Canada’s LGBTQ+ Protections: Why FB comments backfire.


When Canadian conservatives get SUPER aggressive and upset at corporations and businesses showing support for the LGBTQ+ community I can’t help but shake my head. 

Y’all know LGBTQ+ people have protected charter rights? These business are standing with them, on the right side of the law, and saying “we’re a safe place.” 

So when you complain and say “I guess I’m not shopping there anymore” or whatever, you out yourself as an unsafe person to anyone in your life that is LGBTQ+ (out or in the closet) and their family members. You out yourself as someone motivated by fear and hatred. 

Every business in Canada is required by law to treat LGBTQ+ folx with the same respect and dignity as every other Canadian and citizen. They are required by law to create safe space for everyone. This doesn’t mean that everyone agrees, but it DOES mean that every single Canadian has the right to not hearing hate speech or prejudice directed at them for simply existing. 

There are several precedents in Canada for employers dismissing staff due to conduct on Facebook and other social media platforms. It’s not just limited to LGBTQ+ remarks either. Any form of discrimination and hate speech can be grounds for termination of employment and possible criminal charges. Hate speech in Canada is defined as: ” “detestation” and “vilification” aptly describe the harmful effect that the Code seeks to eliminate. Representations that expose a target group to detestation tend to inspire enmity and extreme ill-will against them, which goes beyond mere disdain or dislike. Representations vilifying a person or group will seek to abuse, denigrate or delegitimize them, to render them lawless, dangerous, unworthy or unacceptable in the eyes of the audience. Expression exposing vulnerable groups to detestation and vilification goes far beyond merely discrediting, humiliating or offending the victims.”

So yes, if your remarks call into question the legitimacy of a person or group, by definition of law, those remarks are hate speech and punishable under the criminal code. If your remarks are meant to inspire ill-will and enmity (animosity, garner others to ostracize) then those remarks are also hate speech and punishable under the criminal code.

In an era of smart phones, where anyone can screen shot comments and online interactions to use as evidence in a harassment complaint, what you post on the internet could land you not only in Facebook jail, but the real one as well.

If you’re so petty as to not do business with a company that welcomes and protects LGBTQ+ people, or you actively lash out in the comments of minorities, you might want to leave Canada—because it’s the law here.

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Reflection on ‘Why aren’t fake Indigenous art makers going to jail in Canada?’

Below are exerpts from a piece recently published on The Discourse.

Through intense investigation, and sometimes facing horrific apathy from business owners, Francesca Fionada highlights the practice of commodifying a culture.

Undercover agents, search warrants and traceable forensic ink — all part of a multi-year investigation that ultimately busted an international crime ring moving millions of dollars of fraudulent goods into parts of New Mexico and California. So far, the investigation has put two men in prison and handed down thousands of dollars in fines.

In my own community, local Indigenous artisans sell their work on the street, in cafes, and occasionally in shops. The average settler Canadian is put off and quite rude when approached for purchase, but has little to no problem obstaining knock offs like these from the local souvenier shop to take home to loved ones.

The goods in question? Fake Indigenous art.

Selling fraudulent Indigenous art is illegal in the U.S. under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, and is punishable by up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine for an individual — or up to $1 million for a company. Though jail time is rare, for the first time ever a man was sentenced to six months in prison and had to pay nearly $10,000 in fines in August 2018 for his part in a multimillion dollar scheme to import Navajo-themed turquoise jewellery made overseas — and sell it as authentic Navajo art. 

I remember being gifted a large ornate dream catcher for high school graduation back in 2005. A white person purchased it from what’s best described as a drug store. It had a made in China sticker on the tag. They never understood why I was disgusted. And I mean disgusted. I was beyond offended. Purchasing a knock off of a segment of Indigenous identity (as a white person) to give as a gift to another Indigenous person (who’s culture IS NOT THE SAME) is rude and insensitive.

A second man was sentenced a few months earlier to two days in jail and had to pay $500 for his lesser role in the operation.

“This landmark investigation has brought much needed attention to the rampant problem of counterfeit Native American jewelry and art in the marketplace,” said Edward Grace, the acting assistant director of one of the U.S. law enforcement teams that led the investigation, in an August 2018 press release.  

In my opinion, this goes beyond cultural appropriation and government officials need to do SOMETHING in effort to protect Indigenous art and artists.

“We hope today’s sentencings will deter others who would seek to defraud consumers and undermine Native American artists,” he added.

In Canada, no such law exists against misrepresenting inauthentic Indigenous-themed items as real — and  tourist shops across the country are rife with fake Indigenous pieces.

I highly recommend reading the entirety of the article, the link is included at the end of my post. Please share the original article far and wide—note, everything in italics are Francesca’s words and I do not take credit in any way for her hard work. I am merely reflecting and giving the article a signal boost from this platform.

https://www.thediscourse.ca/urban-nation/fake-art-laws

I deleted Facebook

CW: Depression. Suicide.

Two weeks ago, I took a break from Facebook. I posted well in advance that I was taking a break from it for probably a month. My selfcontrol around social media, specifically Facebook and the comments (oh the comments) was exacerbating my current mental health slump. So I said enough and backed off. Three things happened.

1. (Almost) No One Cared

I posted something along the lines of this: I will be taking an indefinite break from Facebook due to serious mental health concerns. If you’d like my email or phone number to keep in touch, PM me before tomorrow.

Out of all my many contacts, across three pages and my personal profile only FIVE people responded. And of those five, three asked if I would still be on messenger.

I felt even more alone than I did when I was lost in the sea of comments, memes, and trending posts. Where were all my so called friends? People that I KNOW in person care about me, but beyond the odd like here and there, have been radio silent during my struggle.

2. Unsolicited Medical Advice

After being off of Facebook for two weeks, I shared on Twitter that I’ve been battling suidical ideation and depression for a while. I disclosed about my battle with weight gain and how to get my life back I needed drastic changes—including deleting Facebook.

Within minutes I had multiple messages filled with advice on diets, treatment, counselling, nutrition, wellness gimmicks, and many other unsolicited solutions.

Here’s why that’s harmful: to offer unsolicited advice assumes that the person hasn’t already done the work. It reinforces the “try harder” model of recovery that has been proven ineffective without a holistic approach. Fact is, I’ve been on this journey much longer than has been public and have a better grasp on what’s available in my city and for my needs than those who have been wall flowers in my life.

After a lengthy set of conversations over messenger, and Instagram, I was drained and cried out. I felt the need to defend my right to privacy of treatment even though I was being open about my struggle. Sharing where I am at is not the same as inviting advice.

I posted an update set to friends only with my email, and PM’d a few close friends my phone number and told people to contact me that way. This time, though no one emailed, six friends responded to by texting me.

3. Radio Silence

Though the constant input of information and outrage culture is gone, my phone and inbox are dead silent. I pulled away, and next to no one followed. The ones that did, are the ones that are in the same boat as me health wise. They have a lot going on in their personal and professional lives and cannot carry the burden of another unwell friend.

This concerns me a bit. Where the healthy people at? And are there any?

We tell folx to reach out, to share when they are struggling. We affirm over and over again that we are here for them. If you need anything, just let me know—we say. Yet here I am, and countless others are, shouting in every direction that we are not okay. We long for people to reach out at talk with us without the agenda of offering solutions. We want someone who will sit in the muck with us without the expecation of improvement. We want someone who will order skip the dishes to our house, or come over and do the dishes and leave, or bring a coffee without being asked, or just text us mundane stuff throughout the day so we feel connected.

What even is support?

Support looks different for different people. One thing it is absolutely not is “have you tried….”, “did you consider…..”, “eat/read/do/listen/ ……..”. It’s “hey I’m thinking of you”, a text of your pet or child doind something silly, a snail mail letter, a long rambling email, human connection—it’s the anticipation of a loved one’s physical and emotional needs and meeting them if you’re able—it’s love.

When someone is suicidal or depressed, they need unconditional solution free love. If it weren’t for the unconditional love of my partner and three friends, I wouldn’t be here.

Mother’s Day: Gender and Trauma

There are many reasons why this day is hard for me. I know it’s difficult for others too. I see you and I support you.

For those of us who have difficult relationships with our mothers, this day can bring up a lot of past trauma, harmful thought patterns, and a general feeling of grief.

I struggle every year to find the right greeting card. I love my mother intensely and fiercely, but in my 33 years there has never existed a card that didn’t include some version of “thank you for everything” or “best mom ever” and those sentiments do not apply.

Don’t get me wrong, my mother is a tough cookie. She raised two kids on her own as a teen/young adult. She did so without support from her family, or our father, and without completing high school. She also raised two kids who have never been in any real kind of trouble and are living relatively successful lives.

At the same time, my mother did all of that while battling her own trauma and mental health issues in an age when mental health was not treated openly—if at all. She was misdiagnosed and then improperly treated until my mid-20s resulting in choas.

Compound that with my own story of infant loss at aged 18 and I quite literally HATE Mother’s Day.

The more I explore the nuances of gender, sex, and diversity, the more I realize how isolating these holidays are to so many people. If you or your parent is non-binary or trans how do you include them in a celebration that is primarily overrun by enforced pink floral gender stereotypes? What does “mother” even mean if separated from pink femininity?

Mothers are shapers of tiny humans and mentors of those same folks as they grow up. But, isn’t this what fathers and all parent types theoretically do? I get it. I’m not trying to take away from anything here. Mothers are a big deal.

So are all those other parents and childless parents that don’t fit into the pink and blue.

What are some non-gendered parent terms used in your home?

#BecauseofRHE

When I read the news yesterday morning that Rachel Held Evans had lost her fight in hospital against unexpected sudden illness, I was beyond shocked.

In one instant, I was angry, hurt, hopeless, tearful, afraid, and ultimately unable to express my profound loss. I didn’t know Rachel personally, but have had the privilege of interacting with her through social media and private online forums. Rachel existed and ministered in the margins. She was a beacon and a balm for LGBTQ people of faith to say the least.

She connected and championed us. She raised otherwise ignored voices to a place where they were not only heard but amplified. In doing so, a new community of questioners and faith-game changers was rising, is rising.

The single greatest thing we have #becauseofRHE is each other. Her legacy is us carrying on her work.

If you’ve ever been silenced by the voice that wonders if what you’ve got to say matters, the one that keeps you afraid to put yourself out there—I want you to look at the last 32 hours of tweets about Rachel’s impact.

She took a chance, giving voice to things and making space for things that most of us who are in a fog of loss were thinking and living daily. We can do it too. We MUST do it. The way we can honour her best is to carry on that work.

Your voice matters. You are the change the world needs. Our love is radical. Our family is international. We got this #becauseofRHE.