Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Systemic Canada

I have written previously about how many Canadians can't understand systemic racism, because they believe this is the same thing as an individual racist.  They know there is a difference between socialism (the system) and a socialist (a person), but have been hardwired to not understand the difference between racism (the system) and a racist (a person).

Many Canadians think of Canada as the group of people who currently hold Canadian citizenship. To discuss Canada is to discuss a group of living individuals. To discuss any flaws in Canada's systems is in their mind to impune the reputation of each of these individuals.

I don't think of Canada as a group of individuals, but only as a group of systems. I consider it unhelpful to think of countries as groups of individuals, as that allows the systems to hide from required scrutiny and accountability.

Systems may grant individuals citizenship and other identification, but systems exists separate from any specific group of individuals that exist at any period of time. Those systems are encoded in policy, including laws, political structures, ceremonies, origin myths, judicial systems, beliefs, worldviews, and so-on.

While Canadians think of themselves as free individuals, their freedom only exists within the contours of the systems. What they can and cannot choose is determined by what choices are allowed and which are forbidden (outlawed, antisocial, career ending, etc). While all individuals are impacted by systems, the only individuals able to impact the systems are those that recognize the systems exists and work to change the rules that govern those systems.

For a living I am a computer and network systems administrator, and software author. My current job title is "Lead Systems Engineer".  It is my job to learn and think about systems, design and test systems, and help our systems administer to administer those systems.

With computers it is the operating system that applications run on, and it is the operating system (and not the applications) that are ultimately in control.  You can write whatever you want in an application, but if the operating system doesn't allow it then the application can't do that function.

For Canada, the core of the systems were encoded by the British parliament, so to understand what Canada is you need to go to that source.

The British North America Act 1867 , which passed on July 1'st of the same year, is the date people consider Canada to have been created.  Prior to that time there was a small area the British called the province of Canada. Even at the passage of the BNA Act, the majority of what is currently considered Canadian territory wasn't included.

The introductory text of the BNA Act offers the purpose of the act.

An Act for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and the Government thereof; and for Purposes connected therewith.

[29th March 1867]

Whereas the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have expressed their Desire to be federally united into One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principles to that of the United Kingdom:

And whereas such a Union would conduce to the Welfare of the Provinces and promote the Interests of the British Empire:

And whereas on the Establishment of the Union by Authority of Parliament it is expedient, not only that the Constitution of the Legislative Authority in the Dominion be provided for, but also that the Nature of the Executive Government therein be declared:

And whereas it is expedient that Provision be made for the eventual Admission into the Union of other Parts of British North America:

Be it therefore enacted and declared by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, as follows:

This clearly creates something similar to a subsidiary, similar to what corporations do when they wish to split some project away from the parent corporation.  This isn't a fully separate country, but a part of the British Empire under the British monarchy.

The BNA Act created an "Oath of Allegiance" to the Queen. While the exact text has had amendments over the years, the requirement of new citizens , members of the senate, and elected members of parliament to swear allegiance to the British Monarchy is still the law.

The Canada Act 1982 made changes such that new laws passed in the UK didn't automatically become Canadian law, and created a mechanism for Canada to modify its constitution directly rather than requiring that the UK pass those changes.

Since 1982 there has been little work to separate Canada from Britain, and as of 2020 I consider it only marketing material and not a matter encoded in the systems of Canada to consider Canada to be a country separate from Britain or the British Empire. While Britain may be exiting the European Union, their empire is still intact.

If you read any Acts of Canadian Parliament, it is obvious that Canada continues to operate as a satellite of the British Empire.  The title of Bill C-16 currently at second reading in the Senate is "An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021".  This may be a Constitutional monarchy, but the systems are still operating based the colonial British operating systems.

First Nations are separate from Britain or Canada, with treaty and other arrangements to cooperate and share.  There is a variety of agreements along the lines of "peace and friendship", "two row wampum", and "dish with one spoon" which describe these relationships.  The idea is simple, even when it wasn't formalized in an English-text treaty with Britain or its subsidiary of Canada:  the First Nations and the British/Canada nation would peacefully co-exist on the same land, and share.

If you were brought up as I was to believe that indigenous people are merely part of the multicultural society of Canada, then you (like I) were misinformed.  This is a serious systemic failure of Canada that you can be born and/or live in Canada and never be given motivation to learn beyond the marketing brochures about Canada, and to only know the incorrect version taught in schools.

The idea that the government of Britain, its subsidiary of Canada (and its subsidiaries of provinces) have sole dominion over the land declared as within the boarders of Canada is a false notion based on the alleged superiority of British systems over indigenous systems. Indigenous peoples are part of advanced civilizations. While Europeans at contact were merely subjects of Christian Monarchies, some First Nations had already been advanced democracies for hundreds of years.  The idea that First Nations should convert (by force if not voluntarily) to European religions and other European systems, based on the alleged superiority of the European systems, is pretty much the definition of "White Supremacy".

"the belief that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races"
"the social, economic, and political systems that collectively enable white people to maintain power over people of other races"
- Merriam Webster definition of White Supremacy


Take close attention to the term "systems".  This means that the laws and structures that form Canada are racist (the system) and White Supremacist (the system), but does not impune the reputation of all individuals who happen to be Canadian citizens.

Canadians should not take learning about how the systems of Canada operate as a personal insult, but a call to action to make the currently flawed systems of Canada better.  It has been my experience that most Canadians are proud of the idea of Canada being a strong protector of human rights globally.  Once they are able to see systems (rather than only individuals) we will all be able to work together to fix the systems of Canada to become what they thought it already was.

I personally believe that the implementation of UNDRIP will be an important step to lay a better foundation for a human rights respecting society.  There will be no quick fixes to this as the problems with Canada originated at its creation.  While many individuals may think differently today than people did in the past, the problematic systems remain active and current until the rules that govern those systems are changed.

It is time for an upgrade!

If you wish to discuss further, please add your thoughts in the comments.

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