There are fewer situations that opinionate Canadians more, polarizing them into allegiances or condemnation, than interracial conflict. It has always been that way. It was the hallmark of colonial England holding themselves above and aloof from native culture. And it still forms the bulwark of modern white Canadian’s self-perceived privilege along with new-er-comers who seek to benefit from this robber-legacy (including a self-contradictory backlash against the newest arrivals by the oldest arrivals!). Nuance implodes. Debate becomes a simplistic on-off switch. Are you with or against? And nowhere is this dualism more predominant than when it comes to the conditions surrounding the lives of First Nations peoples in Canada. Today is Canada Day. I cannot awake this morning without being mindful of the dynamics in which aboriginals are seeking to assert their identities and to maintain themselves in independence over and against the ongoing humiliation and overwhelming threat of a society which can rely on unlimited backing from great powers precisely because it is white.
In the face of this ongoing polarization I ask myself : What is it that Canada has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the lives of First Nations peoples continues to be dishonoured. It has failed to hear that its promises of relationship and justice have not only not been met, but are increasingly trod under foot. And it has failed to hear that the largest segments of its white and white-dependent society are more concerned with maintaining and improving their lot than anything related to the reason they are able to be here in the first place.
The coming of the English and the French to North America was made possible by agreements. Those agreements were based on sharing…sharing life by those who were already here, and sharing technology by the new arrivals. But this relationship was doomed from the start because the overseas sponsors of the new arrivals never saw life as life anywhere, let alone here, but as commodities. Genuine relationship was never even a possibility; the equal say of both parties was never in the plans of colonial English merchants and corporations and royalty and social engineers. And like their forebears, modern Canadian government – federal, provincial, and municipal – is overwhelmingly still fixated on the rewards of commodification, running rough shod over the traditional interconnectedness of aboriginal people and location and those who would choose to honour them.
At root it is a modern day sin for any immigrant or descendant of immigrants to be here and to live the way they do if they do not work to rectify the benefits they continue to receive from the colonizing, marketing heritage of the first colonizers.
This is not life, it is existence; it is neither engagement nor relationship, it is to not be concerned for anyone except oneself. In short it is in breach of contract. But more than that, it shows up a people without conscience, or compassion, or a heart.
This is Canada. There is not a single governmental employee who seeks to rectify it. And on this Canada Day 2018 it is what Canada continues to fail to hear.