Five Bullets in an Indian’s Dog
I don’t know how much you all know about Saskatoon, but this city is one of the most racist environments I have ever lived in, even worse than Quebec!!! It’s nearly 50/50 between white and aboriginal, yet the majority of people employed are white. I have never seen any kind of employment parity in this town. I had a job that was trying to get employment parity, but I had to quit because a coworker was making racist comments towards me and the director didn’t think it was an issue.
And we’re screwed either way. If we’re broke and living in the inner city, whites call us drunk welfare bums. If we live in a moderately affluent neighborhood and dare to have a new car, well then we’re rich and getting that infamous free money from the government. After all, how dare an Aboriginal own a new car, or god forbid a house. White canadians seriously believe we each make 30 000 a year solely from free government money.
Do you know how much money we get for being aboriginal yearly? Five bucks. Literally, you line up in front of a table with Mounties in full regalia and they give you a nice new crisp five dollar bill. Treaty day, it is called, and usually that money gets used up at the dickie dee stand within about 15 minutes.
Racist shit goes down in Saskatoon all the time. In grade three I had one friend in my school, the only other aboriginal. Everyone else was white, and they all hated us. Racist comments throughout elementary school would be ignored by teachers. Aw man, it sucked!
You may have heard of Saskatoon in the news a while back when the police were busted for their Starlight Drives. Essentially they would pick up a drunk aboriginal man and instead of taking him to the drunk tank, they would take him out to the powerplant in mid winter, take his shoes and coat, and leave him out there to walk back. My friend and I drove out there recently, it has a creepy feeling, you can tell people were killed there. We clocked the distance from the drop off point to the nearest house or other shelter. It was about three kilometres, maybe three and a half. It was obviously meant to kill these people. There was a lot of protests, a lot of trials, internal investigations. Only two police were singled out, and the repercussions of killing people was a three month jail sentence and being fired from the police force. After all, they were only Indians.
A new story has come out in the last couple of days. A lot of differing accounts are going around, but basically, a police officer was hassling an aboriginal family looking for gangland ties (we do have a lot of gangs here, but that’s not the point). The families 17 year old german shepard was shot five times “in self defense.” The first article had the police saying that the dog had jumped the fence and attacked the officer, but today’s article had the boy who owned the dog showing that the only blood spatter was in the yard, which means the police were lying, again. The police here lie all the time. 6 cars and nine officers were on the scene immediately to deal with the aftermath. One family member stayed in the house and videotaped the confrontation between the family and the cops, and apparently got some very derogatory things the cops were saying on videotape. Of course now the police have been demanding the tape “for their investigation.” The family is not giving it up, thank god. The dog is at the veterinarian’s right now being treated, it seems to be stable but they’re trying to fix his ear that was shot off.
There isn’t an effective way to police the police, or the mounties. If they’re fucked up racists, then the only recourse we have is to demand they do an internal investigation. It’s much like letting Goebbels investigate Nazi atrocities, just a bad idea all around. In another lovely recent news story, a cop raped an aboriginal woman in custody. I didn’t pay much attention so I can’t give you the details, I think I was suffering racism overload and was trying to think happy thoughts somewhere.
Reporting a crime if you’re aboriginal is fucked too. Every aboriginal woman I know who has reported a rape and even knows the name and address of the attacker gets her charges dropped. A person close to me was even dismissed after the rapist said it was consensual sex. He was white, she was brown, case closed. This was one of the main reasons I never reported my rape or pressed charges, even though I knew the names and addresses of the assailants. Once I was beaten in the street and a cop car across the street just sat there, we didn’t get helped until some women stopped their car and ran out yelling at the perps. And then when we called the cops to come take our statement, they didn’t bother showing up because they wanted us to calm down first.
When I did make my statement some stuff was really telling. My friend who also got beat up was white. He asked her what school she went to (we were teenagers). He didn’t ask me what school I went to, he said, and I quote “So are you on welfare or what are you doing?”
I don’t know what will ever stop the Saskatoon Police force, or any police force really, from being openly, actively racist. They can have as many “sensitivity training” workshops as they want, but the fact is after learning not to use words like wagonburner or injun or chief, they’re still going to have a jolly good time killing, raping, assaulting, and denigrating aboriginals. And not only that, but they’ll shoot our damn dogs too.