A defeat for decency

This past May, it started with this:

Ce projet créera inévitablement une augmentation majeure de la criminalité dans votre voisinage, prostitution, trafic de drogues tel que le crack et les méthamphetamines, présence de seringues, de condoms, de tessons de bouteilles sur les trottoirs et ruelles, dans les parcs, le vandalisme, et les vols et les crimes violents contre la personne, errance, odeurs d’urine, etc.

(This project will inevitably create a major increase in crime in your neighbourhood, prostitution, the trafficking of drugs such as crack and methamphetamines, the presence of syringes, condoms, pieces of broken bottles on the sidewalks and alleys, in parks, vandalism, and thefts and violent crimes against persons, vagrancy and the smell of urine, etc.)

Earlier today, it ended like this.

KUUJJUAQ— The Nunavik Regional Health and Social Services Board announced Sept. 9 that its board of directors has decided to abandon plans to renovate a former Chinese hospital in the Villeray district of Montreal into a residence for Nunavimmiut receiving health care services in the city.

This amounts to a victory for the handful of racists who wrote the vile words quoted above, which they included in a handbill distributed throughout the Villeray district of Montreal and posted on the internet. In the end, they kept a new Inuit patient hostel, which they described as an “imminent danger,” from being developed in their neighbourhood.

La Presse, probably the best newspaper in the province right now, was the only news organization in Montreal to give this story the attention it deserved. The headline on this June 2 article, "Fear and ignorance," pretty much nails it.

And for the decent people of that district, part of a Montreal borough called Villeray–Saint Michel–Park Extension, along with a handful of courageous Inuit individuals who also tried to defend the proposal, today’s announcement from the Nunavik health board must surely amount to a demoralizing defeat.

At the same time, the Inuit of Nunavik, who are in urgent need of a new medical hostel in Montreal to replace an existing facility that’s located in a nasty crime-ridden section of St. Jacques West, received weak support at best from the body that purports to represent their health care interests: the Nunavik Regional Health and Social Services Board. The organization seemed incapable or producing any kind of articulate, assertive defence of the Villeray patient home proposal. And when the matter came before the Villeray–Saint Michel–Park Extension council earlier this week, most of the board were off enjoying themselves at a “healing” junket in Hawaii.

And with the exception of La Presse, news organizations in the city failed to expose the racism that drove this dispute. The Gazette, for example, produced only one half-decent news story and a pusillanimous editorial in which an anonymous editorialist downplayed the issue as “a teapot tempest.”

As for local politicians, the only elected official to take a stand in favour of the Inuit was Justin Trudeau, whose Papineau riding includes part of the Villeray–Saint Michel–Park Extension borough and who signed a petition in support of the patient home proposal. There may be others, but I have yet to find their voices quoted anywhere.

This entry was posted in Arctic, Canada, circumpolar world, Inuit, Journalism, News, Nunatsiaq News, Nunavik and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.