Growing up, I was a proud, born and bred Canadian. There are these old photos of my sisters and I, covered head to toe in Canada-Day-themed temporary tattoos. I love Canada, my family is here, my home is here, I’ve travelled this country more than anywhere else in the world. But I’m really privileged to have this viewpoint, to look at my country and see it with rose-coloured glasses. A do-good country in which people are seen as equal, because it’s not true. We are not a unicorn-country, built upon equity. Canada, my home, is flawed. From it’s conception it could never be equal. It’s not that this country has fallen so far from the place that I saw as a child, it is simply that the country I saw as I child never existed.
And I’m disappointed in Canada. I’m disappointed in my education surrounding the indigenous communities. That my education was diluted to make Canadians feel better about the atrocities committed by the people that came before us. I’m disappointed in the systems built that benefit me and people that look like me, while not being equal for marginalised communities. I’m disappointed in a lot of things, but most importantly I’m disappointed in myself.
That I didn’t get involved in the conversation sooner. All those times I didn’t ask more questions or work to learn more about the peoples my country had villainized. I’m disappointed that I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable about the nation I identified with, so I didn’t engage in the conversation as much as I should have.
Because it’s uncomfortable to admit that you are wrong. And it is uncomfortable to admit that the country you live in is not the same for everyone. That my experiences, not matter how great and opportunistic, are not equal to those around me. I should be uncomfortable. I should sit in the discomfort and use it to motivate change, use it to motivate education. Use it to be an ally for others.
I am a Canadian. I was born here, and my family is here. I love the flavour of maple syrup, I eat poutine probably too often, and I make jokes aboot hockey and moose. But I don’t get to be that person, that Canadian, if other people don’t get to be too. I don’t get to act like the world around me is equal, because it isn’t. Every week, I run past 215 pairs of shoes on the ground outside the provincial parliament building to remind me of this.
And I don’t know how to fix all these problems. I’m not going to come out here and say I know the solutions because I don’t. Better people than me have tried and continue to do so. But I want to be in the conversation, I want to be part of the solution. I want to work towards that fictional country I loved as a kid. I am Canadian, and I want to find a way to be proud of that again.
From me, with love, to you,