Category Archives: Uncategorized


From my friend and role model: Hon3yblades.
Much Love and REspect

hon3yblade's Blog

Thankyou for getting as far as first sentence.

I dedicate it to MrMillitantNegro whose writing insures me & Ed Cooper who listens…

Who God bless.. No man shall curse❤️

I talk with all and anyone on Twitter ,I am passionate about Palestine ,animal cruelty and do what I can.

i think people think I’m a bit potty although in truth I am it keeps me sane but most are friendly!

I follow the daily hell that Black People suffer in America but I am reluctant to commentimage Iimage.

The reason ?After a very long relationship I have 3 mixed race children.

I empathise with awful incidents in Baltimore NY Ferguson but I was roundly soundly told off as not understanding issues ,true I thought I don’t !

these cities are how London Birmingham etc were in 70s/80’s my blossoming into adulthood took me to London to train as a…

View original post 127 more words



Dedicated to my extended family who want change,


Today, in my home province of Alberta, it was provincial election day, and as I am sure most of you know, there are elections in the UK this week, and of course the looming US elections.  I went to vote today, but I had to give it some thought, and I want to share what I came up with.


Elections get plenty of media attention, and equal amounts of scorn from activists and rebels. I fall firmly with the activists, and share the belief that elections in developed nations are as much a show as they are in dictatorships. I share the belief that no matter who wins, be it the PC party here, Tory or Labour in the UK or Democrats or Republicans in the US, the governments will continue their trajectory unabated. Many of my friends and AnonFamily choose not to vote for this reason, and for many years, I did not vote also.


I cannot dispute these arguments, nor do I wish to. But having had many stimulating discussions about society and governments and people with people who are intelligent and care about these things has changed my mind about voting. I still believe the system is corrupt and needs a complete overhall, if not scrapping outright. But in honestly advocating for change, we have to think about things more deeply than “lets just rebe”l. I now think the voting process is about us, the people, not the system, which is why I decided to vote, and advocate for voting in what I believe to be a broken system.


As any activist for change can tell you, getting people to notice and be engaged is a prime problem. In fighting MSM and government propaganda, one of the main goals is to wake people up and to get them to be engaged in the system. Activism should make more people want change, want to be involved and civic minded, want to care about the world around them. The fact that we want to change the system does not mean we want people not to be engaged; quite the opposite, any freedom activist should want as many citizens involved and watching their government as possible. Declining voter turn out makes us easier to control by making the vote more predictable and catering to base voter’s interests.


Politicians constantly bemoan falling participation, but they actually love it and benefit. If you don’t vote, they don’t have to care what you think, or make appeals or concessions to you.  In the US, they pass laws to make it harder for certain minorities to vote. We should all be advocating for more civic engagement, to get people involved and believe that their actions can have an effect. This is the very basis of democracy, and until we replace it, we should be trying to make the best of it. If we want informed and moral citizens, that should by definition mean we want them to take part in their governance, not to be passive consumers, having government inflicted upon them.


That is the main reason I chose to vote. Not for the sake of taking part in this corrupt system, or in the naive notion my vote will make a difference (and if you know Alberta politics, you know it won’t), but because I want to build a better system, one in which I want everyone to participate in. If we do actually manage to overthrow the status quo, and toss out the elites who run the current system, it will have to be replaced by a new one, in some way, shape or form. If we care about building something better, we do not just want to install ourselves in our previous oppressors seats and perpetuate the problem. We will want to make a new one that enables and encourages participation in governance. If we believe in transparency, we need people to be watching, and take action when things go wrong, lest what we build falls victim to the same issues.


In the end, this comes down to the kids for me. We want to get kids involved in their communities and politics, in whatever form that takes.  Telling them not to get involved now, because the system is corrupt, is self-defeating in the long run. I am not advocating an Anon #OpRockTheVote or anything lame like that, or trying to change the individual behaviors of fellow outsiders.  But as catalysts for change, we have to consider what we are changing into, what societal behaviors we are trying to alter and how. If we end up with a population that merely accepts what we tell them instead of the current regime, we will have failed in achieving real change. We should encourage as much awareness and participation as we can, in hopes of building towards a better system.  We fight apathy as much as we fight oppression.

Run The Streets – Aboriginal Child Sex Trafficking Part 2

Part 1 focused on the early life of aboriginal children and how it serves to funnel them into trafficking. Part 2 will focus on the traffickers who victimize those children, who use them and sell them for profit, specifically gangs.


Gangs, or criminal organizations, are a problem that is increasingly evident in Canada. Not to say they haven’t been here that long, but a recent spate of gang related violence in large metropolitan cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal has forced the issue into the public eye. The last two decades have seen spikes of violence and murder between gangs; in Montreal, the Hell’s Angels fought openly with Rock Machine for control of drug trafficking, Vancouver had wars between local gangs and incoming Triad/asian gangs and Toronto has recently has experienced American style shootouts that lead to inflated murder rates. All three of these saw street violence and the death of innocent civilians, and all three relate to drug trafficking and turf issues. We shall focus on the lesser known trafficking, sex trafficking, and lesser known gangs.


The Criminal Code, section 467.1(1) defines a criminal organization as :” a group, however organized, that

  1. is composed of three or more persons in or outside Canada; and,

  2. has as one of its main purposes or main activities the facilitation or commission of one or more serious offences, that, if committed, would likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group or by any one of the persons who constitute the group. ” (1)

And Bill C-95 was recently added to give police more powers and gang members longer sentences (1). While very broad and encompassing, law enforcement, academics and to a lesser extent, the general public , generally conceive of two types of criminal organizations, the “true” organized crime, like the famed biker clubs or the Italian Mafia families that had roots in Montreal, and street gangs, made up of younger people and much more localized (while also ignoring the fact that the law also perfectly fits with corporations, who break the law all the time for profit, but that is the subject for another post). Canada has over 100 gangs or criminal organizations identified by law enforcement (2), with over 50 identified as operating in the prison system (3). Both numbers represent a significant increase recently, with further evidence that more gangs are moving into Canadian territory to operate, specifically the famously violent mexican drug cartel(4), and notorious street gangs like MS-13.


While criminal organizations like the Mafia or Hell’s Angels receive lots of attention from authorities and the media, street gangs are generally treated like local problems, to be dealt with by municipal forces. To me, the distinction is a false one, and problematic. First of all, most street gangs are not a localized problem, with many “smaller” street gangs having affiliates, or “reach” across several provinces. This can create jurisdictional issues, between municipal forces, Aboriginal Police, and with the RCMP, which can greatly hinder investigation and prosecution. Secondly, there is an interconnected nature between organizations of different sizes. The larger organizations use smaller street level gangs as distributors and muscle, and also as feeder pools for membership into the larger, more powerful groups. Small gangs do not have the finances, connections or ability to smuggle large amounts of drugs or people across international borders, and the larger organizations do not want their members on street corners pushing drugs or beating up shopkeepers. When was the last time you saw a Hell’s Angels member pushing dime bags? They leave the dirty work to the street gangs.


Criminal Organizations are, at their core, about money, and have increasingly turned to sex trafficking, both here and in the U.S., as a reliable, less risky source of income (5). With the increased risk associated with drugs, due to the ongoing “war on drugs”, and increasingly stiffer sentences, the gangs find human trafficking/sex trade a more attractive option. The sentences are lighter, the “resource” is “reusable” for years (as opposed to drugs, which require a constant source of new product to make money),  and it brings in a lot of money; It is estimated by CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, our domestic spy agency) that each trafficked person is worth about 280 000 dollars per year (6). I have seen debate online about how big the “industry” is wordlwide, but if they are arguing about whether it is worth more than drugs or weapons trafficking, clearly it is a huge problem.


There are many aboriginal gangs in Canada, generally believed to be local. Some of the more well known include Redd Alert, Indian Posse, Native Syndicate and Manitoba Warriors. These are merely the larger ones, and though they generally considered localized, they have long reach. The influence of aboriginal organized crime in the trafficking of aboriginal children is immense. They are responsible for much of the initial contact, using aboriginals to approach the children and begin the grooming process. This happens on reserves, with gangs collecting the children from their own community, it happens to runaways, who are met at the airport by locals tipped off from the reserve, and it happens in schools, with older girls recruiting younger ones (7). The aboriginal aspect of this is important, as the children are more likely to trust another aboriginal, especially if they are new to a big city, or if they are looking to escape a reserve. In the case of lone traffickers/pimps, this often takes the form of the boyfriend ruse, buying gifts, gaining trust, etc, but with street gangs, the other methods include the lure of the gang community, drug addiction or straight out violence.


Once the children are stuck in the lifestyle, they are usually transported across the country to work in various locations. In the Prairie provinces, these are referred to as triangles, between Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton for example (7), although a more realistic model would also include Fort McMurray, which boasts a thriving sex trade (While working there, I repeatedly witnessed a pimp/dealer show up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in a trailer, offering drugs and girls to the in-camp workers right in the parking lot; of course security did nothing). They are also trafficked between larger cities like Vancouver (where a lot of runaways end up due to the temperate climate), Toronto and Montreal. They are even frequently sent down to the U.S. as well, in such significant numbers that the American authorities took notice, citing the problem in a 2008  report “Trafficking of Persons” (7). The children are not only moved around by gangs, they are also sold as property between them, or between gangs and individual pimps, increasing their movement, and their sense of being an object.


This movement of the victims helps the gangs in many ways. First, it spreads out the crimes over many jurisdictions, making them and the victims harder to track. Secondly, presumably it helps to increase profits, by always having a rotating stable of victims, the traffickers can constantly entice customers back, and they can all claim the victim is “new and fresh” over and over. Also, it increases the victims sense disassociation and helplessness, making them easier to control. If they are constantly being moved and kept of balance, never allowed to make friends or a sense of permanence, they will increasingly accept their role as chattle, will internalize their abusers lies.


Unlike many of the other posts I have written, this problem has a simple and obvious solution. A huge part of the problem here is the government and law enforcement. Trafficking wasn’t even a crime in Canada until 2005, and in ten years, there have only been 85 successful cases resulting in jail time for 151 traffickers (8).  The government  barely keep any stats, and the R.C.M.P. is no better. Not only will they provide no numbers for victimization rates, using the flimsy excuse that underground activity is hard to monitor, but they go on to say: “In approximately 50 percent of specific cases of domestic human trafficking for sexual exploitation, traffickers are associated with street gangs. However, intelligence does not indicate that human trafficking is an organized street gang activity.”(9). So they acknowledge that gangs are responsible for half of the trafficking (a number that most frontline workers believe to be low), but they say it is not an activity that gangs engage in, which makes no sense at all.  Not only that, but “the RCMP’s National Aboriginal Policing Service wanted to examine the issue further, the report noted, but lacked the funding and human resources to do so” (7). So the RCMP’s Aboriginal unit, dedicated to aboriginal policing issues, knows there’s a problem, but lacks the funds to even examine the issue. This problem is scourging aboriginal communities, generation after generation, and the police dedicated to aboriginal issues can’t even write a report, let alone actually combat the problem. Several words come to mind here, but I will leave it at pathetic.


While there are many deep causes of gang activity and human trafficking among aboriginal communities, in the case of street gangs trafficking children, there is a clear solution: enforce the law. If people engage in these activities, and local police always know who they are, then charge them all, with the maximum charges; charge them with organized crime, charge them with human trafficking, charge them with child abuse, and lock them up. What is lacking here is political and law enforcement will to dedicate the resources to the problem. This is most likely due to a combination of institutionalized racism and the belief that most Canadians don’t consider this an issue. Even if were true that Canadians don’t care (and it isn’t), there is no excuse for law enforcement not doing their job and enforcing the law against violent criminals who ruin peoples lives. They know this is a real problem, but their collective reactions are almost insignificant. I have talked before about the allocation of funds in Canada, but this is another case where the priorities seem very out of touch.


I am not going to play the “this party” or “that Prime Minister” game, I believe that the real problem lies in the bureaucracies that actually make the decisions, like the RCMP, rather than the figureheads we elect. That being said, we need to make it loud and clear to those figure heads that this is an unacceptable state of affairs, that we will not tolerate a culture wide attack on aboriginal children. The same applies with the media, who only provide coverage of the issue when a report comes out, or an international body condemns us. We have to change the way they view Canadians, it is not right that they think we don’t care. Tell them how wrong they are.





It Starts at Home – Aboriginal Child Sex Trafficking, Part 1

Dedicated to Sally.


This is to be the first in a series of posts dealing with the issue of the sexual trafficking of aboriginal children in Canada.


Sex trafficking in Canada has of late started to gain some important recognition in both the media and the government, and has been rightly receiving international condemnation. It is a positive change, and one sorely needed in such a supposedly healthy and vibrant society. However, most of the attention has focused on international trafficking, the smuggling of women from places like Eastern Europe and Asian into Canada to service the sex trade that operates just under the surface of our culture in places like massage parlors, strip clubs, and on the internet. This is an important topic, but these posts will be focusing on a very under-reported facet of the human sex trade in Canada, the domestic trafficking of Aboriginal girls. This first post will focus on causes, specifically the so-called “push factor” of their home life.


The definition of sex trafficking is still an ongoing subject of debate among academics and lawmakers, struggling to differentiate prostitution and trafficking and sex slavery, deciding whether to include movement as part of the conditions, debating voluntary sex trade, etc. For the purpose of this discussion, because we are focusing on the child sex trade, any form of financial transaction that involves children and sexual abuse will be considered trafficking. Without getting into the debate about prostitution as a willing trade, I believe no minor can be considered as willingly entering the “sex industry”. The domestic aspect comes in because all of these girls, as Aboriginal Canadians, are by definition domestic, they are not brought into Canada from other countries, although many are trafficked down to the United States.


To begin with, a general overview of Aboriginal children’s involvement in sex trafficking in Canada. While statistics on any topic that is black market or “underground” are notoriously difficult to accrue and tend to vary, the numbers are sobering, even at the low end of the spectrum. While representing just four percent (4%) of women in Canada, Aboriginal girls make up anywhere from thirty to 80 percent (30-80%) of the girls being trafficked, depending on the study and location. Examples include fifty percent (50%) representation in Vancouver and Ottawa, and eighty percent (80%) in Winnipeg.  This testimony was offered in open court:

Runner, who heads programming at New Directions in Winnipeg, said there are “hundreds” of teen and pre-teen girls working the streets, with an even greater number abused by adults behind closed doors. The youngest she has heard of was eight, and the average age is about 13. She told court that 80 per cent of child prostitution occurs in gang houses and “trick pads.” Runner estimated that 70 per cent of the girls are aboriginal”  (2)

Winnipeg, a provincial capital, boasts a population of around 660 000 people, and while fair sized, is not a large city by any means. For there to be hundred of aboriginal girls being trafficked just on the streets there is horrid, and one only has to imagine how those numbers would extrapolate to the larger cities in Canada, like Vancouver and Montreal, which have very active trafficking activities. Advocacy groups estimate that up to fifteen thousand (15000) women and children are victimized by trafficking every year in Canada (3). When you consider that the average age entry in sex trafficking is 13, that means that thousands of aboriginal girls are being trafficked in Canada every year; even using the most conservative number of around a third, that’s 5000 aboriginal girls every year (I would also like to point out that 13 is the average, that means that a great many are victimized below that age).  And that is conservative. A study in Vancouver estimated 5500 sex trafficking victims in that city alone (5), which would translate into roughly 2750 aboriginal girls, in just one city. These figures are sobering, shocking, dismal, pathetic, and any other adjective you could think to add to the list, especially when you consider that these statistics are almost guaranteed to be low. Needless to say, this is an unacceptable state of affairs.


In begining to examine why, we will start with the home life of these children. These figures are equally shocking. As described in my previous post (No Sound Heard : Violence Against Aboriginal Women in Canada), there is an epidemic of domestic violence against women in the aboriginal community. This is not limited to adult women.Some studies show that up to 96% of aboriginal children being trafficked reported childhood sexual abuse and up to 81% reported childhood physical abuse; other showed slightly lower numbers, indicating childhood abuse rates at 80%,  (1, pg 9), others lower at 33%-50% (1, pg11).  (This discrepancy can be attributed to small sample sizes, regional differences and different age groups being studied (some studies included aboriginal women above the age of 18), but needless to say, it is prevalent). This is nearly unimaginable, and it is not occurring only once, these children are being repeatedly abused, one study putting the average number of abusers at  four (1, pg 10). To be clear, this is also a huge problem in non aboriginal trafficking victims, but the numbers are lower. For all trafficking victims, childhood sexual assault is a common theme, and directly related to becoming later victimized by sex traffickers.

The Childhood abuse these children suffer leads to dire consequences. The least of these are reduced learning capacity, where the children have difficulty in schools, which results in lowered chances of higher education and feeds into trafficking by removing options for self-sufficiency. If these children cannot see a future for themselves, they are more likely to accept whatever is presented, or be more vulnerable to predatory lies by pimps and traffickers offering them money or a future career.

Far more destructive is the effects childhood sexual abuse has on their mental and emotional processes. These children are damaged  internally by the abuse. It affects their sense of security and stability; if there is no safety at home, they will not expect to find it anywhere else. If they cannot trust their family members or family friends, who can they trust? They grow up believing that the world is only their to hurt and abuse them, that they are not worthy of love and caring. Worse still, children have the tendency to blame themselves for the abuse, they feel that somehow they are bad, and deserve such treatment. They intrinsically know what is happening is wrong, and assume the guilt. The cumulative affects this destruction can have on their psyche is evident in prevalence of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) among trafficked females, which is put as high as 72 % (1, pg 10) which is “among the highest reported in populations where PTSD has been studied, including battered women, combat veterans, childhood trauma survivors, rape survivors, and torture survivors” (1, pg 10). Anyone who pays attention to the news will be familiar with the toll PTSD is taking on veterans in the US, and the rash of suicides to which it is causally linked (6). Symptoms include (but are in no way limited to) : inability to feel positive about oneself, feeling numb, lack of interest in what is going on, memory problems and inability to think about the traumatic events, overwhelming guilt or shame and inability to form relationships. A cluster of these symptoms is similar to dissociative disorder, and it does not take a PHD to be able to see how these children would be easily manipulated or lead into trafficking, especially when the trauma is ongoing and continuous; they would have to dissociate just to maintain some semblance of sanity in a world where they are victimized over and over, night after night. They become easy prey for traffickers because they are not present in their reality, they can be lead around easily.

Another very destructive, but perhaps more insidious result of this trauma is the internalization these children do of sexual abuse as normal. They learn to believe that that is an appropriate way to show affection or is what “relationships” are about. They learn to think that they only way they can receive love is through violence or abuse (7) . They will loose the ability to develop normal relationships or even friendships. This can lead into trafficking as it makes them accepting of those behaviors when predators do it to them; they stop recognizing it as wrong, as abuse. It can also have a longer term effect. If they manage to escape the trafficking and return to “civilian” life, they are much more likely to be with a partner who abuses them (and this is prevalent in indigenous women’s life), thus perpetuating their internalization and acceptance of the abuse. This can be even worse if they have children, because they are more likely to be complicit in the abuse of their children; this is one of the ways child sexual abuse and trafficking becomes inter-generational, especially in aboriginal communities. If the mothers believe that sexual abuse is normal, or even just not wrong, they will be much less likely to attempt to stop it, or report it, or support the victims, thus perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Their children become the next round of abused and trafficked girls feed into the system.

Perhaps the most disturbing root cause mentioned in relation to the home of abused children was familial trafficking, where the family itself trafficked the children, or pushed them into trafficking, for financial gain (1, pg 12, 14). This is associated with the abject poverty that most aboriginal families live in, as well as structural factors like inter-generational abuse, residual affects of the residential school system, etc. It seems unthinkable, but there are aboriginal parents who not only abuse their children, but sell them to abusers. The acceptance of abuse must be so ingrained and the social conditions must be so terrible for this to somehow becomes acceptable. There are historical examples, and it does occur in other parts of the world, but in those examples, selling your children or slavery is either the norm (historical) or legal/quasi-legal (current, see Morocco for example).

One final way that the roots of sexual abuse lead to trafficking we shall examine is the relationship to care facilities and homelessness. Sexual abuse and the havoc it wrecks in a child’s life, combined with structural factors like poverty, lead to a large amount of aboriginal children either being placed in the care of the state or running away. Both are statistically correlated with increased risk of trafficking. Homelessness, which is a natural reaction to abuse and perceived lack of opportunity, was reported from 80-98 percent of trafficking victims (1, pgs10-11) and an US study states “the majority of minors who become involved in prostitution are runaway or thrown away children from abusive or otherwise dysfunctional homes” (8). Being homeless, especially if they run away from a reserve to a large urban center, causes aboriginal girls to be easy targets for trafficking. Lack of economic opportunity, systemic racism, lack of friends/family and basic lack of shelter make them easy targets. They can be lured (or “groomed”) very quickly if they have nothing, needing a place to stay or some food or even just some attention. It also makes them more vulnerable to the more coercive methods, like drug addiction or sheer violence. If no one knows who they are or where to look for them, they will not likely be missed if they disappear.

State care is also strongly correlated with both child sexual abuse and trafficking in aboriginal children. Several Canadian studies list it as a major factor (1, pg 12,13,18), and in the US, it is believed that 59% of victims of trafficking come from the state/foster care system (9). The same factors that lead children to run away also force them into the state care system: poverty and lack of adequate housing, violence and abuse, drug/alcohol use. It as a sad irony that indigenous children are forced into government care because of factors that the government is at least partially responsible for. The damage the residential system did to aboriginal culture and to aboriginals as individuals is well documented, and the closing of the system was well warranted, but the fact is we have replaced it with something equally as destructive, and more pervasive. Around half (49%) of children in foster care are aboriginal, despite representing only 4% of Canada’s population, or looking at it another way, 4% of all aboriginal children are in foster care, compared to 0.3 percent of all other canadian children (10).  These numbers alone are tragic, but when combined with the high ratio of foster care recipients involved in trafficking, it is obvious many aboriginal children are being “funneled” into trafficking by the system.

The picture here is bleak. Aboriginal girls are vastly over-represented in sex trafficking, and the roots to this problem start in the home. Poverty, squalid living conditions, educational deficits, drug and alcohol abuse and systemic racism set the stage for childhood trauma in the form of violence and sexual abuse. The rates of this are much greater than in the population of Canada as a whole. This leads to mental and emotional trauma that can last a lifetime. This leads to monstrous rates of child seizures by the state. This leads to running away from home and homelessness. As we have seen, all of these factors are highly correlated with being a victim of sex trafficking. We have to take drastic and immediate steps to help free these girls from a life of violence and abuse.

The first step, perhaps the most important, is to provide these children with stable, peaceful homes, with connections to their communities and culture. The violence against aboriginal girls and women must stop. These children are being systematically driven into trafficking. I am not an anthropologist, or an expert on Aboriginal cultures and traditions, but I am certain that these issues were not prevalent before colonization. This is not to romanticize aboriginal culture; they had wars, they had kidnapping of women, they no doubt had criminals and bad people, but the culture of violence towards women that is prevalent today is a reaction to a systemic attempt to wipe them out as a people. As a culture, we must stop exacerbating this problem, we must stop treating aboriginals as second class citizens, we must stop stealing their children and placing them in (predominantly white) foster care or group homes. We must change the way we interact with them as a people, and as individuals.

The main battlefront though must, by necessity, be within the the aboriginal communities themselves. The cultural forces pressing upon them will unfortunately probably not be changing quickly; it is incumbent upon aboriginals, specifically the men, to change how they behave towards women and children. This will be different in the various cultures and regions that make up the aboriginal community, but the effort must be systemic and sustained. The cultural shift must come from within, if it is forced on them, it will not work. I have known many aboriginal people, they are wonderful people, intelligent, caring passionate, funny, just like the rest of Canadians. There are many brave aboriginals already standing up and speaking out against the violence, women and men who see the need for a change. We, as Canadians, should help and support them as much as we can, but not direct or impose upon them. The current state of affairs is not acceptable. No child sexual abuse or trafficking is, but for it to be so prevalent in one group of Canadians is unforgivable, it reeks of racism and cultural genocide, and we are all better than this.


  1. Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls, Native Women’s Association of Canada, March 2014
  3. National Post, “Child Trafficking Under Our Radar: MP”, Katie Rook, Friday, April 11th, 2008

Consume Us: Culture and child sexual abuse

Dedicated to Lori, Heather, Miss S, true warriors, and my role models


In looking at how our culture condones the sexual abuse of children,we shall examine it in light of two aspects of our culture: the treatment of individuals as resources, and the privilege of wealth and power. This is by no means an exclusive list, and there are many more ways our culture encourages this behavior. The problem of child sexual abuse is a worldwide problem, and the ways it will interact with various cultures can be vastly different. Being a North American, this post will focus on our culture, as I feel it is hardly fair to make judgements about cultures I have not experienced first hand. It does, however, need to be addressed in all cultures; the solutions will look different, the problem is the same. For the purposes of this post, we shall be limiting the scope of child sexual abuse to such concepts as human trafficking, sexual slavery, sexual abuse by authority figures and the prostitution of children, (though I believe these arguments apply equally well to adult prostitution as well). The other side of child sexual abuse, incestual/domestic sexual abuse and random rape/victimization are different issues that have distinct features and require their own discussion; we shall focus on abuse involving monetary transactions or imbalances of power.


Culture can be broadly defined as the collective beliefs, traditions, histories and norms (accepted behaviors) that are transmitted from generation to generation, and unites a people, either because of geography (nation states) or ethnicity or religion (religion is a tricky one, because it can unite people irregardless of geography or ethnicity, but it is also  a part of the larger culture of geographical or ethnic culture).  This includes transmission devices like art and literature, mass media, science, social organizations and education systems. Though generally rooted in history and tradition, cultures are always evolving. Most of this evolution is incremental, responding to shifts in the environment and collective beliefs over time, but it can also be rapid and violent. Cultures usually include subcultures, be they ethnic minorities or social dissidents or the stylistic rebels; although some cultures actively stamp out subcultures, in others, such as ours, they are generally tolerated, and usually blend into the mainstream culture after a time. One does not have to agree with a culture or even be aware of it to be affected by it, it is the collective conscious that is omnipresent and pervasive. In fact, the more one diverges from cultural norms, the more one realizes what those norms are, and in trying to rebel, one is affected by the norm none-the less.


Our capitalist/consumer culture is predicated on the notion of people not as individuals, but as resources. The industrial Revolution was a seismic shift in society, and though not the beginning of capitalism, it was the “leap forward” event, allowing for an ever greater acceleration of capitalism and the culture we now know. It was the staging point of mass industry , resulted in dramatic changes to  education, and a re-orientation of how people were seen, from subjects of royalty to resources of the capitalist system. Today, we are defined by how productive we are and how much we consume. The company we work for, the clothes we wear, our phones and cars are all identity marker, telling us and other who we are. The government and industry sees us as commodities, our worth measured by how much capital we can make for a company and how much of our income is spent in various categories. Anyone who has applied for a job is familiar with the term “human resources”, which is a perfect summation of our value to that company. As soon as we are no longer the most economically viable resource, we will be discarded. The government measure things like the economy in terms of movement of capital as a system, and individual success or failure is immaterial. As long as the economy is doing well, the state of being of individual citizens can be ignored.


This relates directly to child sexual abuse in it’s various monetary forms. The culture seeps down from the top, and people are seen as resources on a personal level. Pimps and traffickers view children solely as a means to earn massive amounts of profit. The pimps do not see themselves evil, the are merely entrepreneurial, making the most money they can using the opportunities they have in the system. The children are not seen victims, they are resources to be traded and bartered with, their pain and suffering immaterial to the transaction at hand. The dehumanizing that the system does to us is personalized in this relationship. No longer are the children people, they are money makers. This is merely a micro version of the system as a whole, tacitly condoned by the system that at best ignores the problem. Pimps are glorified on television and in music, able to by their way out of legal trouble, and if they are successful enough, trafficker and pimps can gain entry into higher levels of society through their wealth. Capitalism places no moral value on money, it does not matter how you gather wealth, only that you have amassed it. We can see a similar effect in military training, dehumanizing the enemy to make it easier to kill them; if people are not “human beings”, just resources, any number of horrific acts can be morally sloughed off as “just getting mine” or “trying to get by in the system”, not as heinous acts of barbarism solely committed for selfish ends.


While this post is not related directly to adult prostitution, I do feel it necessary to comment on the effect this culture has on women, especially in light of the ever increasing sexualization of children in the media. Women are being told, at a cultural level, to use their sexuality to benefit themselves, they are encouraged to use it as a power over men, to get their way, to gain financial advantage. In my opinion, the notion of sex as a commodity is damaging to women in general, and children specifically. If sex is a commodity, then it can be bought and sold; if it is a weapon or tool, it can be used both ways. If an adult  chooses to do so, that is their choice, but it creates a culture that allows it to happen to children as well. It fosters the notion that our bodies are resources , not part of ourselves, and it tells men that women’s bodies are objects that are available for a price. This is  detrimental in a culture that is increasing sexualizing our youth. It can be seen in television commercials that dress younger and younger girls in skimpier and skimpier outfits, or the pervasiveness of teen taking half-naked “selfies” and posting them on the internet, or in the over the top behavior of young celebrities whose fans are all adolescents. We should not want children to think of themselves as sex objects, and we most definitely do not want them to be seen that way by adults.


(For the record, I consider myself a feminist,  in the sense that I believe in equality for all people, that women are equal to men. I am all for empowerment and liberty of all people, but there is a vast difference between empowerment and objectification. If a woman has to use her looks or sex to succeed, her worth solely determined by her body, then she is still not being considered as a whole; I do not consider this empowerment. Women should be valued for the same reasons men are, their intelligence, drive, passion, creativity, etc, not for how big their boobs are)


The second component of culture to be examined is the privilege of wealth and power. For the purposes of this post, we shall consider the terms as essentially interchangeable. Though the two are separate concepts (one can have wealth and little power, and achieve power with little wealth), in general, in our society, wealth gives one power. This can be seen in the way corporations are favored by government over individual rights, and profits for wall street take priority over the fiscal health of the vast majority of people. On a more micro level, this can be seen in the interactions between bosses and employees, or between people with high income jobs versus people in low income jobs. There is a power imbalance that wealth creates, and fosters the notion that people with money can treat those without however they like. This, combined with the idea that the body is a consumable resource, creates a culture where the rich feel entitled to people as a property, a toy to use as they will. As long as they have the money and influence, they can do as they wish with people.


Relate this down to the “john”, the consumer of prostitution. The sexual abuse of children is not limited to the ultra-rich and powerful, it is committed by groups of people in many income groups. As long as you can afford to pay for the services, it will be provided. It is not a rare occurrence in human trafficking, most who are used in prostitution begin at a young age and are discarded at a relatively young age also. There is a premium value placed on youth, perhaps to simulate innocence and virginity. Johns know that they can have almost any desire catered to, allowing them to indulge in any depravity they can afford, up to and including murder. They are allowed to see their victims as not as human beings with feelings or emotions, but as property they have paid for, dolls or toys. The dehumanizing mentioned before absolves the abusers from having to empathize with the victims, it is merely a transaction. It creates a type of virtual reality where their actions take place not in the reality of the pain and suffering they create, but of pleasure commerce, a fantasy that exists only to serve their needs.


The child sexual abuse that goes on barely bellow the surface does not exist in a vacuum. From the child abuse rings being exposed in England to the john who buys a blowjob from an under-aged girl (or boy) on the street corner, these are all acts that are tacitly condoned by the consumer culture we live in. Capitalism strips people of their intrinsic worth and replaces it with fiscal value, and as long as you have the funds, you can consume people like beverages and toss them away like empties when done. No emotional involvement in involved, only the indulgence of desires, no matter how vile. No where are the principals of capitalism, supply and demand, more evident than in the “black market”. While clearly the traffickers and profiteers are a problem, the real problem is the demand. We, as a culture, need to ask if it is acceptable to treat people like objects. We need to look in the mirror, so to speak, and examine the assumptions that underlie the behaviors. If respect and dignity were valued over profit and consumption, would this behavior be allowed to continue? If empathy was taught instead of satiation of desires, would people be able to turn away from the suffering this “industry” creates, the way they do now? We need to combat the societal forces that encourage the demand, we need to change our culture.


(also for the record, this is in no way excusing the behavior of traffickers, pimps, johns or any other sadist who abuses children. They need to be held accountable for their actions on an individual level. This is merely an attempt to examine cultural factors)






Priorities – Aboriginal Women’s shelters in Canada

The decision to leave a situation of domestic violence is an incredibly difficult one for women. It can take years of abuse to finally get to the point where they decide that they to leave. Besides the emotions they may still have for their abuser, they also have to consider what effect it will have on their children, how they will survive financially and socially, and most basically, where are they going to go? This can be especially difficult for Aboriginal women, who suffer abuse at a much higher rate and also have to deal with issues of disenfranchisement and culture. Women’s shelters across Canada are a vital tool that allow women to escape from domestic violence and escape homelessness. These shelters allow women and their children a place to go when they can no longer stay at home. These stays can last from a few days to months, and generally involve keeping the identity of it’s occupants hidden, to protect them from retaliation from their abusers.


In doing research into women’s shelters across Canada, I came to be very shocked and depressed. There is a stunning lack of women’s shelters across Canada, and the lack is greatest in the north and rural areas, where the need is strongest. As one might expect, there are more shelters in large urban centers, like Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, but in the north and rural areas, they are few and far between. Take a look at the Rave Project map of shelters and you see the distribution is very clustered (, and grows thinner and thinner the further north you go (Obviously, the population is densest in large urban areas, but the need for shelters is not solely determined by population density).


The North and rural areas are where the Aboriginal populations are the highest and the need is greatest. Aboriginal women are subject to violence and abuse at home at much higher rates than the rest of the women in this country (see previous post for stats), and the lack of an escape route is a key factor in their inability to escape the cycle of violence .  Having to travel hundreds of kilometers or even half way across the province could seem daunting. Especially for aboriginal women on reserves, whose “status”, and thus access to government programs and support, is tied to the geography of their band and reserve. Added with the other pressures and complexities of such a life altering decision, and you can see how this makes it much harder for them to work up the courage to leave; if you have nowhere to go, how can you contemplate escape?


Perhaps even more worrying is the fact that all of the women’s shelters are charity organizations. Each and every one had a donation button on their website, and they are all in need of financial assistance from the public to stay open.  This is in no way a knock on charities and on the volunteers that staff them; they generally do wonderful work, and obviously provide a much needed service. In fact, so much needed that they are continually full and unable to meet the demand. “One grim statistic stood out. On the day of the survey, Canadian shelters turned away 286 women and 205 children. There simply wasn’t room. (Ontario’s auditor general Bonnie Lysyk found emergency shelters turned away 15,000 women — 56 per cent of those who sought help — in her 2013 annual report.)” (1). If over half the women who need to use a shelter are turned away, clearly charity alone is not enough to handle the situation. This means those women either had to stay at home and face continued abuse or they face homelessness, if they had already left their abuser. (Another option is of course staying with friends or relatives, but this is usually not helpful, because it becomes very easy for the abuser to track them down, especially in smaller communities like reserves, where everyone knows every one else).


The issue here is funding from the government.Despite being charities, shelters receive most of their funding from various levels of government. In 2013, the federal government pledged 600 million dollars over 5 years towards shelters across Canada, or roughly 120 million a year (2). Assuming they have kept their word (a very big if, but we shall concede the point for arguments sake), that money is still for all types of shelters, from women’s shelters to homeless shelters, etc, and according to the same article, the women’s shelters receive less than other types (2). And thus aboriginal shelters would receive an even smaller fraction. And there are indications that aboriginal shelters are underfunded compared to non-aboriginal shelters (5). Still, that might sound like a lot of money, until you consider there are nearly 600 shelters for abused women alone, according to StatsCan (3). Even is they received all that money for themselves, that’s only 200 000 dollars per shelter, and that is nowhere near enough to provide year round care for up to 30 clients at a time. Shelters also receive funding from other levels of government, for example, in Alberta, the provincial government contributed  another 27 million dollars to women’s shelters (4). And they also receive funding from municipal governments, and presumably grants for non-profit organizations. However, clearly, it is not nearly enough to meet the need if over half of the women who gather the courage to leave their abuser have to be turned away.


To look at it from a different angle, if you live in a major metropolitan city, how much did the government spend on building a new hockey arena? I guarantee you it is more than 120 million dollars, which is the total the federal government spent on all shelters across the nation. Does it make sense that the government spends more on building arenas, which are not considered public property by any stretch of the imagination, than it does on caring for abused women (not to mention men, and the homeless, and halfway houses, etc)? The federal budget for 2014 was 279.2 billion dollars (wikipedia), which means that it spent around 0.043 percent of the budget on shelters (again, all shelters) for our most disadvantaged citizens. The budget for the military in 2013 was 17.9 billion (6), or over 149 times as much; the budget for overseas operations alone was 476 million. This is not to bash the military in any way, just to serve as an example of where priorities seem a bit out of whack. I am not saying there is no need for a strong military, or that taking part in the “war on terror” is not an important commitment, but there are many Canadian women, especially Aboriginals women, who need care and aid, and they are not receiving it.


There is one other thing I discovered during my research that I wanted to address. I found a distressing tendency for this issue to be politicized. Any discussion of spending issues is bound to be political, and government spending should be discussed. What distressed me was the use of women’s shelters as fodder for gender politics. To me, while gender is obviously part of the discussion on women’s shelters and abuse, gender politics is totally inappropriate when discussing sheltering and protecting abused women. Do you think these women care about feminism versus masculinism or terminology issues when fleeing another beating from a spouse? I certainly don’t!  I think anyone who uses this issue to push any ideology or an “ism” (and there were certainly people on both sides of the issue using it) is doing a grave disservice to these women. Certainly issues around gender and culture belong in the larger issue of abuse, but shelters are about helping and protecting real people, not ideas and ideologies. (And for the record, this is in no way a denial of the need for shelters for men also, that is another very real, very serious issue.) Domestic abuse is not political, it is personal, ideas do not get black eyes or broken bones.


This post has focused on aboriginal women, but make no mistake, this is an issue for all women, it is just worse for aboriginals. The lack of options for woman who is looking to escape an abusive relationship is akin to condemning them to suffer more abuse. A fifty percent turn away ratio is unacceptable, especially in a country so rich.  Canada is a wonderful country, full of loving, caring people. This is not a case of incivility, it is a case of misplaced priorities of the government. The fact that shelter’s continue to operate on donations and volunteer work demonstrate that Canadians do care about the suffering of abused women. I am not advocating spending more money or increasing the deficit, but we need to change the way the government spends its resources. We must make the government understand that this is the case, and force it to bring it’s spending more in line with the values that we have as a society: caring for one another, especially in times of need.



Apartheid: Alive and well in Canada

dedicated to Paul, a tireless supporter of  indigenous cultures and justice.


Apartheid is a powerful word. It is taught to children worldwide to represent segregation and subjugation of a people by the state, is essentially synonymous with racism and carries the weight of a general evil. It came to worldwide attention thanks to the effort of legendary South African civil rights activist (and later president) Nelson Mandela, and after decades of resistance and global outrage, the system was finally ended officially in South Africa in 1991.  I thought it appropriate during Israel Apartheid Week to write about another Apartheid state that quietly continues the practice: Canada.


In Canada, Aboriginal people are subject to the “Indian Act 1876” (part of the Constitution act, section 91(24)), which lays out how the federal government deals with the 641 bands recognized in Canada on some 2300 reserves, through Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). This legislation stemmed from the “Gradual Civilization Act” and the language gives away the game. It is a codified version of the  so-called “White Man’s Burden”, a deeply racist belief that aboriginal people are essentially savages who need to be taught to think and act like the European settlers. “The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change.” (John A Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada, 1887)


The Indian Act functions in many ways to oppress the Aboriginal people. Bands are the name given to Tribes recognized by the Canadian government, and are usually tied to locations called reserves. The land itself in owned by the Crown/Canadian Government (although this is changing as many bands are using the courts to sue for ownership of their traditional land) and run by the Chief and Council of the band. This is important to note, as the bands do not own the land, they are generally not permitted to sell it or borrow money against it. This is based on the degrading belief that Aboriginal people are not capable of making decisions about the use of their own land and the state must protect them (1). This also means that individual aboriginals do not own the houses or the land they live on, cannot sell it and move and cannot get loans using it as collateral. They are there at the mercy of their band council. This removes their sense of ownership and their sense of freedom, which cannot do anything but erode their sense-esteem and self-worth. They are essentially serfs on their own land.


Location of the reserve plays a large part in determining the quality of life on that reserve. If you are lucky enough to live on a reserve close to oil and gas operations, or which runs a casino, you might have a decent quality of life, but then again you may not, as the tribal council controls the funds that come into the reserve and their dispensation. Most bands do not have access to extra-governmental sources of income, and the reserves mostly resemble slums in third world countries. I have personally been on reserves that do not have paved roads and housing that looked unsuitable for habitation (including one in Vancouver, one of the wealthiest cities in Canada).  Most reserves are in remote locations with no real prospects of employment. The poverty is rampant and multi-generational, health on reserves is woefully below Canadian norms, suicide rates are horrific and drug and alcohol abuse is high, especially for women (2,3). The aboriginal people are keep apart from Canadian society, an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Aboriginals living off-reserve do not suffer these plights as badly, and this allows Canadians to willfully ignore the deplorable conditions that are endemic to the reserve system.


Traditionally the federal government ran all services on reserves, although this has changed and many bands are responsible for their own services, including education and policing, using government transfer funds.  While this sounds like a good thing, it actually has detrimental effects on people on the reserves. The Chiefs and Councils receive funding from the federal government and are solely responsible for those funds. This has lead to a system that greatly resembles feudalism. Chiefs and Councils decide who lives where, what services are provided and where the money goes. There are many examples of Chiefs paying themselves salaries larger than Premiers (think state governor), having huge bursaries and expensive vehicles (4) while their band members live in abject poverty. Because they control the purse strings, the “leaders” of bands can unduly influence elections to remain in power and set up systems of nepotism and crony capitalism where friends and family get lavish contracts (5). Many Chiefs you see in the media are no more than corrupt politicians who are responsible for the hardships endured by their band members while they enrich themselves. They do not represent the reality of reserve life; they wear suits and fly around to conferences and mingle with politicians and other elites. To be absolutely clear, there are many Chiefs who work tirelessly to improve the lot of their people and do great things for their reserves, they are true leaders. But in a system built for control, abuse will unfortunately be rampant.


Aboriginal people are divided in the Indian Act into” status” (recognized) and “non-status Indians”, and the federal government keeps a list of all “status Indians”. This status is a legal framework, and many, if not most, aboriginals peoples are not considered “status Indians”, including the Metis people, Inuits and many others. There are further divisions into band membership lists, “treaty Indians” and “resereve Indian”s (6). It is very convoluted and even as I write about it, i barely begin to grasp all the variances. The real problem is this allows the government to decide ethnicity as a legal issue, not bloodlines and family. I personally find it despicable that paper-pushers in Ottawa are allowed to deny someone recognition of their heritage based on arcane laws. (While I have no evidence, I would be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of employees of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs are white). While we are all smart enough to realize this is a legal fiction, it is a further attack on aboriginal identity, and a slap in the face to many people who are told they are not considered Indians by the government and denied access to the same service others receive. Not only are we separating them from society, we have created artificial divisions amongst the aboriginal people, and use the law to attack their identity.


Many Canadians believe that status is a desirable thing, and some less open-minded people complain that Aboriginals have great advantages, like tax exemption and free tuition to University. While it is true that On-reserve aboriginals receive those “perks”, that argument is disingenuous at best. If an aboriginal person lives and works off-reserve, they pay taxes like any other Canadian. And free access to university would be great if they had access to education that provided them a conduit into higher education, however, they do not. On-reserve education is lagging behind education in a regular public or private school, and they suffer from high drop out rates, around 40% nationwide, and much higher in northen communities (7). Others complain of the huge sums of money the government funnels into the reserve system, which is also true, but as previously mentioned, that money disappears into the council and most aboriginals receive little of it and live in squalid conditions.

The reserve and Status system of the “Indian Act” is a system of segregation and subjugation. Aboriginal people are separated from Canada physically and symbolically, they are kept in ghettos and marginalized. This system of institutionalized racism is responsible for the degradation of  Aboriginal culture. Many aboriginal languages and cultures are dying as their elders pass away and youths, desperate to escape the reserves, leave and are not educated in their own history and culture. Historically, Aboriginals were taken to boarding schools and forced to learn english against their will. Today, they are pushed away from their culture by the horrors of reserve life. Either way, the result is the same, disconnecting a people from their roots. This disconnect makes it easier to “integrate” them into our Judeo-christian european culture, effectively brainwashing them to our way of life; we give them no choice but to buy in.


We have to end the apartheid in Canada. The Indian Act is fundamentally a racist piece of legislation and bee used for well over a hundred years to separate aboriginals from society, create divisions among their peoples, disintegrate their varied beautiful cultures and force them to adopt our way of life, and force a system of feudalism on the reserves. There have been many amendments over the years to try and improve the act, but this is not enough. The Indian Act is flawed at its base and needs to go. We have to recognize Aboriginal people as full members of society, not second class citizens who need a paternalistic government to look after them, no matter where they live. Ancestry and heritage is not determined by law, and in a country that prides itself on multiculturalism, we need to respect the culture of the people who were here before us. We decried Apartheid in South Africa, yet we tolerate it in our own backyard. The hypocrisy is galling.

  1. Apartheid : Canada`s Ugly Secret, The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Tanis Fiss, April 2004
  3. Aboriginal Women & Healthcare in Canada, Native Women`s Association of Canada, May 2002
  5.  “Politics family affair on reserves.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Parker, James, February 2002