Canada celebrated its 147th birthday yesterday. This country now has a lengthy history as an independent nation.
For most of the past 147 years, Canada has been respectful of other countries and of its wide variety of people, who come from widely disparate backgrounds and traditions.
There are some significant exceptions, however, which must be stated up front. Canada has done a generally poor job in maintaining good relations with the aboriginal people who were here before any immigrants came from offshore. For the first 100 years of our independence, there were ongoing efforts to assimilate them, take away their land, unique cultures and heritage, and subjugate them. This was a holdover of the British approach to colonialism.
It is only in recent years that more Canadians have started to appreciate the unique perspective that First Nations people bring to this country. Here in B.C., we have a wide variety of First Nations groups, most of whom have no treaties.
The other blot on our history comes in the treatment of Asians, particularly the Japanese during the Second World War. While there have been apologies and financial settlements, that aspect of our history is a shameful one – as were the tactics used to keep out prospective immigrants from China and India.
However, what Canada does do well is to learn from our past mistakes. This country has always been a grouping of very different people. In 1867, it was the aboriginal people, and those of French and British background, including descendants of former Americans who disagreed with the American Revolution.
Since that time, people have come to help populate the wide-open spaces in the country, and they have come from all over the world. In the past 50 years, the doors have been opened wider for people from all over.
Together, these diverse peoples have forged a country respectful of religions, traditions and cultures; committed to fight injustices; economically strong and well-positioned — and one of the best places in the world to live.
Happy Birthday, Canada.
– Black Press