Firstly, I am a proud Canadian. I love this country. And when compared to others, we are doing a stellar job, but we are not perfect. And just because we’re in the top ten of some list, it does not mean we shouldn’t want to be better.
I am the fourth born kid of some immigrants. First kid, of 5, to be born in Canada.
It’s not a hard story. They didn’t have to escape a war-torn country or jump through hoops to get here. My grandmother just gave my dad a sob story and he and my mum canceled their lives, picked up, and moved here. Ya, there’s some regret, but we’re here, and it’s as glorious and as free as it was in England.
I was raised by a liberal Dad, who suffered a bit of innate Scottish bigotry, and an agnostic Mum, who respected her husband’s religion enough to let her kids go to Catholic school and church, but who taught her kids, without words, how to see people with empathy, and how to heal people (she was a nurse). We’ve all become healers and servers because of her.
So this weird upbringing brings me here.
I see this celebration for what it is. It celebrates colonialism when we should be focused on reconciling our horrible colonialist behaviour.
It celebrates an anniversary that is arbitrary and exclusive. Canada existed before Canada was “born”.
We invaded this place. But also: The Vikings landed in Newfoundland 1000 years ago; European exploration began in the 15th century; the name Canada (from the Iroquois Kanata) was first reported in the 16th and 17th century. A lot of “collaboration”, “trading”, “cooperation” and fighting for land took place over the next 200 years until a whole bunch of white guys got together and created the British North America act and ultimately, Canada was born with confederation and we celebrate the anniversary of that meeting. But also: we only achieved ‘nationhood” after exploiting, stealing from and lying to all First Nations people.
So here we are, more than a year after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published its report with its essential 94 Calls to Action and I think, can we swallow our pride for a moment?
This is also where I think many “Canadians” are not clear. The last Residential School closed in 1996!! So many think of this as “old” history. So long ago, they say, let’s brush it under the rug!!
My eldest daughter was 4 years old!! I was raising a kid in my Birkenstocks eating my rice cakes with no real knowledge of residential schools because MY CANADA had removed them from the curriculum; from the media; from our narrative. After they failed to resocialize and institutionalize them, they tried to erase First Nations people.
So here I am. I am asking you to excuse me from the red and white boom of the 150, and the somewhat condescending (still red and white) of the 150+ because, although the heart is in the right place, I cannot celebrate this country until we are all talking about the same thing.
Rubber duckies are not our biggest problem. Who gives a shit about money when we can’t even get “Canadians” to read the www.trc.ca report and participate in its Calls to Action.