Website Disclaimer: This website is not affiliated with the Government of Canada or any of its partners. Including the Aboriginal Sport Circle. Read More...

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

When CanoeKayak Canada uses Propaganda, Structural Advantage and Manufactured Compliance to its Benefit

John Edwards, Former Domestic Director of CanoeKayak Canada using my photo in his presentation of the institutions "Aboriginal Paddling Initiative". Yet, I had never spoken to Edwards despite many attempts on my part and CanoeKayak Canada never contributed to the program I had developed at the time (2012). 

What is “propaganda”? Why is it significant to a study of social movements?

Propaganda is generated often by Public Relations (PR) firms, government and corporations. It serves to spread information that is often biased and one sided. Today the word “propaganda” has been replaced with “spin”. In the book a Century of Spin by David Miller and William Dinan they write that “Edward Bernays, one of the founders of ‘public relations’ put it” ‘propaganda got to be a bad word because of the Germans… using it [in 1914-1918]. So what I did was to try to find some other words.”. Miller and Dinan “think that propaganda is a better term than spin or public relations because it also implies the unity of communication and action.  
I have personally experienced propaganda when I was preparing a group of First Nations youth to attend the 2014 North American Indigenous Games Canoe Championships. At the time, like many others we had a blog and social media account documenting our processes and attempts to qualify for the games. What started off naively turned into a reality of “spin” we were not prepared for. The governing institute for the Olympic sport of Canoe and Kayak in Canada is CanoeKayak Canada. According to affidavits from my Human Rights Tribunal hearing, the institute Domestic Director of CanoeKayak Canada would send an email to its partner organizations CanoeKayak BC which is the provincial extension of its organization. In addition, they would also include The Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council (ISPARC) and the President of the North American Indigenous Games in their emails.
In that email dated December 2, 2013, the Domestic Director writes “Hi Guys, We should further discuss what we are doing collectively to address Mr. Anson’s messaging. I think a joint response is worth discussing. Let me know your thoughts”. On July 15, 2014 that “joint response” would come in the form of a press release professionally written by a well known Canadian author in sport. “Aboriginal Paddling Initiative Supports a Proud Tradition”. The article writes about each province and a span of more than a decade to claim how successful they are. The article is full of inaccuracies in terms of facts, ideological at best with no supporting evidence and one sided as it didn’t address any of my concerns. What it was, was an attempt to rewrite history.

What is “structural advantage”? Why is it significant? [See especially page 6 of the Miller and Dinan textbook.] 

When you consider the Institutions ability to have professional writers and television segments to promote their ideology unquestioned. It speaks to Miller and Dinan when they write that structural advantage is “one cannot fail to notice that big business, the transnational corporations, have a structural advantage in terms of political activism under the conditions of liberal democracy. They have the resources, interest and opportunities to engage in politics and governance.
In a video of the 2013 Canada Summer Games television news segment about “mainstream” war canoe racing, CanoeKayak Canada, Domestic Director says “When you talk about history, you got to think of  fur traders, getting the furs to Montreal first, you get the good prices. This is a long legacy in country, there isn't a more Canadian boat than this boat”. He is referring to the mainstream “war canoe”. The institution often ties their history of “war canoe” racing with the fur traders of Canada.
An example of structural advantage by the institution CanoeKayak Canada can see in their press release. When Sheila Robertson wrote "Aboriginal Paddling Initiative Supports a Proud Tradition' for the institution of CanoeKayak Canada. She writes “Canoe “contests’ involving Aboriginal People and fur traders represent the earliest beginnings of canoe racing. The modern sport evolved in waterfront communities in close proximity to native settlements, in particular the areas around Peterborough, Ont., Montreal, Halifax, and Victoria.”.
Robertson doesn’t reference how she came across “Aboriginal People and fur traders” raced canoes against each other. However, it may have come in the form of spin from Colin D. Howell, author of Blood, Sweat and Cheers: Canoes, Boats and Aquatic Sports (page 21) where he writes “The nation's harbours, lakes, rivers, and beaches provided a venue for all manner of sporting and recreational activities. Boating, sailing, paddling, rowing, swimming, skating, and curling all had preindustrial origins. While originally undertaken as individual and spontaneous reactions, these activities eventually became more organized and competitive. Even without documentary evidence, one can readily imagine Native people racing each other in canoes or on snowshoes, and races between fur traders as they pushed into the hinterland.”
I do not believe Fur Traders and First Nations people were racing canoes against each other during the fur trade era. When you consider there is no evidence to suggest that and yet the Institutions still keep propagating that ideology, it becomes more folklore than historical. As Howell already states “even without evidence” and Robertson evolves the ideology into fact by saying “Aboriginal People and fur traders” raced canoes against each other. Neglecting the fact there is no evidence and that is “spin” and even if they did race and there was evidence, the Institution of CanoeKayak Canada which represented the ruling “class” of the times (1900) direct lineage is of the Royal Navy, not of Canadian heritage between the Metis people and First Nations of the day.

What does it mean to “manufacture compliance”? Is consent a necessary feature of compliance? Why or why not?

To manufacture compliance is to engineer consent. For example, in my personal experience,  the Institution of CanoeKayak Canada and its partners decided to jointly respond to my public criticisms of how we were being treated at the time. We can see in the email between the Institutions on how they planned to jointly respond to my public comments.  The press release “Aboriginal Paddling Initiative Supports a Proud Tradition”  does capture their intent to undermine my own morale. It does this my rewriting history to not include my group in their success. It was as if we never existed in the first place. Miller and Dinan write that the key to manufacturing compliance “is to ensure public and political compliance. It is not that the public or decision makers actively agree and support the policy ideas promulgated by business lobbies and corporations. What is critical is that they do not actively and aggressively oppose them.”
Prior to the above emails/press releases from the Institutions, I sat on the Aboriginal BC Provincial Canoe Committee (2012-2013) which was tasked with the development of the system leading up to the 2014 North American Indigenous Games. I would witness the non-indigenous institute of CanoeKayak BC make decisions and set “the rules” in regards to the Canoe Championships leading up to the games. The indigenous institute of iSparc would never oppose any of these ideas or suggestions. That can be seen, in a set of emails from my affidavits, in my Human Rights Tribunal Hearing against these two institutions.
Essentially white people are making the rules for indigenous people to participate and qualify for the North American Indigenous Games. These are actually white competitions in sport and not actually indigenous sports. The process leading up to the games was verbatimly a copy of the whitestream of sport. There were no adaptations or cultural protocols such as one would believe would be associated with such an event. On June 12, 2013 I attended a board meeting for the canoe committee and voiced my concerns about the Institution of CanoeKayak BC. It essentially amounted to CanoeKayak BC  “setting up so many conditions for the rest of BC as to make it impossible to qualify”. In addition, leading up to the games, the Institutions wanted to call it the Team BC “Training Squad”, which is what they call the whitestream participants. When I suggested, in an email, to the board “I found the approach at that meeting insensitive when the question was never asked to the First Nations on the committee, what the team would like to be called”. I would support my email with a Ditidaht First Nation elder and Canadian Indian Residential School Survivor, Charlie Thompson’s comments:
“Oh man! I think it is better to pick something that catches the interest of the youth. Let it be their Vision/Dream. I really believe in “Owning” whatever we decide  we are going to do. Asking people what, where, when & why we want to do this. A prime example is the whole issue of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. The process from day one did NOT belong to us Survivors, because the ‘powers that be’ did NOT ask all of us which would not have been difficult. We were not in a hurry to get to a point of settlement, so, time for us would have been key because we all would have had input. So, bottom line for me, ask the youth ”.
When I followed up to the email, the Director of Sport for iSparc would write the board “The label of ‘training squad” and concerns with it were raised and our last call and it was agreed we would need to think more about this label.”
We now know via the affidavits from the Human Rights Tribunal that the Director of Sport for iSparc would email the Executive Director of CanoeKayak BC and dismiss my concerns. Instead telling them they had their full support and did not agree with me, to which the CanoeKayak BC responded “who’s Charlie Thompson anyways?” and iSparc dismisses the elder as “another one of Jason’s supporters”. I would be quietly removed from the board with no notice and never invited to meetings again as a result of criticizing the institutions. To this day, the team is still called the “Training Squad”.

Do you think corporate PR is compatible with functioning democratic societies? Why or why not? [Be sure to read Chapter 11 in the unit textbook.] 

In the Miller and Dinnan Book - A Century of Spin, it reads - “We have also tried to show that communication itself can be coercive, as in the case of deception, misinformation and strategic use of information - techniques all well developed by the PR Industry.”..
An example can be seen when Robertson wrote "Aboriginal Paddling Initiative Supports a Proud Tradition' for the institution of CanoeKayak Canada. The press release sub title reads “With the North American Indigenous Games taking place July 20 – 27 in Regina, CanoeKayak Canada is pleased to present this article written by Sheila Robertson about the Aboriginal Paddling Initiative”. In that article, Robertson writes  “Alberta CanoeKayak sent program coordinator Alan Ross to northern Alberta to promote the sport and the 2013 Alberta Indigenous Games, which featured canoekayak as a core sport. His visit took him to many aboriginal communities, including Cold Lake, Slave Lake, High Prairie, Grouard, Joussard, Sucker Creek, Swan River First Nation, Drift Pile First Nation, Wabasca, and Big Stone Cree Nation. He connected with several hundred aboriginals and fostered a strong interest in canoekayak.” By all accounts, one would think that the Institution with all its Provincial partners were a success when it comes to their Indigenous paddling initiative. Yet, the reality is Ross, the province of Alberta or Team Alberta would not even send a team of paddlers to the championships. Not one indigenous person from the province of Alberta raced in the 2014 NAIG Canoe Championships, which can be confirmed by the 2014 NAIG results despites Ross’ many attempts of “success”.
Miller and Dinnan further state: “Coercion is much more debilitating than persuasion or even influence. Persuasion is a simple attempt to steer someone’s thinking by using logic. Influence is the act of applying readily discernible pressure; I want you to do this; I have power over you, so do it. Coercion seeks to stymie our rational processes in order to make us act against - or, at the very least, without - our better judgement. Once immersed in a coercive system, we act without conscious control.
Essentially in the early days, all I was saying was the Institution CanoeKayak Canada didn't even have a Aboriginal Paddling Initiative that was seen on the ground- at the grassroots level. In fact, their ideology of an Aboriginal Paddling Initiative was more of a cultural tour on the mainstreams part. Ie. Where white people visit First Nation communities and tell their friends ” look how cultural I am.”  The white people have never embraced the First Nations (rez) into their competitive mainstream of canoe/kayak. I felt it was patronizing and of little consequence in facilitating a competitive sport amongst aboriginal youth.
Miller and Dinnan also state, “On the contrary, democracy brings more threats to the powerful and thus they invest more in techniques for managing it.”  ‘Leys writes that it not necessary for an ideology to be ‘loved’ to be hegemonic. It is ‘merely necessary that it have no serious rival’. This seems to us correct. But we would go further, asserting that it is not necessary for the ideology even to be respected for it to be able ‘rule’. What we have attempted to show throughout this book is that power can be organized in a formally democratic system which can bypass popular opinion. Leadership in this context refers not to leadership of the popular classes but leadership of the elite. Hegemony in other words may simply refer to the possibilities of ruling class unity.
The reality is the Indigenous athletes in Canada out number the mainstream athletes who race canoes and kayaks. The ruling class demographically would be outnumbered if there was a true inclusive approach. The whites, essentially cannot lose their grip on the power of putting their interests first, over those of  the indigenous stream.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Ideology and Indoctrination of CanoeKayak Canada: Is mainstream "war canoe" racing a stepping stone to success?’

CanoeKayak Canada Mainstream "War Canoe" Racing

Distinguish between ideology and indoctrination. How are they related? What key aspects of ideology were highlighted in this discussion? Do a little Internet research and provide your own definition of ideology. What features of our thinking process would signal that we have incorporated ideology into our mental processes?

What key aspects of ideology were highlighted in this discussion?
After reading The End of Homework, the highlighted ideologies in this discussion included the following key aspects:

- The “taken-for-granted” quality of homework - Society sees homework as important, therefore never questions if it is actually a good thing or not. As the writer points out, “the taken-for-granted” ideology is “considered to be natural and self-evident truths”.

- Set of Ideas - Ideology is a “set of ideas” “that directs our expectations, goals and actions”.
However, the simple equation of “taken-for-granted” ideas that directs our expectations, goals and actions” is not enough to qualify it as an Ideology. The writer points out: “ideologies only become ideological when they are no longer open to question.”

Distinguish between ideology and indoctrination.
If Ideology is a “set of ideas that directs our expectations, goals and actions”. Then, Indoctrination is when people come to believe the set of ideas without question. There are two types of indoctrination, which include; a) passive and b) active.” The writer continues by saying that passive “agents of socialization don't necessarily intend to introduce ideology, and they are not aware that repetitive reinforcement of ideas amounts to indoctrination, but they are part of the process nevertheless”

How are they related?
The writer says it well: ”the short answer is that ideas become ideological through a process of indoctrination. The term “indoctrination” itself is just a fancy word for repetitive teaching.”

Do a little Internet research and provide your own definition of ideology.
In the sport of canoe/kayak in Canada, there are two streams of “war canoe” racing based on race. The a) mainstream/whitestream and b) the Indigenous stream. The institution of CanoeKayak Canada race mainstream war canoes and credits it as the core of their club development system. Their narrative is that by racing war canoes, it creates a stepping stone to success.
Based on my Internet research,’ Is mainstream war canoe racing a stepping stone to success?’
For me when I think of the institution of CanoeKayak Canada and their ideology. I would explain that the institution who was incorporated in 1900 (as the Canadian Canoe Association) has had more than 100 years to share a set of ideas they believe to be true with their members. Given this length of time - of repeating these same ideas - have consequently reinforced to its members their beliefs which are not necessarily based on fact.  As seen in my previous Research Essay where a) the Banook Canoe Club, b) the 2013 Canada Summer Games, and c) the Bear Mountain Boats, Sprint Racing History media videos share their ideas/beliefs from these institutions as factual. When in fact, there is really no scientific evidence to back their ideas of ‘mainstream war canoe racing’ as a stepping stone to success. That parallels the writers comments about when “the taken-for-granted” ideology is “considered to be natural and self-evident truths”.”

What features of our thinking process would signal that we have incorporated ideology into our mental processes?
When ideas or beliefs, repeated enough times, through the years, becomes factual - with no basis or evidence of fact involved.  An example of this thinking process can be seen when: ‘both the mainstream and indigenous stream of war canoe racing become so indoctrinated in these ‘ideas’ they don’t even realize it.  That is when assimilation is complete.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Social Movements, Class and Power: "Olympics! Meet War Canoe Racing"

Indigenous Stream War Canoe Racing
Mainstream/Whitestream War Canoe Racing

What makes a social movement different from say, a wedding committee or a social group?

In the book Social Movements By Suzanne Staggenborg and Howard Ramos it says “most social movement scholars would agree that social movements “are collective efforts, of some duration and organization, using non-institutionalized methods to bring about social change” (Flacks, 2005:5). This creates a difference between a social movement and say, a wedding committee or social group. Whereas the latter is   gathering together that amounts to a collective activity.

In my own experience, another example of a social movement versus a social group can be seen in the Canadian sport system. Let me use the example of “war canoe” racing in the sport of canoe/kayak and with it come a number of sociological problems.

Social Movements - As a result of the Canadian “Indian” residential school system, First Nations people are trying to reconnect with their culture. A symbolic part of their culture is the canoe and specifically the “war canoe” where First Nations people of Canada went to war using these canoes against other tribes pre-colonisation. A small group of Coast Salish families on the west coast of Canada race “Indian War Canoes”. The problems include those of the origin of race, class and culture in society. Over the past decade, despite a collective social movement against the Government Institutions of Canada, methods including; a) newspaper articles, b)  letters to politicians, c) online petitions and d) the filling a human rights complaint against the institution of CanoeKayak Canada (Formerly known as the Canadian Canoe Association - CCA). This organization disregards the Indigenous stream of “war canoe” racing in preference of their own version of “mainstream/whitestream” “war canoe” racing in what academics refer to as the “Double Helix” sport system adopted by the Federal Government of Sport Canada.

Collective Activities - The mainstream sport of “war canoe” racing is a predominantly white sport in Canada. We know from history that white people didn’t go to war in a canoe and as a result is not part of their cultural makeup. Therefore it is just a group of white people who race “war canoes” which amounts to a collective activity. Despite this fact, it didn't stop Hugues Fournel, an Olympic Kayaker from saying “Everybody's screaming and you feel like you are in a war and thats why its called war canoe and it's one of the oldest, oldest races we do in Canada”.

What relevance does social class have for the study of social movements?
According to Christian Fuchs there is relevance that social class has on the study of social movements. Fuchs wrote the paper Social Movements and Class Analysis, Vienna University of Technology. His paper focused on empirical evidence from 1981 to 1997 from 15 different countries. Fuchs says “The results show that cultural and economic capital are important factors in mobilizing or demobilizing protest, that the new knowledge and service class is the most active group in protest, and that there continues to be a significant political left-right distinction concerning protest activities.”.

In my own experience in regards to War Canoe racing is the Institution CanoeKayak Canada, which overseas the pathway to the Olympics via theInternational Canoe Federation, has all the federal money to put them in a class of their own compared to the Indigenous population of Canada. For example they can get CBC news to write articles about their colonial version of the war canoe - such as seen when CBC Nova Scotia journalist Nina Corfu wrote an article called “New $25K war canoe gives Banook paddlers edge in 'very Canadian' sport”.  They also get Television attention by putting their Olympians on to make statements such as Hugues Fournel, an Olympic Kayaker said “Every kid, every club, if you’re in a canoe club somewhere in Canada, you’re for sure going to do War Canoe.” The reporter says, that the mainstream/whitestream “war canoe” “is considered the cadillac of canoes, that Fournel and Ontario’s Taylor Potts, a gold medal winner here as a stepping stone at the club level for their success.” Their narrative simply drowns out the Indigenous one on the topic and they see nothing wrong as a result.

What is power? Why is it important to analyse power when looking at social movements?
Typically power is the ability to accumulate labour hours. However, power can take different meanings in a social movement. For example, the Windspeaker is an Indigenous newspaper.  In the Windspeaker newspaper article called “Olympics! Meet war canoe racing.” by Sam Lakaris in 2003 writes about a Coast Saalish man on Vancouver Island. - “If Derrick George had a wish, it would be to see the sport of war canoe racing added to the Summer Olympics' roster of activities.” When Sam Lakaris writes “For starters, George will have to get the support of theCanadian Canoe Association (CCA). But John Edwards, the CCA's domestic program director, said he knows nothing about George's initiative. "I haven't heard anything about this," he said. "That's all news to us. But we're all the way out here in Ottawa."” he does not mention that the same John Edwards is also a) trying to get his institutions version of the “war canoe” to the Olympics and b) John Edwards sits on the board of directors of the International Canoe Federation which is affiliated with the Olympic committee for the sport of canoe. In 2012, the CCA would be successful in bringing a group of white only participants to demonstrate their own version of the“War Canoe” to the London 2012 Games as seen in the Globe and Mail, leaving the Indigenous peoples of Canada excluded, despite knowing their intent and wishes to bring their own war canoe to the Olympics. John Edwards was in a position of power to reasonably help Derrick George with his dreams, however took his own Institutions interest in lieu forward as seen at the London games at the 2012 Olympics.

It is important to analyse power when looking at social movements because when combined with class, it becomes clear how Fuchs was correct in his final analysis in his paper  Social Movements and Class Analysis, Vienna University of Technology where in this case the Institution CanoeKayak Canada has the class and power to “demobilize the protest” where those who oppose have no chance to mobilize against them.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Dual Colonialism: Racialized Discourse, Prejudice and Discrimination

I am not of an ethnic minority, my ancestry is predominantly French and German. As a result of being of European decent, I have an interest in Post-colonialism. Indigenous and Colonial topics are at
best a difficult undertaking to discuss from a balanced perspective. As a sociologist, I find it interesting to study the “whitestream” otherwise known as mainstream sport system in Canada. I specifically find the Olympic sport of Canoe fascinating where you have a “Double Helix” sport system broken into two streams based on “race”; a) mainstream/whitestream and b) Indigenous stream. I feel - through the lens of sport, it allows for a palatable narrative that can be accurately told from my sociological imagination.

Have you ever come across racialized discourse or the hierarchical sorting of race? 

In Steckley’s book, ‘The Elements of Sociology,’ he writes about dual colonialism as a theory: an “idea that under a colonial regime, the most oppressed groups suffered at the hands of the colonizing group who are given privilege and power by the outsiders.” From my personal experiences, I can relate to Dual Colonialism where a) we have a mainstream sport system that at best is creating a racialized sporting space and b) hierarchy of power within Indigenous communities based on family lineage. I often refer to this power dynamic as the “haves and have nots” or the “Power Families”. This provides an opportunity for the colonial sport organizations to give opportunities to the power families within indigenous communities, while neglecting the have-nots in various sporting events.

Have you seen others engage in prejudice or discrimination based on, for example, skin colour or ethnic background? 

When I was a canoe coach, I experienced prejudice from local retail stores such as the local Outdoor paddle store. As a white person, in my experience of mainstream sport, raising donations and discounts for youth sport in my community was a viable option. For example, the local bicycle store giving the local bicycle youth club a 10% discount on parts and accessories. Yet, when I attempted to obtain the same privileges from the mainstream stores for the Indigenous stream of canoe, it was much different.

In this particular case, I had $1000.00 to purchase paddles for the launch of the local indigenous canoe club. I was speaking with the store manager, a white person in decent about purchasing 60 paddles and asked if he would provide a discount for this Indigenous initiative. He simply said no, He said “Don’t the Indians get enough already?” to which I replied, how so? He would go on to talk about the fact that the store was on the Cowichan First Nation Band land and that they were not subject to paying taxes as a result. Equating the federal agreement between First Nation communities and the government was enough of a discount.

Another example happened when I was trying to purchase 60 jackets with the paddle club name on it. Approaching one supplier, from whom I had already purchased $5,000.00 worth of paddle club clothing, I asked for a discount on the jackets. I was told, Why would I give “them” a discount?.

It appeared to me, based on these two experiences, that the Indigenous youth could not even get a break at the grassroots level. Such practices many mainstream sports take for granted.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Growing Up The Children of Institutionalized Parents

"The Duplessis Orphans were children victimized in a mid-20th century scheme in which approximately 20,000 orphaned children were falsely certified as mentally ill by the government of the province of Quebec, Canada."

While living full time on a West Coast First Nation reserve, I was able to relate with many of the indigenous people. The connection we made was one of mental health and shared experiences because our parents grew up as institutionalized children of a governmental system.

I am an only child of a mother, who raised me as a single parent for the first ten years of my life. My mother was raised from the ages of 2 years to 16 years in the Duplessis Orphanage system in Quebec. She experienced similar traumas as those raised in the “Indian” Residential School system. Wikipedia states that “The Duplessis Orphans were children victimized in a mid-20th century scheme in which approximately 20,000 orphaned children were falsely certified as mentally ill by the government of the province of Quebec, Canada, and confined to psychiatric institutions.” The Montreal orphanage my mother resided in was run by the Catholic Church. She was abused for many of those years. The long-term effects of the mental stress and physical abuse she suffered was immense. Not only did she have a short lifespan, but the mental health issues resulting from this abuse would be life changing for me as well.

Who defines what is right and wrong, what is good behaviour or bad?

My mother would invoke the authority and values of the Roman Catholic Church. The same beliefs were reinforced by the French Catholic schools I attended. At the age of 10 years old, I entered the Roman Catholic ‘Children Aid’ system. These Authorities followed the similar rules/expectations my mother had growing up. At the same time, she had no respect for this authority and would not listen to or adhere to their advice if it differed from her own. For example, as a young child, I would attend my local parish church as much as 4-5 times a week, yet my mother refused to attend at all. Regarding school interactions with teachers and principals, if she didn’t receive the response she wanted from these authorities she would place the blame on me or simply refuse to participate in discussions. Despite reports from my school officials and a Psychologist that alluded to a Mental Health concern for myself, my mother refused to believe my behaviour was caused by anything other than willfulness and my father’s ‘bad’ blood.

Who defines the rules, controls the money, and makes the decisions?

My mother made the rules of the home, enforced the rules of the home, and when she couldn’t control my behaviour, called in the Higher Power - the Catholic Church. My behaviour was so troubling for her growing up due to my own mental health disorder that at one point, she inquired about an exorcism as a solution. We are talking about a mother who was desperate to save her son and conform to society's standards even as a child.

Is it the parents equally, is it just one parent, do the children have any say?

Parenting was not equal in my family. My mother did the majority of the parenting and I did not know of my father for the first five years of my life. I would meet him around the age of 8 years old when I flew out to Vancouver to visit. He had no decision making or influence in my life until I was in my early teens, when I went to live with him.

If there are school-aged children in your family, you may also want to consider how your family intersects with the school authorities. Does your family take responsibility for enforcing school expectations (grades, attendance, behaviour in class) and if so, why and how?

By the time I reached 10 years of age, my mother was ready to disown me. She packed my suitcase and locked me out of the house one cold Ontario night. I was to wait for the social workers to pick me up (unknowing at the time that she had given me up to their care). Rather than find supports and accept I had a neurological disorder, she abandoned me to foster care. On the eve of signing off her parental rights, my father got involved. My mother changed her mind and got me back into her care to spite my father. A few years later, I would find myself passed off to him as my mother once again rejected my behaviour as willfulness and was done with me. However, my father, did not value school, thus I was encouraged to drop out in my first semester of grade 10.

What do you think would happen to your family if the parents refused to educate the children as specified by the government, or if they chose different values and different ways of existing?

The reality is that both my parents have very different values regarding education and parenting than the mainstream population. My mother fought her emotional demons most of her life and choose partners who were “known to law enforcement” for one reason or another. My father skated the law and taught what he knew to me. I literally grew up on the streets of Windsor and Detroit while in my mother’s care; and had a varied education (non-academic) while in my father’s care.

Despite being enrolled in school during my formative years, I suspect the multiple homes I lived in while in foster care, moving from Ontario to British Columbia created chaos in my academic life, to say nothing of my home life - such as it was. The Roman Catholic Church, it’s schools, and Children’s Aid of Ontario could not predict that I would only last less than a couple of years with my father, I was living on my own at the age of 16 years. These and subsequent experiences led me to become cunning, manipulative, a fan of ‘smoke and mirrors’ - as I was in pure survival mode.

Canadian “Indian” residential school.

Compare this to the residential school experience of Natives in Canada.

Like the “Survivors” of the Canadian “Indian” Residential School, my mother was a “Survivor” of the Duplessis Orphanage System. In both institutions, they faced mental, physical and sexual abuse. Once my mother ran away from the school at the age of 16 years old, she was not provided with any supports. If her childhood wasn’t difficult enough, her adult life could be measured equally as difficult as she lacked the parenting skills required to raise me, a child with disabilities. The Indigenous people have coined their own term of the “offspring” of the Canadian “Indian” residential school and therefore in similarities, I was the “offspring” of the Duplessis Orphanage system. With that comparison comes a number of mental health issues that are known today amongst medical professionals. In my own discussion with Indigenous friends, we compare the similar parenting strategies as a result of our parents growing up in institutionalized government systems.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

#TRC88: Aboriginal paddlers welcome academy. #Olympic dreams, am I a Normal person?

by: Jason Anson

1. Am I a normal person?” 

I felt I was always a normal person until I was 38 years old and diagnosed with a form of Autism known as High-Functioning Asperger’s. Which much to my surprise implied I was anything but normal.

2. How you came to be such a “normal” or “deviant” person, as the case may be. ? 

In 2011, Normal for me was my blog “The Sport Technologist Chronicles” and for me “deviant” was my unique perspective on my second blog introduced in 2013 “Living with Aspergers in Sport: My Evil Twin” post diagnosis. From 2004 to 2010, I developed athletic training software for retail and Olympic teams. By 2011, social media and blogging were a popular pastime for people. I wanted to explore the opportunities for demonstrating my skills as a Sport Technologist and I would develop a Sport Technology Canada Blueprint that helped all Canadian athletes to implement technology in their sport. In a short time, my social media would be extremely popular with more than 25,000 followers including many world sport scientists, sport organizations, coaching professionals and professional athletes. During this experience I came to see first hand how the mainstream and Indigenous sport institutions were treating the Indigenous people of Canada. Much to my surprise, my world would fall apart after being diagnosed with High-Functioning Asperger’s.

3. Have you ever been subject to sanction because you stepped outside of what would be considered normal behaviour? Some examples might include the sanctions directed at effeminate male children, sanctions because you did not fit into normal learning styles, sanctions because you looked or acted differently, etc.). 

In 2012, I would be one of the first to join the new “BC Aboriginal Canoe Committee” which was responsible for the selection process for the North American Indigenous Games. For a period of almost two years, I would participate in all the meetings leading up to the 2014 North American Indigenous Games. Once I started to challenge their practices and philosophy towards First Nations in the sport of canoe and kayak I was ostracized. Despite being on the Board, - they never notified me of scheduled meetings; made decisions without my expertise or participation; minimized my skills and knowledge; and disregarded what I was bringing to the table. I was “put out to pasture" in other words. Through my 5-Day BC Human Rights Tribunal Hearing (Victoria, BC) against the BC Aboriginal Friendship Centre who operates as the “Indigenous Sport and Recreation Council (iSPARC)”. I would learn that CanoeKayakBC Executive Director and iSPARC’s Director of Sport would go on to “gossip” regularly with a B.C. Government employee in the Ministry of Sport and Recreation by downplaying my involvement in the sport of canoe and kayak at the time (2012-2014). That employee would then forward emails and make claims that were a) false about me or b) lacking full information to comprehend the situation - to members of Parliament including the Deputy Minister to the Minister of Sport and Recreation in B.C. Not only were these “gossip” emails obtained under the BC Freedom of Information Act (FOI), The television show “APTN Investigates” Executive Producer would comment after a lengthy investigation that his sources said “"The story I’m getting from the others is that a few insiders spend most of their time, energy and money on protecting their own jobs " from the things I was saying. The APTN investigation sources revealed: “they back up what you’re saying about there not be any emphasis on pursuing excellence and world class competition. The Indigenous games are basically a recreational level athletic event and there is no interest in identifying potential world class Indigenous athletes and then developing them.”

4. In other words, did you ever feel pressure to normalize and, if so, how did you deal with that pressure? 

In past years I had the ability to mimic “normal” behaviours, mannerisms, and attitudes of successful individuals and “fake it” for a period of time. This allowed me to present myself as ‘normal’. I went to Toastmasters to learn how to speak in public, I learned how to dress for success, I learned what was acceptable by certain population groups and behaved accordingly. However, the energy to maintain this facade was immense and would occasionally result in miscommunication; misinterpretation, and anger. On the eve of my Human Rights Tribunal hearing, the Institutions lawyers were reconsidering my entry to coach paddlers to train for the 2017 North American Indigenous Games. However, they wanted assurance that I was going to behave “normally” moving forward by talking directly to my medical professionals. Yet, the Tribunal was not about my medical disabilities, but rather about their retaliation towards me for having a disability. This would lead to the negotiations breaking down and the hearing proceeded as scheduled. I was given an opportunity to “act normal” if I virtually kept quiet and did not question any decision they would make in the future. There was no attempt by the Sport Organization to educate themselves on the needs and characteristics of an Asperger’s Adult, nor were they interested in finding ways to accommodate my unique challenges in order to work with me. Either I conformed totally, kept quiet about my concerns or I was out. The result was --- I was out. I could not be other than who I was - an Asperger’s person who has a has expertise in a select area; dedication to detail, and a tireless attention to ‘getting it right.’

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Sport Canada Institutions: CanoeKayak Canada and Own The Podium

by: Jason Anson

The Mainstream/Whitestream Sport Canada Institutions 

When I think like a Sociologist and I reflect on my own actions, interactions and agreement to the “rules” of the world. I think about the organized institutions of a) CanoeKayak Canada and b) Sport Canada, a department of the Federal Government. Both institutions operate with structures, boundaries and rules. What many might not know is that Canada operates with two sports streams based on race. This Canadian sports system is known academically as the “Double Helix” which includes an a) Indigenous stream and b) a Mainstream one, also referred to as “whitestream”. When I reflect on my own personal experiences with both institutions, I feel they fall short of their own mandate and idealism they put forward and do not follow their own rules.

The Institution of CanoeKayak Canada 

My relationship with this institution started in 2012, when I was a canoe and kayak coach living on a remote “aboriginal rez” for a period of 18-months. My goal and purpose was to prepare a group of youth to qualify for the 2014 North American Indigenous Games Canoe Championships and onwards to our own Olympic dreams. That experience resulted in me being one of the “nominees” that year for their “Coach Excellence Awards: Development Award”. The CanoeKayak Canada Development Award “is presented annually to the coach who has clearly demonstrated his or her abilities to develop a club/ sport through the grassroots levels of building a club/ or program - such as an aboriginal paddling or PaddleALL program, or the promotion of the sport through the club.”

By 2015, this relationship would end with a complaint to “The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal between I, Jason Anson (complainant) and CanoeKayak Canada and Own the Podium, Case No. 2015-22176-I”. At the core of my complaint was inclusion for Indigenous youth to be considered and be given a fair/equal opportunity to access CanoeKayak Canada’s “Next Gen Program”. This is an Olympic pathway program initiated by the institute “Own the Podium” and it was not open to the Indigenous stream or anyone outside of a select group of teenagers (predominantly, if not all, white in descent and from the mainstream system). This “Next Gen” program was focusing on the upcoming 2020 and 2024 Olympics. It provides a group of youth advanced training techniques and opportunities for them to stay on the pathway to their goals.

The Institution of Sport Canada 

My relationship with CanoeKayak Canada came to an end, just as the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action” were released in December 2015. In that Report a “Sports and Reconciliation” Calls to Action #87 -91 were released. It was at that time, the same group of elders/parents/youth I was associated with formed the “Indian Residential School Survivors, Offspring and Products” [2016]. I would lobby on their behalf to the federal government department of Sport Canada under the registered lobbying name of “Aboriginal Sports and Reconciliation Consultants Canada” each month for a period of one year throughout 2016 on how their “Sport Canada’s Policy on Aboriginal Peoples’ Participation in Sport” (The aboriginal sport policy released in 2005) were being ignored by the institution of CanoeKayak Canada. The institution ‘Sport Canada’ who funds ‘CanoeKayak Canada’ was going to address the Calls to Action with their proposed solution. Ironically, my efforts in both areas would end with a case example of exclusion from both institutions, Sport Canada and CanoeKayak Canada.

It was these experiences that led me to start studying Sociology in 2017 and discover my own sociological imagination. From my experience and extensive research on the topic, it became clear that both Institutions were not applying the rules equally. One group followed their own set of rules. The Dominant mainstream/whitestream culture does not appear to take the Indigenous stream and culture seriously when it comes to sports. They do this in a way that leaves their actions looking more like forms of Tokenism - which allows them to move their own agenda forward, such as in a series of propaganda-type photo shoots and articles showing continued success. These patterns of events are continuous and can be seen over the past 30 years of the North American Indigenous Games. In my experience, their philosophy/actions/ hidden intent leaves the Indigenous stream and community with broken dreams and at best a recreational experience only, regardless of the rules in place to provide real opportunities.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

First Nation Olympic Kayak Cost

In 2015, the avg. price of a Nelo racing kayak (k1) used in the (2014) North American Indigenous Games was $3,800. “Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census” states “the median total income of $14,000 for First Nations people living on reserve” ~ stats canada.