OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor (firstname.lastname@example.org). This letter, about what Canada Day means in 2022, is from Gary Machan, a member of Just Recovery Simcoe.
It is Canada Day 2022. This a time to celebrate the anniversary of our country. One that I have had the privilege of living in my entire life. Born in Mimico, raised in Mississauga, educated in Toronto, only to move northward and marry, raise my own children and work in what in some circles is known as Huronia.
I must confess it hasn’t been until just recently that I’ve noted how every place I’ve lived still carries the names and language of its first people. Something we (meaning the white tribe) clearly did not try and hide by virtue of the fact we kept their names for our cities, towns, regions, rivers and lakes — even our very country.
Much like residential developers who name their streets and communities after the trees they chop down (i.e. Mapleview, Oakville, Birch Street) we’ve done the same when it comes to our treatment of Indigenous people, after we essentially did our best to eradicate them by cheating them of their land and doing our best to assimilate them to our superior ways.
Fortunately, it didn’t work; albeit we came awfully close. The operative word ‘awfully’. Hard to imagine what is more evil than committing horrid crimes against innocent children forcefully removed from their parents — all under the banner of Christianity no less. Their unmarked graves will forever be our stain to bear whether we like it or not.
Bear in mind as Carl Jung once opined, our greatest sins are very often done under the guise of the good — something which is true both for individuals and nation states. This a critical point to grasp for ours is our culture that is far too preoccupied with individual sin, and blind to the far greater sins committed by the shadow of our institutions and culture.
The real tragedy so far as I can see is the very people we tried so valiantly to wipe out as ‘savages and heathens’ are in actual fact our only hope. For they are quite truly the only ones who know what it means to live ‘sustainably’. This is in sharp contrast to all the greenwashing that is happening which essentially makes belief we can have our cake and eat it to.
That is, we can continue to grow as we have been and extract at ever-accelerating rates significantly diminishing resources by relying on our ingenuity and great technological prowess. Whether it be the much ballyhooed New Green Deal or some watered down version, all offer the false promise that with a few minor tweaks to our energy supply Eden lies just around the corner.
The only difference that I can surmise between the left and right on the political spectrum is how the unlimited supply of wealth gets distributed. Neither are cognizant of the fact that not only are we rapidly running out of once abundant and easily extractable resources, but we have already run out of time. There are just too many people for the planet to sustain. Period.
In contrast, true Indigenous elders have seen through our ruse and have actually prophesied about our fall for some time. An end arising from our hubris that somehow we are special and exempt from the laws of nature. Meaning unlike any other species we can take and take and take. Live beyond the carrying capacity of our planet and somehow magically sidestep our fate.
Dare I say the only people that can redeem us and save us from ourselves are Indigenous people precisely because they see all of life as their relations whom they must honour and respect. Here I can think of no better way to honour Canada Day than to own our shadow and do our part to seek reconciliation and follow their example as much for our benefit as for theirs.