By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee
So it’s not because it’s Saskatoon or anything – trust me as a frequent visitor to the Canadian city and to the province of Saskatchewan itself there are some pretty awesome people and amazing things happening there.
But it just so happens that as of late – two extremely oppressive occurrences took place in Saskatoon that we need to have a dialogue about here. And they are hugely linked – which I particularly see working in this world of reproductive justice.
The first, Mr. Brad Trost, current MP of Saskatoon-Humboldt launched a petition last November in an attempt to defund the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) because, quote:
“It promotes the establishment of abortion as an international human right and lobbies aggressively to impose permissive abortion laws on developing nations.”
Yea….okay Brad…you are just so silly with your words, that I don’t even have words to say back to you (or want to expend the energy to do so). But thanks for shedding light on the fact that the short gestational (or term) limits in Saskatchewan make it that much more difficult for women to access reproductive choice in the first place – and that you are basically SOL if you live in a rural, remote, or northern area of Saskatchewan (and hmm..I wonder who lives there???!!)
Oh and who could forget when Brad openly challenged the record of cabinet minister Diane Ablonczy last summer for the federal government’s funding of Toronto’s Pride week (what he and his colleagues called “the sex parade”) and then later said he had not even actually reviewed any of the documents to back-up his claim. Oh really now…you don’t say???
Anyways, the other extremely oppressive occurrence in Saskatoon happened last week – when former MP of Saskatoon-Humboldt Jim Pankiw held a press conference where he was visibly intoxicated and decided to announce his plan to run as an independent candidate in the next federal election. He shared his usual racist deal against Aboriginal people saying quote:
“I don’t need the media to win,” then went on to calling all the Saskatchewan First Nations Chiefs “racist” and comparing the head dress of FSIN Chief Guy Lonechild to that of a white sheet mask of a Klu Klux Klan member.
Oh, and who could also forget the parade of racism that Jim Pankiw has been leading since 2002 when we he distributed three “householder” brochures with slogans, including “Stop Indian Crime” and “It’s Clear Who the Racists Are” in reference to what happened to our community in Kanasatake (Oka, Quebec). He called us “terrorists” and insisted that there is a “two-tier justice system that gives Indians a get out of jail card.” The cost of producing and mailing the pamphlets, intended to enable MPs to stay in touch with their constituents, was covered by the House of Commons.
So these guys who are anti-choice, homophobic, and racist all have something in common? You bet they do! In this case, they both just happened to represent the riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt – but they are obviously representing a much larger agenda of oppression to spew on the rest of us.
Which to me, is even more proof of why a reproductive justice lens is so important to incorporate – because this clearly isn’t just about abortion or sexuality or race. It’s obvious that these guys are trumping upon our innermost self-determining rights – whether that’s the right to practice your culture or make a decision over your own body. It’s all related. So if we are going to fight back against this type of oppression – we can’t continue to isolate the issues and say to one and other “that’s not what it’s about”.
And yes I’m talking to you pro-choicers who haven’t really put anti-racism on an equal platform of your organizing, or anti-racists who think the gender and sexuality stuff should be an after-thought.
Let’s try and get together more – is what I’m saying.
Thanks to Amber for the tip on Pankiw!