As Canadians watch the racial divisiveness in the United States, we tend to think that we are more civilized in our behavior, that we are less racist. But are we? Our population is 37 million compared to US, which is 326 million; relative to our population compared to the US, our history and our society’s current racist attitudes is as bad (if not worse) as in the US.
Consider these historical racist episodes: the Japanese internment camps following the attack on Pearl Harbour, which brought the US into WWII. Everyone who was Japanese, even Canadian born Japanese, were rounded up and put in camps right here in Vancouver. Another racist incidence from history is when Canada turned away the SS. St. Lewis, a ship with Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. The ship was forced to go back to Germany, where many of those on board later died in concentration camps. More currently, hate crimes have risen against Muslims, from 90 reported crimes in 2013 to 150 in 2016-17. There is some speculation that is due to the rise of terrorist organizations such as ISIS, but attacking innocent Canadians of Muslim faith is just plain racist and ignorant. This ignorance was recently demonstrated when a woman verbally attacked Jagmeet Singh (who is now the leader of the NDP) at a political rally, accusing him of being a terrorist. And, an even more horrible example was the Quebec Mosque shooting on January 29, 2017 when six people were killed and another 20 were injured. “It was a murderous attack on a specific group,” said the Premier of Quebec, Phillipe Couillard. Canada also has a strained relationship based on racism with its indigenous population. On October 6, Ottawa announced that the government will pay up to 750 million to the victims of the “60’s scoop” when indigenous children were taken from their homes and forced into non-indigenous households between the 1960’s and 80’s.
Yes, the United States has some well publicized terrible events as well. The Charlottesville riots and the tensions between African Americans and the police in certain states are examples. However, considering their massively larger population, Canada is relatively just as bad. And what makes this all worse, is that we like to think we are better. We can’t deny the fact that we as Canadians have some work to do before we claim we are a more civilized society.