Conflicted Canadian On Canada Day

Today marks 150 years in the millennia that the land we call Canada has existed. It is the 150th year; I am told is most significant, because this is the anniversary of when this land became a sovereign nation under the rule of a government formed to manage, then control, the land and all the people and resources that inhabited it since time immemorial. It is the anniversary of the sliver of time marked first by exploration and curiosity of what lay beyond horizons; then scarred by the efforts of all that has been done to erase the pre-historic presence that welcomed the adventurous spirit of strangers to share in all that could be seen before them.

Today is the day that marks the efforts of erasure, which continue even in the choosing of an arbitrary number representing a blink of an eye in the vast time that this land and its people have stood strong. I have benefitted from all the efforts of erasure to live in a country where I have freedoms, privileges, and opportunities not always available to the people indigenous to this land. People whose history cannot be contained by the 150 years of celebrated oppression, violence, and ignorance of what existed before and continues to thrive even under endless attempts to snuff it out. I benefit from the stereotypes that paint the Indigenous Peoples of this land as undeserving and incapable children requiring constant surveillance and micromanagement as the boundless wisdom they hold is ignored and this land faces the same plight to which we have sentenced them.

While I and others are free to live life, wherever and however we choose within this young nation, the Indigenous Peoples of this land to whom the number 150 marks only a brief moment in their history, remain relegated to pockets of land reserved for their kind. Where their status as non-relevant bodies in the vast time and geography of this land is perpetuated by restrictive rule of laws. When that status was deemed insufficient to contain the internal savages of nations within this celebrated nation, it was paired with re-education to break the spirits we now know are strong and eternally bonded to the land.

How can I celebrate today? How can I celebrate only this selected 150 years of the history of this land? How can I celebrate a country that describes itself as multicultural and calls itself a mosaic, when its Indigenous Peoples and many of the peoples that came after them are not treated as equal or worthy as those who have arbitrarily plucked this number from the timeline?

 

Canadian Native Flag designed by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Curtis Wilson