Canada 150: Our Home ON Native Land

Today is Canada's "150th" birthday. It has been marketed as "Canada 150" and it is a pretty big deal here. A century and a half is a long time, but what about the number of centuries before the confederation and colonization? Today, there are celebrations in both small towns and large cities. Ottawa, our Nation's capital is hosting the bulk of the celebrations. However, Toronto is just as booming and oozing with Canadian Pride. For example, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (our mediocre, but most attractive PM to date ~ this is why everyone thinks he's such a dreamboat) has erected a massive rubber ducky on the Toronto Harbour front to increase tourism (see here). 

 Lately, I have been reflecting on what being Canadian means to me. I feel that not speaking up about something so important as Indigenous culture and rights, especially on a day like today, would be disingenuous. For many First Nations communities, Canada today, exists on stolen land. 
🇨🇦
In elementary school I wrote and gave an award-winning speech about Canada. Being so young, my perception of self as a Canadian was certainly much different than it is now. One thing remains the same -- I am proud to be Canadian. The words I spoke were genuine, inspired by a humble upbringing. I did speak a lot about the geographical wonders of our "home and native land". 
🇨🇦
Where is the justice for our Indigenous peoples of Canada? Because, I can't seem to find it. This year, I am choosing not to actively partake in Canada Day festivities. It will take more than celebrating Indigenous culture through festivals and celebratory days (June 21st was National Aboriginal Day) to break down 150+ years of colonialism and trauma. It requires the genuine desire to DO and BE better, critical thinking skills, empathy and creating tangible changes. The attendance of PM Trudeau in the reoccupation teepee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa is a start (see here).  

Of course, there are mezzo and macro level policy/community changes that need occur, in respecting our Indigenous communities. However, there is also responsibility to be had individually, on a micro level. Educate yourself, please.  Here is a free course on Indigenous Canada through The University of Alberta (or you can receive official certification for a cost). Seriously! Click here

I encourage you to read more about the Decolonize 150 movement. Here are some light articles to start (Now Toronto & Buzzfeed). If you've found my page, you surely can find more information on the historical importance of our First Nations population and culture. 
🇨🇦

As a Social Worker, I meet with our Canadian-Indigenous population almost daily. The stories I have heard and the education I have received (both formal and informal) is priceless. However, I am not going to sit here and pretend that I'm expert. It's their story. I have not been stolen from and tormented through colonization, oppressed and forced into poverty. I do not worry about the negative assumptions people might make about me due to my culture. The government does not bully or coerce me into cooperating, or fitting into a mold. 

Many of us (especially non-IBPOC) might be at a loss of what to do next. I know that I have felt, and still do feel this way at times. Maybe start here?

Do not contribute to White Supremacy. Recognize your privilege. Check your language. Break down your assumptions about others. Do not discriminate based on race, religion, language or Cree (and stand up for the oppressed). Take a minute to empathize and think what it might be like if the roles were reversed. Listen to other's stories. Stand in solidarity. Support causes. Educate yourself. 

Tweet at or formally write to your Members of Parliament (and I strongly encourage you to consider this). Do something 
🇨🇦

With that being said, I am still proud and privileged to be Canadian. The Political Tide is shifting so dramatically and I do feel generally safe as a Canadian. I am pleased that Canada is progressive, Liberal and generally, open-minded. Naturally, there is work to do. There will always be work to do. 

If you're Canadian, you will probably recognize song titles like "Good Old Hockey Game" by Stompin' Tom Connors (this played in Indigo the other day and I lost my cool) or my absolute favourite "I've Got Canada in my Pocket". Note: I'm putting this clickable link below as I'm low key singing along to this right now.
🇨🇦Personal Canadian Fun Facts🇨🇦
1. My initials are "EH" which is a common Canadian rhetoric to the end of a sentence - eh?
2. I know a handful of Canadian Winter Olympic medalists (hockey, sledding & skiing)
3. Two of my friends, Winston & Greg became the first Canadian-Bermudian LGBTQ couple to marry in Bermuda (and had to fight the Supreme Court to do so!) - Check out this article about the monumental day: here

Most Importantly
Canada 150 is a celebration of White Supremacy -- just let that sink in. 
We must do better. Decolonize 150. 
150 years have lead us to this point, so what can another 150 do?