Saskatchewan residents pride ourselves on being kind and lending a helping hand. We welcome immigrants and open our wallets to help when natural disaster strikes — in our province and elsewhere.
Yet the names Colten Boushie, Nadine Machiskinic and Kamao Cappo expose another side — an ugly side. Racial tensions have flared in recent years in connection with those names, but racism towards Indigenous people predates the creation of Saskatchewan as a province.
The latest story to make headlines about Saskatchewan’s racial divide centred on Kamao Cappo, a resident of the Muscowpetung Sauteaux First Nation, who was accused of stealing while with a friend at a Canadian Tire store to buy a chainsaw. An employee allegedly assaulted him and forced them to leave the store.
Cappo’s videos of the incident created a firestorm on social media. He is recovering physically and emotionally after the altercation.
But the gaping wound of racism is far from healed.
Cappo has travelled across Canada and believes Saskatchewan and Manitoba to be the most racist places.
“In Saskatchewan, Saskatoon and Regina have to be right up there at the top in Canada for sure,” Cappo said. “That’s been my experience.”
After he was injured at Canadian Tire, Cappo went to the Regina General Hospital to get checked out. There, he says, a white police officer there gave him “a cold, hate stare.”
“It’s just a cold stare that just means you’re worth nothing, get out of my way, don’t bother me,” he said. Kamao Cappo stands in the parking lot at the east Canadian Tire. Yesterday while shopping at the store, he was roughly pushed out of the store by an employee, which Cappo streamed live on facebook. The video went viral. Racial discrimination has dogged Cappo and his family for years. There was a time when it wasn’t unusual for police to stop Cappo two or three times a day when he drove through North Central.
Cappo hadn’t broken any rules of the road when he was pulled over. He was infuriated he was being stopped when around the corner child prostitutes were being picked up by 40-year-old men.
About 20 years ago, his 11-year-old daughter was coming home from school in North Central when a white man stopped her and offered her $100 to get into the vehicle. “This completely terrified her,” Cappo said.
He called police but there was little they could do after the fact, and no media outlets picked up the story despite his pleas.
A couple of weeks later, the same thing happened to a child in an affluent neighbourhood and Cappo said “there was hysteria.”
“The police were seeking this person for at least three weeks through the media; all of the media covered it continuously,” he said.
The shooting death of Coulten Boushie last year raised racial tensions to a level rarely seen in Saskatchewan.Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man, was returning from swimming in rural Saskatchewan when the car he was travelling in with friends pulled into a farm yard near Biggar. His family says the group was looking for assistance in fixing a flat tire. There was a confrontation, words were exchanged and Boushie ended up dead.Farmer Gerald Stanley has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. John Lagimodiere, president of ACS Aboriginal Consulting Services and editor/publisher of Eagle Feather News, says racism is alive and well in Saskatchewan. Aboriginal leaders complained the RCMP was blaming the victim. Others believed Boushie deserved his fate and Stanley was justified in defending his property.The Cappo and Boushie cases have sparked hate-filled comments on social media, resulting in a stronger “Us vs Them” mentality.Everyone has racist tendencies — anyone who denies being a […]
Saskatchewan: Land of living skies and a racial divide
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