As a child of settlers, it took some time before I began to understand the role of Europeans (in particular the French and British) in the formation of this land.
I was privileged in having history teachers who taught the actual always dominant nature of the settlement (theft) of this land from the First Nations people who had lived here. I began my journey of realization at 16, learning the facts of the way this land, this ‘country’ was formed. The racism, racism and indeed, genocide that was committed, not just to First Nations people, but people of color who also came here to have a better life than what was on offer in other countries.
My teachers were not’shaming’ us descendants of the settlers, but encouraged us to work to be aware of the injustice and think about what had been done to the original inhabitants of this land. To open our eyes and think. And think about what kind of country we wanted to live in.
Unfortunately some people thought it was just fine and dandy the way it was/is.
Perhaps I was more receptive to the information because of my extensive reading, but also because my mother’s family was Quebecois and her lived experience of being discriminated against because of that. Perhaps it was because my father was from German culture, and the lingering effects of the war meant people like him were harassed and discriminated against – even though he had done his duty and fought in the Canadian armed services for this country, ‘his’ country .
Or perhaps I’m just more empathetic. Or took the lessons I learned in Sunday School – you know, the ones that said ‘love your neighbor’, ‘feed the hungry’, ‘heal the sick’ – to heart. And then could not reconcile those lessons with what settlers and politicians did to the original peoples of this land.
So no, I don’t ‘celebrate’ Canada Day, as such. I take this day to stop and reflect. I think about how little has changed, how many people in this country in this day and age, are still being discriminated against.
I think about how my ‘white-ness’ has given me opportunities. That the color of my skin has never prevented me from doing anything. My white skin has never stood in my way, just because of being this colour.
And while life was not ‘easy’ growing up as part of a blue collar worker household, my life was never made *worse* due to my skin colour.
I think about that a lot.
Now that I am retired (for certain values of) I have the freedom to be a lot more vocal about my beliefs. I no longer worry over much if I offend someone who thinks their white skin is somehow better than someone else’s.
At 16 I scored liberal leaning on the political quadrant and over the years, when I’ve re-taken the questionnaire, I have continued to score pretty much the same.
So as a ‘leftie’ I have not become more extreme. *I* have not moved the goalposts. *I* still believe that regardless of someone’s skin tone, they are equally human and deserving of basic decency and rights. Making sure someone else has the same rights as I do DOES NOT DIMINISH MY RIGHTS. As the meme says – it’s not pie.
To the people on the right hand end of the political spectrum, I repeat I HAVE NOT MOVED FURTHER LEFT. Perhaps it is you who have hardened your attitude? Moved further right???
Have I changed my thoughts? Yes, of course I have. I have grown my circle to include more variations from the ‘norm’. At 16 it was to realize that people who are not considered ‘white’ were just as human, just as deserving of equality. I also became aware of LGBTQ folk, and made sure there was room for acceptance (from me, at least). I learned about the various different ways people thought about themselves in terms of gender, and enlarged my circle. When Trudeau pere declared that the nation has no business in the bedrooms of the country and worked to make marriage between people of the same legal gender, I was happy for them. Love who you want to love.
When First Nations students began getting scholarships and took law degrees and began suing the government to try to regain some of what had been stolen from them, my mother was furious. I was happy for them. Because they should never have been taken away in the first place.
In my 20s abortion was accepted as health care, and birth control made available regardless of marital status. I was in the wave of women who began to work towards financial autonomy, getting credit in my own name, having my own bank account, my own credit cards, taking out loans and running my own business. (It helped to have a spouse willing to assist me by co-signing my first couple of loans.)
And the alt-right wants to take all of that away.
We have our own issues here in Canada. A growing number of white folk are becoming ever more violent in the rush to remove rights from other people. Especially people of colour. Women. They want to impose their perverted ‘christianity’ on every other person.
I always expected the pendulum to swing. What I did not expect was how hard the right worked to put the mechanisms in place to turbo power that swing.
I don’t care what you think about the Liberal Party of Canada in general, or Mr. Trudeau in particular. I want you – if you are a white person – to think about what the world would look like with the alt-right in power. If you can’t imagine it, I suggest you take a good long hard look at oh, Nazi Germany in the 30s. And ask yourself, do you really want to live like that? Or do you want democracy to die? And if you live in Canada and think we are immune from what is happening in the US, I suggest you take a look at what is happening – again! – in Ottawa – right now – and the ‘convoy’ that wants nothing more than to overthrow the current government.
It was never about masks. It was never about vaccines. It is straight up wanting to take over and impose their will on everyone else. It was always the power.
And if you are interested to know where on the political compass you fall, here is a website that will take you through the process… (don’t like this one? There are others – but they all ask equally difficult questions meant to make you really THINK about your value system.)
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.