Jukasa News Update – Monday, March 29, 2021
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan paid tribute Sunday to Canada’s only all-Black unit to serve during the First World War, saying the 600 members of No. 2 Construction Battalion and their descendants are owed an apology for the racism they faced despite their willingness to serve.
Sajjan told a virtual event plans are in the works for a formal apology from Ottawa, which will highlight the fact that hundreds of Black men in Canada were turned away when they volunteered to fight overseas in 1914.
After two years of protests, the Canadian military was granted approval in 1916 to establish a segregated, non-combat battalion that would be tasked with building roads, railways and forestry operations as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Recruitment took place across the country. More than 300 of those who enlisted were from Nova Scotia. Others joined from New Brunswick, Ontario, the West and the United States.
A Statistics Canada study says Inuit are more than 17 times more likely to die in a fire than non-Indigenous people.
The agency also says that, overall, Indigenous people are five times more likely to die in a fire and First Nations members living on reserves are 10 times more likely.
The agency used data from a 2011 census.
The study was commissioned by the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council Project and was funded by Indigenous Services Canada.
The safety council says the study also found First Nations people are more than four times more likely to be hospitalized because of a fire-related injury compared with people who are not Indigenous.
The council says in a news release that fire protection for Indigenous peoples is a concern as there is no national code that enforces fire safety standards on reserves.
The federal Indigenous Services minister says Canadians are impatient to see action from the RCMP after a report found officers in Saskatchewan racially discriminated against the mother of Colten Boushie.
The complaints commission said officers questioned Debbie Baptiste on her sobriety after telling her that her son, Colten Boushie, had died and told her to “get it together” after she collapsed in grief.
Baptiste and her lawyers said the way she was treated was unacceptable and an example of systemic racism. They called for changes within the RCMP.
The commission found officers generally did a professional and reasonable investigation into Boushie’s death. However, it concluded police failed to protect the SUV he was riding in, leading to evidence like blood spatter being washed away in the rain. The commission also said RCMP destroyed recordings and transcripts from the night Boushie died, and didn’t properly handle witnesses.
The report made 17 recommendations to address the missteps by RCMP, including mandatory cultural awareness training for all employees.
Members of the military are landing in Manitoba this week to help the vaccination effort in 23 northern First Nations.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says they will assist to set up vaccination sites, administer doses and transport community members.
He says the effort will accelerate the pace of immunizations so that 100,000 First Nations people can get doses in 100 days.
Up to 200 military personnel will be taking part.
First Nations in Manitoba were significantly impacted by the second wave of COVID-19 and health officials have said there is still concerning spread in the province’s north.
The Armed Forces have deployed members in more than 50 Indigenous and northern communities over the past year.
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