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In response to the poster shown above, here is my “jammed” version:
This jammed poster aims to expose the double standards that the Canadian government has when it comes to Indigenous rights and title. On one hand, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claims that “no relationship is more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples” (Palmater). However, on the other hand, the government has consistently delayed and ignored Aboriginal issues regarding land, rights, safety, health and well-being.
McMahon states in his article that, “This country was founded by coercing, sometimes violently so, Indigenous peoples off of their territories to provide access to the rich natural resources that would form this country’s economy” (McMahon). Colonisation has taken away from Indigenous peoples their land, language and their way of being. (Murdoch)
The term ‘genocide’ in the poster is representative of physical and cultural genocide. Indigenous people have been subjected to institutionalized racism, discriminatory legislation and federal under-funding for hundreds of years. The Indian policy has been one of resource extraction and inefficient resource management by pushing Indigenous people out of their lands by force and often under threat of violence. The Residential School system was an attempt at cultural erasure by physically and sexually assaulting children. The attempted destruction of language, culture and customs of Aboriginal people to benefit and serve colonial systems of oppression has been a recurring theme in the past 200 hundred years. There are unsolved cases of thousands of missing, murdered Indigenous women and an alarmingly high suicide rate amongst Indigenous youth. Living conditions in some parts of Canada where Indigenous people reside are unacceptable— to the point where there is no potable water.
We, as a community, need to open our eyes to these issues.
Hence this Canada Day, let’s acknowledge our role as settlers in this land. Let us recognise the dark history this country has and accept how colonial oppression is a part and parcel of our celebration. Let us stand in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters today.
References and works cited:
Dunham, Jackie. “Resistance 150: Why Canada’s birthday celebrations aren’t for everyone.” CTVNews. June 28, 2017. Accessed July 02, 2017.
Gray, Earle, and desLibris – Books. 2017. Unfamiliar history: Canada@150Civil Sector Press.
McMohan, Ryan. Why I Won’t Be Attending Canada’s 150th Birthday Party.” CBCnews. March 09, 2017. Accessed July 02, 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/firsthand/blog/why-i-wont-be-attending-canadas-150th-birthday-party.
Palmater, Pamela. “Canada 150 is a celebration of Indigenous genocide.” NOW Magazine. March 29, 2017. Accessed July 02, 2017. https://nowtoronto.com/news/canada-s-150th-a-celebration-of-indigenous-genocide/.
As the Canada Day weekend approaches, all over social media, I see bright posters saying “Celebrate Canada 150” and the Canadian flag soaring, red and white dominating the space. The image below was one I found going around quite a bit on posters:
However, despite all the festivities, what most people have failed to acknowledge is that Canada 150 is the celebration of Indigenous Genocide, hundreds of years of colonial oppression and inherent racism. The entire nationhood of ‘Canada’ is built on the foundations of theft and violence. We need to acknowledge Canada’s dark history, and that the land in which we reside is stolen, unceded land belonging to the First Nations. Our festivities are predicated on the oppression of others. Indigenous communities have occupied this land for thousands of years— since time immemorial. This concept of Canada’s 150th birthday is a colonial idea pushed down our throats. It’s been a violent 150 years for Indigenous peoples.
What are we celebrating here— Ethnocide? The legacy of the Residential Schools? The thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women? Cultural genocide?
(Continued in the next blog post)