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Re: “Why I choose not to celebrate Canada Day

While the writer, Killa Atencio, certainly has the right to dismiss Canada Day because of her heritage, it does not follow that the rest of us must do the same. Atencio has a very particular experience of Canada, and she is entitled to that, but I have a different view of my country and one that, dare I say, is broader and more positive. I see Canada as part of a global community, and a country that has been remarkably successful in maintaining a constitutional democracy longer than most other countries. I see a set of public institutions (eg. health care, education) that are undeniably imperfect and under fire, but are nevertheless remarkably successful compared to the rest of the world. Our degree of safety and personal freedom are, again, imperfect and under fire, but are relatively quite advanced. We have a beautiful country that is physically and demographically diverse, and therefore is extraordinarily gorgeous.

If we have a genuine weakness in our country, it's giving cultural priority to Canadians who, through the accident of birth, are deemed more worthy than other Canadians. We have thankfully moved beyond the British and French "two founding races" nonsense, but I fear that Atencio and her ilk would like to reinsert a new political and cultural priority for Aboriginal people. And this I will resist categorically and to the end of my life; no other persons in Canada - Aboriginal, British or French - are politically and culturally superior to others, including recent immigrants. The pejorative label of "colonist" is just another way of saying "latecomer", and that just drips with second-class status. And you know what? It's very similar to the same racist, hate filled, first-class vs. second-class categorization that we saw in Yugoslavia in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

So I don't like second-class status, do I? Well, what about the Aboriginal peoples? Am I not being a hypocrite?

Well, all I can say is that Aboriginal people have indeed been treated poorly in the past and in the present, but mutual denigration will only make things worse. Atencio's argument is a diatribe because I see no space in it for reconciliation; it's simply a matter of Aboriginal good, non-Aboriginal bad. And as a result, it only hardens both sides. My rights, work and heritage are as important to me as hers are to her. Yet, since she utterly denigrates my rights, work and heritage, what does she realistically expect other than bewilderment and hostility?

When I pick up the dirt beneath my feet and sift it through my fingers, it is as much my land as hers. I'm not going home; this is my home. If people want to insinuate that I am a visitor, well, we have a serious problem.

207 likes, 55 dislikes
Posted by grapemanca on 07/01/2015 at 8:21 PM

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