You are currently browsing the daily archive for June 29, 2021.

Now that school is almost over (got called into a full-time temporary contract for June), I should have more time to write on the blog.  I apologize for the sporadic scheduling for the last month or so, hopefully over the summer months we can get back into a regular publishing rhythm.

While perusing the CBC website I came across an article about calls to “Cancel Canada Day” in light of the mass graves being discovered at residential school sites across Canada, and the opinions of five Canadians on the topic.

“Don Amero – Country and folk singer-songwriter, Winnipeg

“I think my own belief is that Canada Day is a thing in terms of how we approach it. I think that’s where we really need to kind of take a deeper look at it. I think to spend millions of dollars in celebration, not sure if that’s what we should be doing as a country now. I think maybe [we should spend] time to reflect and to really educate ourselves.

“It is an opportunity for every individual, every Canadian, to say, ‘Where do I fit in this story?’ And I think if you’re here and you’re in this country, you’re a piece of this story. And I think that you really need to educate yourself. You can be complicit, you can be ignorant or you can educate yourself. My hope is that what we do this Canada Day is we spend more time educating ourselves on our history and who we were, who we are now and who we want to be in the future.”

I think that people won’t bother to ‘educate themselves’ unless it directly effects how they interact with society, or their income.  I suspect that when asked, most Canadians will agree on the tragedy that was the Residential School system and sympathize.  But not much past that.

I doubt that many Canadians will actually spend time ‘educating themselves’ unless it is job to be in the know.  Historians, teachers, and the odd politician yes, but for the average person, most likely not.

If we move toward a society that values past knowledge and wisdom then then numbers may change a bit, but right now, sadly, we are not far behind the ahistorical United States when it comes to learning from history (see our Pandemic response vis-a-vis lessons the Spanish Flu Epidemic had to offer).

“Lynn-Marie Angus – Co-founder of B.C-based Sisters Sage, an Indigenous brand that hand-crafts wellness and self-care products, member of Gitxaala, Nisga’a and Métis Nations

Honestly I never celebrate Canada Day. I haven’t since I think I was old enough to realize what Canada stood for, what Canada Day is. I’m Indigenous, so I’ve been brought up in a culture of racism. This is just something that’s normal. It’s normalized, unfortunately. But this is something that I deal with day to day  It’s really difficult right now for Indigenous folks. So we’re all really suffering and traumatized and dealing with this very publicly through social media.

There’s a saying that people are saying now: There’s no pride in genocide. And that’s so true. So it’s hard to be proud to be Canadian. I’m proud to be an indigenous person. Our existence Is our resistance. We are still here.”

I’m not sure that Canada is all about the genocide, at least these days.  Canada as a minor power in the world does limited work on the world stage and mostly follows the lead of the US (like we have much choice in the matter).  The successive governments that have ignored indigenous concerns is certainly not a record to be proud of, but one can hope we can improve on our political record regarding the treatment of indigenous Canadians.

“Scott Clark – Executive director, Vancouver ALIVE, director of the Northwest Indigenous Council Society

“I’ve never been a supporter of [Canada Day], recognizing the ongoing process Canada is doing to our people. But [calls to cancel Canada Day] are starting to shed light on the history of the relationship between Canada and Indigenous people. I would say that if anything [cancelling] is going to bring light to the historical and the contemporary relations between the Indigenous people, I would support that.

“I think [that] the uncovering of the the unmarked graves … for some reason, this has taken off with the Canadian public. I think they’re empathetic. I think  they’re shocked.

“I do not identify as a Canadian citizen. That’s been imposed upon myself at birth.  And that’s a result of the Canada Indian Act. So this is why I say there’s a lot of unfinished business that Canada has yet to do. So I don’t consider myself a Canadian, let alone a proud Canadian.”

Well, you happen to live in the political boundary of the landmass we like to call Canada, so there is that, but as with all self identification, you do you.  Again, an appeal to shed light on our history.  Once this news cycle is over, I’m not sure how much light will be left shining on the issue.

 

“Parry Stelter – President, founder of Word of Hope Ministries, originally from Alexander First Nation-Treaty Six Territory in Edmonton, Sixties Scoop survivor

“I feel that this Canada Day should not be cancelled. We should be standing at attention … but standing at attention.in fully acknowledging the full history of Canada and all its atrocities and the genocide and the residential schools.

“I think it’s a matter of changing your total perspective on the whole celebration, because many people go straight to ‘Why would I want to celebrate the past? Why would I?’ So now it’s a matter of changing perspective and saying, as I celebrate Canada Day, I’m not going to celebrate it for what it has been in the past. I’m going to celebrate it for what I want it to be in the future.

“The fact of the matter is that we still all live here. And so we have to make the most of it and move forward and not just be resilient and not just survive, but learn how to thrive in our lives. But I totally understand if my people or anybody else don’t want to celebrate. I totally understand because we all grieve in different ways.

Parry has a great line in there –  I’m going to celebrate it [Canada Day] for what I want it to be in the future.  If we actually learned from our past mistakes Parry’s comment would resonate much more clearly.  Unfortunately, the way our society is structured, just keeping our head above water and getting some time away from the rat-race is always fully centred in our consciousness.  Historical reflection is a luxury many Canadians simply don’t have.

” Aziza Mohammed – Consultant for the World Bank, Toronto

“I don’t think it should be cancelled.I realize we’ve had some very troubling revelations, but the way forward is not to stop aspiring to be a better country, and it’s not to try and erase the existence of a country or erase history. It’s about acknowledging it and and trying to do something better.

“While acknowledging the pain of our Indigenous brothers and sisters, there’s lots of suffering throughout Canada’s history and even today. I’m a  Muslim woman, I’m a racialized person. We have our places of worship burned down, vandalized with swastikas. I’ve been driven out of the first home I bought, which was in a small town in Canada, because the racist locals made my life so unbearable, I had to flee.

“There’s  a lot for me personally to be upset about when it comes to our country, our history and fellow Canadians. But I still want to look forward. I still want to be positive…. Life here can’t just be suffering. It’s also a little bit of community and fellowship and joy. That’s worth celebrating to me.”

Tackling the more discriminatory elements in our society is a laudable goal.

 

What I think we should celebrate in Canada is the fact that we can (for the most part) state and freely share our opinions and thoughts.  We still have a social rights framework in which the common people can safely hold a myriad of political thoughts and opinions and be able to disseminate them in our society.    Without the freedom of the intellectual commons, Canada would be much diminished.  I’m guessing that most Canadians take for granted the rights and freedoms that we have, since we have been exercising our freedom of thought and speech for so long now.

All of the diversity of opinion expressed here goes away if we lose our superstructure of guaranteed rights and freedoms.  So, I think I’ll spend a little time reflecting on that fact that I live in a liberal democratic society that allows me to dissent from the majority and share opinions without deleterious consequences to my personal well being.  And for that I am proud and grateful to live in, and be Canadian.

 

 

 

 

 

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