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New commemorative loonie recognizing gay ‘equality’ sparks concern

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OTTAWA — A new commemorative loonie is sparking concern among academics and advocates who fear it could perpetuate myths about Canada’s treatment of lesbian, gay, transgender, queer and two spirited persons.

The Royal Canadian Mint will unveil the new one dollar coin in Toronto next week as it joins government departments and agencies to mark “50 years of progress for LGBTQ2 Canadians.”

A spokeswoman said Tuesday the mint takes great pride in celebrating Canada’s culture, history and values, adding that 50 years ago, Parliament passed an act that “initiated the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.”

The mint is largely informed by the Department of Canadian Heritage and its “anniversaries of significance”, the spokeswoman said.

However, York University historian Tom Hooper said Tuesday that legal reforms unveiled in 1969 did not amount to decriminalization and charges for consensual gay sex among adults went up in the ensuing decades.

“Normally, I would expect decriminalization means a reduction in arrests,” he said. “This is the opposite.”

Hooper, who is part of a network of activists and academics seeking to examine myths surrounding the 1969 Criminal Code reform, said he doesn’t have the ability to counter the message of about three million coins expected to be produced.

“Ultimately this coin is stamped in metal and I can’t change that,” he said in an interview.

He said he would prefer to see a celebration of the first national demonstration on gay and lesbian rights held on Parliament Hill in 1971.

“That protest was held on the second anniversary of the 1969 reforms coming into effect,” Hooper said.

“Our community called for an actual decriminalization at that protest. So I would recommend that they would make a coin based on that protest.”

It would have been meaningful had the federal government indeed repealed gross indecency in 1969, he added, noting it may very well have prevented the historic Toronto bathhouse raids from happening by police on Feb. 5, 1981.

Helen Kennedy, executive director for the advocacy group Egale Canada, said the commemorative coin should be taken with the spirit with which it is intended, which is to commemorate a “significant moment” in Canada history.

“I think it is really important of the discourse of Canadian history to mark this occasion and to have these conversations to know that we still have a lot of work to do for full inclusion in Canadian society of marginalized groups,” she said.

There is room in the conversation for academic historians to point out issues, Kennedy added.

“These are important issues and I don’t want to (in) any way undermine the value that they bring to the conversation,” Kennedy said. “I also want to take a moment to commemorate the significance of the moment.”

—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

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Federal Court approves settlement agreement for Indian Day Schools

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OTTAWA — The Federal Court has approved a settlement agreement for survivors of so-called Indian day schools.

Under the terms of the settlement, survivors will be able to apply for individual compensation for harms, including physical and sexual abuse, linked to attending one of the federally run institutions.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says the court’s decision marks recognition of the hard work undertaken by all sides toward finding a lasting and meaningful resolution for former students and their families.

A 90-day opt-out period and a 60-day appeal period will begin now that the settlement has been approved, meaning that any class member who does not agree with its terms can choose to remove themselves from the process.

Nearly 200,000 Indigenous children attended more than 700 Indian day schools beginning in the 1920s, often enduring trauma that in some cases included physical and sexual abuse.

The schools operated separately from the residential school system and were not included in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement approved in 2006.

 

 

The Canadian Press

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U.S. secretary of state to meet with Trudeau, Freeland ahead of G7 summit

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OTTAWA — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Canada later this week to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Their meeting comes in advance of the G7 summit of the world’s seven big economies, which gets underway later this week in Biarritz, France.

Freeland’s office says she will host the meetings Thursday in Ottawa, where discussions will focus on Canada-U.S. co-operation on various domestic and international issues, including key security and foreign policy matters.

The meeting is being billed as an opportunity to build on the outcomes of Trudeau’s June visit to Washington, D.C., where he met with U.S. President Donald Trump and discussed relations with China, as well as the continued arbitrary detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

Trudeau spoke with Trump by telephone on Friday, where the Canadian detentions in China came up again, as did the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong and the shared support of the two leaders for the ratification of the new North American trade deal.

Trump and Trudeau also discussed challenges in the global economy, with an expectation they would further those discussions together in person at the G7 summit later this week.

 

 

The Canadian Press

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august, 2019

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