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Happy Canada Day—for better and for worse

June 30, 2017

Who’s that cat in the Canada hat?

If you happened to be in the South Granville area of the Fairview neighbourhood Friday (June 30th) you may have see a tallish bearded fellow walking around wearing a red and white cloth stovepipe hat marked with a large red maple leaf—that would have been my Friend Dustin wearing his Canada Day hat a day early.

If you did see him, It would have done no good to tell him that Canada Day wasn’t until tomorrow. Dustin would likely have just looked at you with that good-natured smile of his and answered that every day was Canada Day. And he would have been right, for better and for worse.

Canada 150—not to rain on the celebration but…ah, nothing

Dustin believes in Canada and you know what? I believe in Dustin.

For those keeping track, this July 1st marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation; the union, in 1867, of the three British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, into the Dominion of Canada.

Now it it has to be said that Canada Day is arguably the one day of the year when Canadian indigenous people have the least to celebrate of anyone in the country; after all Canada’s gain was entirely their loss.

Every Canadian should know that Canada and the good that it has accomplished (which is worth celebrating) is built upon foundations of injustice, theft and violence. And that time alone will not heal the wounds caused by the long mistreatment of First Nations; certainly not as long as the Indian Act continues its crippling work of enthralling and enfantalizing indigenous peoples—as the Act has been doing now for 141 years.

But I digress. The last thing that I want to do here is descend into an angry polemic in hindsight that unnecessarily depresses anyone on the eve of Canada Day or discourages any forward-looking and idealistic Canadians, like my young friend Dustin.

And I do not want to leave the impression that I have lost my own belief in the goodness of Canada, or her citizens—particularly the young ones.

In Dustin and his friends I see a rising generation of Canadians—largely unencumbered by the bigotry and baggage of the past—that may finally be able to unflinchingly and effectively begin righting the historic wrongs and fairly settling the old accounts with indigenous people.

It is Pollyannish but I believe in a Canada that takes responsibility for its crimes against indigenous peoples and finds a way to both atone in the eyes of the victims and move on to a future of co-equality. Such a Canada would be a very formidable nation; strong in its unity and in its sense of right and wrong.

And Canada will be all the more respected as a voice for human rights in the world when—having addressed its own worst human rights practices—it can finally speak without so much hypocrisy.

Anyway, there are other memorial days to mark Canada’s past. On July 1st I will be thinking about the future of Canada and, as I say, I am optimistic about that future. Click the images to enlarge them.

From → Canada, Fairview, People

  1. Canada acknowledged what happened and working on Truth and reconciliation with First Nation. We celebrate National Aboriginal Day before Canada Day. Soon this will become a national statutory holiday.

    • Better and better. I’m not saying that nothing positive is being done but I am saying there is so much more of substance that still needs doing and it will be many years more in the doing. I’m saying that I am heartened to think that a younger generation may pick up the task with fresh vigour and an outlook less clouded by racism than ever before.

      My generation has certainly done its share of foot-dragging. There is more than a little bigotry, I think, in the calls I hear today, saying that Canada should have an end to addressing historic wrongs and let the past be the past — just listen to the Conservative Party of Canada.

      The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to address just one awful aspect of Canada’s attempted cultural genocide of indigenous peoples: the residential school system, which did its evil work on children for over 100 years — even into the 1990s.

      Unfortunately the systemic harms against indigenous peoples in Canada was not limited to the residential schools; these harms began long before and continue to the present day.

      Putting aside all the stolen land, there is the hopeless third world conditions of many reserves across Canada, which make the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver look good to many young aboriginal men and women by comparison. There is also the corruption and spoils mentality of certain of the reserves. Much of this is still taken by many “whites” as proof of the unfitness of indigenous peoples to govern themselves when it is the deliberate result of Canadian policy, as still embodies in the Indian Act.

      After 200-plus years of deliberately enfeebling indigenous peoples — tying them in dependence to the the federal government — Canada cannot reverse the effects in a generation or two. If it takes 200 years, to reverse the process then so be it.

      I’m just being optimistic enough to think that the kids that will follow me will be equal to seeing the task through.

      • I agree with you and my heart goes out to them especially those who live in the reserve cut off from the mainstream. There is always hope through education. It will change but not in our lifetime, I am speaking about the history of where I came from, Philippines.

  2. Did you block me?

    • No. I took a spot of Theatre Sports training in the 1990s and the one rule the instructors harped on over and over was that in improvisational stage comedy one must never block another performer. And if the Bard was correct about all the world being a stage, well…

      • Thank you for your kindness and being a good sport. I have encountered bloggers who blocked me for my opinionated comment and not to their liking. There is a truth to the Bard and you learnt well from the training.

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