By L. Alexander
Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, has a reputation for being incredibly liberal. He personally makes showings at pride parades, states that “La diversité est la force de Canada” (“Diversity is Canada’s strength”), and appointed as many female cabinet members as he did male. He is young, with a tattoo on his shoulder, and conventionally attractive (I admit it). He is a poster-boy of a more youthful and more leftist Canada.
In the United States, Justin Trudeau is a meme. There is one picture of him wearing a sweater that says “kindness” in big, pretty pink letters and the caption reads “I found the opposite of America”. His latest incarnation as the anti-America, the embodiment of how kind and gentle Canadian society is in comparison to America, is a photo of him hesitating to shake Donald Trump’s hand. Trudeau is Soft and Good and totally different than those racist Americans, right?
As a person of indigenous, specifically First Nation descent, I want to tell you all of that is total horseshit.
The main difference between Trudeau and Trump is good versus bad press. Trudeau works very carefully to play himself off as being Better Than All That. By “That”, I mean perpetuating both violent and latent prejudice.
Trudeau is racist. Hugely, almost comically racist towards Canada’s indigenous populations. I say “almost comically” because I’m sure if it didn’t affect me personally I would be laughing at how cartoonishly prejudiced he is.
Genocide against indigenous populations has been a Canadian industry just as much as it’s been an American one. Again, Canada’s main strength is in good press. Residential schools like the ones in the United States existed and were in use until 1996. Thirty percent of indigenous children in Canada went to these schools, roughly 150,000 people. 6,000 children died while within the school’s walls. The one my great-grandfather went to was referred to colloquially as “the Mush Hole” for the abysmal quality of food and life within the school’s wall. The lasting effects of these schools are still felt in indigenous communities and are referred to as a “collective soul wound”.
Indigenous women were kidnapped in Canada well into the 1990s with minimal investigation by the Canadian government, not to mention the whole thing where First Nation women were being sterilized without their consent until very recently.
The Canadian government would not apologize for these schools, and would not apologize for their inaction regarding violence towards indigenous women. When Trudeau was elected and when young indigenous activists asked this Young, Hip Liberal Prime Minister to hold his government accountable for the violence done unto their communities, he laughed before saying that indigenous people were overreacting and that the only real issue for indigenous people in Canada was “canoe and paddle storage”. When called out for this, he did not apologize. He repeated his racist statements. He supported the Keystone XL pipeline, a project similar to DAPL, that also dug its way through First Nation lands.
And that shoulder tattoo Trudeau has that I mentioned earlier? It’s a Haida image. Trudeau presents himself as an ally for diversity, allegedly champions liberal policies while walking on the backs of those he promises to uplift. He gets a Haida raven tattoo and then drags a pipeline through sacred Haida land. So he’s not only a racist, but an appropriative one.
It’s easy for people who aren’t affected by racism to champion a racist (I’m looking at you, cis white women) when they’ve done things to advance other causes. And before you say “no one is perfect”, I think I need you to stop and realize that there’s a difference between a true ally who slips up and apologizes and a person with every resource available to educate himself to the contrary towards his prejudiced statements but refuses to.
Trudeau is only liberal because he’s got a pretty smile and said some white feminist things once or twice. Trudeau is every straight white boy in your queer theory class in twenty years.
And if any of you send me another meme about how adorable Trudeau is, I’m going to personally show up at your house with a half-hour long Powerpoint describing what is wrong with that statement.