If you’re in Canada, today is a holiday. It’s “Canada Day” – the day we celebrate the official creation of our country.
It’s a day that many Canadians celebrate for many reasons: from being thankful to have a day off work to being thankful for arriving and living in a country where there is no war – and many sentiments in between, for many different reasons.
But not everyone is celebrating.
What’s to celebrate?
Canada as we know it didn’t exist in 1867, but this land was already lived on, walked on and loved by many Nations – and continues to be.
So while many non-Indigenous Canadians celebrate with fireworks, this same day is another painful reminder for our Indigenous brothers and sisters of what has been lost since first contact and due to subsequent generations of genocide.
The legacy of colonization
I use “another reminder” purposefully because oppression doesn’t take days off, and while fireworks are today’s heightened reminders of the stark contrast in experiences, those contrasts are obvious to Indigenous People every day:
- Many reserves without clean drinking water (400 of the 618 First Nations were under at least one water advisory between 2004 and 2014).
- Substandard housing
- Highest poverty rates in Canada (25% of Indigenous adults live in poverty, 40% of Indigenous children live in poverty)
- High rates of unemployment (13.9% vs 8.6% according to Statistics Canada in 2018)
- Disproportionate rates of children in the Child Welfare system
- Police brutaliy
- Intergenerational trauma. broken families, lost languages and cultural knowledge due to Residential Schooling
- And not to forget the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (read the report here)
The list is long.
Another example of systemic racism
In a time of heightened awareness about systemic racism, it should be obvious that the lived experiences of Indigenous People in this country are also very different (and why that is).
So, not everyone is celebrating today.
If you are (because you well may have personal reasons to) take some time to pause and consider the breadth of what this day means for Indigenous Peoples across this country.