February 11, 2010
By Jeff Parkinson
Imagine this scenario. You own a cottage on the lake. You’re living the quiet life and loving it. You spend your days fishing, and your nights gazing at the stars. One day however, your peace is disturbed as some pesky boaters show up in the vicinity of your cottage. It’s an outrage! How dare the public enjoy a public lake! So what do you do? Ask them to leave? Call the cops? Behave like a civilized person and understand that you don’t own the world?
If you’re Victor Nanatakapo of the Big River first nation you pull a gun and start shooting at them. If you’re the judge in this case and you have just convicted him of careless use of a firearm, you give him a discharge and recommend that he meet with the community and police to discuss his concerns.
As absurd as that sounds, it’s what happened this week in a strange case in the little town around Delaronde Lake in Saskatchewan.
Mr. Nantakapo observed boaters near his cottage on the lake, so he called the local conservation officer and threatened to shoot at them. When the officer didn’t come running to chase away the public from the public lake, he opened fire.
In sentencing Nantapako to absolutely nothing (5 months parole), the judge stated “It goes to the long-term protection of the community,” Ah yes how much safer we would all be if gun offences were no longer taken seriously by the courts.
How is this possible one might ask. This is Canada, and in Canada Natives are given a warm hug in place of jail time for serious offences. It’s no different from the guy who tried to kill an OPP officer in Caledonia in 2006 being let out because as the judge said “he was having a bad day”. In our country it’s ok to shoot at people, or try to kill a cop if you’re having a bad day so long as you have the right skin color.
The crown did nothing to oppose this so called sentence because they too base the punishment on the color of your skin if you commit a crime. The perfect example being Clyde Powless who received a discharge and a letter of reference from Julian Fantino for a vicious assault on Gary McHale while McHale has been pursued by the crown with the intensity of Cujo for the alleged crime of counseling mischief not committed. Why? Gary is not a Native.
We have made significant headway in the courts with private charges against government officials, OPP officers, Fantino himself, and Native extremists alike, but obviously things are still far from balanced and we have a lot more work to do. Opinions are slowly changing, judges are starting to see this politically motivated racist mess for what it is, and in time those who need to be held accountable will be, but it’s a battle with many steps of which we have taken some very important ones.
These examples of extreme racial bias in the courts may seem frustrating to some, but to us they’re motivation. It’s clear that something is still very wrong with our country and there is much more work to be done. It will take time which is something we have an unlimited supply of, and the kind of unusual efforts that most have never heard of, but we have grown very comfortable with.
In time we will see an end to race based justice in Canada. Of this I am confident.