As the global pandemic starts to subside and Canada and the globe begin to dig out from the mountain of challenges presented in its aftermath, one “long COVID” symptom is of particular concern when it comes to the body politic.
It seems that hatred and anger have bubbled and percolated into a very nasty brew over the past few years.
Of course, the symptoms of that particular debilitating affliction were among us long before the perfidious COVID-19 virus and its more insidious varieties peaked their heads across our borders. Blame social media, blame the internet, blame kids today, wherever, whomever and however it has been nurtured among us, incidents of hatred and intolerance seem to be on the upswing in every avenue of communication.
Canada, as a Northern nation, is built by the hardworking people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, first plying the fur trade, then in the lumber camps, mines and oilfields, farms and orchards. The latter few being the very building blocks of the modern comforts that inhabit our world today. As recently as the 2011 Northern Ontario Action Plan, a 25-year map forward for the Northern economy, Indigenous workers were identified as forming 25 percent of the Northern workforce by 2021.
Stitch Manitowabi, who brought a series of threatening signs posted near Killarney to the attention of The Expositor, expressed his hope and belief that broader education on treaty rights among both non-Indigenous and Indigenous people will help alleviate expressions of hate and anger such as those he experienced near his camp. We hope he is right.
But the rise of hate groups across the globe makes it clear that this is not only a Canadian concern—it is endemic just about everywhere it seems.
That ubiquity of expressions of hate should not excuse its rise in Canada. There is only one place for intolerance in this country, and that is toward intolerance itself. We have built a nation that is the envy of the world for our ability to work together to welcome newcomers to our shores, as a shelter to the downtrodden and oppressed and whose shores welcome those who want to build a better life—and despite our occasional shortfalls in that area, that has largely remained true to the present day.
We are literally the envy of the world’s democracies, let alone those nations struggling under the weight of despot and tyrants. We have won that envy because of our wealth, our institutions and, above all, our ability to live and work together despite the many cleavages that continue to tear apart lesser polities. Let us not let the intolerant among us define who we are through hatred and vitriol.
No Canadian should stand silent and let such actions and expressions pass unchallenged. Free speech is important, but hatred, threats and intimidation have no place within our borders.