Acknowledging systemic racism is ‘biggest’ step toward reconciliation, Idlout says

Nunavut MP asked in House for one recommendation to make reconciliation happen faster

Acknowledging the existence of systemic racism is the biggest step that can be taken toward reconciliation, Nunavut MP Lori Idlout said in the House of Commons Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of ParlVu)

By Nunatsiaq News

The biggest meaningful step toward reconciliation is to acknowledge that systemic racism exists in Canada, says Nunavut MP Lori Idlout.

“Continuing to deny the existence of systemic racism will not allow solutions to emerge,” Idlout said in the House of Commons Tuesday.

The New Democratic Party MP was speaking during a debate on Bill C-29, which would create a National Reconciliation Council.

Bloc Québécois MP Denis Trudel asked Idlout if she could make one recommendation “to take a meaningful step toward reconciliation,” what it would be.

“What would be her recommendation to emerge from this vicious cycle? We always talk over and over again about the same thing,” said Trudel, who added the Bloc Québécois supports the bill to create a National Reconciliation Council in principle.

Trudel called Idlout a “unique voice” in the House of Commons, particularly during discussions on reconciliation.

During the debate on the bill, which is at third reading in the Commons, Idlout gave a speech that touched on the different perceptions that Indigenous Peoples have of institutions like education, health care and the RCMP compared to the views held by non-Indigenous Canadians.

Speaking in support of the bill, Idlout said justice comes quickly for non-Indigenous Canadians, but “for Indigenous Peoples, it takes generations.”

And while violence is something most Canadians only see on their TV screens, for Indigenous Peoples “violence is surrounding our lives.”

During the debate, there was a pointed exchange between Idlout and the Bloc’s Sylvie Bérubé, whose sprawling northern Quebec riding includes Nunavik.

After Bérubé’s presentation, Idlout challenged her to describe in the House of Commons what the Inuit in Nunavik had told her about Bill C-29.

“I’d like to ask the member something that she did not really talk about in her presentation and give her the time to tell this House what the Inuit in her riding have said — the 14 communities — about Bill C-29.”

Bérubé replied in French that “Indeed, I do have Inuit communities in my riding” and referred to a trip to Aupaluk she made in October — the first time the MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou had visited the Nunavik portion of her riding since she was elected in 2019 and re-elected in 2021.

“It’s very important for the Inuit that this bill be supported and passed,” Bérubé said through House of Commons interpreters.

 

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(43) Comments:

  1. Posted by Shawn on

    Systematic racism is systematic corruption and that messed up public housing the most.

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Don’t conflate racism and corruption with incompetence. The simple fact that the vast majority of public housing tenants are Indigenous does not necessarily mean that the system is either corrupt or racist.

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  2. Posted by No Moniker on

    In social justice cosmology, an emerging surrogate to traditional religion, ‘systemic racism’ has some interesting similarities to the holy spirit. While no one can quite describe what it might look like or where it appears, it is said to be omnipresent, filling the very air we breathe.

    Or is it, more accurately, the scapegoat? The locus of our projected sin? The ultimate function of the scapegoat, of course, is absolution, it excuses the accuser of their own shortcomings.

    Be careful, to point out that these ‘truths’ appear nebulous and ethereal is to confess to a lack of faith, and without faith one has no place in this emerging community.

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    • Posted by Cheskey on

      Well nothing nebulous about the % of indigenous in prisons is far greater than % in the population.

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      • Posted by True, But What Does That Mean? on

        Which is not necessarily and indicator of systemic racism. While this is a commonly used metric, it is very simplistic and lacks context.

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      • Posted by No Moniker on

        You seem to be confusing effect with cause. Have you ever met a single person who had been incarcerated who didn’t do something to end up there? Was race was never that ‘thing?’

        You are so convinced in this nebulous counterpoint that you are entirely comfortable reciting it as a liturgy, with no compunction at all to connect any ”dots’ (what’s that, right?)

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        • Posted by oh ima on

          there was a report that indicates that Indigenous people are over police the justice system targets indigenous peoples and continues to do so. Are you saying that Inuit are inherently criminals?

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          • Posted by Johnny be good on

            Hey Johnny. No one is saying Inuit are inherently ‘criminals.’ Pretending they are is a bad look for you. Up your game man.

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          • Posted by sure on

            I am confused if i give you a thumbs up do i agree with what you say and that you are asking a question… or am i answering your question that Inuit are inherently criminals? and vise versa

        • Posted by Sans Predjudice on

          Talking in circles as a dog chasing its own tail No Mo.

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          • Posted by No Moniker on

            Thanks for the feedback

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      • Posted by Noam Chomsky on

        Sure, but could that be interrelated with the % of indigenous people who fail to complete high school? Who are reliant on government incomes and housing? Who fail to recuse themselves from the social pressures of their peers? Who fail to abstain from having kids at a young age? These are all part of a bigger problem that is webbed together that must be tackled holistically, but will take generations. No easy fix.

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        • Posted by Oliphant on

          Systemic racism is the psychological defense mechanism used to divert attention from the achievement gap, which is the real nagging issue; chronic under-perfomance

  3. Posted by Surface Level on

    It is unfortunate that most people cannot think behind surface level logic like that put forward by Idlout.
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    I think this level of commentary is intended to deflect from facts like that there being essentially no actual accomplishments on her part. Her predecessor likewise accomplished nothing outside of the usual rhetoric. Idlout needs to actually accomplish something herself – what is her track record besides 5 minutes of a legal career where she helped the Land Guardians?

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    • Posted by Par for the course on

      Most of Lori’s thoughts and policy goals come across as very superficial to me. The idea that nothing will change until we confess to ‘systemic’ racism does have a kind of magical, religious quality to it.

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      • Posted by oh ima on

        must be nice not to worry about facing racism every day of your life. Try for once to see it from our perspective! You don’t understand because you never had to experienced dealing with systematic racism every day, just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

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        • Posted by The r-word on

          Wanna see real racist? Go to BCC and watch the inmates call the guards the “n-word” and to go back to their countries and that they’re not welcome in Nunavut and Canada. Or, go see the abuse that taxi drivers sustain from locals. In a way, selective hiring practices are also somewhat racist. That is real racism, not this covert, systemic, mystical racism you speak of.

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          • Posted by oh ima on

            oh so settler racism towards indigenous people is ok, systematic racism actually affects people from being able to participate in society, getting jobs, able to contribute to society, understanding the realities of Inuit struggles, ability to contribute. What you’re talking about is seeing it from people that are actually struggling and I am not condoning them but they have faced so much racism that it is the only way they can let out their frustration. Institutional racism is subtle and far more damaging to Inuit and other Indigenous people because settlers can hide behind it to justify their actions.

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      • Posted by Devil’s Avocado on

        The System moves in mysterious ways.

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        • Posted by Support the Alternate news on

          Mysterious not, it is a top down class based syst.

  4. Posted by Joe on

    Gotta love the NDP throwing racism alligations while there’s a housing crisis and water supply issue in Iqaluit…

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    • Posted by Thomas Shelby on

      Well she has a point, we all know there is Systematic racism, and it goes both ways. There are lots of racist Inuit towards the other races, so it’s not all on one race.
      As for the housing crisis, right now you have several people living in one-bedroom apartments, overcrowded.
      My question is: If you give all these people housing, are they going to be able to pay their rent and heating bills etc.. and buy groceries and live normally?
      Think about that before you answer.

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      • Posted by Bumbler on

        But according to the new worldview of identity politics there can be no racism of white people due to white privilege.

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      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        Thomas Shelby, systemic racism is state sanctioned and enabled racism. Recent examples that come to mind include Apartheid and the Jim Crow era in the Southern United States. This level of racism does not exist in Canada despite what you may think.

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        • Posted by Kulturkampf on

          Interesting that you brought up Jim Crow, which should reminds us of the influence of the United States on Canada, especially how its cultural conflicts and obsession’s can so easily spill into out own which is, at least in part, what is happening here.

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        • Posted by Observer on

          Systematic racism does NOT require official, legal sanction. Indeed, the term is to point out ways said racism can exist in a system without any one person necessarily being racist in themselves. The classic example from the US was the way new urban freeways, if they had to demolish housing in order to be built and thus split apart neighbourhoods, often did so through neighbourhoods that were primarily black. No one necessarily specifically picked the neighbourhoods to be disrupted because they were black; they’d argue they were picking the areas where the housing was cheap, ie, poor neighbourhoods, so it wouldn’t cost as much to acquire the land. But, of course, generally speaking, the black population was often concentrated in those poor neighbourhoods due to being poor themselves or being unable to get homes in more upscale neighbourhoods because of overt racism there.

          So while the *intent* wasn’t racist, the *result* was because of factors beyond the scope of the engineers planning those freeways. The importance of getting people to think about systematic racism is to get them to step back for a second and consider the results of an activity. Does it disproportionately affect a group in a negative way, even if not intended to?

          Consider a Canadian example. Let’s say a future government simply bans the private possession of firearms completely. The intent is not racist; the goal could be to reduce the number of firearms to reduce the number of deaths due to firearm related crimes and suicides. For the vast majority of Canadians, this would not result in any change to their lifestyle. For remote communities where hunting is a major contributor of food, it could have a huge negative effect. And who primarily lives in remote communities as a percentage of population? First Nations and Inuit. That ban suddenly makes life for them, already hard for many reasons, a bit harder.

          No one intended for that law to be racist. It certainly affects non-indigenous people as well, but proportionally, indigenous people are the ones who are most negatively affected. Thus the outcome is effectively racist even though no one ever said “Hey, let’s create a law that makes those people less capable of fending for themselves and feeding their families.”

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          • Posted by iWonder on

            Out of curiosity, would you also say that capitalism is racist? Or the ideal of meritocracy? To say so seems consistent with your views.

            Either way, it is interesting to see Kendi’s version of consequentialist ‘racism’ appear here (do you agree to this characterization?). As with his own work, it is hard to escape the intuition that we are being played a sleight of hand.

            Judging an action or policy on its outcomes and consequences alone is a troubled method. In any action there is always a measure of uncertainly that makes predictability impossible and probability a best guess, as you also seem to have noticed.

            So, to label an action racist despite its unknowns and without concern for intention, guiding principles and standards is, in my opinion, to distort the meaning of ‘racist’ beyond recognition. Of course, you can keep the conceptual model you’ve created, but to call it racist seems meaningless to me.

            At the same time, I think we could probably agree that negative, unintended consequences are a real thing, to be anticipated as best possible, and mitigated when needed.

            What do you think?

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  5. Posted by Truestory on

    Racism will ALWAUS be here. You can educate them all you, (wasted time). There’s always a race who thinks they’re better than that race. Wake up and smell the coffee. You can’t beat the die hard racists.

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    • Posted by Systems thinking on

      Racism, some might say, is embedded in our DNA, or perhaps it just has a long cultural history for all humans. I’m not sure which is more accurate, but we know our primate cousins exhibit the same kinds of xenophobia, so what does that tell us?

      To the point, there’s a difference between the ‘die hard racists’ you mention, and ‘systemic racism’. For example, in Nunavut it is much easier to identify ways the ‘system’ discriminates in favour of Inuit (article 23) and against non-Inuit. Can you name some ways the ‘system’ discriminates in the opposite direction?

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    • Posted by Inuk = person on

      You need only look at language to see that racism is ingrained in Inuit culture.

      inuk means person. So what’s a Qalunaaq? Not a person?

      Iqiliit, the word for First Nations peoples means “those who have lice”

      Hell, the language itself means “Person-like”

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  6. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Yet another facile statement from our MP. It’s this kind of nonsensical mud slinging that will keep reconciliation from ever advancing beyond mere taking points. Does racism exist in Canada? Almost certainly! Is that racism systemic i.e. imbued into the very fabric of Canada’s legal, social and justice systems? Almost certainly NOT! By demanding that Canadians acknowledge otherwise creates unnecessary conflict and disagreement and hampers progress.

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  7. Posted by Ian on

    All you educated and Academics, spew useless rhetoric, along with the liberal(NDP) MP the major issues Housing,poverty,mental health,healthcare, employment, but it’s too easy. To say Racism,help the people of Nunavut have a better life.

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    • Posted by 867 on

      Too many living in the NDP/Liberal dream world, which is more of a fabled utopia built on broken and unrealistic promises.

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  8. Posted by Rather be a philanthropist than a philanderer on

    Nearly everyone I know thinks that racism is wrong, and would love to do what they can to eliminate it. But this “systemic racism” thing is used so much, that frankly, I tune it out. I simply don’t understand what it is, and I’m probably not alone. And the band played on….

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    • Posted by anon on

      Here are some examples of systemic racism:

      Residential schools
      Redlining (preventing non-white people from buying houses in certain neighbourhoods)
      Starlight tours
      Health care staff assuming Indigenous people with medical conditions are drunk or high
      Carding (police stopping non-white people on the street to check their IDs for no reason)
      Job applicants with non-Western names having their applications tossed
      Expropriation of land from Indigenous or other groups for use by white people

      There are lots of resources available to learn about it if you google.

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      • Posted by Gaslight Alert on

        I’m almost certain residential schools have closed and that government issued an apology and offered compensation to those who attended. Or am I missing something?

        A pattern I’ve noticed among social justice advocates is a tendency to have us believe that the injustices from the past remain unresolved and are ongoing practices in the present. Why is that?

        Is it because, in the present, there is a deficit of ‘systemic racism’ to fill your boogeyman requirement? To me, that is exactly how it appears.

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        • Posted by anon on

          Does the closure of residential schools and apologies and compensation erase the damage done to the Indigenous people who attended them then?

          Does the expropriation of valuable farmland on the Prairies still impact the First Nations that were forcibly moved off them?

          Are Indigenous people still dying because they don’t get taken seriously in the ER?

          Do FN/Indigenous people still get arrested for going about daily activities like going to the bank or shopping at a store?

          Answer key: No, Yes, Yes, Yes.

          Systemic racism in action.

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          • Posted by Gaslight Alert on

            Are we discussing the lingering affects from the past, or that ‘systemic racism’ is an ongoing problem in Canada today?

            You are using a red herring to distract from the point.

            Are indigenous people dying in ER’s because they are not being taken seriously? Is anyone? Are only indigenous people experiencing this? Or is it a broader problem? Are you cherry picking data to buttress a particular narrative?

            I don’t know, and I strongly suspect you don’t either.

            Perhaps I am wrong? Show me then..

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            • Posted by Goal Posts on

              There is no finish line for this conversation and the goal posts keep shifting. There is an entire industry building on amorphous “reconciliation” measures. There is a good deal of money that people get to keep things unresolved.
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              The public will tire of this sooner or later and we can get on with concrete measures. Next the real heavy left learners will tell us delayed gratification and merit are also racist concepts imposed by “colonialism”. When these conversations come up about the recent past I just remind people that there was a genocide of the Thule long before the “settlers” came around. let’s stop pretending all ideas and worldviews are equal and deserving of respect. I respect and treat people equally but these ideals come from a group of people who believe the only way to fix the West is to destroy it first.

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  9. Posted by Alexander Bard on

    I’m not convinced ‘holy spirit’ if the best metaphor for this, but it is kind of interesting. For fun let’s try a little substitution from the first two lines of this article:

    “The biggest meaningful step toward reconciliation is to acknowledge that ‘the holy spirit’ exists in Canada, says Nunavut MP Lori Idlout.”

    “Continuing to deny the existence of ‘the holy spirit’ will not allow solutions to emerge,” Idlout said in the House of Commons Tuesday.

    Not only are we a society without a god, but a society that has, relatively speaking, just lost its god. So, it should not surprise us to see this kind of faith-based mysticism emerge in new and unexpected places.

    Zooming out a little this kind of psycho-spiritual construct undoubtedly pre-dates Christianity as well.

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    • Posted by Binky the Blasphemer on

      “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”

      Mark 3:28-29

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  10. Posted by Forever Amazed on

    Note to Lori: You put two people in a room – you have two racists. It is simple as that. There is a lot of systemic racism in Nunavut, however, you may be surprised at the source. Look inward first.

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    • Posted by Will Turner on

      Indigenous on indigenous is most likely similar. “I don’t like those people from over there cause they’re from over dare.”
      An Inuk I know worked for GN in Iqaluit for a bit. Quit because people constantly cussed the person for “being from over there..”

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