It is Canada Day, and in a few days, it will be Independence Day in the US. Many countries celebrate some type of founding, liberation, or independence which seems to be the overwhelming majority.
A pall has fallen on Canada Day this year. There have always been some objections about the suitability of it, but with the re-emergence of the horror of residential schools into the public eye reminding people that it was a terrible time in our history, there are more calls to cancel the celebration.
Every country has its atrocities. From the beginning of civilization, and of course, before, humans have fought with, enslaved, and killed others for food, land, resources. The beginning of colonization in the 16th century created a further imbalance between groups of people because of the technological gap, greed, and self-importance.
What happened in Canada unfortunately played out in the same way for the same reasons all over the world. As far as I know, many governments are working toward a reconciliation with their indigenous groups. There is much work to be done in Canada and around the world for healing to begin or continue, but the scars of history will always remain. The hope is that history doesn’t repeat itself.
Canada is seen as a country that provides a safe haven for refugees, a welcoming new home for immigrants, and a government the provides humanitarian and peacekeeping around the globe. Unfortunately, these positive aspects are overshadowed by an uprise in racially motivated violence, and the continuing discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools.
Should we cancel Canada Day? In many places it will be replaced by a day of reflection, not just to remember those who lost their lives, but to think of how we can move forward, creating a country that respects everyone and builds toward a greater good. Let’s not forget that we can’t change the past, but we can make the future better.
We don’t own this planet. Just because we have risen to the top of the food chain and have been able to advance technologically doesn’t give us carte blanche to do what we want. At best, for our successes, we have been bestowed stewardship of the Earth. A gift such as this is not to be taken lightly.
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Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.