There are many ways the government could take concrete action to help Indigenous People. But all too often, politicians would rather focus on performative emotion rather than tangible outcomes.
Following the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, politicians have been quick to respond.
For example, Jagmeet Singh got choked up when discussing the discovery:
“BREAKING NEWS: Jagmeet Singh breaks down and gets emotional on National TV today
Singh also used the word genocide:
“This mass grave is a painful reminder of the genocide,” says NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, urging emergency debate re finding at former B.C. residential school. “In light of this genocide Canada has to make some real tough decisions about our commitment to remedying this injustice.”
"This mass grave is a painful reminder of the genocide," says NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, urging emergency debate re finding at former B.C. residential school. "In light of this genocide Canada has to make some real tough decisions about our commitment to remedying this injustice." pic.twitter.com/veMo7nVqTK
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) May 31, 2021
Whether Singh was actually feeling that much emotion, or whether it was more of a performance for the camera is something only he knows.
While it may feel crass or harsh to even bring that up, we know that politicians are often skilled at manipulating people, and emotional manipulation is their core strategy.
After all, much of our news media and government propaganda apparatus is based upon generating bursts of a selected emotion, and using that emotion to push people to support a broader (and often hidden), political agenda.
So, we need to ask these questions about the motivation of those in power.
Now, beyond Jagmeet Singh, there’s the bigger issue of the fact that when it comes to Indigenous Canadians, politicians much prefer to focus on virtue-signalling and performative emotional displays, rather than actual results.
Cut foreign aid, redirect money to Indigenous Canadians
Canada spends between $5 and $6 billion dollars on foreign aid per year. In fact, we just sent $25 million to Gaza.
In many cases, much of our foreign aid money goes towards countries that are quite wealthy.
For example, Canada spent tens of millions of dollars building a road for the Jordanian Military.
Further, there is no real evidence that foreign aid (contrasted from disaster aid that goes directly towards helping after natural disasters), is a benefit to those who receive it. Often, it enables corruption, and simply allows regimes to redirect money towards their armies and the lifestyles of their elites.
With that in mind, we have to consider the idea of foreign aid itself, which is to help those in need.
Yet, we have many people in need here in Canada.
In particular, the life expectancy of many Indigenous Canadians, and the living conditions on many Reserves indeed more closely resemble the developing nations we spend foreign aid money on.
So why are we giving tax dollars to foreign countries, when so many of our own Citizens are living in such terrible conditions?
Asking that question brings us to the obvious conclusion that we should cut our foreign aid budget, and redirect that money to help the many Indigenous communities that are still struggling.
Consider the impact of $1 or $2 billion on the water infrastructure in many First Nations communities.
That could clearly enable us to end boil water advisories across the country, and build a teaching program and long-term maintenance program to ensure the infrastructure was maintained for generations.
Another $1 or $2 billion could help enhance the quality of homes in many First Nations, helping bring an end to the often overcrowded conditions.
Further, some of that foreign aid money could go towards funding an investigation of all residential school sites, to ensure that all the remains of children are found, if there are more such sites around the country.
Far better to openly confront and investigate our past to try and get some closure and justice, rather than give that money away to foreign countries.
This would bring actual results, and tangible improvements in the lives of many Indigenous Canadians, addressing a severe injustice which is our absurd decision to spend on foreign countries while so many of our fellow Citizens are living in such brutal conditions, and with many past injustices still to be discovered.
It’s easier to cry than to take real action
An unfortunate reality of our world is that it is very easy to go in front of a camera and cry, and then get credit for ‘caring so much,’ and then to walk away and do nothing.
This has been the recent history of how many Canadian politicians approach the struggles facing many Indigenous People.
It’s very easy for Jagmeet Singh to go on TV, talk about ‘genocide’ (note how he didn’t use the term ‘cultural genocide’ as he pushes for an even stronger emotional reaction), tear up, and ‘show’ that he cares a lot, but it would be far tougher for him to propose cutting our foreign aid budget and redirecting that money to people actually living in our country.
The same with Justin Trudeau and even the Conservative Party.
They all often seem able to muster up a show of emotion, yet keep the same unjust foreign aid spending in place, while many Indigenous Canadians go without the support that every Citizen of our nation should be able to count on.
This is the attitude that must change, and that change will have to start with the public.
We must become increasingly skeptical of performative emotional displays from those in power, because those displays are often a way for those in power to avoid using their power to actually improve the situation.
They hope to make the performative display, and then just move on.
Thus, issues go unresolved, and nothing changes, until the next tragic revelation and yet more performative displays.
We must see those displays as the opposite of action, and judge those in power not by how emotional they get, but by what tangible results they can achieve.
Canada is a great nation, with a great history, and our willingness to confront the negative aspects of our past is one of our strengths. But that strength will not remain if we allow politicians to manipulate us with emotion, instead of demanding actual steps be taken to improve the lives of our fellow Citizens.
Photo – YouTube