growing politicization and awareness within the Chinese community, as they sought redress within the law with more than 10,000 suits filed over that period.

There was, for example, no definition of what constituted American citizenship until a second generation Chinese-American, Wong Kim Ark, who was prevented from returning to the U.S. after visiting China, took his case to the Supreme Court. In a case that is now taught in just about every North American immigration law class, the court ruled that if you are born in the United States then you are an American citizen. It’s also still relevant, since the 14th Amendment on which it is based is being challenged and politicized today in attempts to deny citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants.

North of the border, Chinese Canadians like Mack also took to the courts for redress. Grandpa’s landmark case would inspire a remarkable book dedicated to him and co-edited by then-University of Toronto law school dean Mayo Moran, a collection of essays looking at the legal and philosophical issues raised by trying to come to terms with historic wrongs. It is a thoughtful, troubling look at why we must call power to account.”

– Tony Wong, “North America’s racist ban on Chinese immigration is an urgent history lesson.” The Toronto Star, May 26, 2018.

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“The media conference, which included First Nations leaders and family of Stacy DeBungee, was called in the wake of a conduct report released by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) that substantiated allegations of misconduct by Thunder Bay Police’s investigation into the death of 41-year-old DeBungee of Rainy River First Nation, who was found dead in the McIntyre River in October, 2015.

The 126-page report, released Monday morning to the public, found the Criminal Investigation Branch of the Thunder Bay Police Service and lead investigators, prematurely ruled the death of DeBungee to be non-criminal.

Several factors were cited in the report, including failure on the part of investigators to secure or hold the scene until an autopsy had been conducted, a lack of forensic evidence examination, failure to take statements from individual or witnesses who were with DeBungee before his death, and statements made in media releases that the death was non-criminal hours after DeBungee’s body was found.

The report states there is overwhelming evidence to support that Thunder Bay Police investigators, Det. Shawn Harrison and Det. Const. Shawn Whipple, concluded Stacy DeBungee “rolled into the river and drowned without any external intervention.”

“It can also be reasonably inferred that this premature conclusion may have been drawn because the deceased was Indigenous,” the report continues. “It can reasonably be inferred that the investigating officers failed to treat or protect the deceased and his family equally and without discrimination based on the deceased’s Indigenous status.”

Brad DeBungee, brother of Stacy, said the release of the report validated what he has suspected all along regarding how his brother’s death was handled by police. […] “We knew things were bad, but we didn’t think they were this bad,” added former Rainy River First Nation chief, Jim Leonard. “Every page of those 126 pages it states there is deficiency after deficiency.””

– Doug Diaczuk, “First Nation leaders call for Levesque’s resignation.” TBnewswatch, March 5, 2018.

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