TW: Gun violence

An 18-year-old white supremacist shot and killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York this past week in what police are calling a “hate motivated” attack. It was carried out at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighbourhood, and 11 of 13 victims were Black. Police say that the attack was deliberately planned and premeditated. According to CNN, the shooter Payton Gendron, posted on his social media about his plans, as well as posting an 180-page manifesto describing himself as a “​​ fascist, a White supremacist and an anti-Semite.”

The attack illustrated how online hate translates into real-life attitudes that can have deadly consequences, and highlighted the increasing need to address this rising threat. 

Some, however, including Canada’s former Environment and Climate Minister, took the opportunity to comment on how Canada is so great by comparison.

13 people were killed and you felt that this was an appropriate time to say “at least we aren’t as bad as those guys?” 

This also isn’t even remotely close to the case, given that many of the sentiments found in Gendron’s posts are also running rampant across our very own country. We are by no means immune to hate. 

The Quebec Mosque shooting was in 2017; the London, Ontario, terror attack was just one year ago; Bill 21 prevents people from wearing religious symbols in the workplace; and unmarked graves of residential school survivors continue to be found across Canada.

Tell me again how you’re so lucky to live here? Because racialized, Black and Indigenous folks in Canada certainly don’t feel the same way. 

I am sick and tired of us pretending that Canada is so much different than the United States when it comes to race relations. 

White supremacy is also alive and well right in our own backyard, and denying it or looking away to preserve our own image is precisely what allows this kind of hatred to continue. 

Canadian media upholding white supremacy 

In case McKenna needed yet another example, on Thursday, The Canadian Press (and CBC which reposted their copy), shared a headline regarding an ongoing trial in Edmonton in which two Indigenous men were shot and killed on a rural road in 2020.

This headline is essentially trying to blame the victim in a situation where he and his uncle were murdered and then left to die on a rural road. 

As journalist Srushti Gangdev points out, “it is not the job of journalists to uphold attempted character assasinations of two men who were murdered.”

The two men accused in the shooting allegedly shot Jacob Sansom and his uncle, Maurice Cardinal and drove away “without notifying police or paramedics.” 

To insinuate that Sansom’s level of intoxication justified his murder is beyond racist and innappropriate, and for this to be published and circulated without consideration for the way it contributes to racist stereotypes is a reflection of the unquestioned nature of racism in Canada. 

To act like we should be “grateful to live here” overlooks the fact that there are racialized people in Canada who are unable to live in peace due to the prevalent racism— both implicit and explicit— that dictates their entire lives.

This is not a benevolent country for all. So if you're not actively working to dismantle racism and oppression and improve the material conditions of racialized, Black and Indigenous people, at the very least do us all a favour and cut the bullshit.

About the author

Rumneek Johal

Rumneek is a journalist, host and speaker. She is currently the BC Reporter at Press Progress where she focuses on systemic inequality, workers and communities, as well as racism and far-right extremism. Her previous work centers on asking tough questions within her community, starting conversation and chipping away at the status quo. Other focus areas for her work include the South Asian community, arts and culture, pop culture, and more. She is a proud Punjabi woman from Surrey, BC.

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