May 31, 2021

 Vancouver Sun
Remains of 215 children found at former Kamloops residential school: First Nation – Students were sent to the school from as far away as Penticton, Hope, Mount Currie, Lillooet and even outside the province.

The horrors of the residential school seem to have reached new levels in the discovery of a grave site with 215 children in Kamloops, BC.  The Missing Children Project which traces the ones who ran away and disappeared or who died while attending the residential schools, has so far identified more than 4100 children.  The federal government ordered flags across Canada to fly at half-mast to honour these children from the largest school in the system.  Advocates for both Indigenous rights and child rights have since sent a plethora of messages deploring the lack of real effort to address the injustices, especially towards the Indigenous children.  Twitter Cindy Blackstock:  Lower the flags and stop fighting First Nations kids and IRS survivors in court.   Twitter from Mike Morrice What to keep calling for while the flags are at half-mast  Stop discrimination of FN children,  Stop fighting survivors in court, and Implement all 94 #TRC Calls to Action, incl. 71-76 on Missing Children & Burial   Related article: Globe and Mail – Andrea Woo and Jeffery Jones  Discovery of remains of 215 children at former Kamloops residential school prompts calls from Indigenous leader to investigate all sites    Related article: Globe and Mail – Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond  The discovery of a mass grave at a former residential school in Kamloops is just the tip of the iceberg   Twitter from Charlie Angus, MP: To a government lawyer:  Seriously?    CBC News – Raffy Boudjikanian and Max Paris  RCMP is losing Indigenous officers — and some former Mounties blame racism in the ranks – More than 100 officers who identify as Indigenous have left force in past 3 years

Toronto Star – Robin Sears
Indigenous self-government is now a reality — one that will test the courage and creativity of Canadian and Indigenous leaders everywhere

Most adult Canadians are conscious of the constant struggle, almost a fact of life, between the Indigenous people and the various governments, provincial and federal.  Current realities include the conflict and tensions with the Indigenous communities.  In the cards for the future some 600 such communities are in process of becoming self-governing within the Canadian context.  What that will mean is not entirely clear but appears more certain.

The Guardian (UK – US Desk) – Sam Levin
These US cities defunded police: ‘We’re transferring money to the community’

The discussion around defunding the police in favour of social agencies seems to be gathering some momentum in the number of cities, where the bulk of funding is found, have begun to look for and fund alternatives to simply increasing the number of police.  “With public pressure on them, mayors and city councils responded. In 2020 budget votes, advocacy groups won over $840m in direct cuts from US police departments and at least $160m investments in community services, according to an analysis by Interrupting Criminalization, an initiative at the Barnard Center for Research on Women. In 25 cities, such as Denver and Oakland, officials moved to remove police from schools, saving an additional $34m.”  Related article: NY Times – Maureen Dowd   Ex-Commish With the Dish   Related commentary – Blogger Rachel Barkow  Doesn’t anyone check the opinion columnists at the NY Times

Queen’s Law Journal – Lisa Kerr and Kristy-Anne Dubé
The Pains of Imprisonment in a Pandemic

From the Abstract:  “This article examines how the law of punishment has responded to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on jails and prisons. While detention has become more severe and risky for all who live and work in correctional institutions, there has been significant variation in judicial willingness to recognize these systemic impacts. Often courts limit protection to those able to adduce evidence that they will become seriously ill or die from COVID-19.”  Kerr and Dubé want to see more accurate assessment of individual vulnerability, the risks and effects of detention play a larger role in judicial decisions.

R Street (US) – Nila Bala
Proposed federal clean slate bill will grant much needed second chances

This is an issue as much for Canada as the US or any other place where the records of charging and arrest without going to trial and conviction, i.e. charges that result in dismissal before trial.  What happens to the computerized records?  In many places there is no mechanism for assurance that the record will be expunged and likely every chance that the record will re-surface on future inquiry.  Further, what happens to conviction for marijuana convictions as states legalize low level possession?  “Currently, no federal record sealing or expungement mechanism exists, even for cases that resulted in just an arrest with no conviction. There is no official estimate of how many individuals this bill would affect. Still, some data provide a sense of how many people were arrested just for marijuana offenses, which would be eligible to be automatically cleared: generally between 4000 and 8000 annually, across the last decade.”

Globe and Mail – Joseph Heath
The term ‘BIPOC’ is a bad fit for the Canadian discourse on race

Joseph Heath, a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, takes issue with the use of the American acronym BIPOC – (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) – as appropriate for use in Canada.  “All three components of the acronym, B, I and POC, are problematic in a Canadian context,” he says.  “And so, if there is the need for an acronym to identify the most important minority groups in Canada, I would propose “FIVM”: Francophone, Indigenous and Visible Minority.”

CBC News –
Policies on minimum wage, income tax have a direct effect on who goes hungry: researcher – University of Toronto study finds strong links between food insecurity and government policy

According to University of Toronto researcher Valerie Tarasuk, it all begins in the kitchen.  That’s where the basic nutrients that establish health care start.  The relationship between food and government policy around income is a powerful link to the potential for the future. “Adults in a food-insecure household will burn up more than twice the health-care dollars over the course of a year than somebody who’s food secure,” Tarasuk, a leading scholar on the topic, said Friday, citing research showing that households without steady access to enough nutrients have higher morbidity rates… In particular, a government’s position on minimum wage, social assistance payments, and low-income tax percentages had the most extreme impact on how much, and how well, underprivileged residents can afford to eat.”