Frank Friday: We Are Not Racists, We Just Don’t Care Too Much
On Thursday, Winnipeggers were in a frantic panic when the City declared a boil water advisory following a water test that showed positive for E.coli bacteria. It wasn’t a city-wide result but a blanket advisory was advised just to be safe. Bottled water flew off store shelves like bread on the eve of a hurricane. It was all everyone talked about. Alas! Woe is us! A few more days and we would have had a city-wide emergency worthy of an intervention by the army.
While we were thus inconvenienced by our 2-day water boiling, our First Nations people living on Canadian reservations have been enduring the same minor setback for years. Shoal Lake, just north of Ontario, has been under a boil water advisory for 17 years! (Coincidentally, that’s where Winnipeg sources its water!). I admit, I never knew this until yesterday when I read a piece in the Winnipeg Free Press entitled, ‘Our inconvenience, their way of life.’ Here. It made me stop and think. In fact, it made me feel selfish.
Interestingly, the readers’ comments on the writer’s piece were not sympathetic. Many blamed the First Nations people for their plight, mentioning that Winnipeggers pay more taxes and so are deserving of the VIP treatment and suggested that the First Nations people should move, seek greener pastures elsewhere, simple enough. Someone should tell that to my family back in St. Vincent.
Maybe they have a point, maybe the First Nations people do not pay taxes or their leaders misappropriate funds or whatever, the fact remains that while we show ads of thirsty Africans, there are thirsty Canadians in our midst. Canadians who travel for long distances to get water just like we see on the television ads. We could spend hours debating how they got in this position. We could even play the blame-game. Or we could just care.
Maclean’s magazine says we are the most racist province, maybe we aren’t…maybe we just don’t care. About THOSE people.