This weekend, Canada is marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation. My parents came to Canada to have me and raise me, so that I could have more opportunities, more opportunities than would ever have been available to them. So my personal relationship to Canada 150 is about gratitude.
That said, Canada is far from perfect. In 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Committee delivered a scathing report, slamming Canada’s record on Indigenous and women’s rights. So not everyone is celebrating the occasion, and it’s not fair to ask them to.
On Wednesday on the CBC’s The Current, host Anna Maria Tremonti dedicated time on the show to see if it was possible to “celebrate Canada 150 and still respect Indigenous rights”? One of the featured speakers was Roberta Jamieson, President & CEO of Indspire, an Indigenous-led charity investing in education for Indigenous people. She is “the first First Nation woman in Canada to earn a law degree; the first non-parliamentarian appointed an ex-officio member of a House of Commons Committee; the first woman Ombudsman of Ontario; and the first woman elected Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory”. I met Roberta last year when I moderated a panel discussion at an event honouring the most powerful women in Canada. The entire room was still when she spoke. On The Current, Roberta says that she’s not here to criticise anyone for celebrating Canada 150, and respects the right to do so. She too will be celebrating:
"I'm more optimistic in 2017 than I have been in my life. I will celebrate the resilience of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people. I will celebrate the fact that we are still here."
And she added these thoughts about commemorating Confederation while acknowledging the Indigenous perspective:
"The intergenerational trauma, the way that our people have been treated in Canada — it is a fact. I want people to go into July 1 and beyond — eyes wide open accepting our reality. But it's a time to recommit. It's a time to re-energize. It's a time to move beyond what the Indigenous people in Australia call 'gesture politics' and it's a time for sustained and serious action."
My takeaway from this is that there can’t be celebration without homework. Reasonable. So I’m going to light some fireworks, spend time with friends and family, and get back to work next week.
It’s a holiday on Monday in Canada and it’s Independence Day on Tuesday in the US. The site will be dark on both days. We’ll return with Show Your Work on Wednesday – and more.
Happy Canada Day! Have a wonderful and safe weekend!
Yours in gossip,