So glad not to be in Canada in 2017

So the country of my birth, the country where I was raised, the adopted country of my parents, just celebrated its 150 year anniversary.

Even before we came to Peru, Mr. C5 & I both had said independently that we were happy to not be spending 2017 in Canada because of this anniversary.

Yes everything is relative.  There are plenty of worse places on the planet.  But there are also better places on the planet imho. Of course no place is perfect – I don’t expect that.  This does not excuse the ongoing genocide of the Original Peoples (OP).  Rather because of how ‘great’ Canada is in many respects, I hold it to a higher standard, I expect more because more is possible.

Side note: As is common when you are the stranger in a foreign land, when I meet a Peruvian many ask me what I think of Lima and Peru after they find out I have been here for several months.  I find this hard to answer.  I don’t want to be rude but I have to be honest.  I can’t say I am a fan of this place so I say that like all places there is good and bad – simple as that.

Of course Justin Trudeau has been and continues to be such a disappointment.  I am thankful for his stance on women and feminism, on the rights of LGBTQ folk. But on the environment and Indigenous Peoples’ front, talk about not thinking about the future for his children and grandchildren.

I have always been uncomfortable around patriotism, obviously the kind found south of the border but even our more subdued variety. Although things started to change in the last decade ‘thanks’ to h a r p e r and his breed of nationalism – you know hockey and god save Canada spiel at the end of speeches – his way of draping the veil over Canadians’ eyes.  Canadian patriotism started to take on a more sinister tone, putting on those rose coloured glasses.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very thankful that I was born and raised in this country.  I have had plenty of good luck in my life and this was one key piece of it. I am also very thankful of the experiences I have had which have made me acutely aware of my privileges – my white privilege and my socio-economic status privilege in particular – which resulted from following my path of activism. Like many folks in Canada, I never received any education about residential schools and its ongoing legacy.  I distinctly remember my history classes in high school were so European history focused – the ‘great’ crusades, the world wars, with only a passing reference to First Nations at the beginning of the course.

I would like to point folks in the direction of a f b posting that I came across, a posting from b u z z f e e d of all places – are they starting to have a bit of a social conscience? It is called, “12 Easy Steps For Canadians To Follow If They’re Serious About Reconciliation:  It starts with land and ends with showing the hell up June 30th, written by Shady Hafez.  (the videoclips in between each point are irritating so I have decided to include the steps in here, and there is some explanation of each step online)

1.Admit that Canada – and Canadians – are still colonial occupiers of Indigenous lands.

2.Put an end to comprehensive land claims, also known as land surrenders.

3.Return all unused Crown lands to their respective Indigenous nations.

4.Negotiate restitution for lands and resources that can’t be returned.

5.End resource extraction on disputed lands until boundary issues are resolved.

6.Abolish the Indian Act and replace it with complete Indigenous autonomy.

7.Dismantle Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and hand power over to Indigenous nations.

8. Hand over control of law and justice in our communities to our communities.

9.Actually implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

10.Implement all Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action.

11.Establish the nation-to-nation diplomacy we keep asking for.

12.Check your people.

I also highly recommend the viewing of the following documentary, “Unrepentant: Kevin Annett and Canada’s Genocide” available for free viewing on various websites.

I wholeheartedly agree with the above.  Unfortunately, I have no doubt this will not occur, at least, not in my lifetime, and by then it will be too late for the planet anyway.

It breaks my heart to know about the shit that OP have had to and continue to deal with.  And now they get the brunt of the consequences of our petrol fueled capitalist era.  The list goes on and on – the lack of potable water on most reserves, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women – MMIW – sheesh we now have an acronym for this!!, the suicides,  the dumping of toxic waste on reserve land, the raping and annexation of land, the health issues…  These problems are not inherent to the Peoples. They are the result of the deadly policies and actions of church, state and big business.  This is what happens when you destroy matriarchal cultures.

But then I see how they have survived – the strength and courage it takes to withstand a near genocide is so inspiring.  The ability of peoples to still laugh despite the daily struggles is what gives me hope.  (Side note: this is similar to the shit Black folks have had to endure – I mean think about it – if you can’t find some joy albeit occasionally about some aspects of life despite your predicament then how could you go on?)  The ability to forgive, to not wish to retaliate for past wrongs e.g. to wipe out us settler folks, to not wanting to force us to relocate (although they may wish this – some of us could do this voluntarily).

I am not trying to romanticize OP.  There are bad apples in every group.  There is no such thing as the perfect peoples. There have been conflicts amongst them, and there has been peace.

Getting back to the 12 steps above, owning rural property has caused me to consider the whole meaning of ownership of land.  It has always felt uncomfortable.  The thought of saying “I own this” is to me human arrogance of the highest order. It irks me to no end when the descendants of many of the first settler peoples will not acknowledge that their family’s legacy depended on the fact that they got land for free, stolen from the OP.  This refers in the area I live in Canada to the scots who came over in the late 1700s.  I have wanted to bequeath my land back to OP. Alas this isn’t as easy as it sounds where in NS the legacy of colonization was/is far more pronounced.  So instead I chose the path of being a caretaker, the custodian for the land and will leave it for others who will also treat it this way.

I will celebrate Canada when we stand nation to nation with the First Nations of Turtle Island.

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