Finally, I’ve guilted myself to write today. To be honest, I’ve been just spinning my wheels, not getting enough traction to move forward with my writing or anything else productive, but the burnouts have been pretty spectacular I must say.
My husband will appreciate the “car lingo”, being a muscle car guy and all, so maybe I better start there. Canada Day marked the start of Alberta’s “Open for Summer” Phase 3 of lifting most COVID-19 restrictions province-wide. We decided to take my husband’s ‘64 Valiant convertible (the Canada Car) out to participate in the parade in our town. It was not a parade like in previous years where people would line the streets and large floats and bands would march past. Albertans are just easing back into being in large crowds again after sixteen months of pandemic lockdowns so classic cars, Jeeps, and first responder vehicles cruised around tthe neighborhoods so people could watch from the safety of their own yards. We took our two oldest grandkids with us, and they waved flags and yelled “Happy Canada Day” to anyone we passed. We even had our picture taken for the local paper. Such fun!
My girlfriend had made me a Canada Day scarf many years ago with a beautiful coastal Haida pattern on it. This year I made a point of wearing it to honour and remember the Indigenous peoples in Canada, as we acknowledge the struggles and loss they experienced due to the residential schools they were forced to attend. It is a dark part of Canada’s history that is coming more and more to light after the recent discovery of over one thousand unmarked graves of indigenous children who attended some of these schools. There was talk about canceling all Canada Day celebrations this year. In the aftermath of these discoveries, there has been vandalism and churches burned, and colonial statues torn down because of perceived links to these residential schools. Though I understand the rage some may feel, these kinds of acts do nothing to promote reconciliation. A statement from the government of Canada perhaps said it best:
“The findings of the unmarked graves of children on or near the grounds of former residential schools in different parts of the country are a shocking reminder of the oppression and violence perpetrated by Canada’s colonial institutions against First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Acknowledging and raising awareness of the atrocities inflicted on Indigenous peoples is essential on the path to reconciliation. Canadians stand with Indigenous communities across the country during this time of mourning.
More than ever, Canada Day is a time for all Canadians to show empathy, understanding and humility. It is also an opportunity to educate ourselves, to reflect and to redefine our relationship with July 1st, while reaffirming our commitment to ending the systemic racism and discrimination faced by Indigenous peoples. We encourage you to learn more about First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We must learn from the lessons of our past and move forward on a shared path of reconciliation.” https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/canada-day/message.html
In Cochrane, with the Stoney Nakoda Nation on our doorstep, organizers chose to celebrate Canada’s 154th birthday with the vehicle parade, some smaller outdoor events, a virtual concert and fireworks. However, there was also a vigil in the evening to gather with our Stoney Nakoda neighbours to stand with them and show community support for them. I think it was a good way to spend Canada Day this year.