Yes, our country celebrated 150 years since quill was put to parchment and our land officially became a country, and while still considered youthful in country-years, it offers a chance to highlight and remember the Canadian staples of freedom, diversity, equality and inclusion.
However, many argue that this sesquicentennial is not something to celebrate, and rather than remembering the birth of a nation, it’s the party for a legacy of colonialism that has caused serious damage to our First Nations communities.
Both sides of the argument could be seen in our nation’s capital over the weekend as revellers packed the city to celebrate, just as activists constructed a teepee on Parliament Hill in a symbol of “reoccupation”. Just as those lands, traditional territory of the Algonquin people, were filled with Canadians looking to celebrate, so was another patch of territory much further west, that being Lakeview Park here in Oshawa, traditional territory of the Mississauga First Nation.
Regardless of your stance on Canada 150, there is a lesson to be learned for all.
The history of our home is a complicated one, and one that should never be separated from that fact that we were not the first ones to call this great land home. Our history is a shared history.
As Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day states, “we share a history that is painful and is filled with raw memories, which remain in our communities from our elders through to our youth that must never be forgotten, downplayed or misrepresented.”
It’s a sad fact. One that perhaps many of those looking to simply slug back a few beers in the name of patriotism wouldn’t like to think about. However, it’s a part of what has led to that very beer-slugging, and it’s a part of what has made up this complicated mosaic that we call our Canadian culture and identity.
That identity, however complicated, is what makes us truly “Canadian”, and while it may not all be cheery times with maple syrup, jean jackets and ice hockey, it allows us an opportunity to think, and reflect on our history and those that came before us.
There is cause for celebration too. July 1 was a rare time for Canadian pride, something that is not usually shown enough in this country. Heck, many are too shy to even sing our national anthem prior to Oshawa General’s games.
And while our anniversary was also a time for activism and debate, that’s okay too, because in this country, we can do both at the same time, and that is something to celebrate.