Canada… Cancel, Celebrate, or Contemplate?

There’s been some talk about cancelling Canada Day or about not celebrating Canada.

‘Cancelling’ is usually not helpful. And we’ve seen cancelling happen somewhat frequently lately.

Cancelling risks eliminating the past and not learning from it. Cancelling is remarkably similar to burying something over and not talking about it anymore.

Cancelling risks not treating another living person or entity like they or their stories matter.

Cancelling risks putting you into a similar category of the very things you are acting out (often in anger) against.

Cancelling is not the way forward.

What about Celebrating?

There is a time to tone down celebrating. This is one of those years for Canada.

If we would ignore the stories and the findings relating to the discoveries of residential schools and just carry-on celebrating Canada, we would by our actions, in a similar way to cancelling, be ignoring the travesty of the history of this nation that has not been clearly communicated to us. A history that is rearing its ugly head now.

So this is not a time to celebrate as we may have done before.

This is a time to reflect on some of the ugly history that is Canada’s. It is a time to listen to those who stories have laid stagnant or covered over for too long. It is a time to listen and learn. A time of being together as people living on these lands, to increase awareness of our real history so as not to repeat it again.

It is a time to ask ourselves, what part of Canada’s history have I missed? Do I care enough to find out more?

What can we celebrate?

First off, we can be glad that the dark history of Canada is being exposed, and that we are hearing the stories from the indigenous people. And that pathways towards forgiveness and reconciliation are being intentionally sought.

Secondly, we can celebrate having all been brought together on these lands for such a time as this.

I am a first generation Canadian. My parents moved here when they were little kids 6 and 9 years old. My grandparents moved here because their homeland country in Europe had been torn apart by the atrocities of World War II. 

They had heard that Canada was a country of freedom and gave opportunity to restart your life. And so they moved here. 

I’ve talked to many people from different countries that also moved to Canada for freedom and to start their life anew.

What we all did not know, nor had we learned in school, is that Canada, prior to our coming, had a dark past of how it became a nation. From the claiming of lands and the removing of existing peoples, to the treatment of children in residential schools, Canada took formation.

But it was not entirely revealed to us. Its like our history had its own ‘burying over’… its own type of cancelling. Notice how dangerous cancelling can be!!

And now when we hear of that which was covered over (quite literally with unmarked graves), we get angry and ask ‘How could this have been??’.

As Niigaan Sinclair says (see video link below), “We (Canadians) have not been prepared for the conversation.”

Our full history was not talked about, nor was it learned from.

Contemplate

It is a time to contemplate. This is the thinking about and listening part. The time is now to listen and come to a better understanding before taking any next steps.

The risk of hearing the horrifying stories included in our past makes us want to jump to action – sometimes to further harm, like burning a church or spreading the wrong message. Stop. That is not the way forward. This is a time to familiarize with the lives of those affected long before we all arrived here.

I really appreciate what’s included in the message of Niigaan Sinclair.

Now is a time for Canadians to listen and to increase in awareness of what has gone wrong in the past.

If you are a Canadian, you are now part of the story. But having not lived through the experiences of those on these lands before us, our part now becomes that of a listening ear and a loving heart.

Forgiveness, truth, and reconciliation will be a large part of the way forward. And that can only happen when people have had a chance to share their experiences and be listened to.

This may be a long journey. But making the journey is better than avoiding it as the past has shown. Perhaps too, the journey may need supernatural intervention.

Reconciliation always leads to celebrating. So our future of celebrating can look bright.

As for today, Niigaan Sinclair’s gracious words give us something to celebrate,

“We do not want to cancel your traditions.”

“We simply want to be treated like human beings.”

Celebrate that. Inclusion.

Not cancelling out each other nor our traditions, and treating each other like human beings.

Top Photo by AJ Gallagher on Unsplash


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