Recently, I posted that I agreed with the government of Manitoba when they decided not to financially support the request of families of indigenous women who had been murdered to find the remains of their bodies believed to be in a local landfill. It would cost at least $84 million and perhaps as much as $184 million and might not result in a successful search. I also wonder what those remains will be like after months in the landfill. Frankly, I was very uneasy about my position. I won’t be buying a billboard to brag about how I am standing firm. I am uneasy about my position.
I am usually on the side of indigenous people as readers of this blog will know by now. That does not mean I always agree with them by rote. I want to consider each issue on the merits. I know many people that I know and respect who disagree with me strongly on this issue.
I also want to respect indigenous families who believe that the human remains of deceased people are very important, even though I do not agree with this view.
Governments every day get requests for money and often big ones. As a result our political leaders must make careful decisions to spend public money wisely. Money is never unlimited even for governments who have much more than we do. We expect government to weigh competing claims carefully, dispassionately, based on logical reasoning and taking into consideration all relevant facts. This is not always easy.
I said that I would reach the same conclusion if the family claimants were white people from Wellington Crescent. I also believe that if members of my family ever made such claims, they should be treated the same way, even if I in the circumstances changed my views because they are so important to me. We naturally tend to advocate for our own families.
Governments however must treat like cases with like results. Race is irrelevant. If some groups place more importance on burying all remains that should be taken into consideration and in some cases might result in like cases being treated slightly differently. I think that might be justified.
As a result, I do not think I was racist in my views.
I take comfort from the fact that the recent survey showed 60% of indigenous people believed the government should pay to have a search made for the remains even though it was very expensive and might be risky for the people undertaking the search. I take comfort from this because that means 40% of indigenous people polled did not believe the government should take such actions. Are the indigenous people who believe that, being racist? I think not. I think people can reach the conclusion to the question on the basis of racism. But I think I was not racist in this case.
Does anyone disagree with me?