I’ve been thinking a lot about Canada150 and all the hoopla that goes with it. I say hoopla because I have never been a fan of parades, concerts, or fireworks. Then again, I’m not a fan of Disney either, so I know that already I am sounding like hippy dippy liberal grouch trying to poo-poo the party. I’ll own that, but I am also a thinker and at least a handful of you are interested in my thoughts, so here you go:
Setting the financial cost of all the hoopla aside for a moment (that is indeed where I usually grumble about this), I want to think about the other cost of celebrating Canada150. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need that some people have to celebrate the milestones of the place where they live. Celebrating that the British Colonies known at that time as the province of Canada (Ontario & Quebec together), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick coming together as the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867 makes sense in that context… Please check out this link for a CBC article that breaks down the “confusion” about how old “Canada” really is. 13000? 19? 150? It really is unclear. As long as you know what you are celebrating, this one particular moment in time, then I say shake your Pom-poms and eat your strawberry and cool-ship canada flag desserts!
I simply pray that we never forget that what we are celebrating is only possible because we Colonized and then declared Dominion over lands that belonged to people long before we took over. All of us want to celebrate the achievements of those that went before us…and I do too and I am very grateful that I live in this nation and in this province that they built for me. I earnestly think it extremely important that we never forget the cost of those achievements and see it as a call to all of us to continue to work at healing the wounds of the broken promises and relationships that made that which we celebrate possible. The same people that will shout, “don’t hold me accountable for the wrongs of my ancestors” will naively reap the benefits of their ancestors’ work.
When all the hoopla is over and the last firework is cleaned up, let’s keep celebrating Canada by striving to be better neighbours to one another. That includes the neighbours whose ancestors were colonizers, the neighbours whose ancestors were here long before the colonizers arrived, the neighbours whose ancestors came to North America as slaves, the neighbours whose ancestors came to Canada seeking a better and safer life, and the neighbours who are new Canadians seeking the same. We are all Canadians now.
No matter who we are, if we are Canadian, let us never forget the stories that brought us here to 2017. May we celebrate what is good. May we learn from what went wrong. And, may we strive to write new stories that reflect the kind of Canada we claim to be!