By Talon Regent, President of the Federal NDP’s Saskatchewan Council
I am asked with increasing frequency if I will celebrate Canada Day this year, or if I will call for Canada Day to be cancelled in the wake of Residential School atrocities being brought to light.
We are often called upon to treat complex issues in black-and-white terms, and that is an injustice in itself. Let us all understand that these are not the only two options. Canada Day is a statutory holiday, and not all holidays are causes for celebration. Remembrance Day, for example, is a memorial holiday. We take that day to remember those who have fallen and the suffering that war creates, lest we forget. We do not “celebrate” Remembrance Day.
This year, I will be treating Canada Day as a memorial holiday.
I will take the day to reflect on our nation’s history. I will acknowledge the harm caused in residential schools, and I will give thanks that our community is finally seeking to undo that harm. I will acknowledge that dozens of First Nations communities across Canada still don’t have clean drinking water, and I will give thanks that Canada is wealthy enough to fix this. I will acknowledge the systemic racism that exists in this country, and I will give thanks that Canada has some of the strongest Human Rights protections in the world.
Canada does not have a flawless history, and it would be unpatriotic to pretend otherwise. At the same time, we are now trying to heal and reconcile. I am proud of Canada for its growth. I am proud of our community for holding itself accountable and demanding that we do better.
You are allowed to feel outraged by our nation’s past, and proud of our progress. Just remember that we are not perfect and there is more progress to be made. This Canada Day, I call on you to ask yourself, “what can I do to help fix the mistakes of the past and make Canada even better over the next year?”