Monday, April 10, 2017
Agony in Canada over non-display of tribal flag
If that's the only example of "racism" that they can pinpoint, they are doing pretty well
Lakehead University is a postsecondary institution that prides itself on its connection to the Indigenous community.
Can Lakehead truly make these claims when there is still anti-Indigenous racism present on its campuses and within the city of Thunder Bay itself? And what is to say for the role of the Thunder Bay Police Service, and the role of other city institutions in upholding and perpetuating this system of ongoing racism and violence against Indigenous people?
In conducting research into this issue, The Argus spoke with Tannis Kastern, an Indigenous woman and Lakehead student that sits on the LUSU (Lakehead University Student Union) Board of Directors.
“I do believe that discrimination,colonialism, and privilege are very much predominant and alive on this campus,” said Kastern.
While the issue does not solely pertain to Lakehead, Kastern believes there is a racial divide, whether intentional or not, amongst students. This lack of solidarity only serves to drive a wedge even deeper into the racial divide.
“It [Lakehead’s campus] is very divided,” says Kastern.
There are prominent issues of inequality regarding Indigenous students on Lakehead’s campuses that have gone unnoticed by many students in LU’s population. For example, the flag display in the Agora is set out to be a sign of unity and togetherness, but there is a particularly notable absence.
“Why don’t we get the Fort William First Nation (FWFN) flag here?” asks Kastern. “We’ve got every other country’s flag hanging in the Agora, except for Fort William which this campus sits on.”
This is an absence that is unacceptable, particularly in light of the university’s claims to have strong ties to the Fort William First Nation. What is even more unsettling is the response of administration when asked about putting up the FWFN flag in The Agora.