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Posts from the ‘Social Justice’ Category

Chris Benjamin Presentation on the Shubenacadie Residential School

Why I Wrote Indian School Road

indian school roadThis is from my introduction to Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School, regarding my thought process on why I felt compelled to write a very difficult book:

Here is what I found first: a recurring nightmare. Me wandering the black and white halls of the old building, as seen only in photographs, pristine but steeped in an old rotten stench. The facts playing hide-and-seek within the walls. Finding only a sense of lurking, dishonest evil. What fool’s mission was this? What right did I have to come here?

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Exclusive by Design

Originally published in Coastlands: The Maritimes Policy Reviewin December 2007, on pages 26-27.

By Chris Benjamin

In August I moved back to Halifax after an eight-year hiatus in Toronto. I was surprised to find that not much has changed. The north end is gentrifying somewhat and I see a few new buildings going in, but, by and large, it’s the same, slow-paced, well-spaced city I remember and love.

When I was 24, that slowness was killing me too quickly. After eight years of rushing around Toronto trying to prove how productive and hip I was, this place seems perfect. Yet, having suffered the teenaged doldrums without so much as a decent shopping mall where I could blow off steam (and money), I can appreciate the desire to liven up the place. Looking at the white flight out of this city, I can even understand the HRM by Design team’s ambitious “build it (up) and they will come (back)” dream. What I can’t understand is why they think building a bunch of steel and glass commercial towers, albeit buffered by trees and pedestrian lanes, is the way to do it.

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Climate Change and Terrorism

This story first appeared in The Coast on November 26, 2015:

Halifax to Paris, by way of Syria

Climate change is driving conflicts across the world, and we’re starting to see the results.

“When you have drought, when people can’t grow their crops, they’re going to migrate into cities, and when people migrate into cities and they don’t have jobs, there’s going to be a lot more instability, a lot more unemployment and people will be subject to the types of propaganda that al-Qaeda and ISIS are using right now.” Read more

My life behind the welfare wall

One woman’s struggle to move forward in the system that holds her back

The following is an excerpt from the March 2016 Halifax Magazine feature called “My life behind the welfare wall,” by Kyla Derry as told to Chris Benjamin:

Here’s something you may not know about poverty: when you get off welfare and get a job, you can lose more than you gain financially. Sometimes, you end up poorer. Read more

Going Down the Indian Road

Esteemed poet and author Gary Geddes, once described as “Canada’s best political poet,” has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking review of Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School.

 

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The review will appear in his forthcoming new book, Medicine Unbundled (Heritage House Publishing), which is a Read more

Lessons learned on the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees

This Q&A originally appeared in The Coast, July 23, 2015.

Ashram Parsi has saved thousands, but still has a ways to go.

In 2005, Iranian queer activist Arsham Parsi became a refugee in Canada. Through his Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, he’s helped more than 1,100 other LGBTQIA Iranians escape a country where the punishment for having a same-sex relationship is death. In Halifax, LGBTQIA Iranians are supported by the Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia. The city is also home to Fernwood Publishing, which recently released Exiled for Love, a memoir Parsi wrote with Dalhousie University graduate Marc Colbourne. The authors spoke with The Coast about their new book.

Marc, why did you want to write this book?
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Circle of Understanding

I had the great honour to present at an event honouring survivors from the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School this month at the University of New Brunswick. CBC did a piece on the event:

 

Chris Benjamin on Indian School Road

Here’s a video of a talk by Chris Benjamin on the long road from getting bad advice from a guidance counsellor, through the St. Lucian rainforest, around Ghana and to becoming a journalist and author, most recently researching and writing Indian School Road:

Letter From a Former Residential School Teacher

A few weeks ago, former residential school teacher Bernice Logan sent a letter to the editor of the Chronicle Herald, cc’ing a long list of organizations and individuals including among others my publisher, Peter Mansbridge, Lloyd Robertson, and me. The letter concerned my new book, Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School. Logan read a two-page excerpt from the book’s introduction, which ran as an advertorial in the Herald. From the letter it sounds as though she hasn’t read the book itself.

You can read the entirety of her 3-page letter by clicking on the images below. Logan is an ardent defender of the residential schools, one of few still around and willing to speak out on their behalf, publicly at least. I won’t bother addressing the factual inaccuracies in her letter, but will simply state the obvious: everything in my book is ascertained from archival records from Indian Affairs or from the many many survivors who have gone on record at inquiries or in court or to the media or public in their own accounts, at great personal cost.

I publish her letter here because I believe it shows quite clearly that the racist assumptions underlying the residential school system survive still. And also that these attitudes are expressed relatively benignly, under the guise of good intentions. You be the judge:

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