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
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
Tabby Lavalamp 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.
Unfortunately, we did. Only the numbers were smaller. Ian Cromwell aka Crommunist raised people’s awareness of this (read: dispelled us of our ignorance) when he was blogging at FtB.
“I Can Cite For You 150”. Saw it yesterday among all the other ‘lookit what we have to celebrate!!!’ videos hanging around my internet. It’s the only one worth sharing.
Sorry for not approving this sooner.
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.