Reflecting on Canada Day and my identity as a settler on “native land.”
Disclaimer: I speak to no one’s experience but my own and draw from no knowledge other than the flawed ones that I have learned while continuing to unlearn these foundations to stand in solidarity with the Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.
As an immigrant, Canada was the first place that felt like I belonged, like I had a welcoming home. For years (and even now), it was easy to see Canada only as an amazing land of opportunity that settled refugees and promoted ideals of equality, respect, socialism, and justice.
Life has shown me that reality is not always reflective of ideals and that the moral principles I had grown accustomed to did not apply to everyone equally. You can only close your eyes to the facts you wanted to write off as anomalies for so long. From MMIW and residential schools (Every Child Matters) to lack of basic human needs (clean water, affordable food, shelter, healthcare, education, protection from violence, racial profiling, and systematic injustice – just to name a few), the reality that many Canadians live every day is disconnected from the idealistic ones that are promoted.
But I still have hope. Hope that reconciliation is possible. Hope that we, as Canadians, come together to enact the change that only a unified front can make. Starting with meaningful actions beyond performative land acknowledgments and slow to initiate recommendations. It begins with examining our role in this country that we are a part of, getting informed, educated, and becoming aware of the issues faced by Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities. Being an ally – creating space at tables, standing in solidarity, and listening – even when it is difficult. Even when we feel shame and guilt for the system we are a part of and benefit from.
I still balance the 7-year-old child who found a home with the 41-year-old adult who recognizes that her adoptive home wasn’t just built on stolen land, but also on practices and policies similar to (or worse than) the ones her family sacrificed everything to free her from.