It would be easy for many cross the spectrum Albertans to be cynical in regards to the recommendations announced by the provincial government’s Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council.

After all there have been a lot of complaints against the government’s proposed education curriculum in regards to indigenous communities; some will look at it as a way to throw out some smokescreen to put the government in more positive light after a string of just recent negatives $1.3 billion “oops with TC Energy/Keystone Pipeline; the infamous Sky Palace scandal; concerns over privatizing public health care amongst others. 

Those who have suffered because of racism are speaking out more. Apparently it is politically safe now to do something.

The Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council has released its recommendations on how to address racism in the province.

The recommendations submitted to the Government of Alberta were based on research from subcommittees on four priority areas: a government that reflects Alberta; preventing and responding to hate crimes and hate incidents; teaching respect for each other; and valuing skills and experiences in the workplace.

Alberta’s government has begun work on a number of anti-racism initiatives, including: “establishing a hate crime liaison and a Hate Crimes Coordination Unit; formally recognizing First Nations policing under The Police Act; banning the practice of carding; introducing the Alberta Security Infrastructure Program; enacting the Fair Registrations Practices Act and creating the Fairness for Newcomers Office, which helps new Albertans get their credentials recognized; and developing an inclusive communications policy for government. These recommendations will help guide the government’s work on anti-racism initiatives going forward.”

That’s good. It’s glib to say “better late than never,” because, well, it isn’t, it should have been done a long time ago…but it’s a start. 

“These recommendations are the culmination of thorough research, community engagement and thoughtful consideration of how the Government of Alberta can better serve racialized communities. I am proud to help lead this council into the next phase of our work to promote more inclusive communities in Alberta,” said China Sochi Ogbonna, co-chair, Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council, in a statement.

It’s progressive but you can’t fine or even incarcerate racism out of a person. At least there is acknowledgement there is a problem but not knowing everything those hurt by racist attitudes and acts go through, lip service acknowledgement of others isn’t going to cut it.

People have to want to change, yes, education helps, and the opportunity to succeed will help but it is a mindset, an understanding an attitude which needs to greatly shift at the grassroots level. 

Something like flying a Confederate flag, getting angry at people wearing cultural hijabs or burkas but not Roman Catholic nun habits.

Of course it doesn’t help anything when retired judge Brian Giesbrecht, who is also "senior fellow for the Frontier Centre of Public Policy is writing columns which are eyebrow raising to say the least. In a June 5 column in the Winnipeg Sun, the headline and subheadline says it all "Some questions about Kamloops; Rushing to judgment without all the facts."

In it, he suggests that there are explanations such as tuberculosis, influenza, Spanish flu and meningitis amongst other reasons as those were tough times and then compared the situation to old England and orphanages there. He also said those pointing this out are just in it for political and monetary gain. In fact, the last line of his column suggested that it was time to move on. 

Herein lies the problem. We as a society lack empathy and compassion. We are all suspicious of one another and sadly one of the easiest to pick on is those of another race. 

It's always about money and power. Lawyers, accountants, influencers, lobbyists and legal experts. What's the angle?

Here's an angle: as Whitney Ogle said in her talk to those who visited the Medicine Hat residential school public memorial: "this is about humanity and decency." 

In an ideal world, people would be judged on their actions and attitudes as opposed to their skin colour. Seems ludicrous on such a basic level but, here we are.

There are a lot of people who are angry about the cancel culture mentality these days. It was wasn't right then, it isn't right now. Canada and not just Alberta has a long way to go as we see with the quick forgetting of the massive residential school situation or even the tragic deaths of the family run over on a sidewalk which has been described by police as a hate crime.

We have an abusive situation that needs to be rectified. While it looks good that the provincial government has some recommendations, it isn't government enforced legalities and law enforcement which will ultimately change racist attitudes. 

It is looking in the mirror and understanding racism is wrong. It is criminal and needs to change. Now.

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