Aboriginals in the Valley and their culture should be celebrated. (File photo)

Aboriginals in the Valley and their culture should be celebrated. (File photo)

Column: Racism can’t be tolerated

Robert’s column

I was surprised with the level of fear that exists in the Valley when I attended a recent public meeting, hosted by Cowichan Tribes, to draw attention to three missing First Nations men.

Some First Nations members who were at the meeting started questioning RCMP Corp. Kerry Howse, head of First Nations policing for the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, on what measures were being taken to make aboriginal people more safe in the community.

Patsy Jones, a leader in the Cowichan Tribes community, stated there have been a number of incidents in the Valley in which First Nations people walking along sidewalks have had rocks thrown at them from passing cars.

Another person at the meeting said there is so much racism in the Valley, aboriginal people should go out in groups to support each other in case they are attacked or harassed.

I wondered at the time whether these people were just being paranoid and exaggerating the dangers to them from the rest of the community.

But the fight, or fights, between First Nations kids and other students from Cowichan Secondary that took place earlier this week seemed to confirm the worst.

FOR RELATED STORY, CLICK HERE

One fight that was filmed from many angles by bystanders with cell phones showed one First Nations kid being struck down by a white youth, and then being swarmed by a group of other students who kicked him in the head and torso while he was on the ground.

Apparently, he had to be taken to the hospital with a bruised jaw, but his injuries could have easily been much worse.

The mother of the First Nations boy called the office and told me that her son, and many other aboriginal students at the school, had been taunted about their race by a group of white students continuously for weeks in the lead up to the fight.

The incident that was filmed was just one of the many “pre-arranged” fights that had been set up off school grounds for that day.

Fortunately, Cowichan Secondary’s principal Charlie Coleman got wind of what was going on, called the police, and did the best he could to separate the two groups of students.

But, with so many kids going in different directions, some violence was inevitable.

I was appalled that such blatant racism still exists at all in this day and age, much less in this beautiful Valley, and I finally understood the concerns that were raised by the aboriginal community at the meeting about the three missing men.

I think it’s time we took a good, hard look at ourselves to determine where this scourge of racism stems from.

Kids generally take their social cues from those they live with and are close to, and that’s usually their families and friends.

So singling out their peers who are aboriginal for bullying and harassment, and even bashing them with rocks from cars, is likely something that was learned and even sometimes encouraged at home and in the community.

These kids, and those who encourage them, should know that it’s almost 2018, and the tribalism that governed most people’s actions in the past has given way to a new globalism in which different cultures are not only accepted, but celebrated.

It’s this new-found cooperative spirit in an increasingly small world that has accelerated mankind’s progress, and has seen us develop from brutish cave dwellers to a species reaching for the stars in just a few thousand years.

Racism, which is typically bred from ignorance and fear of those who are different, should be relegated to the scrap heap of history.

It’s up to each and every one us, as members of society, to make our community the best it can be.

And that’s one where racism is a thing of the past.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley MLA Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

BC Green Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

The city-owned lot at 361 St. Julien St., which has been home to a temporary homeless site for more than a year, will be sold and plans are to build a three-storey mixed-use development there, Peter de Verteuil, Duncan CAO explained at a recent council meeting. (File photo)
New development planned for homeless site in Duncan

Lot on St. Julien Street would see three-storey building

Historian and longtime Citizen columnist T.W. Paterson photographs the historical wreckage of a plane on Mount Benson. Paterson recently won an award from the British Columbia Historical Foundation. (Submitted)
Cowichan’s Tom W. Paterson wins award for historical writing

British Columbia Historical Federation hands Recognition Award to local writer

This electric school bus is the newest addition to the Cowichan Valley School District’s fleet. (Submitted)
Editorial: New electric school bus good place to start

Changing public transit like buses to electric really is important.

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read