Shame and Prejudice.

The Scream shows Indigenous children being taken away from their families by the Catholic church. (Courtesy of Kent Monkman).

The Scream shows Indigenous children being taken away from their families by the Catholic church. (Courtesy of Kent Monkman).

There’s a good article up about Canada 150 and whether or not Indigenous artists chose to participate. For some, it was an opportunity to get a sharp point of view home, and for others, it was nothing more than a celebration of colonialism and genocide, especially given how Indigenous people continue to be treated across Canada.

As Canada 150 celebrations extol the glory of Canada’s past and present, one group of artists is not so quick to join the party. Indigenous artists view the sesquicentennial with mixed feelings, with some using it as a platform to tell their peoples’ side of the story, and others opting to boycott the celebrations altogether.

“People come out and want to hear all these stories about Canada, and sometimes they don’t want to take the bad with the good,” says Vancouver-based playwright and composer Corey Payette, whose new musical, Children of God, tells the story of Cree children in residential schools. […] “For me it’s about educating non-Indigenous people, educating mainstream audiences, on what would this have been like if this had been your child? What would that have done to your family and the future of their children and the intergenerational trauma of that?”

But photographer Nadya Kwandibens feels the only right way to respond to Canada 150 is to boycott it.

“The way I see it is, these celebrations are a celebration of colonialism and, as an Indigenous person, I’m choosing not to celebrate colonialism,” said Kwandibens in an interview with CBC News from her home on Animakee Wa Zhing First Nation in northwestern Ontario. Her photos are positive, empowering images of young Aboriginal professionals thriving in urban centres and of elders teaching children. But Kwandibens doesn’t want to see them used in the context of Canada 150.

The Full story is here.


  1. Siobhan says

    Just a reminder: The last residential school* closed in 1997. This is barely history. There are people still alive today who survived the schools.

    *These were cultural genocide facilities. They would use corporal punishment against any indigenous person practicing anything perceived to be related to their culture. These included beatings, electrocution, and isolation. The victims weren’t allowed to speak anything but English or French or express anything outside the Euro-colonial constructs of sexual orientation or gender. They couldn’t talk about their food. Their homes. Their families. It was about eradicating heritage. And it is a legacy I work hard to ensure Canadians never forget, our own modern Holocaust.

  2. Siobhan says


    Canadians tend to get puffy and self righteous when compared themselves to the United States. I try to knock ’em down a peg. There is absolutely not a single former colonial nation on this planet that has not been complicit in genocide against colonized peoples. Canada just has better PR.

  3. rq says

    I’ve been disappointed in Canada’s lack of taking a stand against the current government of USAmerica, too.
    It was good to see this among all the back-slapping ‘we are so great to strangers’ articles popping up all over Canadian news these days. And that painting at the top of the OP really got to me, there’s nothing unclear or abstract to it or open to interpretation -- this is a piece of history, a shameful one, and putting it out there so openly is shaming and really, really does a number on the emotions.

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