What is there to celebrate?
My memories of Canada Day have been in red and white. My family and I, or perhaps only my cousin and I, would attend a brief ceremony with that song and some cake, the national anthem sung with comrades awaiting the sugar rush, and then we would disperse and go back to our normal lives. This celebration seemed to always be a blip, a mere moment of dedication to a red and white flag wavering in the wind. There would be military veterans present and that made it more serious somehow, but as kids we couldn’t imagine what the song and the wars were really fighting for: Whiteness.
When I look at the white and red flag now I wonder if the subliminal message is the difficult mixing of the two colours, like oil and water, red and white, natives and non-natives, on a plain of existence together but always separate. I know this is a crude analogy, but I wonder if somewhere inside that flag was the idea that the whiteness was the more significant.
Canada boasts its multiculturalism but what I see is many cultures living separately. We may gather one day a year to profess our allegiance to a symbol of Canada, but what is done daily? Singing a national anthem doesn’t appear to indoctrinate us and make us into human beings that love one another, if anything it allows us to believe we are here for each other, when we really are not.
The discrepancy is clear when we look at the slaying of First Nations children at the hands of government and church run institutions, residential schools, whose only goal was to erase their culture and overwrite their history with colonial whiteness. The numbers of unmarked graves found in Canada range between two and six thousand, though that number could be larger. Today, I ask, how can we celebrate a country that does not teach its citizens to acknowledge its true history. How can we be proud Canadians if we are only proud of the parts of history we find appealing? Colonialism is a nasty beast. It continues today as capitalism, but also in the adherence to an ideology of truth. If we ignore the truth about residential schools and the violence and genocide of First Nations people then we are complicit and live actors in the continuation of this acts.
Red and white symbolize a violent clash of cultures. Where the white takes up the smallest part of the flag but actually represents the idea of colonial power. The red, evokes bloodshed, it overpowers the whiteness in the flag because it took a lot of bloodshed to create this country. It took a lot of theft and lies to swindle land from people who were always willing to share because no one owns the land. Some say that property and property rights are what is killing the Earth, and will kill us in time. So, instead of being proud of the erasure of First Nations cultures in support of a colonial agenda, discard your red and white and don orange in support of a path that is for everyone, a truly multicultural country that sees everyone as equal.
Continuation of the red and white brigade illustrates one’s assimilation to the continual genocide of human beings and their unique cultures. We must adopt new symbols and forge a path away from the colonial agenda. Something that is more than words in a song, and is true action and a path toward reconciliation between all people calling Turtle Island/Canada home today.
Day of Remembrance
Today, July 1st, shall be marked as a day of remembrance. There is no pride in genocide.
We must continue to oppose Canada Day celebrations until our society reflects a community of solidarity, respect, and understanding with Indigenous Peoples. Until our society fully acknowledges and comprehends the damages of the colonial past that continue today, we have nothing to celebrate. And those that do, need our help to illustrate a new path forward.