Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Race card being played against Ukrainian Canadians

I was absolutely astounded at this article published in the Edmonton Sun last Monday, Jan 14.

Four years after saying it would amend cemetery laws, the Alberta government has done nothing to protect unregistered aboriginal and pioneer burial grounds, critics said today.

In 2003, the province told Sun Media the Cemeteries Act required amendment “specifically” to deal with more than 230 unregistered cemeteries across Alberta, many at the former sites of aboriginal communities ...

It smacks of racism ... said the Indian Association of Alberta...

“I don’t like to throw the ‘r’ word around because it doesn’t get taken seriously,” said the association’s Mel Buffalo. “But what else can you call it when you have a minority being mistreated because they are a minority? If this were a Ukrainian burial ground, I don’t think it would take them years to fix the law. ...”

It's a good thing Mr. Buffalo doesn't like to throw the "r" word around. Perhaps the next time he is tempted to go against his better judgment, he might consider taking sufficient interest in his intended target to first ensure he knows whereof he speaks.

Had he done so before accusing the government of favouritism towards Ukrainians and racism against Aboriginals in its handling of the Cemetaries Act, he would have learned that Ukrainian cemetaries on the sites of WWI concentration camps across Canada have in fact been languishing due to government neglect, just as Aboriginal ones have been in Alberta. And that if it weren't for the tireless efforts of a few determined individuals, those Ukrainian burial grounds would soon have been overgrown and disappeared completely from Canada' s collective memory.

Maybe I'm being touchy, but I just think that accusing the Alberta government of favouring one minority over another is pretty stupid counterproductive. Besides, the fact that Alberta's premier (who is fairly new to the job, btw) just happens to be of Ukrainian descent makes any claim of racism that contains a snide reference to Ukrainians come off looking just a tad disingenous.

Getting one's facts straight before making an accusation is just plain common courtesy, not to mention common sense. Perhaps if such simple gestures of respect were more commonplace, claims of racism might be made, as well as taken, more seriously.

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