This Canada Day, it is difficult not to have mixed feelings. We have a beautiful country that in many ways leads the world as among the best places to live. Relatively prosperous, free and safe — there is a lot to appreciate on July 1.
The terrible truth is that Canada has not been prosperous, free and safe for everyone. We have just recently seen horrific, undeniable evidence of the atrocities committed against Indigenous peoples through the residential school system. And we know that is only one example of systemic racism and abuse in our recent past.
The question I am sure many of us are wrestling with is how do we celebrate a country that has not yet confronted and reconciled its genesis? One that has let its original people down so profoundly while, at the same time, providing a land of opportunity for generations of immigrants who now proudly call this land home. And how do we celebrate a shared history that includes other forms of racism and injustice?
These are challenging questions without any clear right and wrong answers. For some, Canada Day has always been a difficult day that evokes reflections of abuse and a colonial past. For others it is an increasingly complicated holiday, considering a history that contains numerous instances of systemic racism.
It is understandable that there is divisiveness in how to mark Canada Day, from the movement #cancelCanadaDay to those wanting to celebrate and perhaps reflect, engage in conversation, learn and listen. What is clear is that these voices must be heard.
On a personal level, I came to this country as an immigrant. While I am grateful for the opportunities Canada has provided, I am acutely aware of the damaging effects of colonialism and systemic racism.
This Canada Day I choose to reflect on Canada’s history and learn more about the experiences of all those in this country. This includes the treatment of Indigenous peoples, as well as Black Lives Matter, Islamophobia and Anti-Asian racism to name a few.
Respecting different perspectives around this national holiday is crucially important. Reckoning with the past is the only way we can move forward together.
Louise Taylor Green