Kudos to Nico McArthur for her brave and eloquent letter (“Not proud of Canada’s legacy,” Feb. 14 edition). Canada has a long history of trumpeting/championing itself as a nation consistently on the right side of history, at the forefront of the fight against evil and for justice, whether as an important member of the allied resistance to the Nazi/fascist threat of the Second World War or in its current uncompromising support for Ukraine.
History, however, is far more nuanced and complicated and when explored, yields some very uncomfortable truths for Canadians who have been taught to accept that, despite its imperfections/mistakes, Canada is and has always been one of the “good guys.” The indoctrination of who/what we are as a nation begins at a young age, but is largely incomplete.
The recent discoveries of what appear to be more mass graves in a former Saskatchewan residential school is another reminder of what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and former Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin called a cultural genocide. It is but one in a long list of horrendous crimes perpetrated by Canadian authorities. Japanese internment camps, the Chinese head tax and a wide array of legal discriminatory and prejudicial practices and attitudes were commonplace in Canada throughout its history. The struggles of Black, Indigenous, peoples of colour, the poor, women, LBGTQ and countless others were against a nation desperate to protect the privilege of a powerful minority and willing to go to any lengths to do so, including violence. These battles were hard fought by ordinary Canadians, who sacrificed so much to win the many rights we enjoy today.
Both at home and abroad, Canada has consistently aligned itself with the egregious acts of the powerful and against the oppressed. Standing shoulder to shoulder with colonial/imperialist giants like the U.S., Britain and France, whose histories also remain mostly unbeknownst to the majority of its citizens, should challenge our willingness to “command true patriot love.”