Frank Paul decision stemmed from historic Canadian prejudice, inquiry told
By Gerry Bellett
Kelliher is representing Paul's family at the Davies Commission which is investigating the circumstances that led Paul to die of exposure after being dumped in a downtown alley by Vancouver police Dec. 5, 1998.
"And that's what happened to Frank Paul. His life was devalued as a human being. The same devaluation took place when Sanderson ordered him to his death and when investigators decided not to conduct a proper investigation and when the prosecutors decided not to charge," said Kelliher.
"Canada and Canadians are inured and anesthetized to the suffering of aboriginal people, and that's part of who we are," said Kelliher.
"Is it relevant that Frank Paul was an aboriginal? Most certainly. And, in part, did he die as a result of it? Yes he did. And in my submission we have to have the courage to see that the valuation of his life was inextricably tied to his status as an Indian man," Kelliher told Davies.
Two recent examples:
19th-century cartoons about Indians => Execution of Mankato 38 and Wounded Knee "delivered the sentence"
Native women = whores in SCALPED => Irene Bedard abused and Media ignores victimized Native women
In Frank Paul's case, we could add another example:
"Drink like an Indian" at Station 280 and "Firewater Friday" at University of Washington => Frank Paul's death
Obviously, the items I listed didn't lead directly to the results. But these particular items are only a few of the thousands of similar instances in our culture. Collectively, these beliefs--that Indians are inferior savages or drunks or squaws--have led to results such as the ones above.
For more on the subject, see Background Research on Native Stereotypes, Stereotypes Teach Natives They're Inferior, and Stereotypical Thinking Causes Racist Results.
Below: "Surveillance video images of Police officers manhandling an intoxicated native Frank Paul, 47, to a jailhouse elevator, then dumped outside in near freezing weather, December 6th/1998, in Vancouver. He passed out and died of exposure, and the probe into his death is ongoing."