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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ


BY Will Nicholls Oct 27, 2022

Exactly a week after the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, the United Conservative Party of Alberta elected a new leader to replace the outgoing Jason Kenney, and thus, a new premier for that province since the UCP forms the government. It’s going to be interesting times for Alberta, as now-Premier Danielle Smith made clear in her first days in office.

Smith says she is very, very concerned about people who face discrimination. Not the people for whom Orange Shirt Day – now the Day of Truth and Reconciliation – was created, mind you. 

For Smith, as she said a few days after being sworn in, those who chose not to receive a Covid vaccination “have been the most discriminated-against group that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a situation in my lifetime where a person was fired from their job or not allowed to watch their kids play hockey or not allowed to go visit a loved one in long-term care or hospital, not allowed to get on a plane to either go across the country to see family or even travel across the border.”

Let that sink in. 

Those who chose, for whatever misguided reason, to remain unvaccinated are the biggest victims of discrimination in her 51 years of life. The former journalist has evidently never heard of residential schools, which were numerous in Alberta.

Iwonder how you could be both a journalist and a politician and have led such a sheltered life. 

There are two logical fallacies with her conclusion. The first is obviously that Covid deals with a medical issue and the measures in place were designed to protect people from the virus. This is not a new response to a medical emergency, and neither are the vaccinations. Look at the historical medical fight against smallpox and typhoid, for example. 

Restrictions of this sort and human responses to those who would ignore the measures needed to combat a disease is nothing new and often needed… whether or not those who were against those measures were in favour of the imposed restrictions. It is not discrimination but rather a health choice that had consequences and realistic conditions to deal with the problem.

Secondly, Smith has not looked at racial, cultural, sexual or religious discrimination and related it to the medical discrimination she claims is so bad. How many of her unvaccinated voters were sterilized?  Were they allowed to get married before 2005 when the first gay marriage was recognized? Were any of them in residential schools which did not close until the mid-1990s? How many of them are not allowed to wear any religious objects at work or they will be fired? What about the anti-Semitic discrimination in Alberta and lack of knowledge of the Holocaust? 

At best it seems like a small part of the Alberta population that Smith is pandering to as at least 82% of Albertans have received their first dose of vaccine and 78% have received two.

Donald Trump should have been a warning to both Americans and Canadian that the demagogues of speech who appeal to the lowest common denominator in our closely knit countries would be the new politics. After all, our children are on tablets or other forms of social media every day. We should have realized that the 15 minutes of fame no longer applies. We do not teach them to do their own research (easily done on the internet) and make up their minds on more than the words of those who appeal to an unthinking follower. 

Make humanity great again. Make the closeness of your community great again. Make thinking for yourself great again. Make loving life great again. Make knowing your neighbour and understanding them great again. Make listening to people and grabbing knowledge and then deciding for yourself what to think great again. Discrimination sucks and it’s time to end it and the people who promote it.

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Will Nicholls is a Cree from Mistissini. He started his career off in radio and is still one of the youngest radio DJ’s in Canadian history, having a regular show on CFS Moosonee at the age of 12. Will was one of the founding members of the Nation, and has been its only Editor-in-Chief.