Each of our Trustbuilding Program project teams are working on issues in their local communities and are adapting their strategies to the local context. These issues are not static and are greatly influenced by current events. At the beginning of the year the following events influenced the work of the Canadian team, who are addressing the topic of racial discrimination.
Quebec City Mosque shooting
The broader context of the Trustbuilding Program project in Canada involves the commemoration of the Quebec City Mosque shooting. On 29 January 2017, six people were shot by an individual while they were praying, indicating that this could be an act motivated by islamophobia. This act is part of an ongoing struggle where Muslim citizens are not treated as a part of the Quebec French Canadian majority. The recently passed legislation banning religious signs worn by public servants, teachers and workers in public institutions is another case of this divide being worsened by the present government, the media and other institutions.
Reports on racial profiling by police have been published recently, underlining how African-American, Arab and Indigenous citizens are still predominantly targeted. Incarceration statistics reflect this discrimination as well, with Indigenous inmates representing close to 30% of the incarcerated population, when they are only 3% - 5% of the overall population.
Pipelines through Indigenous territories
In February, the decision to have a pipeline run through traditional Wet’suwet’en territories prompted protestor led blockades of the pipeline’s construction. and across Canada on various railroads, in solidarity from other Indigenous nations and from settler populations. Solidarity protests are still ongoing in different localities.
Another pipeline project in Eastern Canada is meeting opposition from populations, both Indigenous and settlers, in Quebec. This has an effect on how we frame the discussion regarding reconciliation, as one of the popular hashtags online is #reconciliationisdead (Reconciliation is dead), particularly with younger generations of Indigenous activists, who have been extremely active in bringing Indigenous issues to light in the general populations in the last 10 to 15 years. This is important, and it is yet to see how this will affect Canada in the years to come. The younger generations among the settler population seem to be more sensitive and supportive of these blockades, as they see it as an environmental issue as well. So, it also brings a generational divide to light. Currently, 40% of the Canadian population as a whole supports the Indigenous claims.
Timing of the Trustbuilding Program project in Canada
In light of current events, the Canadian Trustbuilding Program project comes at a key moment in Canadian and Quebec history. The conversations that have already started, and the training (of which the first part has taken place in March) will be responding to a need for developing a deeper understanding and better tools to hold spaces for those conversations to happen throughout society.
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Photos by Amber Bracken
The Trustbuilding Program is aimed at addressing divisive issues at the international and national levels, on the premise that only those who have undergone the internal process of becoming trustworthy themselves can close gaps across the globe. The Program was launched by Initiatives of Change International in 2019 with projects in Kenya, Canada and France.