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Thoughts Of A Non-Woke, Retired Canadian Economics Professor

It is dangerous these days to voice politically incorrect views, but at age 87, nature is already almost finished cancelling me and after over 20 years of mandated retirement, I need not fear losing my job at the university.

So, protected from the consequences of being accused of being a racist and ignorant of the vast improvements the woke revolution is bringing to Canada, here I go.

The under-representation of groups signals Racism

Last week, my daily newspaper subscription came with the unsolicited summer issue of the very glossy S/magazine (sic), published by Contempo Media in Toronto. It sells for $6.95 at newsstands, so I should be grateful for getting it free.

I flipped the pages of the magazine, enjoying with some envy, the pictures of beautiful women and luxury goods, when I was struck by something unusual. Women with non-European features seemed to dominate the pages in which they modelled clothing and jewelry.

So, I did a bit of counting and found that the magazine has 84 pages. On each of 34 pages appear the full features of a female model. Of these 34 pages, 15 showed women with African, 10 Asian, and 9 European facial features and skin color. Four of the pages in the latter group show the lovely Julia Roberts who was the star of the film Beautiful Woman.

The army of fairness warriors argues that systemic racism exists whenever in any occupation or cultural venue the proportion of people with different ethnic backgrounds is unequal to that existing in the total population. The 2016 census found that visible minorities constituted 22.3 percent of Canada’s population but on the most coveted fashion pages of a widely circulating fashion magazine, visible minorities make up 74 percent.

I wonder whether this astounding over-representation of visible minorities in the magazine industry will be used as yet more evidence that systemic racism is rampant in Canada; whether politicians and the media will shame the industry into apologizing for it; whether the media will produce emotional reports of suffering by the many aspiring women of European ancestry whose careers are limited, and whether the Woke Society of Magazine Publishers (?) will require editors and staff of magazines to attend courses on how to recognize racism and eliminate it in their organizations.

One way to eliminate racism in advertising is used in the full-page ad for Breitling watches which gives nearly equal space to three women with European, Asian, and African features. It does not reflect these groups in proportion to their prevalence in all of Canada, but the legendary, creative minds in the advertising industry surely can come up with ways to achieve this goal using the Breitling as a starter.

Mass Graves and Unreported Deaths

Canada’s history of dealing with natives is a tragedy and should be acknowledged. But reporting of this history should be based on facts to prevent unnecessary trauma and outrage that often arises when misleading and incomplete information fails to show what really happened.

The recent discovery of buried native children on the grounds of the Kamloops residential school led to the wrong and incendiary use of the words “mass graves.”

Mass graves in history were the result of soldiers murdering people in large numbers and dumping them in a trench, which the victims often had been forced to dig themselves. Not even the most diligent searchers of evidence of atrocities produced by residential schools could discover the existence of such mass murder and graves in the residential schools.

According to media around the world, it was a “discovery of mass grave school horrors of 215 abducted aboriginal children”.

The media after some time stopped referring to mass graves and instead now talks about “unmarked graves”, a change prompted in part by the actions of natives themselves. But the damage has been done to the reputation of the church and government of Canada, even in the rest of the world. The outrage felt by many after they learned about the existence of mass graves has set back our collective efforts to come to terms with an historic tragedy.

These efforts would be helped also if the deaths of children in residential schools were reported not as absolute numbers but seen in the context of deaths in all of Canada. We should estimate how many children in total attended the schools and what percent of them died while there during all the years the schools operated. This percentage should be compared with that of children who died during the same period in all of Canada.

It could be that the percentage for the residential schools is higher than for the rest of Canada, but it is not obviously so. During these decades under consideration, children died everywhere in Canada in large numbers from the Spanish Flu, smallpox, whooping cough, diphtheria, polio, and other diseases that have now been tamed by vaccines and better health care.

Whatever may be the relative mortality among children in residential schools and the rest of Canada, there is the other problem that the deaths of many in residential schools were not reported to their parents and they were buried in unmarked graves.

This practice is very unfortunate, but it also should be considered from a historic perspective. The Spanish Flu and other pandemics caused extra-ordinary dislocations and financial problems for all Canadians. It would be interesting to know whether during these difficult times the normal interment customs were curtailed in the rest of Canada as well as residential schools.

My call for data needed to compare death rates and funeral practices in residential schools and the rest of Canada does not represent an effort to downplay the damage the residential school system has done to the cultural life and economic well-being of Canada’s indigenous population. Instead, it is motivated by the desire to help reconciliation by creating a better understanding of the role played by developments beyond the residential schools rather than deliberate, callous, and uncaring policies of the system and of the schools’ teachers which so often are blamed for the problem.

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