As people across Canada were celebrating where they live, I took a break from writing and skimmed through Facebook.
For most people, wishing others a Happy Canada Day was typical; but one friend (a Caucasian female of my age who is in university) wrote, "If I had it my way I wouldn't leave my apartment on days like today. Nationalism is scary and I don't see anything about [C]anada's colonial legacy that is worthy of a celebration."
I thought about it for a moment then decided to comment on her status. We were friends in university and could usually have a dialogue on different topics, however, I cannot tell you what I actually wrote word for word because she deleted it, which a mutual friend told me a short while after seeing my comment. I'm not sure why that was her reaction but I digress.
Essentially I said that Canadians don't celebrate Canada Day because of a great love of colonialism, it is a part of the Canadian history true; but, it is part of almost every single country around the world in some form. That Canada is so much more than just this one part of its history. That people need to take lessons from history, make them right, and move forward because dwelling on the past won't help anyone.
My personal opinion is that colonialism is a blemish on society, a legacy that no one is proud of; but, one that we are all still dealing with together. In my opinion this type of response to Canada Day would be more appropriate for someone who was hurt by the creation of Canada in some way or has been wronged by the country.
Everyone in Canada, not just this group or that group but all Canadians, are responsible for righting the legacy of colonialism in our society, however, so it is good that she is upset by it. Maybe one day she will help to right the legacy of it.
And when I refer to all Canadians I mean everyone: First Nations, Metis, immigrants who have been here since colonial times, and recent immigrants to the country. Though this ideal, in my humble opinion, of everyone coming together has been developed through how I was raised.
I grew up with a strong sense of nationalism, which is based on my parents, but it's also attributed to my grandparents on my mother's side. They came to Canada following World War II; my Oma had told me stories about the kind Canadians who helped to liberate the Netherlands. She also recently spoke of when she obtained her citizenship, saying that she was asked what her reaction would be if Canada were to go to war with Holland. She explained her response was that she would support Canada, but she would not take up arms against her family.
Canada is a nation of cultures, a nation of people and it struggles to be fair to everyone. There is inequality, which is a fact that is based in our histories, yet the government has attempted in certain ways to right this. The fact is multiculturalism makes it difficult to make everyone happy, but it is part of who we are. This is what I think Canadians celebrate on Canada Day, a sense of togetherness on a larger scale.
Finally the first part about nationalism being scary, which my friend stated, can be very much true. Yet, nationalism in the sense of celebrating being Canadian, in my humble opinion, is not a very scary version of nationalism. In my opinion a scary form of nationalism was during World War II when a very strong national force, Nazi's, was prevalent in Germany.
As with anything a little goes a long way and for people to join together in celebrating their nationality for a day I think it's quite alright. Sporting events and other such nationalist activities are the only other times that we, as Canadians, really celebrate our nationality. In my opinion, it's not a bad thing in these instances, it brings people together across the nation. From the Arctic Circle to the Pacific Ocean and across the wheat fields to the Atlantic Ocean a sense of belonging and kinship is created.
Overall I think Canada Day is a way for people to come together, it's not meant to scare people or put emphasis on colonialism today. It is meant to let people feel a sense of camaraderie and remember that we are all Canadians living in a country, it's not perfect, but no country is. It's the imperfections and how we make our histories right for the future that is important.