Aboriginals Protest and the Injustices that are Occuring for the Roma

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

There is so much one can comment on with the news, due to all the injustices in the world. Where does one start? What is your definition of injustice?

As I look through my local paper, listen to friends, colleagues and clients and search the web-two injustices grab my attention- The Roma ‘Gypsies’ from Romania and the aboriginals here in Canada.

Roma have been oppressed for centuries throughout Europe and continue to be. Conditions in Roma settlements are typically on the edges of towns and villages and rival Africa or India for their deprivation. The Roma in eastern Europe (where the majority of Europe’s Roma live) are now worse off than under communism, which, for all its faults, at least guaranteed work, housing and welfare. It also stamped down on hate crimes that now flares up in regular intervals reports France’s foreign minister and founder of Doctors Without Borders, Bernard Kouchner.

Centuries of discrimination, including systematic extermination by some 20th-century fascist regimes, have helped keep many of them marginalised.

Earlier this month a van of Roma blasted through a Quebec Border from the states without stopping. It turns out they are seeking political asylum. We, in the north, are very welcoming, but there are immigration laws for a reason.

At the same time all this is happening, we have aboriginals demonstrating an, “Idle No More” campaign protesting against Canada’s federal government which is focused on land sovereignty and treaty rights.

Many communities face impoverished conditions, despite assurances from the government that progress is being made to alleviate poverty.

“Land and natural resources continue to be reaped by the federal and provincial governments through taxation of corporate resource companies with little compensation to First Nations for use of our traditional territories,” Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence stated.

Protests and marches have been held country-wide in recent weeks to demand the Conservative government reverse legislation that First Nations say will affect treaties and traditional land use.

Protesting is a way to get the public’s attention, as well as, the local and federal governments attention to show unhappiness with current policies, legislation and to depict injustice.

Protesting works as we have seen over the years whether it was Women’s Vote, those against the Vietnam War, Civil Rights or Feminism. Last spring in Montreal it was students protesting tuition increases which forced many universities to postpone classes, exams, and led to an earlier start to the fall semester to make up for the spring semester.

As long as they are peaceful events which do not involve or promote violence-protests serve great value especially if others join a cause and support the one’s seeking a solution that is fair.

*First posted at: http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/2012/12/21/aboriginals-protest-and-the-injustices-that-are-occuring-for-the-roma/