Tomorrow is Canada’s 150th birthday, and all across the nation, millions of Canadians will be celebrating what should be viewed as a major milestone in the young country’s legacy. The history of Canada is a unique one, filled with internal conflict that is ingrained in its very creation. When examining Canada down to its foundation, it is impressive to consider all of its independent accomplishments given its pre-confederation history.
Canada was formed through colonies that were fought over on separate occasions up until the late 1700s when Britain finally held onto their control. These colonies also avoided joining the American Revolution in the 1770’s due to lack of support. The Colonies were strong in unity, defending themselves against American invasion in 1812, despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered. Throughout its post-confederation history, Canada has not only dealt with past threats of invasion from the south in the late 1800s, but it has worked extensively to unite provinces spanning across thousands of kilometres of territory. Even as late as the 1990s, Canadians overcame a crucial vote deciding the fate of Quebec and its independence from the country itself. When considering this great country’s past, it is evident that Canada was not always a unified front the same way that it is today.
Given the rich history between Canadians fighting to preserve cultural independence, the symbolism of Canada’s 150th is a crucial representation of the unified country going forward. It is a day when every citizen, new and old, can unite as participants of a nation as great as Canada truly is.
This view, however, is not the case for many Canadians as they look towards this Saturday.
Recently, Maclean’s Magazine, a popular news source in Canada, released a video bashing the celebration of Canada’s 150th , wielding guilt to any whispers of patriotism. The video begins by saying:
“It’s Canada’s 150th birthday and everyone’s ready to celebrate, right? Wrong. Actually, a lot of people are pretty annoyed, irked or pissed off about the fanfare that’s surrounding Canada 150 which has sparked a national conversation about the country’s history of colonialism.”
Given the opening statement, it is safe to assume the average watchtime of the video was within the first minute. As I was tempted to continue scrolling through Facebook I decided to give the video a chance given its reputable platform. The video continued:
“so basically we’re celebrating 150 years of colonization which isn’t necessarily a good thing.”
While making no attempt at subliminality, the video condemned any sliver of patriotism towards our nation’s monumental celebration. The video then cuts to a clip of an indigenous woman explaining, “Canada as we talk about it today is a myth that acknowledges only the history of Canadians of European descent. Celebrating Canada 150 is not harmless, it’s celebrating and perpetuating racism and disposition.” The video ends by extinguishing any form of Canadian pride that the viewer had prior to the video, leaving one with the perception that Canada is the new 4-letter word.
Aside from the obvious falsities in the video including one explaining that celebrating Canada Day “perpetuates racism,” there is a larger issue at hand. The fact that such a well-known, once-credible news source like Maclean’s has decided that this anti-Canadian video is worth promoting, is dumbfounding and worrisome to me as a patriotic Canadian. I understand Canada’s history isn’t without fault, but should this be our focus heading into the next 150 years?
Although I am confident that the average Canadian would have kept scrolling, ignoring the propaganda, there would have been some that continued watching, many of whom would have reconsidered the momentous day. My message is focused to the Canadian citizens that feel beaten down by this propaganda, that feel the same national pride that I do but are intimidated by the blackmailing of our own history.
I hope that my fellow Canadians can be proud of our achievements this weekend as we celebrate our nation’s first 150 years. Our country helped liberate Europe from the Nazis, defended South Korea from the tyrannical North, gave refuge to escaped slaves via the underground railroad, prevented the Suez crisis from triggering a major war, and can almost always be counted on to take a stand on the side of human rights. Canada’s population of roughly 36 million takes in thousands of immigrants annually, while being home to one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto, Ontario. The fact is, Canada has so many accomplishments that have bettered the world that to even question celebrating Canada’s 150th should be insulting. The idea that Maclean’s even considered making this video spits on our victories and ignores our strides to overcome our adversity.
Canada has come a long way since its early beginnings. Yes, even through the good, the bad and the ugly, Canada is more worth celebrating than ever before. To live in such a prosperous and free nation is nothing short of a privilege and I recognize it every day.
On July 1st, 2017, Canadians will unite in celebrating the 150th birthday of their great nation and toast their fellow citizens to the next 150. And who could blame them?
They’ve earned it.