This land of the zipper, basketball, insulin, time zones and countless other things began here, great celebrities and scientists, writers and academics, explores of land and space – had their start here.
Canada isn’t just ‘some place special’, because it is someplace special.
But then we have our ancient history, our ancient Canadians, our true north and strong – but not so free as you might think, not yet. But I hesitate to say ‘not ever’ though the history has been bleak by any standard. I expect most first nations people, our indigenous people, will scoff at this 150th as pomposity, dismiss it as completely disconnected from and not respective of their legacy.
They were here first. Did they claim it? Plant a flag? Did they report home to some king or queen or parliament saying ‘we are claiming this land’? No, they just came and lived here – and land without an owner, a place of largeness and beauty and they lived off its land, off its creatures, off its growing things. They never expected to have it taken from them – and if they had, would they have fought for it? I doubt they expected the magnitude of the oppressors, or the scale to which their peoples would be shrunk, controlled, and treated so badly. Surely, if they’d known, they’d have put up a magnificent fight.
British and French ancestors/founders/early governments of our country just took this place.
Not by force or conflict (aside from French and English fighting over what they’d taken) or by purchase or international agreements of any kind – they just took it. Because they could, because they weren’t opposed. Such was the way of colonial-age seafaring European empire builders …
Was it by treaty, by trickery or by being strong militarily and economically?
All of those. Five hundred years on, one clear truth remains notwithstanding, they just took it …
When you take something that means you took it away from someone else. For most of that 500 years, consequences of those actions were largely ignored, denied, swept aside or trampled by governments which chose to devalue, marginalize and/or eradicate Canada’s true original found peoples.
In recent decades much has been done to admit, reverse and fix these legacy problems for our indigenous first citizens. Most people who would be considered expert, who are close to these issues and wise about indigenous culture would say poppycock!
Or much stronger language defining how woefully wrong-headed most of those fixes have been. There never was a quick or easy fix … or a ‘fix it before the next election cycle’ many politicians have wished for.
It requires work, bridge building and acknowledgement. And validation. And celebration. When we start to get that right, our chests should swell with some pride – not before. Until then our country and its bravado should come with a large asterisk [*], much like a suspect athletic record …
For 400 years – outgrowth of that early exploration, map making, fur trading and European colonization took control of this land, formalizing it with a national-connector railroad and government of our own, confederation and the British North America Act of Parliament in London, UK which gave us contractual, legal and independent nationhood – 150 yrs. ago today. The Brits didn’t completely disconnect until July 1, 1982 when our constitution was patriated – so we have a Constitution and a legacy of rights and laws. And history. But you can’t fix history, can’t repair things that were broken long ago. But good people are trying. They, and we, all need to try harder. Much harder.
We are true. We are north. We are strong. We are free.
We are one country, still struggling to define ‘what Canada[*] is’ …