In 1879, July 1 was labelled “dominion day”, and retained that name until 1982 when the constitution was ratified and the name changed to “canada day”. (The lower case spelling is intentional.) Considering how white Canadian governments have behaved over the last 150 years, dominionist is a better name for it. Remember what was done to the Metis in Manitoba? It turns out we’ve been doing that the entire time, one long, slow genocide of the First Nations people that never ceased. And current politicians hope a few dollars and a mealy mouthed apology will make up for it or allow it to continue.
The recent decision by the City of Victoria to remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from in front of city hall has sparked much discussion about whether statues and other commemorations of historical figures should be removed or replaced.
This is not the first time a statue of Macdonald has caught the attention of Indigenous people.
For many Canadians, there is a fear that removing statues or changing names of buildings will erase the country’s history. Others charge that we cannot judge a historical person’s actions based on contemporary standards.
But even by historical standards, a story by Rachel Décoste in the Huffington Post shows that Macdonald was “way more racist than his contemporaries.”
Excerpts from the article by Rachel Décoste linked in the item above:
1. During the American Civil War (1861 to 1865), Montreal served as refuge to Confederates ― southern Americans who wanted to keep slavery and secede from the United States union. The Southern slavers found a friend in John A. Macdonald.
2. John A. Macdonald may have named Canada a “confederation” in deference to the Southern Confederates with whom he sympathized.
3. John A. Macdonald was a sinophobe, according to Timothy J. Stanley’s research.
In 1885, PM Macdonald told the House of Commons that, if the Chinese were not excluded from Canada, “the Aryan character of the future of British America should be destroyed.” This was the precise moment in the histories of Canada and the British dominions when Macdonald personally introduced race as a defining legal principle of the state.
4. John A. Macdonald was way more racist than his contemporaries. For John A. Macdonald, Canada was to be the country that restored a pure Aryan race to its past glory. Lest it be thought that Macdonald was merely expressing the prejudices of the age, it should be noted that his were among the most extreme views of his era.
5. John A. Macdonald’s policies of forced starvation helped clear First Nations from the prairies in order to build the railway, according to James Daschuk of University of Regina. An excerpt from his book, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation and the Loss of Aboriginal Life:
“For years, government officials withheld food from aboriginal people until they moved to their appointed reserves, forcing them to trade freedom for rations. Once on reserves, food placed in ration houses was withheld for so long that much of it rotted while the people it was intended to feed fell into a decades-long cycle of malnutrition, suppressed immunity and sickness from tuberculosis and other diseases. Thousands died.”
The problem is, MacDonald isn’t history. His attitudes are still modern practice. Why do First Nations homes still not have adequate water, sewage and construction? Why do their kids not receive adequate education, which does not include instruction in their own peoples’ languages?
Why are the Racist Corrupt Misogynistic Pricks (RCMP) permitted to murder First Nations people with impunity and pretend they “are not systematically racist” despite their own racist actions? Racism is as endemic amongst Canadian cops as among US cops. Pretending they’re any better is part of the problem.
And most currently, why has no one been held accountable for the culturual and bodily genocide of First Nations children at “residential schools”? Why did Trudeau permanently allow the catholic cult to escape its financial obligations to pay restitution and reparations to First Nations people? (Probably because he is a fanatical catholic.) That was not a “legal misstep”, it was intentionally done to protect the cult’s finances and force taxpayers to foot the entire bill.
Why are the government’s and catholic cult’s records being kept secret except to protect the guilty? Why is investigating property damage (a few burnt churches) deemed the “priority” and not identifying thousands of children who have been systematically murdered in those “schools”? Why is naming their murderers not a priority?
And on “canada day”, another 182 bodies have been found outside a “school” in Cranbrook, BC. Meanwhile, the RCMP again display misplaced priorities, more concerned with another burnt church in Alberta instead of identifying the bodies.
Even if these were the only issues, there is nothing to celebrate today. And I haven’t even mentioned the repeated racism and atrocities perpetrated towards Canadians who are Black, of Japanese or Chinese descent, which are all horror stories unto themselves.
There have been numerous protest songs over the years, written by or about First Nations people in Canada. I would like to link to all the lyrics, but most are not available (especially the first, which is impossible to transcribe). Songs and links are below the fold.
7th Fire’s “The Cheque Is In The Mail” is a brilliant reggae-punk anthem about bureaucracy and tone deaf government.
Willie Dunn’s “I Pity the Country” (1973) is powerful despite it’s soft, country guitar sound.
I pity the country I pity the state And the mind of a man Who thrives on hate Small are the lives Of cheats and of buyers Of bigoted news press Fascist town criers Deception annoys me Deception destroys me The Bill of Rights throws me In jails they all know me Frustrated are churchmen From saving a soul man The tinker, the tailor The colonial governor They pull and they paw me They're seeking to draw me Away from the roundness Of the light Silly civil servants They thrive off my body Their trip is with power Backbacon and welfare Police, they arrest me Materialists detest me Pollution, it chokes me Movies, they joke me Politicians exploit me City life, it jades me Hudson Bay flees me Hunting laws freak me Government is bumbling Revolution is rumbling To be ruled in impunity Is tradition continuity I pity the country I pity the state And the mind of a man Who thrives on hate
Bruce Cockburn wrote “Stolen Land” for his 1987 greatest hits album “Waiting For A Miracle”.
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 mountain, 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 It's a stolen land, but it's all we've got It's a stolen land, and there's no going back It's a stolen land, and we'll never forget It's a 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 steps are you gonna take To try and set things right in this stolen land? It's a stolen land, but it's all we've got It's a stolen land, and there's no going back It's a stolen land, and we'll never forget It's a stolen land, and we're not through yet