Today is Canada Day.
I have found the day increasingly harder to celebrate with blind patriotism the more that I have focussed on uncovering the atrocities meted upon my Indigenous ancestors and brethren. As a Métis Canadian woman, I find the day to be rife with paradox.
I am grateful to live in a nation where I can benefit from socialized health care, (theoretically) equal access to jobs, marriage equality, the regulations as set out by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, paid parental leave, paid caregiver and disability leave, a (sort of) welcoming immigration policy, legal safe injection sites, sensible gun control laws, free(ish) education, among many other things.
But I am ashamed of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples, our lack of action for the Murdered and Missing Women and Girls, or for the opioid crisis, our historic treatment of immigrants, the Japanese Internment Camps, our use of Asian and South Asian labourers to take on some of the most dangerous roles in the building of the nation, every single portion of the Indian Act, our current “green” plan that sees the Federal Government overriding Aboriginal and ecological interests to suit fiscal decisions, to name a few.
So today, while we celebrate the positives about living in this country, we need to also remember that “not being American” is not what it means to be Canadian.
We have to remember that all by ourselves we have history that needs to be shared and discussed and brought to light.
We have a reputation for being “nice”. Now we need to have a reputation for being good, honest, and just, because nice does not equal not racist, not sexist, nor equal. It just means that we hide our skeletons a bit better than some other countries.
So, once more, we mark Canada Day and may we use it to honour the parts that allow us to say Happy Canada Day, and face the parts that force us to say “or not”.