As someone who used to be absolutely smitten by Canada Day…each year its coming feels a little bit different to me, slightly less special. I used to be THAT guy on Canada Day….with the tall cat-in-the-hat Canada version hat, face tattoos, body paint, swimming shorts, t shirts, necklaces bracelets, songs, thoughts and feelings. I used to bleed Canadian pride, especially on July 1st.
When I was 18, after leaving high school, I learned about Indian Residential Schools. I also learned that my own birth mother once attended these schools. I learned about the challenges her generation had staying connected to their culture and identity, tried parenting with no parenting skills and often unsuccessfully struggles with their addictions. Myself and all of my siblings were taken away from my mother and put into the care of the government. I learned that this happened over and over again, in communities across the prairies and the country. When I realized Canada had deliberately committed this act of spiritual attempted murder on my nation my feelings (naturally) changed.
I Beat The System….But Its Not Enough
I began to look at my own accomplishments, not having children at a young age, not joining a gang and successfully completing high schools as signs that I had beat the system….unlike many people who share my story…I was “successful” according to many Western standards. Not only was I successful, there were even times where I was honoured and celebrated for this. I appreciate those who have taken the time to say thank you for my contributions, and this is not intended as a slight against them….but there are certain situations that make me wonder. I wondered, and then I realized a lot of that attention…was a distraction. I was too busy being humble and thanking people for recognizing my accomplishments….I didn’t realize that right beside me and behind me and all around me were kids that were THIS CLOSE to beating the system, but for some reason or another fell through the cracks. Its not enough that MC, as one individual, is celebrated and successful when there are so many that are so close to their own accomplishment, and with a little more of a push from their community or helpers around them could achieve those goals.
“I don’t Belong to the queen so as long as i dream that means i sing with a song that forever will be sung from the heart so whenever I speak the truth comes out and its setting me free” -Leonard Sumner
Forgiveness is More Than Saying Sorry
And my beloved Canada….didn’t notice or couldn’t care less about the Almost Successful kids. I am grateful for Aboriginal organizations like Ndinawe that first taught me the positives of being an Indigenous person….being of the land….sharing my history with me. I am grateful to the Elders and spiritual leaders in and around the North End who continue to fight and share in the face of racism and poverty. My beloved Canada allows these things to continue…and until I feel RECONCILIATION is sincere…I will not have the same joy on Canada Day. Instead this anger will continue to fester until myself, and the kids around me and our kids that are not born yet have a fair opportunity to live a life where they have their basic needs met, including opportunities to love themselves and be connected to their own families and our mother the earth.
So Happy Colonization Day….maybe I’ll celebrate with you when some more progress has been made.