senators’ statements — Systemic Racism

June 16, 2020


[14:19]

Honourable senators, what is going on in this country? Why do an Indigenous woman and man have to die to get our attention? Why does a chief have to be beaten up by the police to get our attention? Why does an Inuit man have to be slammed to the ground by the door of a moving RCMP vehicle to get our attention? Why on the streets of Winnipeg do we see yet another case of police brutality to get our attention? What is going on in this country?

Just last week, the Prime Minister and thousands of others protested on Parliament Hill showing solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement. In a country like Canada, where systemic racism is ingrained in every level of society, demonstrating was a good thing to do.

In Canada, alongside anti-black racism, we behave as if Indigenous lives don’t matter. No matter what we have done, we have not taken to the streets to march in solidarity with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. What is wrong with us? Imagine a young Indigenous woman in Edmundston, New Brunswick, shot and killed by police. A wellness check? What is wrong with us?

Honourable senators, today you see beside me the empty seats of two Indigenous senators: Senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas and Senator Lillian Dyck. They can’t be here today because of COVID-19 restrictions, but I want you to hear their voices. They are hurting and angry.

You know their stories. Senator Lovelace Nicholas fought for and won Aboriginal women’s rights and the rights of their children. At our last caucus conference call, Sandra was in tears. She wanted me to say this on the killings of Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi: If the head of the RCMP is confused as to whether systemic racism exists, be clear: We, the Indigenous people of this land are not confused. We have lived it since the beginning of our encounters with the system governing this country and its police. There will never be reconciliation with the government until systemic racism is stamped out. Time’s up.

Those are the words of Senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas.

Senator Lillian Dyck, who has fought on the front lines for the thousands of murdered and missing Aboriginal women and children, has had it with the leadership of the RCMP and what she describes as the confused views on systemic racism of the commissioner. Senator Dyck says that Brenda Lucki “does not fully understand systemic racism or have the knowledge and skills to be the country’s top policewoman.”

In calling for her resignation, Senator Dyck states:

Canadians and Indigenous women, in particular, deserve to have the best possible commissioner who will be able to initiate and lead the necessary changes in the RCMP to keep us safer and protect us from violence.

Honourable senators, my time may be up, but we as an institution must stand up and work together to stamp out systemic or institutionalized racism in this country.