'I'm not always proud of the country in which I live': This Canada Day means something different to people across the nation

·5 min read
This year we mark Canada’s birth with an acknowledgement that celebrating our nation must come hand-in-hand with listening, learning and healing from its difficult history of inequities and abuse, most notably against Indigenous Peoples. With knowledge and acceptance of all people, we will create a more inclusive and enlightened future.

Today, Yahoo Canada changed its logo to mark Canada’s birth with an acknowledgement that celebrating our nation must come hand-in-hand with listening, learning and healing from its difficult history of inequities and abuse, most notably against Indigenous Peoples. With knowledge and acceptance of all people, we will create a more inclusive and enlightened future.

— Yahoo Canada Editors

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In light of the #CancelCanadaDay movement, Canadians across the country are sharing their views of how to reconcile their knowledge of Canada's brutal past with the same nation which helped save them, gave them countless opportunities, and fills them with pride. These are their perspectives:

Tareq Hadhad is Syrian-Canadian, and Founder and CEO of Peace By Chocolate.
Tareq Hadhad is Syrian-Canadian, and Founder and CEO of Peace By Chocolate.

I became part of the big Canadian family last year as I was sworn in as a Canadian citizen and I will always be grateful for our country that has saved our lives after surviving the war in Syria. No country on Earth is perfect and we have our own failures, but when I became a Canadian citizen, I didn’t just sign up for the country’s excellence, I also owned its mistakes and failures and I will work hard everyday to leave Canada to our children better than I found it. July 1st this year will be a day of listening, learning, grieving, reflecting. I am proud that we are a nation defined by hope and freedom to be the best you can be. Freedom came as a sacrifice by those soldiers and veterans who served and we should never take it for granted. I am also proud of how Canada came together during the pandemic and we all wanted to come out of this challenging period of time to be and do better as a country with true inclusion, justice, fairness, equality and reconciliation. A lot needs to be done including righting what is taking place today in Indigenous communities starting with correcting the lack of clean water, fighting for justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, taking actions on inequality and lower income levels, higher rates of unemployment, higher death rate among children and youth and supporting residential schools survivors.Tareq Hadhad, CEO Peace By Chocolate

Amal Ali Mohamud is a Somali-Canadian independent producer.
Amal Ali Mohamud is a Somali-Canadian independent producer.

On Canada Day, I wanted to take an opportunity to honour and recognize the Indigenous People in Canada. As Canadians, we really need to do much better for the Indigenous People of this land – be they First Nations, Metis, Inuit or others. I am proud of the contributions to society made by the Indigenous People. I am least proud of the fact that we are still dealing with hate crimes in this country. We need to do a better job confronting hate and stop the spread.Amal Ali Mohamud, Somali-Canadian producer

 

Naheed Dosani is a palliative care physician and health justice activist.
Naheed Dosani is a palliative care physician and health justice activist.

I am proud to be Canadian. But, this Canada Day I'm reflecting on the genocide that Canada has participated in. I'm reflecting on the ways that we have treated Indigenous Peoples, coast to coast historically. I'm reflecting on the 215 children, 715 children, and all the other children that we haven't yet counted that lay in residential schools across Canada. This is a time of reflection and deep thought, and it should not stop at thought. We need to ensure we move towards action, every Canada Day after this one. I'm really grateful that Canada has over the years, become a beacon of hope to many people who are being persecuted like my parents were and has given opportunities to generations after that for people like me. This Canada Day, we need to move from conversation and discussion into action.Naheed Dosani, palliative care physician, health justice activist

Alethea Arnaquq-Baril is a documentary filmmaker, Inuit traditional tattoo enthusiast, and Inuit seal hunting activist.
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril is a documentary filmmaker, Inuit traditional tattoo enthusiast, and Inuit seal hunting activist.

There are mass graves of Indigenous children all over this country, and finding them has caused Canadian settlers to show us just how rampant racism is in Canada. I'm most proud of the Indigenous land and water protectors taking action for future generations. I'm least proud that our government is fighting in court against efforts to treat Indigenous children equally, as well as against residential school survivors, yet they won’t press charges against the living serial rapists that abused hundreds of children in residential schools. We need to change massive investment in housing across northern Indigenous communities, on the nation-building scale that southern Canadian settlers have already benefitted from over the last century.Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, filmmaker, Inuit activist

Mike Morrison is a host, writer, speaker, podcaster and community builder.
Mike Morrison is a host, writer, speaker, podcaster and community builder.

I think I'm proud and lucky to be Canadian, but I'm not always proud of the country in which I live. That doesn't mean I don't love Canada and that doesn't mean I don't love being Canadian, it means that moving forward, we have to really think about it means to celebrate Canada, and acknowledge that the country we know now, came at a cost to the Indigenous People. I'm incredibly proud of how most Canadians dealt with the pandemic and now the vaccine rollout. While it wasn't universal, it was incredible to see Canadians from all over sacrifice so much to help their neighbours. I'm least proud of how little I knew about our history with residential schools. I've learned more in the past four weeks than I did in twelve years of public school and two university degrees. One of which was Education. We all need to do better. I think we need to stop saying things like "It's Canada, that doesn't happen here." We know that things like racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia happen here, and ignoring them isn't going to help them go away.Mike Morrison, host, writer, community builder

This Canada Day, consider donating to Indigenous communities across Canada to support the journey to reconciliation.

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