Canada Day Advice for the Easily Offended

Some Quebecois and First Nations peoples in Canada are saying they won’t sing “Oh Canada” on Canada Day, i.e. it’s not my country. Well, it is your country because the freedom NOT to sing or the privilege of singing is enabled due to “Canadian” democracy. This petty tribalism serves to divide us and identity politics takes us into a vacuum leading nowhere.

Disclaimer for the too-easily and/or oft-insulted: the phrase “petty tribalism” is not a reference to African or First Nations tribal systems; I’m not using it anthropologically; it is a political science term that can and should be understood as the equivalent of “sectarianism” or “chauvinism”. If you intellectually “jumped” at the use of the term tribalism, odds are you aren’t doing much thinking; you’re reacting.

Canada’s history is pretty clear in terms of the mistreatment of First Peoples, e.g. ancestral lands stolen (80% of Quebec and British Columbia’s lands are involved in land claims disputes); the passage of the Indian Act and establishment of the reserve and residential school systems (an attempt to assimilate aboriginal peoples); the failure to meet obligations as set out by the various numbered treaties (ensuring First Nations people could live proudly, independently); the nutrition deprivation experiments of the 1950s conducted on aboriginal children at residential schools; and then just good old fashioned racism (which I’ve seen first-hand First Nations peoples having to go through). I acknowledge and teach it all in my classes.

And here’s the thing, progressives seem to think that if they drop a few tropes and phrases, e.g. “white male patriarchy” or “historically marginalized” and suddenly they’re the “good guys”.

*And here’s where people will get insulted if they don’t actually give me something of a sympathetic reading*

I do not have to first practice a sort self-loathing in order to acknowledge these terrible things happened to First Nations peoples (and that these things have ongoing effects on First Nations peoples). I can appreciate my country—perhaps the healthiest democracy on the planet—AND at the same time acknowledge its problematic history; and while I understand why some people do not consider Canada “their” country, I would like to put forth the following observation: there isn’t another country on the planet, arguably, where you can preserve your unique identity (among other competing identities) and enjoy the full protection of the law.

There’s nothing more “Canadian” than that.


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