This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

When Is Racist Discrimination Forgivable?

"The Heiltsk people are really upset about it. They're all really mad and upset that I'm not allowed to play with them this year. Everybody's saying why are they coming at me now after seeing me play for two years and now saying I can't play?"
Josiah Wilson, 22, Status Indian, Calgary

Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond is calling on the All Native Basketball Tournament to remove the ban on Josiah Wilson, who was born in Haiti and adopted by a First Nations family.
Josiah Wilson, was born in Haiti and adopted by a First Nations family (Facebook) 
"The concept is a colonial concept that has been imposed on aboriginal people. It's not part of our cultural, traditional belief system, certainly not for the Heiltsuk Nation."
"A lot of us are left feeling very confused as to why the All Native Basketball committee would adhere to that type of concept because it's very anti-First Nations."
"Somehow my son's participation was protested to the All Native Basketball Tournament committee and they responded by issuing a letter banning him from further involvement."
"To be fully excluded was very painful for him because he wants to go and participate with his cousins and his friends, his teammates, our family and our extended community that are back home in Bella Bella."
Don Wilson, Calgary obstetrician, father of Josiah Wilson
Josiah Wilson
Josiah Wilson, 20, left, is shown in this handout image with his brother and sisters at a Calgary restaurant in September 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
"You can't use public funds and have sports events and then exclude people based on birth origin.
I think this will end up being a very significant case. I'm strongly of the view that there will be redress should he be excluded, and that we should not make him have to go to that place."
"Many prominent First Nations leaders and elders have been very clear to say that adoption means you're fully part of the community in every way. You're not a second-class citizen."
"We don't discriminate against people just because of their status of having been adopted. People are adopted from all manner of backgrounds."
"Josiah should not face any discrimination because of his status at birth."
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s representative for children and youth
 Josiah Wilson, now a resident of Calgary, played for a junior aboriginal team for two years and was set to enter the third of his All Native Basketball Tournaments to play with an intermediate men's team but his plans went awry when he was suddenly and unexpectedly advised to set aside his intentions because he had been disqualified, his status Indian standing was not being formally recognized by tournament organizers. His privilege was revoked.

According to the tournament committee, the young man does not have the aboriginal bloodlines enabling him to participate. The recognized 'blood quantum" sets out a minimum qualification to be considered indigenous as one-eighth aboriginal. Since Josiah had been born in Haiti, and adopted as a baby into the Heiltsuk Nation in Belle Bella, British Columbia, he considers himself to be aboriginal, as does his family and his clan, and government agencies as well. But not the tournament organizers.

Although the disappointed Josiah had used his official status card when he began playing on a junior team while he was visiting with his grandmother in Bella Bella, where he stayed and trained with his team for a four-month period, then returned to Calgary to continue training, his initial acceptance had not lasted. If it looks like discrimination and sounds like discrimination and insists on being discriminating, it must be discrimination.

Although Josiah's father appealed to the Tournament committee to reverse their judgement and allow his son to play the sport that he loves, the decision stood. Heiltsuk Nation Chief Marilyn Slett revealed that even when the tribal council and its leadership forwarded a letter to the basketball committee appealing to their sense of fairness to reverse their decision, nothing came of it. "We felt that  he was being treated very unfairly and it was discriminatory against Josiah", said Chief Slett.

Next on the agenda: an appeal to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

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