Reflecting on Canada Day 2021
July 1, 2021
On July 1, 2021 we have the choice to observe Canada Day, a national holiday celebrated and declared by many as the 154th year of Canada’s nationhood.
Canada Day has long been observed as a joyous occasion – a day to honour this land that has given many of us a home. A day to connect with friends, partake in festive foods, celebrate diversity, and take pride in the achievements of our country. It is difficult however, to honour the bright parts of our past without also acknowledging the injustices lingering in the present.
Recent and ongoing events present a stark reality of ‘Canada’, traditionally called Turtle Island. There is no ignoring the hard fact that while we celebrate, the original peoples of this land suffer enduring consequences of our history and self-proclaimed nationhood. Most recently, the discovery of over 700 unmarked graves near former Residential School sites has emphasized the grotesque treatment of Indigenous Peoples, and reopened wounds of intergenerational trauma in Indigenous communities.
This year, we are presented with an opportunity to learn about our history, and to thank the original keepers of the land we exist on. We must acknowledge that our settlement on this land has caused a cycle of pain and harm that endures to this day.
Canada Day must not only be about celebration of what we have accomplished, but rather a day of honest reflection and introspection. It is an opportunity to acknowledge our reality, not just our ideals.
We hope Canada’s 154th year will become a catalyst that sets us on a new journey of honesty, mutual respect, care and regard for our coexistence as a nation. For that to happen, we as settlers must act as allies with Indigenous Peoples and equal partners in a shared journey.
When we truly engage with this journey, the celebration of this nation may become a reality for all.
“I am from this land. My ancestors are buried here on this land. This land is our land and it’s part of me and part of everything I am and everything I do.”
-Autumn Petelier, Indigenous water protection activist.
CEO, Manitoba Building Trades