Before I moved to the Yukon, I thought my husband and his entire family were, to put it gently, racists. They way they talked about a certain group of people was not very nice. They muttered about being harassed for the loonie in their shopping cart. They grumbled about the high number of drunks staggering around down town. They read they papers and delivered long speeches at dinner about the preferential treatment being given out.
I was properly horrified. My own sister (both of us adopted) is Native. The history books clearly pointed out the evils of the White Man. In my home, all races and cultures were equal....Unless of course, we were talking about marrying a black man, and then my mother showed her true feelings....But that's another story.
I think I lived here in the Yukon for at least two months before I first uttered "Those damn cart people! I wish they'd leave me the hell alone when I'm loading my groceries into the car! Do I look like I want to hand over money for drugs or booze? Doesn't the government give them enough already?" It wasn't long after that I noticed just how many drunks were looking familiar. I saw the same faces wandering around the liquor store every Friday. And the ones swaying down the sidewalk seemed to be all from the same village.
Now, I know that not all natives beg off of shoppers. Not every drunk is First Nations. Yes, they lost their land and rights for a long time. I love it here now, and I think that the mix of cultures has created a very rich and varied environment. But I think the pendulum of "Cultural Rights" has swung too far back, now. For example:
What would happen to me (and my job) if I set aside a room in a public building, and said it was a place for white children only? Hmmmm?