Being a Canadian is so much more than living in Canada, it’s an identity that encompasses one of the top 20 most diverse populations in the world.
That is a great source of pride for me; my heart swelled when 25,000 Syrian refugees were welcomed here, and when I see our diverse communities uniting values side by side, I am never more proud.
This year, as Canada celebrates our 150th year of Confederation, I can’t help but feel bittersweet about the festivities. Our rich history is not without blemishes, and on this 150th year those blemishes need to come out into the light; we need to understand what happened and stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people who have inhabited this land for far more than our confederated 150 years.
I deeply empathize with all that our founding fathers have inflicted on the Indigenous people of Canada. In an effort to bring these travesties to light, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created to somehow find a way to begin a process of healing for those affected by the government’s Indian Residential School system, and through open and honest recognition of the experience to pave a way to reconciliation as a united country.
Indigenous people are still horrifically and systematically pushed down the ladder, and our government is moving far too slowly to help the families and populations living on the reserves and in remote communities, where hunger, boil-water advisories, addiction and suicide are not a rare occurrence. I recognize that steps are being taken, but I am not sure if the Indigenous communities are being heard as loudly as they should be. They are shouting it from the rooftops, but their cries fall on bureaucratic ears that are too far removed from the issues to understand the urgency of those cries. Go to the communities, talk to them, live among them–see first-hand how they are suffering; give them the money that you have already ear-marked for them so that they themselves can decide how it is best used in their own communities.
I love being Canadian; I feel forever humbled by our landscapes and forever grateful to have been born here. I embrace our stereotypes, our traditions, and our devotion to a cup called Stanley. Part of being Canadian is embracing the heritage of the people who were here long before us, and making it part of our shared legacy; a distinct and recognizable part of the Canadian culture and identity.
We need to welcome Indigenous people to their rightful place at the table. The Indigenous people must be welcomed with open arms and minds, and respected for their experience and suffering; they have as much right to any space as anyone does, if not more. This is not to say that there is no reason for celebration, this country has much to celebrate–our diversity, and freedom, and our commitment to keeping our true north strong and free, but our north is only as strong as we will be as one united country. We are ALL Canada.
So as we celebrate this year, let’s do so with ALL of our brothers and sisters in this country, in whatever way suits each of us–in celebration, in protest, in love, and solidarity, and vow to work towards truly equal and united country we can all feel proud to call home.
Happy 150th Anniversary, confederated Canada.
Kanata, I wonder what your age really is.
* Just as an aside, Canadians are also known for our fierce apologetic and polite nature, but not if this crow has any say in it.