Back then it was called assimilation. Now, it’s recognized as cultural genocide. For generations, Indigenous families in Canada were forced to send their children to residential schools where their culture and language were eroded.
The church-run schools, which operated between 1883 and 1996, were set up to turn Indigenous children into Christians and rid them of their heritage. They robbed them of their culture, and many were subjected to emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Disease and malnourishment were also common in the often-overcrowded schools. More than 4,000 children died while attending the schools. Since May of this year, with the help of new technology, around one thousand unmarked graves have been found at the sites of three former residential schools – two in British Colombia, and one in Saskatchewan.
The discoveries prompted a national outcry. The Canadian government has issued several apologies, but many feel these fall short of making up for the decades-long systematic mistreatment of Indigenous people. Among those is a group of survivors from Ontario, who brought a class action suit against the Canadian government. This documentary tracks their fight.
First Nations people and Inuit in Canada continue to face hardships. They experience a disproportionately high prevalence of suicide, substance use, and drug and alcohol addiction compared to the overall Canadian population. Perhaps even more worrying are the numbers concerning violence against Indigenous women. Twenty-four percent of all women killed in Canada belong to Indigenous communities. Between 1980 and 2012, a total of 1181 Indigenous women in Canada were reported missing or killed. Theirs is a story of struggle – tied to a past of systematic abuse that was even codified in the act of Parliament, the Indian Act. Following #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, this dark chapter of Canada’s history is now finally also receiving international attention.
In Portugal, workers from south Asia pick the berries that fill European supermarket shelves. It’s a back-breaking job – with pay under four euros an hour, and ten-hour days. The incentive? The hope of an EU passport.
It’s not easy to find workers in Portugal’s berry-growing region. So the government decided to make the prospect more appealing — with the promise of citizenship after seven years. It’s a hope that’s brought some 20,000 foreign workers to the country’s berry plantations. One is Gian Pall, from India. He’s been picking berries in Portugal for five years and has had to watch his son grow up on WhatsApp. But he says that an EU passport, which will give him easy access to 186 countries, will be worth the sacrifice. He dreams of having his wife and child join him in Portugal – a country he hopes will be the springboard to the rest of the world. But for many workers like Gian Pall, the difficulties they face start long before the berry picking begins. Many pay up to 16,000 euros to recruiting agencies to obtain a tourist visa. Often it’s the trafficking mafia that puts up the cash. Once in Portugal, the foreign laborers have to work off their debt.
The Portuguese government relies on the foreign harvest workers. But has it created a system of modern slavery in the middle of Europe to get them?
Modern agriculture is designed to produce high yields. But it also depletes the soil. How do over-fertilization and pesticides impact the environment and humans? Are we poisoning our world and driving species to extinction?
Fertile farmland is a precious resource – and it is vital to food production. But the abundant use of chemicals is ravaging the Earth, while pesticides are making species go extinct, contaminating soils, and killing off microorganisms important to a healthy generation of humus.
Glyphosate, neonicotinoids, organophosphates, or pyrethroids: These are just a few of the approximately 1,000 pesticides and herbicides approved in Germany to kill pests, fungi, and weeds. Farmers distribute about 90,000 tons of pesticides a year on their crops – yielding billions of euros of business for chemical companies. “Neonicotinoids are flushed into the soil by the rain. There, they are highly toxic to many organisms … They poison insects and the environment”, explains toxicologist Henk Tennekes. Neurotoxins from neonicotinoids have long been suspected of causing bees to die en masse. It took 30 years for neonicotinoids to be prohibited EU-wide, in 2021, even though early studies had warned against their use. Even now, the fight isn’t over. For one thing, emergency approvals for neonicotinoids are being used to circumvent their prohibition. For another, other substances with similar applications have been on the market for a long time, the effects of which are insufficiently researched. Moreover, neonicotinoids are still authorized for use in many countries outside the EU.
Nearly 40 percent of the EU budget is spent on agriculture. The common agricultural policy (CAP) was recently renegotiated and will be in place until 2027. It is supposed to also promote eco- and climate-friendly agriculture. But many say the new CAP is still far from green.
On the show, Chris Hedges discusses prison with the poet, writer and attorney, Dwayne Betts.
The poet Dwayne Betts for a long time hid the fact that he had been incarcerated from the ages of 16 to 24 for a carjacking. Betts, a lawyer who was sworn into the Connecticut bar two years ago, is finishing up his PhD at Yale University, where he also earned his law degree. He currently works as a public defender. In his book A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison and in his poems, including his third book of poems Felon, he grapples with the degradation, humiliation, and trauma of prison life. Betts, like Virgil in Dante’s Inferno, leads his readers into the dark and frightening labyrinth of the American prison system, where, as he writes, “Black men go to become Lazarus.” Confronting evil has a cost. And we, like Betts, must be willing to pay this price. Flannery O’Connor recognized that to tell the truth means confrontation. “St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in instructing catechumens, wrote: ‘The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. No matter what form the dragon may take, it is of this mysterious passage past him, or into his jaws, that stories of any depth will always be concerned to tell, and this being the case, it requires considerable courage at any time, in any country, not to turn away from the storyteller.” Betts is that storyteller, for he passed by the dragon.
Dwayne Betts books include: A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, and his third book of poems, Felon.
CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Patrick C. Penfield, Professor of supply chain practice at Syracuse University about food supply chain problems.
WEAll– Jul 27, 2020
An introduction to what a Wellbeing Economy is.