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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

The Brand of canadian Racism.

In the past few months we have seen some incredibly violent and racist behaviours by the leader of canada PM Justin Trudeau. The fact that JT did not step down and remains the leader of the Liberals is a reflection of the racist nature of canadians.

I said on twitter the other week that doing something once can be attributed to an accident, twice a mistake and any more than that it's a fucking hobby. We have a PM whose hobby is dressing up in brown and black face and a country of canadians whose hobby is permissing and upholding it.

This is when "nice canadians" start mentally separating themselves from the "bad canadians." And I'm here to tell you - stop it. Stop separating yourself from the problem - that is causing racism to rise in this country. You are either a part of it because you embody conscious racist and ignorant characteristics and or you are embodying unconscious racist and ignorance characteristics.

That includes you reading this - yes you socialist, non-profit volunteering, orca whale loving, well ta do meaning canadian - we talking directly to you.

This country designed racial bias and tendencies to be embedded into you, it is a white centered patriarchal society deliberately built for white men and women to pivot around. Even if you are not a white man or woman, the canadian conditioning is to find anyone functioning outside of whiteness inconvenient.

This is where it gets incredible complicated, because canadian conditioning infiltrates non-white and non-patriarchal communities by design, to gain followers and holy moly does it work! You've got Indigenous communities that have practically fully adopted canadian imperialism. Where Nations and councils are run entirely by men, where core values of respect for all organismal lives are now replaced with capitalism and we've got Aunty's and Uncles saying some weird racist shit over dinner.

Now, I speak about my experience as an Indigenous person because it's all I have but I hear my usually non-white slaxts, who aren't prescribing to canadian racism echo the same sentiments around this brand that has permeated our communities and families. It's very scary, it's sad and it speaks to the powerful device that is canadian racism.

This brand has been internationally sold under the label of "niceness". It has been designed to infiltrate a person so undetected, the moment you address it canadians feel like they are being falsely accused because it's sort of like finding a rat in their bag, a rat they've been carrying around for 43 years.

canadian racism is wrapped up in one layer of sensitivity, another of fragility and topped with a bow of an immediate reaction of either more colonial oppression or an eject button because they don't like being inconvenienced.

In the past few months I've actively stop letting white people be racist in front of me and towards me and I've been calling out the behaviour. I'm trying to let the anxious and stressful conditioning of addressing racism go, because I think that's also a part of the complex brand of canadian racism, it conditions BIPOC peoples to have to tax our nervous system. So I'm trying to make calling out racism and white oppression as easy as saying please pass the potatoes.

I'm not entirely there yet because the conditioning of being afraid of calling truth to white power, has been a lot longer than me consciously working on my own reconditioning. It's also been challenging because canadians are so fragile and or in complete denial that they've been carrying around a dead rat in their bag for decades. Which yes, would be really fucking alarming and I totally get why people would want to deny it because shame culture is canadian culture but here's the thing - the rat is there - it's now in your hand and you know that I see it - so there are a lot of options on how you can react.

Here is a list of ways to NOT to react:

1. Don't deny the dead rat - don't gaslight. This is a frustrating relationality because for a lot of BIPOC's we see the rat and people embodying canadian racism do not see it ever, or rarely and they don't even smell it. Even when you're pointing right at it in their bags - they don't fucking see it.

They say "no that's just my wallet", then they shuffle shit around in their bag, we point at it again, "oh no that's just a napkin from Taco Time", they shuffle things around again, no really the dead rat is right there next to your phone, "oh no that's just my book on Coast Salish art you're mistaken", no now you're fucking spreading that dead rat around your bag and it's all over everything and we say it fucking stinks here and the canadian response is, "oh no that's just my Strathcona candle I purchased at circle craft."

2. Don't intellectualize the racism. Using cognitive rationale alone is colonial and oppressive to any culture whose ontology exists in a non-hierarchical relationship with body, spirit and mind. Don't try and think your way out of it, or reimagine the circumstance that makes you less racist or oppressive. Listen, deeply, bravely and with deep respect for the person doing you a favour and by calling you out.

3. Don't use this as an opportunity to bring up past grievances with the individual. When I experience people doing this degree of shirking, I just get so embarrassed for them. This is a big attribute of the canadian racism and colonial ignorance brand. Hey there's a dead rat in your purse and I think you should remove it, "well last week you had spinach stuck in your teeth and I'd like to deflect back to that moment for a while."

4. Don't use this as an opportunity to tell us about your "diversity life choices."

In this moment, I don't care that you once collaborated with a brown dude, that you shared a meme of Jagmeet, that you called out a racist cousin at a family dinner, that you subscribe to the Cultch or that you were there for me once when I needed a friend - which is a gross commodification of relationality.

Don't leverage your human "good times" to rationalize the dead rat. It minimizes the racialized persons experience and undermines the courage of calling you out and it is disrespectful to the relationship. Don't succumb to the canadian racism conditioning, be braver.

In the past 3 months I've lost 2 well meaning white dude friends because they didn't like that I called them on the dead rat(s) in their bags. These are very "smart" white men, who could not fathom that they embodied racist and colonial oppressive behaviours. One over intellectualized the truth and tried to minimize my experience to rationalize his "goodness" and the other was quite unconscious of the level of canadian racism he embodied. They both did varied combinations of 1-4 and then they both, like many other "nice" canadians did #5.

#5. Eject. Leave. Go and Hide.

This one is hard to write about because it's the cause of a lot of BIPOC's isolation and it makes me sad. This isolation is a direct result of "nice canadians" who are embodying, upholding and perpetuating the segratory nature of the canadian brand of racism.

Instead of being accountable to the racialized persons experience and sitting in the discomfort, not deflecting, not rationalizing, not intellectualizing, just sitting in the inconvenience, the fear, the conscious embodied racism - they walk away.

This is the most devastatingly effective part of the brand because it positions the persons who've endured the racism and colonial patriarchal oppression to be alone, in the park, with the dead rats.

It's detrimental to any kind of intimacy for BIPOC peoples - community, societal, friendship or personal because built into this canadian brand of racism is an eject button for when they feel uncomfortable or inconvenienced. This ejection is not only rationalized by the perpetrator but rationalized by the other subscribers to the brand.

subscriber to canadian racism: Yeah, I know that person has gone through stuff but I just needed to set some boundaries because I need to do some self care.

other subscriber: Yes, it's sooooo important you protect yourself. This world is hard enough, you don't need people in your life complicating things.

Then this weird insular white self protection happens. And I...

Now this is complex because it gets muddled into "selfcare" and "boundaries" which is another brilliant part of the canadian racism design. As an intergenerational survivor, I want to preface this with the fact that BIPOC's should always have agency to refuse oppression and protect oneself, that action, that refusal, that protection serves the outcome of all peoples living in a society are afforded the the opportunity to live peacefully because it works against canadian state sanctioned hegemony.

That is very different than the ejection response for prescribers to canadian state branded racism, because when they eject, when they set boundaries - they do so to protect themselves as upholders to canadian state white supremacy.

We see the difference here - when I refuse, it's in service to protect my spirit from further colonial oppression to ensure I have the energy and endurance to fight this battle against colonial oppression and canadian racism. Where as when "nice" canadians eject themselves from these interactions, it's in service to upholding the status quo.

There is a BIG fucking difference.

What BIPOC's need canadians to do is to stop denying you uphold it and stop ejecting yourselves from opportunities to dismantle it and recondition oneself from it. This ejection is why canadian racism is on the rise because ya'll have told yourselves that it's more important to protect your comfort than create a society that is safe for BIPOC's peoples.

Ways to respond that work towards a society that gives all people equitable opportunity and the opportunity to live peacefully:

1. Don't do 1-4 in the above list.

I'm trying to move away from a solution end based model, to a process solutions focused one because I won't - I can't dismantle canadian racism. All I can do is take the agency I have in moments that I encounter is to call truth to white power. I can say that vulnerability is challenging in these situations but is the necessary component to the cultural evolution. Because it will not start with you denying, deflecting, absolving, intellectualizing and or ejecting yourself from facing these very difficult truths. Doing any of those things is a privilege us BIPOC's just aren't afforded and perpetuates white supremacy and contributes to state designed tactics of isolation and segregation.


This is a post I've been procrastinating on writing because it's complex and I don't want racialized peoples to think I don't want them to set boundaries and do self care to protect themselves from white supremacy - I do - your safety is why I do all my work. What I want prescribers to canadian state racism - the "you's" I talked about off the top - is that you need to stop denying your complicity in upholding a racist canadian state and stop hiding behind notions of wellness that do anything but protect and uphold white supremacy.

I want to dedicate this post goes out to any person fighting against canadian racism and has been a victim to its intended outcomes of making us feel alone in the fight. To anyone who has been positioned to have to figure things out in high stakes and stressful situations and fallen in that fight. You're in it, with great courage and tenacity and you are not alone.

With deep Indigenous love, wáy


p.s I'm going to expand more on how I think people evolve the relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples on the podcast so tune in to hear more!

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