By Josee Anne Spirito, PSAC North Regional Executive Vice-President. Read this article on NNSL Media.
This year, the Yukon Employees’ Union, along with labour organizations across the North, sent a clear message that everyone has the right to feel safe in our communities.
Together, PSAC North and our allies stood with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in saying no to hate.
These messages from unions were a response to the Million March for Children, a rally to promote hatred and exclusion. The founders of the rally were affiliated with alt-right, anti-trans and anti-gay organizations, and closely linked with white supremacist groups. On the same day as the Million March for Children, people gathered peacefully at the legislative assembly in Yellowknife to oppose the march and support the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
It’s by far not the first attempt by far right actors to try and gain traction in public opinion and it won’t be the last. But these attempts to normalize discrimination follow similar patterns. They are rarely explicit in what they call for and they appeal to people’s sense of insecurity. They use misinformation and conspiracy theories to create panic among people and they sow chaos for the sake of chaos. These attempts seek to enforce a false sense of reality by repeating the same arguments over and over, even though those arguments lack substance or backing. It’s a pattern refreshed time and time again throughout history by those seeking to distract us from fixing real problems and from confronting hatred directly.
The rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories in the North, and across Canada, that has spread this far-right hatred is no accident. It has been fueled by political opportunists who will take any chance they can to either make money or gain power by attacking those they perceive as easy targets.
But what is even more scary than those who openly espouse a hatred of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, are all those who hold political power but who quietly support and allow that hatred to spread, waiting to take even more power before acting openly on their discriminatory beliefs. For now, they just silently benefit from the manifestations like the Million March for Children, maintaining an ambiguity they hope will let them gain more influence.
We must not be fooled by this ambiguity or by outright lies.
While many here in Canada face hard times, the far right offers no real solutions, only the promise to take away the freedoms and progress we have all made by standing together to make our voices heard in solidarity. They offer no real plans, no considerations for those most impacted by the times at hand, only distractions.
Together in the North, we have faced difficult times through wildfires, a pandemic, and still now as too many struggle to access necessities like housing. We have faced those times together by standing with our neighbours and friends, not by turning against them. Now we face the challenge of rising hate, including rising racism, in Canada.
We stand on the precipice of a devastating future, but we can act now with the same solidarity to prevent it. We must continue to stand together, we must call for commitment from leaders to reject far right, racist and anti-2SLGBTQIA+ rhetoric and policies now and outright. The rampant denial of the truth that has spread across the politics of so many countries must not be allowed to spread further here.
The labour movement has an important role to play in this respect. We must be advocates against hate, not just on a large scale in our communications, but on an interpersonal level in our communities. Because we work and live in our communities, and we love our communities, and our communities are a vital place where we can build resistance to those who would sow hatred.
PSAC North has a pride committee, a group whose mandate is to advocate for the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ folks. We invite our members that would like to be more involved to contact PSAC North.