Systemic racism against Indigenous Peoples – Sen. Harder

By: The Hon. Peter Harder

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Hon. Peter Harder: It is my honour on behalf of Senator Lovelace Nicholas to read a statement that she would wish to bring to the attention of the chamber and beyond but is unable to do so personally in light of the COVID restrictions.

I am shocked and deeply disturbed that once again Indigenous people die at the hands of police during encounters with my people in this country. I offer my condolences to the families of Chantel Moore, a young Indigenous woman, who was killed by police during a ‘wellness check’; and Rodney Levi, another Indigenous man killed by police this past weekend.

Experiencing another walk in memory of Chantel Moore was a painful reminder of those who have also suffered at the hands of police, the police who are responsible for peace and justice in our communities.

Systemic racism in Canada began before Canada became a nation at the hands of those in power. The government’s plan to “take the Indian out of the child” led to the implementation of the residential school system, and then the Indian Act that Indigenous people are still living under to this day.

If the head of the RCMP is confused as to whether systemic racism exists, be clear that we, the Indigenous people of this land, are not confused. We have lived it since the beginning of our encounter with the system governing this country and its police.

It is time now for members of our Indigenous community in New Brunswick and across Canada to come forward without fear to share their experiences of unfair actions by the police. It is time now, as it has never been before, to bring light to a painful past of injustice and punitive actions by a system that has treated them with disrespect and ignorance of our culture and spiritual heritage — a call to walk toward truth and justice in our path to equality in this country, Canada.

There will never be reconciliation with government until systemic racism is stamped out. Time’s up.

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