Canada Celebrates: Our home on native land

On July 1, 1867, Canada gained its independence from England. This Saturday marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation.


Call me cynical (I havenever been the flag waving type), but I have a suspicion this Saturday is going to be white history (and immigrants) day, with barely a token mention of First Nations people or what has been done to them. I will be going to the Canada Day event at Hakka Park in Taipei more to watch than participate. The theme seems to be nothing but a party during the day and fireworks at night, no mention of anything historical other than the number.

Resistance 150: Why Canada’s birthday celebrations aren’t for everyone

Many Indigenous people see little reason to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday

The Taiwanese attending the event (along with many non–Canadian foreigners) will likely get the impression it’s a land of immigrants without any mention of the people who were there first. I hope we see sorely needed protests in Canada that mirror those seen at recent pride parades (e.g. Black Lives Matter, Transgender activists).  If anyone dares to physically prevent First Nations protests, they would prove their validity.  Unfortunately, such protests are unlikely to happen here, and worse, discussing it will probably be shouted down, told “this isn’t the time for it”.

When IS it the time?  When no one is paying attention?

Taiwan has its own problems with rewriting history, erasure of indigenous culture and racism and discrimination that it has only started to address in recent years. I was here six years ago during the centenary of the independence from China. There was scarcely a mention of the fourteen indigenous groups (the Taroko, Amis, Bulun, Tayal and Tao, et al). You wouldn’t have known they were here based on the celebrations, it was all about ethnic Chinese immigrants. As I said above, I suspect Canada Day will be much the same.

Discrimination and incorporation of Taiwanese indigenous Austronesian peoples

Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine: The First Nations of Taiwan: A Special Report on Taiwan’s indigenous peoples

Yes, Racism Exists in Taiwan

And in a rare bright spot:

Taiwan Is Reinventing Its Relationship With Its Indigenous Peoples

Bruce Cockburn’s song “Stolen Land” is thirty years old, and things still aren’t much better than when he wrote it.

“Stolen Land”, Bruce Cockburn (1987)


From Tierra del Fuego to Ungava Bay

The history of betrayal continues to today

The spirit of Almighty Voice, the ghost of Anna Mae

Call like thunder from the mountains, you can hear them say

It’s a stolen land


Apartheid in Arizona, slaughter in Brazil

If bullets don’t get good PR there’s other ways to kill

Kidnap all the children, put ’em in a foreign system

Bring them up in no-man’s land where no one really wants them

It’s a stolen land


Stolen land — but it’s all we’ve got

Stolen land — and there’s no going back

Stolen land — and we’ll never forget

Stolen land — and we’re not through yet


In my mind I catch a picture, big black raven in the sky

Looking at the ocean, sail reflected in black eye

Sail as white as heroin, white like weathered bones

Rum and guns and smallpox gonna change the face of home

In this stolen land


If you’re like me you’d like to think we’ve learned from our mistakes

Enough to know we can’t play god with others’ lives at stake

So now we’ve all discovered the world wasn’t only made for whites

What step are you gonna take to try and set things right?

In this stolen land


  1. says

    I guess we can still feel a little superior to the US because we built our country with all of the genocide but none of the slavery?

    But yeah, I haven’t felt a thing about Canada 150 except the shame of the bones that make up our foundation.

  2. says

    Unfortunately, but predictably, I was right about the Canada Day event in Taipei being a white people’s event, and I’m not referring to the visitors.

    I didn’t expect to see many or any First Nations people here, I haven’t met any face to face since I left Canada. But if you went by the imagery being shown at the event, you would think there were only white people in Canada – no ethnic Chinese, no Indians, no Vietnamese and no First Nations people. It was whitewashing and erasure of the whole country.