Standing on the Chains – Once Again

“The more things change – the more they stay the same”

Louis Riel MP Provencher

In August 1869, Canada sent a group of surveyors to the Red River to begin surveying land prior to negotiations to enter into the confederation[1].  To add insult to injury, the surveyors where using a Canadian survey method that did not take into account the river lot system already in place.

Louis Riel and the Metis were not having it! Riel led a small group of people to stop the surveyors. They stood on the surveyors’ chains and did not retreat.  The Canadian survey company retreated and came back in October with an army.

Later, Riel was elected three times as an independent representative of Provencher despite being a fugitive and rebel to Canadians. In January 1874, Riel stole into the House of Commons and signed the register as the elected representative of Provencher.  He was never allowed to take a seat.

Here we are almost 150 years later, and another man is elected and ejected for challenging the deeply entrenched patriarchal and colonial systems.  Jagmeet Singh like Riel has spent his life standing on surveyors’ chains and attempting to open systems to create change, be inclusive and act on social justice. Like Riel he is being denied a voice to speak that truth in the rooms of power.

Jagmeet Singh MP-Burnaby South NDP

Jagmeet Singh kicked out of Parliament on June 17, 2020 for calling out a racist

History has once again repeated itself.  Jagmeet Singh has said that he is “not sorry for fighting systemic racism.”  It is the same racism that was present when Manitoba was brought into confederation under a long gun, despite having a legally representative government in place. 

There has been in my opinion more offensive, hurtful language that is misogynist and character shaming that has not resulted in any kind of censure in the House.

Canada can make a commitment to truly address the privilege of white immunity[2] that is embedded in the very structures, the policies, and practises of its institutions.

Whether its Riel or Jagmeet or the thousands of Missing and Murdered Women, Girls and gender diverse people or Black Lives matter – colonial and patriarchal rule is no longer acceptable.

 Institutions must take steps to immediately reset the course in a significant meaningful way.

Time for meaningful engagement and action – once again you are reminded as the chains of colonialism and patriarchy are being held still once again – 150 years later.


[2] Cabrera, N. (2018). White Guys on Campus: Racism, White Immunity and the myth of “Post-Racial “Higher Education (The American Campus). New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Standing on the Chains – Once Again