The ruling brought down today by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was not something that was something that one can quibble with it was a forty-six page judgment that determined that the RCMP was guilty of discrimination in its treatment of Ali Tahmourpour, an RCMP trainee who was turfed out of training after suffering from extreme cultural and racial discrimination. (CBC News)
The fact that the RCMP has the responsibility of upholding the laws of this land and must itself respect the Charter of Rights, which is not something new, but has been part of this multicultural country for twenty-six years, is profoundly disturbing.
Discrimination, cultural and ethnic stereotyping and at times, out and out hate outbursts, are a weekly events in our country. A country that prides itself in its diversity and intent to give all of its people, a sense of fairness, and a place to call home. Just consider the recent revelation on and old video of a Regina MP slurring gay people and the same video showed our premier doing ethnic gags in reference to the Ukrainian ancestry of the premier of the day. We had the disgusting spectacle of a prominent First Nations elder referring to Jews as a disease and it is common knowledge that the Prime Minister will not let his party members speak out on any issue because he is well aware of the dangers of such liberty with the kind of attitudes that are so much a part of his political party.
A flood is a dangerous thing, it can overwhelm and during its crest mows down just about everything in its path. Racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and cultural prejudice is a sort of social flood. Almost impossible to stop and seems to rise and crest, then gradually subside. There is one simple and difficult fact to deal with and that is that anyone who says they are without prejudice is lying and perhaps most seriously, lying to themselves. It seems the very nature of people to identify "us" and "them". We do it without thinking and we do it collectively, sharing our fears and concerns while shifting some blame to "them" for things that seem to be going negatively.
The real issue is not that discrimination and prejudice exist but what we do about acts and attitudes once we realise that we or some of us are guilty of overt hurtful behaviour. The place to start when trying to correct a wrong is with language. We have clean up what we say because that will determine what we are thinking. Let's start with something simple; we are not going to the Greek restaurant, or the Chinese restaurant, we are going to Gus's Greek Ribs or to The Great Wall. That's not hard, but right away, instead of grouping people by their ethnicity, we think of them as individuals, with the rights and privileges they deserve.
For at least a decade I worked in First Nations communities and one year living on a West Coast island I discovered I was the minority. I can tell you with authority that discrimination, even subtle seemingly insignificant things are crushing to the human spirit. As a guidance counsellor, I have listened to the anguish and ravaged emotions of people who have in a large way, or even in a small way, have been made to feel less human, less worthy, less than others. All you need to know about discrimination you learned as a child in the playground when confronting a bully, or as a woman, who because of your sex, you are predetermined unacceptable for this, or that task, or you will be paid less for the work you do.
Prejudicial treatment is not a necessary part of life and the sooner you realise that the better we will all be. Even more important is the fact that no matter how little the act, or how few the people affected, prejudice is not a quantitative exemption, it is most damaging when in its mildest form.
First of all, don't accept it in yourself, second, condemn it when ever it arises and accept no excuses.