Next July 1, let’s celebrate Wakefield
I love Matt Harrison's idea for a Wakefield-wide water fight and share his conflicted feelings towards Canada Day (“Keep Wakefield weird — and wet,” editorial, July 6 edition). While I think Canada is a great place to live and am happy to hold citizenship to this country through my good foresight in getting myself born here, I have never been particularly comfortable with nationalism and patriotism. Canada Day is obviously a state-subsidized attempt at state loyalty — using our own money to try to purchase our fealty. And just because you happen to have a nice house, does that mean you should throw a party for it every year? To me, the most patriotic thing you can do is help people unlucky enough to be born into countries torn apart by war or economic collapse to come to Canada, where they can at least live more peaceful, prosperous lives.
Still, I've always enjoyed Canada Day and it had been three years since it was last celebrated, so I took my son out to the parade and community centre. I thought the speech by the Algonquin elder (sorry, I forget her name) that opened the festivities at the centre was perfect: not pulling any punches about the shameful history of residential schools, yet still welcoming us to her people's land and wishing us a happy day. She had me holding back tears. Kudos to the organizers for bringing her to the stage.
As the music got underway and I saw in the crowd around me so many familiar faces, I could feel a sense of relief from everyone at this chance to finally get together again and reconnect. At last a community celebration! And I realized that I, and probably most people, were not really there to celebrate Canada – this abstract, 7,500 kilometre-wide political construct – but Wakefield and the web of neighbours, friends, family, co-workers, kids' teachers, food suppliers, and all the other people who are knit together in this community in hundreds of different ways. We may disagree on some points, but we can probably all agree that Wakefield and the surrounding Gatineau Hills is a great place to live and is worth celebrating, together, at least once a year.
So maybe next July 1, we can celebrate the first inaugural Wakefield Day! We'll give a nod towards the great imperfect project known as Canada, but we'll put our local community front and centre, right where it belongs for the citizens of any local community. Because inter-reliance and personal embodied connection is the way to be true compatriots. And a friendly water fight would be a great way to celebrate that.
Sean Butler is a resident of Rupert.