Today is Canada Day in this country. I honour and pay respect to the privilege and reality that I live on unceded aboriginal land – meaning that Aboriginal Title has neither been surrendered nor acquired by the Crown / government. On July 1, 1867, Canada became a self-governing Dominion. That’s only 154 years. The People of the Land have been here for over 15,000 years.
Our history with the People of the Land was not good long ago. It is not good now. Many in our land continue to reel at recent news of discoveries of over a thousand unmarked graves of children on properties of former Residential Schools and the ongoing reality of missing and murdered indigeneous women.
Can we “celebrate” this Canada Day? If the word “celebrate” means to ‘honour, especially by solemn ceremonies’ then I can. If the word “celebrate” means to ‘participate in a festive social gathering’, I cannot. What I can do is remember the gentle word “Mamawi” which is Cree for “All together” … a word which holds before me a hope that reconciliation can happen and that this country can heal.
It will take time. It will take sacrifice. It will take work. But it is possible.
The combination of this “O Canada” video
(shared by Revv53, a Calgary-based performance ensemble of over 50 singers representing a wide variety of walks of life in Canada) offers a powerful “prelude” read by Richard Harrison, reminds us of exquisite scenes of this country, from coast to coast, and reinforces the powerful words of our national anthem “God keep our land, glorious and free”
… and this Readers Digest listing of Canadian heroes (https://www.readersdigest.ca/travel/canada/can-you-name-these-canadian-heroes/?fbclid=IwAR3A0KnQVJca0xEUuk-AbybSBHTylZ_XUwSj_wwwmjTL1ynXr9e5oN_qKQ4
may help us find some way to acknowledge the hurt in our country’s history; in some way, express gratitude for the good that has emerged from our history; and offer a glimpse of hope.
As we move into the next year of the history of this country of Canada, may we respect the traditions of the First People of this land. May we honour their love of and care for the land, waters around it, the animals and life that live on that land and in those waters. May we stop pointing fingers at “those people” and recognize our role in their sense of helplessness, anger and fear by the colonization and racism.
May this be a hope-filled Canada Day.
© June Maffin