This year I celebrated my second Canada Day. Last year we were busy moving into our first home, so the day was spent moving boxes and furniture. However, this year we wandered downtown to watch the Canada Day festivities. It was great to wander around, wear my Vancouver 2010 Olympic t-shirt and hoodie, observe the hustle and bustle whilst eating gelato, watch some Serbian dancing and hang out with my Wife and Friend.
However, I have a complicated relationship with Canada Day.
Canada Day is an over-the-top celebration of colonial history. It is the 143rd birthday of the Dominion of Canada. Canada Day erases the history of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples who had their own nations, confederations, histories, religions, languages and cultures for thousands of years.
I realise that when my accent changes (it will), I will pass as a Canadian. Unlike people of colour who are be second or third generation Canadian citizens, I won’t be asked “Where I’m from” or “Where I was born.” I won’t be asked to speak about my culture. I won’t be exoticised.
Unlike Indigenous people who find that their cultures, histories and languages can be reviled and fetishised (sometimes in the same breath). Despite these cultures, histories and languages being authentically “Canadian.”
Furthermore, as someone who benefits from colonialism, I always walk a fine line between recognising my privilege and colonial history and appropriating the genuine hurt and anger of Indigenous peoples.
It’s suprisingly similar to the way that I feel about Australia Day. Yet it’s complicated.